This is King Los’s big release week. On Tuesday, the Baltimore MC dropped his prelude to his debut album, God Money War, after months of anticipation. The former Bad Boy artist (don’t worry, he’s still cool with Puff) has grown immensely as a songwriter after his 2014 mixtape Zero Gravity II. Since inking a new deal with RCA in October 2014, he’s shown listeners that outside of his freestyling background, he can make surefire hits like “Can’t Fade Us” and “Glory to the Lord,” as well as tackle important subjects, as seen in “War.” Overall, Los is only getting better as time goes on.
A day after God Money War hit iTunes, we met up with Los at the RCA offices. Just finishing up a late lunch of Chipotle after a long day of interviews, we talked to him about God Money War, his thoughts on the current state of rap, why “Glory to the Lord” is his version of “Happy” (Pharrell’s words) and why he’s still learning from Puff.
What made you want to work with Da Internz mostly for God Money War?
They were known for doing mostly commercial radio stuff and I was not being able to make songs as far as what people thought. So, they were thinking, ‘Yo, we make hits and you have like content, content. It would be dope if we could swap it out for each other. You could be the person that don’t just categorize us as people who try to make radio stuff. We could make a real project with you. We could get that other accolade of being able to do more substance-based music. On the flip side, we could make records for you all day.' It wasn’t about money or anything. We ended up creating a dope project, like, let’s just help each other out.
Do you still see yourself as a new artist or a young veteran?
I’m a new artist in terms of the industry. This is my first time having an album or having the things that surround it. Everything else was done in-house, borderline independent. We traveled and funded our own stuff and figured it out. This is the first time I’ve ever had other people’s help — with different departments and s**t like that so I’m new to all of this.
There’s an obvious growth in God Money War. What can you say about your progression as an artist so far?
A lot of that comes from working with producers that are already incredible. I can honestly say that this is the first time I worked with producers that were notable, that had a resume beyond mediocre standards. These are the guys. These are the new age, that new sounds that people [like], the new Neptunes in a sense. I’ve never had that before. So, just in that essence, I lacked a little bit because some of the beats weren’t all the way there, you know, and the quality of where I was recording, and my understanding of how to record — it was all growth.
How do you want your music to leave an impact?
I think it is pretty much self-explanatory. I’m not out here trying to make any old type of record for just some recognition. I feel like what I say is important and how I say it is even more important. I’m not wasting words or saying thoughtless things. So, that goes to show — the integrity of it all — I hold it in high value. And that just reflects in the nature of the song. I want the song to be remembered the same way. I want things that can be played from here to forever. I don’t want to be super in the moment. I want to be like as close to classic as I can, but not boring and not preachy. I want to be cool and still have the essence of that classic thing and every time you hear it you get something different from it.
What are your thoughts on the current state of rap?
I’m the eternal optimist. I think rap is awesome. Like, real s**t. People are always sitting back complaining. Man, look, rap is awesome. We’ve got some growing to do. But, you know, it’s in a place right now where I’m seeing more people become successful and I’m not mad at that. Once I saw the ability of a young person to get some money out here, I ain’t mad. There are too many systems set up to keep you in that cycle of failure. At the end of the day, I’m not mad at nobody. If you can find a positive way to reflect that, I think that would be best. I don’t like the oversaturation of the cancerous things because you’ve got these kids listening to it. At some point, we have to assume a certain responsibility.
What do you mean by cancerous things?
I’m talking about the content of what you put out and the way you say what you say. Like, if you make certain things cool that you don’t have to live it. Like, you don’t have to live it day in and day out. You know what I’m saying? Like, someone else has to live it. People are dying because of it, people are poor because of it…trying to keep up with what? Trying to impress people? Trying to fit in? You know, it’s corny at some point. Our communities need obvious help. It’s no secret. So be an example of somebody who made it past that and be a blueprint for that person and for the next person to do the thing you did. Don’t preach cancerous things; don’t talk about the same s**t that got us f**ked up back to the same kids that look up to you, but you wake up and drive a Bentley. You know?
What’s situation is better for you now? Bad Boy or RCA?
That’s tough to say. If you are around Puff, I don’t know if there is a better situation to be in. If I wasn’t around Puff, there is no RCA. You know, because that’s what got me to LA. That’s what got me moving. I had to go through that to get to where I am now. So, I can’t say what’s better than what. But, the respect you get as a Bad Boy artist is probably a little bit more impressive. If Puff is interested in you, then you feel like you have a star quality. With RCA, you have to show and prove. At RCA, there is no one’s name to ride off of.
Did you get this RCA deal on your own or did Puff assist you?
I’ll tell you what. Diddy helped me get out the previous deal with Interscope and Bad Boy to even make this happen. It was something that he presented to me as an inside scoop and where things were going in the future and in my best interest.
How do you think the project would have shaped if you originally titled it 3805 Bonner Rd.?
I think it would have been slightly different. Same direction. Maybe the content would have been a little different. Maybe it would have been a bit more Baltimore oriented. Maybe slightly more personal. Because the title change — it went from being about me to being about other people and about the world.
One of my favorite tracks is “Blame It on the Money.” Where did the inspiration come from for that?
It was definitely some J-Kwon — it really goes back to the original but J-Kwon jacked it anyway. “One to the two to the three to the four…” Its old school s**t. I did it in his tongue — his accent, his little cadence, because I thought it would be reminiscent for the younger vibe and house party. I want you to just have fun. I want girls to dance. I did this whole project elaborately. It’s so many messages to decode. It’s so deep at some times. It’s so much underlying inspiration that’s like, ‘OK, can we f**king dance? And can we get some girls in here to dance?’ Some girls with big booties and then they can shake their big booties. That’s fun too! The more girls that shake their big booties...there would be less crime because we would be watching the booties. That’s my solution. [Laughs.]
During the playback of your album, you said Pharrell called “Glory to the Lord” your version of “Happy.” Explain how that conversation happened.
I was in the studio with him and I was just playing some records for him. I played “War” and “Ghetto Boy” like two or three months before they dropped. Then, I was back in the studio with him and we were just vibing. You know, “War” came out and I asked him did you see all the stuff that happened. He believes that I’m great and that’s like wow. Between him and Eminem — it really gives me this extreme confidence. He’s like with the greats. He was like, "Now you gotta be careful because that song can remind people how wrong things are. It can still make people angry." And then he said “Glory to the Lord” is kind of like “Happy.”
On the last track, “King,” it features a rant by Puff. What started that?
I recorded that rant. That’s not in studio. That’s like chilling. He’s ranting, I’m recording. I don’t know what it was about. I just know that it was good and I was getting it. You know what I’m saying? I don’t even remember what it stemmed from. He just started talking that s**t and I was like, "Oh s**t!" Every time he does it, I gotta piece of a song or a song concept.
It sounds like he is still a part of your music career. What else can you learn from him?
[Laughs.] How to get these billions...how to get these motherf**kin’ billions...
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(Photo: RCA Records)