|Label:||The L.Y.F.E Music|
|Next Project:||In Love With My Future|
|Twitter:||GhostWridah on Twitter|
Underground hip-hop is full of idealistic up-and-comers who believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re destined for superstardom, but precious few are as justified in their optimism as GhostWridah. Since introducing himself to our readers with the Shawty Lo-assisted “Born & Raised” more than two years ago, the Miami hopeful (and exclusive freestyle series contributor) has proven himself as an artist with both the skills to succeed and the determination to follow through on his big dreams. With the arrival of his latest street release, the rising star is preparing to take his game to the next level, showing hip-hop heads across the globe exactly why he’s “In Love With My Future.”
Ghost’s forthcoming, Booth-sponsored street album will find the unsigned (but probably not for much longer) emcee digging deeper than ever before, reflecting on topics from the pros and cons of celebrity (“Still Not Famous”) to the perils of an addiction to luxury goods (“Red Bottoms”) in tracks as packed with catchy beats as they are with lyrical insight. Executive produced by none other than heavyweight beatsmith/DJ Don Cannon, the eagerly-anticipated set is guaranteed to be the talk of the hip-hop nation when it hits our front page in June.
In an exclusive interview with our own DJ “Z,” GhostWridah steps into the Booth to discuss the “L.Y.F.E.” philosophy behind his music, what N.Y.C. taught him about the hustle, and the real story behind the “Red Bottoms” controversy.
Listen to the Interview
GhostWridah Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy, “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a Miami native with a taste for females who wear “R-r-red Bottoms.” Still Not Famous, but we have a feeling he will be pretty soon, please welcome GhostWridah – how you doing?
GhostWridah: I’m good, my brother, everything’s good, man, can’t complain. I’m enjoying a beautiful day in Miami, it’s nice and sunny down here.
DJ Booth: You must have pushed some of that Miami sun our way, ‘cause it’s nice in Chicago too, for the first time in months.
GhostWridah: That’s good, that’s beautiful, man. We’ve got enough sun to share with everybody. It gets very hot down here, so y’all deserve that. As cold as it gets in Chicago, y’all need that.
DJ Booth: Yeah, we do. Thank you very much for that, and for joining me inside the Booth for an interview.
GhostWridah: Not a problem. Thank you for having me, brother.
DJ Booth: Absolutely. Before I immersed myself into the music business and, more specifically, hip-hop culture, the first I had ever heard of the term “ghostwriter” was on a TV show that aired in the early ‘90s. It was a kids’ show, kind of like an educational-mystery collabo, if you will. Now, I know from reading your bio that you earned your stage name ‘cause you penned verses for all your friends growing up, but if you want to admit to the world that it’s really because of the same TV show I watched, I won’t laugh at you.
GhostWridah: [laughs] Nah, you know what? People always get that confused – they always think I’m talkin’ about the dude who rides on the bike with the skull on fire. I’m like, “Nah, I just changed the spelling, but it ain’t that, man.” A lot of people get it confused. I’m glad I got the chance to clear that up; it’s not about the show. It was a great show and a great movie, but that wasn’t my inspiration for it.
DJ Booth: All right, glad we got that out of the way. You caught our attention early last year, right before you released the Internet-acclaimed 305s & Heartbreak. When you put that project together, which is a spinoff, obviously, of Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak, did you think it was gonna garner the attention that it received, or were you just having fun, showcasing your skills, and then the next thing you know, spotlight’s on you?
GhostWridah: Honestly, when I did the project, I didn’t have any expectations for it. I wanted to do a mixtape that wasn’t the average, “Let me rap over every industry beats that’s hot and on the radio right now.” When I do things, I wanna make sure I do something that’s gonna stand out, and that’s something that’s gonna be memorable, and that people can hold onto and say, “This is something that’s new and fresh.” I’d gone through a bunch of my favorite albums at the time, I thought, “You know what? A lot of people had mixed feelings about this 808s & Heartbreak project, a lot of people didn’t like the singing…” I wanted to place my project [within that conversation] and I just took that whole project, picked my favorite Kanye records, made instrumentals, and I rapped on them. Just out of lovin’ what I do, not havin’ any expectations for it. I would hope that everyone loved it, but at the end of the day it was just me doin’ me, and makin’ good music.
DJ Booth: Do you keep a copy in your back pocket, in case you bump into Kanye at an industry event?
GhostWridah: No, I don’t, but that’s a good idea! I think I’m gonna need to start doin’ that. I don’t know if he’s heard it to this day, but he will – I promise you, I’m sure he will.
DJ Booth: I suggested the CD, but you might want to go with a zip drive or a jump drive – it’s smaller, and you won’t crush it if you sit down on it. That would probably be a better idea also. [laughs]
GhostWridah: [laughs] Right, right, right… definitely good advice from DJBooth.
DJ Booth: [laughs] Absolutely. Now, a few years ago, I know that you temporarily moved North from Miami to New York. Having since moved back to the 305, what did you learn from your time while in New York, arguably the Mecca of the music industry, and in hindsight do you view your time in the Big Apple as a success or a failure, because it was only a few years.
GhostWridah: Yeah, I know. In hindsight, you know what? When I sit down and I think about it, I learned how to hustle in that city, man. Like, out there, there’s a brother on every corner, sellin’ a sock, a shoe, a CD, a belt – the hustle in New York is incredible. If I could say one thing about that city, it’s that they breed hustlers, man. And one thing I learned and I got from being out there, from one of my mans is, “Yo, you’re out here, you’re a fresh face and nobody knows you. Get out here on these corners with us and pass your CDs out!” I tried it; at the end of the day, it wasn’t my thing, to stand out there on the corners. But I tried to grind, and I learned a lot as far as the hustle tip goes.
DJ Booth: I learned that while you were there, you took the initiative to start your own label, L.Y.F.E. Music Group, and “L.Y.F.E.” stands four “Live Your Future Everyday,” which I love – I love that. Obviously, and I’m sure you would agree with me, it’s easy to say “Live your future every day,” but I know for a lot of people who are going through a struggle or a hard time, it’s hard to actually think it and then do it. How do you make sure that you actually, in your life, follow that acronym?
GhostWridah: I think about that every single day, when I wake up. Honestly, when I say my prayers, that’s the only thing on my mind – my tomorrows are on my mind because, within this very second, as soon as you ask me this question, that moment is over, it’s the past. Every single day I walk with that on my shoulders, every day of my life – that’s on my mind. I have a brother that’s in prison that comes home in a year. I’ve got things that I gotta set up for him. I’ve got a lot of people that’s dependent on me in this situation, not just financially but emotionally as well. That’s what it’s about for me, so every day I wake up doin’ that. It’s more than just an acronym; like, it’s bigger than that for me – it’s what I live, you know what I mean?
DJ Booth: Absolutely. You mentioned your brother briefly, and I know that he’s been in prison for most of your life. Having maintained a relationship with him throughout the years that you’ve been apart, how have his stories, his advice, his wisdom helped to shape both you as a person and the landscape of your music?
GhostWridah: First and foremost, I don’t know if a lot of people know this, but my brother used to rap, so he was one of the driving inspirations for me as an artist. He was, like, the first person I’d seen pick up a pen and write music. So, he inspired me to do what I’m doing right now. Him being in prison, his situation kept me out of prison. Him being there and his words and him tellin’ me, “Listen, I’ve been here 15, 16 years of my life, and when I come out I’m almost 40. This is not what you want. You talk about your future every single day of your life; my future’s here in this box.” And those words, they kept me out, it kept me out of the streets, it kept me out of situations that could have possibly put me in a box.
DJ Booth: When you talk to your brother about what you’re doing in your life right now, about your career, does he have an idea of where you’re really at, based upon the fact that he’s so far removed from where the record industry’s at in 2010, or does he have a pretty good idea?
GhostWridah: Believe it or not, man, there’s some dudes in prison that’ll tell you what’s goin’ on next week, and you might not even know about it. I have no clue – they’re really in touch with the streets in there. Even in federal prison. In prison, you’ve got the radio stations. He gets the Vibe magazines, he gets certain publications that come in there.
DJ Booth: And then when he’s out, we can petition the prison to allow all the inmates at least one hour a day to log on to DJBooth.net so they can stay in tune with what’s going on in life and music.
GhostWridah: See, that’s what they need! For real – if you go to any site, make sure you go to DJBooth.net. Real sh*t.
DJ Booth: [laughs] Now, it all makes sense, cause you have titled your upcoming project In Love With My Future and I think you’ll agree that, as we grow older, our expectations which we hold for the future, they constantly evolve, they constantly mature and change. So, right this very second, describe the future as you foresee it, in which you would find yourself in love with it.
GhostWridah: Oh man, what a great question. You know what? I would say this, to sum it all up: I just wanna be successful. As long as I’ve done something better than I did yesterday, I’m good with that. Like, I want a Grammy. If I don’t get it tomorrow, I’m not mad at it. If I get it in 10 years, I’m good. But at the end of the day, if I didn’t get a Grammy and I got an MTV Award next week, or I got a BET Award next week, as long as I’m progressing and moving forward, I’m a success.
DJ Booth: And that answer parlays us perfectly into my next question. My personal favorite record of yours to date – and, granted I have not listened to your entire catalog, so it’s from a smaller sample size – is the recently-DJBooth-charted “Still Not Famous.” In the song, you keep it really, really real, and discuss what doesn’t make someone famous, ‘cause I think the perception in this industry is that you don’t really need to do much to be a name. Ghost, do you believe that vulnerability and candidness are two of your strongest musical traits?
GhostWridah: You know what? You’re absolutely right. I do, because I leave myself open for my fans when I write my music. I don’t wanna paint that same beautiful picture that everybody paints as an artist, and have someone under me think, “This is what it is? This is all I need, to get famous?” It’s not that easy. So I just wanna give people my real life, my real stories. I want them to feel like they can come tap me on the shoulder and ask me a question. And if I have to do that lyrically, or if I have to do that, me even havin’ a conversation with the next person, that’s what I’m gonna do.
DJ Booth: In the comment section for the “Still Not Famous” feature, one of our regular members, Mr. Top Hat, who hails from India, he wrote, “This record, it’s not for playback for mere entertainment’s sake, but rather something that provides a close, rich and fulfilling listening experience.” When you hear that your music literally can change a person’s life, what does that feel like?
GhostWridah: It’s indescribable. ‘Cause, when I write my music, I don’t have expectations for it. I just put it out, and I put out what I’m going through. Music is such a beautiful thing because, like you say, somebody in India, if they can reach somebody that’s going through the same thing and that can fully understand what I’m doin’, I’m doin’ my job. And it’s beautiful, man. Still, to this day, when I see comments like that, or when I read the comments on your site and I see the kind of love and support that I’m getting, it still shocks me to this day. Like, I’ll go down, I’ll go through some of the comments with my brother and [I’ll say,] “This is crazy! See what this guy put?” And he’s like, “Why is this surprising to you?” and I’m like, “Because still, each and every day, no matter what, nobody has to take the time out of their day to write anything, and when they do nine times out of 10, it’s something that you’re not gonna like.” You know how the haters do it on the web, you know what I’m sayin’?
DJ Booth: They work much harder than the people who like you.
GhostWridah: Exactly! It’s something that I haven’t gotten over yet. I hope I don’t ever lose that feeling. I don’t wanna get comfortable with comments and with what people say about me. I never wanna get comfortable with it. I would love to have that feeling for the rest of my life.
DJ Booth: That’s interesting that you’d mention comfort. What do you think you need to do as an artist to never get complacent? Because I’ve heard other artists that I’ve done interviews with say something similar, and in recent years they’ve seen lots of success, and they’ve changed. And I’m sure it’s easy to change – I’m sure it’s easier to change than it is to stay the same, so how do you avoid that?
GhostWridah: Honestly, man, to be one hundred percent honest, I wouldn’t know. Because I’ve never touched a hundred million dollars before. I’ve never touched a million dollars before, so I don’t know what it feels like to transition from being a guy who’s making maybe two, three thousand a show to making 100 grand a show. But, at the end of the day, two hundred million dollars can make you feel real comfortable. It can make you feel like you ain’t gotta do sh*t ever again in your life, you know what I’m sayin’?
DJ Booth: Yeah, well, I’ll tell you what: if you get that rich, I’d like for you to make me feel more comfortable, too, so you can share some if you want!
GhostWridah: [laughs] Exactly, exactly!
DJ Booth: [laughs] Well, the other song we featured that garnered some attention, both for the right and wrong reason, is “Red Bottoms.” Now, it’s no surprise, word got out on the ‘net about the situation that occurred between you and Don, but ultimately, in the end, it’s created a great opportunity for you, and I know that Don is on board to executive produce the new project. So, describe how this all came to fruition now, and how you feel about it moving forward.
GhostWridah: I got the record at Poe Boy. I rapped on the record, they thought it was incredible, they loved it. They explained to me, “We’re gonna reach out to Don Cannon’s people and make sure it’s clear, and everything’s a go.” So me, bein’ in artist mode and not in business mode, which I’ll never do again, we released the record, and I did it blindly, and [I thought] “They’re gonna take care of it, I’m not gonna worry about the business end.” And when we put it out, Cannon spazzed out on his Twitter. Now I’m on the phone tryin’ to reach out to my people, I sent the record out to you – I’m just grateful to God that that didn’t tarnish my relationship with DJBooth. And it turns out that that beat was actually sold to Rich Hil, Tommy Hilfiger’s son. When I actually got Cannon on the phone, I think you guys actually made that happen for me as well, it was incredible. He actually heard the record, thought it was great, he thought it was so good that he offered Rich Hil two or three beats to get that one beat back for me, and from there the rest is history. He’s executive producing the project, he’s working on the actual album, right now with the situation that I’ve got goin’ on with these labels. So I’ve got some good situations goin’ on right now. Cannon turned out to be a really great guy.
DJ Booth: Well, everyone is looking forward to the release of your new album, In Love With My Future. Give everyone some more information on how they can find out about you, the upcoming project, and your bright future.
GhostWridah: My bright future, my bright future, I pray it will stay that way. What you can do is you can go to ghostwridah.com, I just launched the new website. [In Love With My Future] will be available exclusively on DJBooth.net and on my site. Be on the lookout for that. It’s dropping in June. I might drop it on the same day that Drake and Game drop. I’m ready, I’m excited – this project is something I stand behind, I love the records that we’ve leaked so far, great responses, I’m ready to go!
DJ Booth: I love how excited you sound about everything, and that certainly has me excited. I thank you so much for takin’ the time to join me inside the DJ Booth for the interview, and as always I wish you nothing but the best of luck, Ghost.
GhostWridah: Hey, thank you for havin’ me, and I appreciate it. We’re going in, man. Just make sure you amp everybody up and let everybody at DJBooth.net know I’m coming!