Skeme chops it up with HotNewHipHop for an exclusive interview about his brand new record "Khalil's Song," as well as what to expect from "Ingleworld 2."
Skeme's been rather silent in 2015, not entirely silent, but he definitely hasn't been overwhelming us with releases. After giving us the first taste of Ingleworld 2 back in February with "Red Carpet (Roll Out)" he finally returned this past weekend with the heart-felt tribute to his son, "Khalil's Song." Along with the stream, Skeme unveiled the official tracklist for the much-anticipated Ingleworld 2, which, this time around, will be both an iTunes release and a Gangsta Grillz mixtape.
Before the full project arrives, with features from Young Thug, The Game, T.I., PeeWee Longway and more, we delved a bit deeper into what is likely the most emotional song on the album. The BJ The Chicago Kid-featured track, produced by Alex Lustig, is a glimpse at fatherhood through Skeme's eyes.
HotNewHipHop: What’s up Skeme?
Skeme: What up, what up. How you doing?
HNHH: I’m good, how’re you? What’re you up to today?
Skeme: I’m good, good, shit right now I’m pulling an all nighter I’m on one of my last legs right now.
HNHH: Ahh, well I won’t take up too much of your time. I listened to “Khalil’s Song,” Jentry [MADE Headlines labelhead] sent it over, so I’ve just been absorbing it all morning. Just had some questions about how that song came together, and maybe you can shed some more insight on it. First off, I’m wondering where the initial idea to dedicate a song to your son—how did that come about?
Skeme: I literally have been thinking about it since before he was born, type of shit, the whole time.
HNHH: How old is he?
Skeme: He’s literally a year and a half now. So when I was making Ingleworld 1, the whole time, that was the process of him being born—from about January of last year, he was born in September. And I was just thinking about that the whole time, and finally, Alex, the kid who did the beat, Alex Lustig, sent over like a pack of shit, just different joints, and that was it, it was in there and it sounded like the right one.
HNHH: Yeah, I was gunna ask, what component of the track came together first— it just sounded like you said you got the beat first, so, at what point did you enlist BJ The Chicago Kid, at what point did you sample your son’s voice and decide to put that in? How did those next steps happen?
Skeme: Originally there was some birds chirping in the beat, some weird shit to me. So I pulled that out, I was literally like sitting in the studio and just looking at videos of where my son was first starting to walk and shit like that, and I came across the video of where he was saying “dada” it was like the second day of where he could say “dada.” Once I put it over the beat, it just sounded like it was right, you know what I mean? Like the keys and stuff like that on the song just sounded like something sincere was supposed to happen when the beat plays. So that was first, tryna do it that way, and the when I had the song for about 3 or 4 days, I had put the verses and stuff together on it, but really it was just one long-ass verse at first. When I listened back to the record, I thought it was like cuttin’ it short…I’ve done that shit in the past where it’s like I make a good ass song or whatever, and I [don’t] put a hook to it at all, I tried to do that shit at all on Ingleworld 2 really. So at first I was thinking about putting Jhene [Aiko] on it, cause we had been talking about working for a minute. Then I just kept like listening to the record over and over again, and I hadn’t come across anybody on that record that would deliver the way he did. It was probably between him and Maverick Sabre out of the UK, those are the two people I was hearing on the track before anyone else.
HNHH: Ohh really? Cool. The song, like you said, you heard the beat and you knew right away—it’s a really soft song, to me, it’s almost like a lullaby. Did you think about that when you made it, like I could actually play this for my son and it would actually be a lullaby.
Skeme: Yeah, there would be times when I would play the beat and he would be there, and he wouldn’t like do nothing but just sit and nod his head to it, he wouldn’t turn up his head or jump up and dance…
HNHH: Soothing almost.
Skeme: He would just do whatever he was doing while the song was playing, you know what I mean? So I just felt like it was a good joint. And I remember hearing the beat for the first time and not even wanting to rap to it, I just brought a round to it for about two hours or so, and then I was like, yeah, now I gotta do something good to it.
HNHH: How did you write the lyrics to it? Was it a long process or did you do it in one sitting and you were happy with it?
Skeme: Umm, most of it when I go to the studio it’ll be like 14-16 hours. Putting the lyrics down on that song, was probably like three and a half hours or so. But I really didn’t write like none of it down, cause I’d constantly be going through stuff. Snoop was in the hall working on his shit at the same time…it was a bunch of little weird components to it I was tryna tinker up along the way, but in the long run, probably about three and a half hours or so, or four. But I didn’t really write none of it down, most of it though is like emotion.
HNHH: Yeah, but you said you don’t write it down, do you memorize it? Or does it slightly change every time?
Skeme: Nah, I write it by putting it in the Pro Tools. So really I take it by like 4 or 6 bars, however it come, at a time. And if I don’t feel that comfortable with it afterwards, that’s the only thing I’m going back to like smooth over. So I really don’t try to overthink shit or write shit down, there’s no point in that at this point—I record a lot, a lot. So it takes away the fucking process when I gotta sit down for like an hour and a half just writing shit down, when I could really just start talking shit.
HNHH: Yeah. We mentioned the song is softer—you typically have a gritty voice when you rap and most of the time I’m expecting something more hard-hitting or touch. So I’m wondering on your new album will there be more songs like this? Will there be a balance of softer and more bangers, or is this like a one-of-a-kind?
Skeme: Hmmm…nah that’s definitely…I mean, it’s weird, Jentry, would you say you heard anything else that felt like that joint on there?
Jentry: Nah, to me, it’s definitely a lot more melodic, than any other track. As far as like soulful and yeah…
Skeme: Yeah, that’s one of them sincere ass moments. I ain’t gunna lie, I had a hook from fucking Big TC that’s in jail, free the homie. And I was gunna do a joint over that, that was about as soft as it was gunna get with those two joints. But nah, even the girl joints on the tape are extra knockin’. Definitely tried to get more soulful elements, like even with “Red Carpets,” taking the beat from where it was originally at and then having Sean crunch the keys and stuff like that, and just add different elements that really take it out like me sounding really rough on records, that’s where I been at lately. Just trying to take all the shit I’ve been learning about being a writer and shit like that, and tryna incorporate it in my own shit too.
HNHH: So we heard that your son’s uncle is Nipsey Hussle...Is that something you would care to speak on or explain?
Skeme: Yeah [Laughs] that’s my girl’s older brother, that’s my dude though. We been working for a minute.
HNHH: Are you guys married?
Skeme: Nah, nah that’s in the plans though, hopefully. If we can stand each other.
HNHH: [Laughs] Did you guys connect through Nipsey Hussle?
Skeme: Nah [Laughs]. It was weird cause..
HNHH: I’m just curious cause you’ve obviously worked with Nipsey before and we think of you guys first and foremost as a working relationship, with collaborations or whatever.
Skeme: Nah it’s crazy how the whole shit came about. I remember the first time we were chilling, me and my brothers dealing in the management side, and Jentry key in the management side too and just pushing out projects; but I remember in particular I was working on shit when we first started talking and I was arguing with my brothers and shit, and it was weird cause she was chilling with me, she was cool, and it was random as fuck, she goes, ‘oh yall remind me of my brothers when they be arguing about shit’ and I’m like ‘who the fuck is yo brother?’ and she goes, ‘Nip,’ I’m like ‘oh fuck.’
Skeme: Cause it’s the homie, and it’s been the homie since I was like 17. He was supposed to originally been on fucking Pistols on “Chuck Taylors” on ’09 type shit. We been cool for a minute, so I’m like oh fuck how do I explain it. Cause I know I wouldn’t want one of the rap homies to fuck with my little sister, so it was weird. It wasn’t on some fly-by-night shit you know, it’s a mutual respect thing along the way. You not playing around with shit. I definitely had respect for her.
HNHH: Well that’s an interesting fact I don’t think fans are aware of…
Skeme: Yeah, right, that was a rare ass moment. And then my dickhead ass brother goes, ‘man I knew she looked like Nip!’ And I’m like, ‘dawg, you sick, you just fucked up the whole night…’
HNHH: [Laughs]. On the track, you detail your childhood a little bit, you say you had a crazy-ass pops and an angel for a mother. So thinking of your youth, your experience, are there certain things you want to make sure your son doesn’t experience, and on the flip side, are there things you want to make sure he does experience that you weren’t able too?
Skeme: Man, it’s weird, I used to have a homie that asked me about that. It’s weird cause you don’t want your son to grow up in the bullshit that I did, but it’s like you kinda do at the same time, to get those like core values you get along the way. But I definitely wouldn’t want him to grow up as extreme as I did. Like that whole knife on the East side shit, I wouldn’t wish that on nobody. Like I seen some shit that niggas wasn’t supposed to see. So I definitely want him to be around normal motherfuckers.
HNHH: Yeah there’s a balance.
Skeme: Yeah, like I remember when he was being born, and all my homies were like, ‘ah your son gonna be a spoiled brat, he gon’ be rich.’ And Im like, ‘nah, that’s not the case, yo daddy rich, you’re not rich, you still gotta work and earns yours just like every other kid out here.’ My parents wasn’t the poorest on the block, but you couldn’t just get everything you wanted out them motherfuckers. So either you gunna listen to a nigga tell you no, or you gunna turn 16 like I did and say fuck that, I’m gunna get what I wanna get. And that’s just what it is.
HNHH: What changes have you noticed in yourself since you had your son? Is this your first child?
HNHH: Okay so have you noticed…
Skeme: I got a whole team that I care for that are like my children. My manager is my children, Jentry is also my son as well.
HNHH: [Laughs] But like have you noticed anything, now that you’re a legitimate father, are there any changes in your personality or things you’re thinking twice about, lyrics-wise or…
Skeme: It’s weird, cause in my eyes he not old enough to know what’s going on. When he was first born, it was like, ‘damn. I’m a dad.’ That hit, like for sure, when I first saw him born, like fuck, you have a kid. But it’s weird I ain’t been big about doing crazy shit along the way of my career, I’m really not into all that.
HNHH: Yeah, so you’re not gunna change the lyrics are or what you rap about.
Skeme: Hell nah. ‘Cause I want him to have that.
HNHH: At the same time you’re just being honest in your raps, it’s not like you’re not glorifying it, it is what it is kinda thing.
Skeme: Yeah, I feel like a lot of niggas rap about shit, like you said, glorifying shit, and niggas ain’t saying to live every bit of this shit. So it’s more from a remorseful standpoint, when you looking back on shit. I’m not really having to deal with all of that kinda shit right now, but it’s more like, nigga it happened. No matter how much I don’t say it on a song, it definitely occurred. So it’s like why wouldn’t I put my real life on my record.
HNHH: But people enjoy, and they kinda know when you’re telling the truth, so they’ll absorb, they’ll be more inclined to listen to it when they know this is real.
Skeme: I be telling niggas that all the time, I think I said that shit the first time I put my face on the television screen, sincerity is everything. I’m not gunna tell niggas it was great, but I’m not gunna tell niggas it was the worst. It was great having $5,000 in my pocket as a 17-year old kid. That was amazing to me, yo know what I’m saying. So I can’t sit here and tell a kid, ‘oh it was the worst thing ever.’ Nah, it was what it was. Niggas grew up out of that, and you look back at shit like damn, thank God niggas made it through shit. It’s a lot of different angles and shit. I was talking to someone about that the other day, like rap niggas in 2010 were like not allowed to be human, emotional about nothing. At this point, it’s like I’ma tell you every angle of what I’m thinking, it’s human.
HNHH: Yeah for sure. What else can you tell us about Ingleworld 2, what should fans expect? Will it follow up Ingleworld closely in theme and sound, or is just the title that connects the two?
Skeme: It’s a continuance; I’m not really chasing the sound. I was working on Ingleworld 2 when Ingleworld 1 was coming out. No lie, Interscope nigga was in the room and I was playing them the intro from the last one, and they was tripped out tryna decipher what would be on the album that was coming out in two days from then and what was not. I definitely tried to elevate the sound and get more melodic with shit even if I’m still hard-edged rapping shit, so just tryna find a formula. So me, Sean and Alex definitely found a groove on what it is I’m looking for from music.
HNHH: So are those the main two producers on the project?
Skeme: Yeah. It’s definitely a lot of people involved in it sound- wise, but pushing what we was looking for, Sean and Alex provided most of that. I think both of them all together got like 9 a piece on the joint, maybe 8. But it’s two-disc, and it’s twelve a piece. 808 Mafia was involved in it, Mike Free was involved in it…
HNHH: It’s two discs?
Skeme: Yeah, yeah.
HNHH: I didn’t know that, it’s gunna be a lot of material [Editor's Note: since our interview, Skeme has revealed the tracklist for Ingleworld 2, and it is only one disc with 16 tracks total]. That’s exciting. Before I let you go, I wanted to know if you could clarify what your current label situation is, if there is a situation? Because there’s been some confusion on whether or not you were signed to The Game.
Skeme: Um, I deal with Game real closely, that’s my big bro. I’m definitely a part of Blood Money. As far as me being signed to anybody, no. I’m rocking with Made [Headlines], I’m rocking with myself. As a writer I’m signed to Sony ATV, other than that, nah. I’d like to put in there, I’m definitely not anti-label, I’ve heard that before too. No I’m not.
HNHH: Okay cool, just waiting for the right situation.
Skeme: Yeah ‘cause the Interscope thing made people feel like I didn’t wanna be signed, but nah, I don’t wanna be signed for $300,000. It was like, nah, I just don’t wanna sign for $300 thou. It’s not really like I just need $300,000, I need more than that, for what niggas trying to do. We personally dealing with double disc albums and more shit by ourselves, so what’s the point in cutting it short like that.
HNHH: Yeah I mean, if you take a cue from Nipsey Hussle you can just make $100 off a mixtape.
Skeme: Yeahhh that was crazy. Jentry was the first nigga to tell me about that. We was doing the Block Party at the Diamond, and he was like, ‘dawg you ain’t hear the news?’ And I’m like, ‘nah, what happened?’ Mind you this was when me, Nip, Dom, TeeFlii, Casey, like everybody was recording on the daily together, and niggas had no idea about this $100 shit. In my head, I’m like ah that nigga a genius. That was definitely a way to wake niggas up. Win, lose or draw, it was definitely a play, at the least bit, the homie was gunna get everybody paying attention. I even went and gave him $100 and I was on the motherfucker.
HNHH: Yeah. That’s dope. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, looking forward to the album.