‘I Don’t Get Into Politics, I Just Stand on the Truth’ A Conversation With Waka Flocka Flame
Waka Flocka Flame found himself at the center of firestorm last week. His appearance on Sway In the Morning turned to politics and Waka stepped into a mine field of controversy.
“I’m uneducated, so for me to sit here like a college professor, I’m wrong,” he said. “I’m uneducated, I’m confused, but I’m damn sure not black. You’re not gonna call me black. My grandmother’s not Crayola. I’m connected to a tribe, not a country. There’s a big difference.” The Atlanta rapper's comments led to a dragging on social media.
Waka hasn't held his tongue ever since he burst onto the scene back in 2009. He became one of the most prominent of the new school of 2010s rappers, but despite those early successes, Waka suffered through losses. He went through a public feud with longtime friend Gucci Mane that began shortly after Gucci fired Waka's mother Debra Antney as his manager. Waka's younger brother Kayo Redd committed suicide in 2013. He also endured his own difficulties with his mom.
Waka put the mic down for a while and took on reality television making appearances with his wife on VH1's Love and Hip Hop.
But he's back in the studio, prepping Flockavelli 2 and releasing singles. He's dropped "Circles" and "Big Dawg," and Waka stopped by The BoomBox offices to discuss the past, the future—and how messy things get when you talk about politics.
You caught flak for your comments about your race. T.I. recently boycotted the restaurant Houston's in Atlanta because of discrimination and other celebrities are taking a stance on political issues. Having faced a backlash, what's your take on celebs speaking out?
I fuck with it and I don't. I'm not a politician. I don't get into politics, I just stand on the truth. I don't boycott because, personally, I'm not with holding up signs while niggas is swinging bats and macing people. I'm going to retaliate.
At the end of the day, it's the people in the corporations that are controlling everything who don't care. People talking about the NFL players not taking the knee but he has bills and needs to take care of his family. Not saying he shouldn't take the knee but we need something in place for the players who do take the knee that could help support their families.
So when are we really going to support each other? How far does the support go? That support has to go far, it has to go into your dinner plate, into your bedroom, into the clothes you put on your back, into the gas you put in your car. That's support.
You love 2Pac and he was famously outspoken. What about Pac inspires you?
His passion. If it wasn't for Pac I wouldn't know anything about philosophy. If it wasn't for Pac I would have never asked why? He made me rebellious, not with authority but my thinking. He made me question what people were teaching me. I didn't know who Machiavelli was until 2Pac. Machiavelli was an ill person.
If I had to describe Machiavelli in one word I'd say "mind," that's all he played was his mind. His mental was strong and that was Pac–his mental was strong. That's why people like that talk with passion and growing up I knew I was a passionate person. I know if I believe something and I know it's right and everyone in the room is acting like it's wrong I'm going to make sure that at the end of the night everybody in the room is going to say, "Oh, he was right."
You said before that the death of your brother made you kind of wild out, how are you doing now?
I'm here. That shit was back then, I made it through it—I'm here. That's something you don't get over. I don't care what you try, what you do. Somebody or something might make you forget about it, but it's going to be those holidays and birthdays. It's gonna be those times you want to celebrate and come back home and that shit is still empty.
Why was it important for you to speak out and talk about your brother's suicide?
I had to tell the truth. A lot of people hit me up and asked me how did I get over it. They would ask how I dealt with it—especially with the blogs and the media. I can't pay attention to that because if you're paying attention to that, you're not changing.
You're still going back to your old ways and that's going to bring back old feelings. You can't change shit nobody put out–it's out there. But it's not for you to fight it, to tell the truth. Some shit I just let people believe, I really don't care. If that's how you feel—that's on you.
Your next album is a follow-up to Flockaveli. What made you want to release a follow-up to the album now and keep the name?
Why Flockaveli? It's not that I'm trying to remake that album, That’s what my fans as a whole and on a mainstream level know hip-hop to be when it came from me. They know Flockaveli, so I want them true core hip-hop fans and my underground fans to know that it's still Flockaveli. I'm gonna keep that essence on this album.
What can listeners expect? How will it be different from previous projects?
It's Brick Squad on this album, this cd is straight for Brick Squad fans, this ain't for nobody else. And why I'm saying Brick Squad fans is because I've toured the whole world and we have a lot of Brick Squad fans. I was in Germany and somebody yelled, "Yo, Slim Dunkin man, bless up." For somebody to tell you that over across the water, that's deep. (*note: Brick Squad affiliate Slim Dunkin was murdered in Atlanta 2011) That let me know that Brick Squad, we running shit. They wanna hear Brick Squad again, they want to hear that sound.
Where are you at now with Gucci Mane?
In some ways, Pac and I are the same, and in some ways, we aren't. I remember Gucci signing Ralo and Ralo saying, "Niggas betta not say nothing about Gucci name again." I'm like whoa that lil nigga put his name in some beef, I should peter-roll this nigga. Or I could take the grown man approach. I had seen him the week before he signed with Gucci and he was like, "I fuck with ya music."
And he asked me how Gucci and I fell out and I told him that was between me and Gucci. When I see shit like that, that's the difference, I could have taken the Pac approach and sent my lil niggas to get him then I'd been on Gucci head everywhere he's at. But at the end of the day that's corny, I'm pressing a button that doesn't need to be pushed.
All that shit is old, he 1017, I'm Brick Squad. That's what it always was, we just came together and was 1017 Brick Squad, that's how it is. If we ever come back together it would be a 1017 Brick Squad album.
How has your relationship been with your mom? She's been your manager but now you’re older—it seems things have changed some.
It was weird, since like 2012 to like 2015 there were a lot of ups and downs. In 2012, I told my mother I didn't want a manager, I wanted to do it myself. Because she's my mom, so at the end of the day she's going to be taken care of regardless. I didn't want anyone to take care of my career from the approach of a mother.
I wanted someone to look at my career as a business move. We good now, but I don't want to do business with my family because it takes the love of being a family out. It's hard to distinguish business and family when you're doing business with family.
You're a rapper, you’re on reality television, and you're married. How is it to be in a relationship with Tammy Rivera that's so public?
We had a get to a point where we both were comfortable being honest. Even with the things that happened in past we just got to a point where it's just I love you. You ain't going nowhere and I ain't going nowhere–just don't hurt me. And I was like damn she right, respect. With me and her, we do this together so it's different now.
What made you decide to give up meat? Did you see the Netflix documentary, What the Health?
I've been a pescatarian since February, I just saw the documentary two months ago, I didn't do it because of that. I became a pescatarian because I was eating vegan for like two years. When I became a pescatarian it was like I can cheat a little now. It's hard to dodge the seafood. And then Tammy cooked all this good food, she was going hard, so then I made the switch to becoming a pescatarian.
For the last two weeks, I haven't eaten meat, when I ate vegan I was one way, I was literally happy. Nobody could make me mad, I was at the airport and people would bump me and I'd be cool. It turned me into a nice guy. I was always a nice person but it turned me into a nice guy. Especially when my brother committed suicide it changed me.
Who are you listening to right now?
Lucci, Big K.R.I.T, 6Lack, this new rapper from Atlanta named Crazy Black. I listen to everybody.
Watch Waka Flocka Flame's Video for "Big Dawg":