Last week, Hopsin released his fourth studio album, Pound Syndrome, after fooling everyone that he was quitting rap and moving to Australia at the end of 2014. At first, his fans thought he was joking. But it looked like he was telling the truth once he posted a heartfelt Facebook message thanking supporters throughout his career over the years. To accompany that, he added a photo of him carrying a bunch of suitcases at the airport. Was Hopsin, one of the most successful indie artists since Tech N9ne, really calling it quits?
It turns out it was all a stunt to build anticipation for Pound Syndrome, and the reception since its release has been good because he’s on track to land within the top 20 of the Billboard 200 independently. Earlier this month, we met Hop at the Warner Bros. office in New York where he looked visibly tired from a long of traveling and press. Still, he was candid about everything we wanted to know, opening up about the reasons why he wanted to leave hip hop, the public reception of him, Internet hate and more. These are the many layers of Hopsin.
On Why He Came Back to Rap: "I would have never stopped rapping. I would have stopped making music publicly and maybe just put out music whenever I wanted to. I was talking about moving to Australia and all that. But, then after I did my tour last year for the Knock Madness Tour. I got home and talked to Dizzy Wright and everyone around me. They were like, ‘Man, you don’t have to quit. Most people would kill to be in your shoes. Just take advantage of this because if you lose this you don’t know if you’ll be able to get it back again.’ I had the money to live off of for a while. In no time, it can die down you know? So, I was like, ‘OK…’ It’s not about the money though. It’s just like, ‘Why not?’ I’m still young and I thought about it. If I’m 40 or 50 and I look back and I didn’t take advantage of this and go hard, I would probably regret it so why not sacrifice a few more years and be a rapper and do everything that a rapper does. I decided to just go another round."
"I’m aware that I have a career. But, if I was the hottest in the game, songs all over the radio —let’s say whoever produced made me super big. Like, that would be cool but there would be something in me that goes, ‘You only wrote the raps you didn’t make the beats. You didn’t direct. You didn’t do all that.’ I like doing that. I like doing everything. So, a lot of these artists they blow up but I’m not the same as them. I’m not just a rapper. I like to produce music. Every song that is a Hopsin song I 100 percent made it. Nobody helped me. There was no producer to say, ‘Hey, put the beat like this…’ It was all me. If the song was wack, then the song was wack. If it’s dope, it is what it is. I’m learning along the way."
On the Public Reception of Hopsin: "Everyone knows I’m weird. A lot of black people go, ‘Oh, I know who that is but I don’t f**k with that n***a.’ Off the top, they go, ‘He’s dope. But, I don’t f**k with him.’ I’m an emo rapper. I talk about depressive s**t. I’m always talking about a problem. They say everything. Some people say I don’t know how to do banger music. Not like gang banger but like club banger type songs. And then I’ll make one of those songs and they’ll say, ‘But, he’s not as conscious as Kendrick is.’ And then I’ll make one of those songs and they say, ‘He can’t go as deep.’ They are always going to think of something to talk about."
"But, I think I’ve hit a long range of things. I’ve been doing so many things from being a super ill MC to dressing up as a f**king girl to swagging out at the f**king lunch tables at school to yelling at God in the desert. Now, I’m naked in the f**king tree in my newest video. I do whatever I want but I understand that people may not like my face. I’ve actually seen someone say, ‘You are f**king dope but I can’t stand you because of your f**king face...like what’s wrong with your skin? Like dude, it just bothers me — like, what the f**k?” And I’m like, ’Man, is this really why he doesn’t like me? Oh my God! This is crazy!’"
On Internet Haters: "It doesn’t affect me like it used to. Hate comments are like a muscle that you need to work out. When you come out publicly and everyone is looking at you…it all hurts. It’s like, ‘Yes! I finally got the money to make a music video. I’m going to put it on YouTube!’ Then, it’s like, ‘Wait, what? Why are they saying that?” Then, you go to sleep like, “Maybe, I’m not as dope as I thought I was!” It hurts you. It’s crazy. But, this is when I first came out. But, then over time… you see that the haters are going to do that and that’s just part of the game. It’s always going to be that way. Now, it’s like...I don’t give a f**k about what any of them say. I was actually in a place where I wasn’t going to read it because it hurt too much. But, now, I get to the place where I read it and I know that it works because I’m already a millionaire. I have a very successful company, Hopsin is buzzing all around the world now. There is nothing you can say now. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the song. Hopsin works for the people."
On the Idea Behind "Ill Mind of Hopsin 7": It’s about my views on religion and God. I don’t know if he’s real. I’m tired of being told to believe in something that I haven’t seen any proof of. I can look around and tell that a genius created everything that we have in the world. I don’t know who that genius is. Humans do lie. They are very capable of lying. There are things that are going on in society that are unnecessary but it’s been taught to us since we were younger. We grow up thinking this is just the way how things should be. On so many scales — to how we have our relationships to our schools to our food. They are just like, ‘Oh, this is what it is.’ Like, dude what’s outside of that? What would you be thinking and doing if this stuff wasn’t here?"
"I’m trying to push people and let them know that they could be true to themselves. It’s kind of thinking like an alien. If you came down to planet Earth, you wouldn’t know what anything is. You would only do what your instinct truly tell you to do. Like, if someone said “Hey, put this fire on your head.” You wouldn’t do that. You would be like, “No way, that s**t burns.” I’m not like that. I’m like, “Why?” What is that going to do for me? I don’t like that. That’s not what I’m going to do. I am genuinely myself. I’m not going to say 100%. I’m still trapped in matrices that I’m unaware of. There are so many levels to it."
On the Media Taking Things Out of Context: "The media just does that. They do stuff like that. When I do that, it’s my way of reaching for attention, for help, hoping for someone to call me. When I do it, I don’t think that. But, I think subconsciously, I want someone to call and ask what’s wrong. The media just sees it as opportunities to make their company more successful. They don’t give a f**k. I could post a picture and the caption could say, ‘I'm going to cut my throat in thirty minutes if I don’t get a million views.’ And then the media is going to post it not because they want to help me get a million views so Hopsin doesn’t die. They just want to post so it comes up on someone’s Facebook feed. Get that click, make that website more successful. They don’t really care and I know this. It’s just all bulls**t. So, yeah I’m going to pull more publicity stunts saying that I’m going to quit. Maybe I’ll post a picture where I hung myself and say that I’m dead. And then say, 'Sike!' It’s all a game to me. And I hate doing interviews because it can make it seem like something that you are not."
On Why He Doesn’t Collaborate With Other Rappers: "A lot of rappers hit me but these are just rappers that are mildly popping. I’m not against collaborating. I just have a hard time writing. In order for me to find Hopsin, it’s like I have to channel some energy within me. Right now, Hopsin is not here. Well, right now I’m Hopsin in physical form. I look like him. But, it’s an energy and he’s not always there. I have to summon Hopsin. I can only bring Hopsin out and he only comes out when it’s serious. I’ve sat there for hours on collaborations and I make people mad. They’ll send me a beat and I’ll just be in the studio for hours. I’m just like, 'Dude, there’s no Hopsin.' Then, I tell my sister, ‘OK, just tell them that I can’t do it. I’m trying my best but I don’t know where it’s at.’ Then, people hear my song and are like, ‘You can rip that but you can’t rip my s**t?’ It’s so hard. I tell people I don’t charge for collabs. I do it out of love. But, when they send the beat, they never get it back. It’s hard to channel Hopsin."
On the Future of His Label, Funk Volume: "We are doing a lot of stuff to bring the label up as a whole. We are just on the come up. We just want to make a dope team where everyone is dope...not just one artist. We want every artist to be successful, to have their own type of beast mode. I definitely want to keep the label going. I would be very hurt if it died down. We are always going hard and we are very professional. We have conference calls every week. We’ve been doing that every week for the last five or six years. We just want to be a dope label, stay independent, and break down all these industry rules."
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(Photo: Tommy Garcia/Funk Volume)