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Hella Juiced: Problem

“Like whaaaaaat.” If you’re a fan of Problem, you’ve probably turned up to many of his party anthems at some point in your lifespan. In 2012, E-40’s “Function” featuring Iamsu, Problem, and YG put the West Coast back on the map. (Not that we ever left). To this day, the record still has the ability to set the entire tone in any situation every time it’s played. Read more…

Fast forward to 2017, through his Mollywood phase, through his full-length LP with DJ Quik titled Rosecrans, through his Chachiville mixtape, and we get the same Compton rapper from day one. Only this time, the 32-year-old MC reveals a side we’ve never seen before. Beyond that, Problem proves his ability as a not only an artist, but as a rapper, producer, entrepreneur, father, friend, brother.. The list goes on.

Stepping into Problem’s own Diamond Lane Music Group studio in North Hollywood, CA, probed to be more of an honor than anything. I was welcomed with an exclusive private one-on-one listening of his new album BEFORE it was released to the public. I left with one notion in mind: It’s Selfish season.

You’ve been in the game for a minute. How has your sound evolved up until this point?

Problem: Massively — more thought into it. Not necessarily more instruments, but what instruments. Just a bigger sonic sound.

You’re working with Terrace Martin?

P: Yeah, I’ve been blessed to be over there watching him do some outrageous things. I’m just enjoying that shit and trying to bring it over here.

Selfish drops November 3, what’s the meaning behind the title?

P: Well, the real thing is called Selfish, but I was really being selfless with a lot of different things I was doing. I wanna say, I was one of the founding fathers of that real turnt up shit. We kicked that shit off. That’s what I was and that’s what was going on. But then as I’m growing, the music’s growing, I’m changing as a man, my kids getting older, I’m looking at things different.

But being selfless, I still want to give my fans what they want, I still want to keep feeding my family, so I’m going to do what’s going on. But sonically, I just wanted to try different shit. So for this, it was like, “Nah. I’m going to be selfish with my music and do what I want to do.” And just pray that the fans understand.

How long did it take to finish the album?

P: Well, I started right after Chachiville, but I had been working on it while I was working on Rosecrans with DJ Quik, while we were working on The Pollyseeds project. So that whole duration up until probably two months ago, from January to August.

What do you want fans to get out of this album?

P: The growth. I want them to feel the growth. I want them to know I’ve been here for 8 years successfully, independent. Without any music group, with just us. I want them to feel the growth of what the music is doing, what we’re doing, how we’re moving, how everything’s evolved. We’re entering the next level. We’re trying to do two decades of this shit.

If there’s one thing that you want fans to take away from your legacy, what would it be?

P: I don’t know yet! I feel like I’m just getting started, you know? On this level and at this time and what we’re trying to represent, just what the goal is now, just keep watching and keep hustling. Just like, “Yeah he did it like that. He kept hustling. He kept doing it his way.”

You actually lost your ex-girlfriend earlier this year. I heard the skit on the album. Can you talk about that?

P: The skit — it was sent to me. She’s a triplet. It was her and one of the other sisters, they were talking to this homeless dude. It was one that they knew all the time. They were recording him. He was so motivated and it was just her energy and all of that. I had found that clip while I was working on the project. And then that stuff happened with her and I was like, “Damn.” I’m listening to it and I sent it to her sister and was like, “Man I’ve got to put this on here.” And it perfectly just went with the “Living Good” theme of the Nipsey Hussle sutra. It just felt like it should go there. And I wanted to have her on this right here because she was around at the beginning.

Talk about the Nipsey Hussle joint.

P: Ah man, that was crazy. Me and Nipsey haven’t been heard together since the Snoop shit back in the day, on Malice n Wonderland. But just on our shit, this was a moment. We was in Atlanta just doing some records, then I had gotten a hold of it. I was like, “Man, I want to use it for the project.” And then I had Su who had this other record and it was like, “Man, I want to do something crazy.”

But I want all of us to be represented in this California song because we kind of all represent the same thing: independents. Doing it our way, kind of not bending. So it was a perfect moment to put us all together and do some crazy shit that don’t really make sense.

And don’t forget Pain In Da Ass is on there from Reasonable fucking Doubt. That’s the real  Pain In Da Ass from the JAY-Z Reasonable Doubt album. So yes, shout out to him. He was one of the first contributors to the project.

Where do you think West Coast rap stands in the Hip Hop realm right now?

P: Man, right now, we have a couple megastars from out here. I think sonically, we’re about to decide where we want to go, you know? Once that identity has happened, — as artists we have our identity — but just as a sound, we’re going to be right where we’re supposed to be. It’s an exciting time, it’s a touchy time. It’s like everybody’s growing right now. And there’s a lot of newer cats coming that’s ready to do their thing, and everybody’s like,“Let’s just go, let’s just go.”

California as a whole looks lit. Let’s just go for it. Let’s go.

Speaking of, who’s the most played artist on your phone?

P: Probably Ron Isley, from the Isley Brothers.

Back to Selfish, what took you so long to make an album?

P: Man, honestly, I think the fear of the word “album.” That shit is a big deal. When people hear the word “album, it’s like, “Okay, it’s going now.” Thinking I was ready for it, like “Wait a minute. Hold on”… not knowing. And just the climate of the game. I thought it was supposed to feel like a certain thing when I did this. But I’m so glad I waited — I will say that. I got a lot of game. A lot of different information this time around.

Are you nervous?

P: Nah. Hell nah. Because the thing is, we keep working. We keep going. I’ve been blessed. Like I said, 8 years independent in this game.

So what would you say is the difference between an album and a mixtape right now?

P: For me, the preparation, was from what I’ve noticed… I’ve done a lot of firsts, on this whole run. But, I actually love it. It’s probably the most comfortable I’ve felt getting ready to drop a project.

That’s crazy. Now I know you’ve got your own DLMG, but dream collab?

P: Dream collab… there’s so many dope people, man. There’s just so many amazing people out there.

How about new artists?

P: New artist? Travis Scott. I wanna just… cause I know I’m going to try to do something and he’s going to do something else. And it’s going be something tight that don’t make sense and I would love that. I love what he do. I love the melodic shit that he do, but it still be knockin’. It feel like it’s from everywhere. I fuck with that. I still gotta say… I wanna get in with Kanye. For sure.

Is there anything else to want to let Young California know?

Josh (shooter): Prob, tell her about the track “Selfish.”

P: The actual song “Selfish,” I’ve been having that for about 8 years. I wrote it 8 years ago. I’ve been manicuring that thing for a while. One sounded really big, one sounded small — just different. ‘Cause it was such a touchy subject with me. And then again, my image kind of took over. Shit, where it was like, “What can I put that on?” It got to just being crazy. Then one day I’m just sitting here playing records, Melissa (manager) heard it and was like, ‘We have to put it on there! We have to!”

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