In theory, the world is ending – but at least we have some good music to vibe out to along this dark path of disorder and chaos. Uniquely enough, New York bred, California raised rapper Joey Trap has curated the Playlist for the End of the World — the title of his most recent album. Admittedly, this generation’s response to mayhem has been slightly indecent, remedied with facetious remarks and memes, which some may consider an act of deflection or dismissal.
But sometimes you have to ask yourself, if the world was coming to an abrupt end, would you rather spend your last moments in laughter or fear?
For Joey, his creative psyche embraces the world of animation: dishing out colorful, cartoonish, and seemingly apocalyptic music videos that look like something you’d see on Adult Swim. He’s pragmatic with a broad imagination and a keen eye for details, but more importantly, he’s ambitious. “I’ve never held back money from my career, because I think that any penny I invest in myself is always gonna come back to me. “
Outside of his natural talent for crafting catchy hooks and addictive melodies, Joey Trap is also a cannabis connoisseur.
“I’m in the cannabis industry, I like weed bro,” Joey shares with me over the phone while rolling his daily fix. There’s no denying the long-lived relationship between rap and the pungent plant, it’s intrinsic.
With undeniable talent and an unorthodox approach to introduce the world to his warped sense of humor through striking plots, Joey Trap is ready to ascend pass his viral buzz.
Let’s start things off with this question, where are you originally from?
I was born in New York. I’ve lived in New York for 15 years before I came out to San Diego, California – that’s where I am now.
When did music first become a priority in your life?
When I graduated from high school. I’m the type of person that doesn’t fuck with college. I’m not the type that’s gon’ sit at a nine-to-five, I don’t work well with authority, I like to be my own boss. So, I figured let me do a career where I can manage myself like that and I just started learning how to engineer, produce and record myself, and that’s how I took off.
With this in mind, were you self-taught throughout the entire learning process or did you have someone to cling to for advice?
I really just did it myself. If anything, YouTube taught me, but even then it only can teach you but so much, it’s really about perfecting the sauce yourself and just practicing over and over.
How instrumental is it to incorporate animation into your music videos?
Personally, when it comes to animation like that, the shit you be seeing, I don’t do that myself, but I help the animators come up with their storyboard the way I need them to. You can have very creative people, but if everyone can’t take direction, it’ll never work, know what I’m saying. With this recent new group of people I’ve been working with, they’re from Colombia. I’ve never heard of them before or seen anyone working with them, but their shit came out looking like a cartoon.
Have you ever thought about creating your own cartoon?
Yeah, I’m trying to, that shit is just mad expensive: it was like twenty-two thousand or some shit just for that ‘DIE4ME’ video, so I can only imagine how much it would be for a whole cartoon. That’s the only thing I would say is holding me back, but I already have shit in the works: just writing so that I can have something scripted, a whole concept. I used to watch Boomerang, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Disney when I was a little kid. Everybody that grew up in that same generation knows how good the animation was, prime time late 90’s, early 2000’s. Nowadays, niggas don’t even got the classic shit no more.
With being self-taught early on, I imagine you probably had to fund your own dreams to start. With everything that you’ve endured, for that starving artist that has all the ambition in the world to pursue their dreams but may not have the capital required, what would you say to them?
I came from nothing too bro. There was a day I had no money at all and the first time I got my $200 check, I went and got a $200 mic. As soon as you get capital to invest in yourself, that’s the only place you can put it when you’re broke. You gotta invest in yourself. I see it as I invested 20K in myself when I did that music video (‘DIE4ME’). Obviously, that’s on a larger scale, but there’s levels to it. If you’re able to do something to better yourself and better your career, I’d say do it. I’ve never held back money from my career, because I think that any penny I invest in myself is always gonna come back to me.
Playlist for the End of the World is a strangely specific album title. What are your thoughts on the apocalypse?
Shit man, I grew up and my parents were mad religious, so I’ve learned about a lot of different cultures and beliefs in that shit. I see it in the news and the things that are happening with natural disasters and shit like that. Things are happening where not just one book is talking about it, but many books around the world are talking about shit that’s happening today. There’s nothing we can do about it, so I just continue to do me, but I think it felt like something that everyone could relate to: shit is changing right now, it’s not the same.
Do you honestly feel like this is the beginning of the end, is that what you’re insinuating here?
Realistically, I feel like it’s been the beginning of the end since I was born (laughs). I don’t think I have until my 40’s. Not saying no cult shit, but I’m saying the world doesn’t have many resources left, them shits depleted my nigga.
If the world ended today, how would you like to be remembered?
I wouldn’t be remembered if that shit ended today mane, I don’t give a fuck (laughs). I think everybody that I come in contact with, I always ask them what they do, what are they doing with their life. Bro, stop working at fucking KFC and go get a job where you’re the boss yourself. That’s always been my shit, I just want people to realize that the system isn’t what we think it is, we’re holding ourselves back. I wanna be remembered as someone who did it on my own, the same way that everyone else can.
Have you always been this confident in yourself or has doubt every factored in?
Hell nah, anybody that’s an entrepreneur knows that there are times where business doesn’t feel like it’s working, and that’s fine. That confidence level has to be up there. If you’re going to break down every time something goes wrong, you in the wrong industry my nigga. If you’re trying to make money, you’re going to have to take that risk. You’re going to always bump into problems, but you gotta find a way to fix it and move around it.
Outside of music, do you have any other aspirations? It seems like today’s artists have more than one hustle.
I’m in the cannabis industry: I like weed bro. It’s my fucking hobby. I know every strain, who grows it, the genetics behind it, I know a lot about the shit. I had applied for Cultivating Manufacturing and Distribution in North Cal (California). So, for 2021, I’m gonna have cultivation operations and now I’m able to start my own brand of cannabis in California. Just to apply bro, that’s ninety racks ($90,000).
What’s your favorite strain?
Right now, London Pound Cake 75 and Tropicana Cookies. Those are my top two, and I grow both of them.
In terms of creative insight, how does smoking factor in musically, does that influence or enhance your drive?
Hell yeah, I take 5 dabs and feel like superman nigga (laughs). But nah, I ain’t gon’ cap, I get lazy off the weed, but whenever I smoke, I’m always working. Like right now, I’m rolling a blunt while talking to you, I got my laptop open, once we hang up I’m gonna make mad beats and go record. That’s what I do everyday bro, that’s (smoking) part of my creative process. I can’t wake up and not go straight to the blunt bro. I wake up, brush my teeth and go straight to smoke. Everyday, since I was 14, 15. It’s not that I can’t go without it, but I love to have it.
Who does Joey Trap make music for?
Shit, myself nigga. Aye, I ain’t gon’ cap, I make it (music) cuz’ it’s fun. I don’t care if nobody listens to my shit again in my life. I’m still gonna go to the studio and make a crazy as beat to bob my head to. Niggas be getting lost and too worried about impressing other people, that’s the problem with social media and our generation: people change their presentation for other people. I’m always gonna do everything that I wanna do so that I can be happy, that’s the most important thing to me.
Let’s expand on this a bit more, how do you best define happiness?
Ah shit nigga, I ain’t happy yet – I ain’t there. I don’t even know what the definition of that is, that’s a crazy question. Real talk, people can think that happiness is when you succeed, but I’ve succeeded before, abundantly more than anyone at my age. I still have that longing. I love that movie with Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happiness. Niggas is struggling the whole time, but you find that one thing that makes you happy and hold on to it. I feel like music makes me happy bro. I’m not ecstatic that I make music and I’m a rapper, but genuinely, when I get in there (the booth) and I make a slapper, I think to myself – this is fun, this is what I love to do.
When it comes to Joey Trap’s story, are you the hero or villain?
I ain’t either nigga (laughs). I’m just that nigga on the street in the hoodie selling drugs – but nah, I’m playing. I’m the villain, I’m the most hated. Niggas hate me bro and I don’t do nothing. Sometimes people are portrayed as villains because other people don’t fuck with them, like they’re the bad guy, but the whole time they chillin’.
How has 2020 impacted your creativity overall?
I leveled all the way up bro! Especially with all the events that happened to me during this year: niggas couldn’t tour, I can’t shoot videos in the places that I wanted to. What I realized is that people listen to music to relate to the artist or to feel like the artist. I want to make people feel like they’re just like me, I’m going through the same shit they do. I wanna be more conscious and be sure that all my bars match up: I want everything to hit. At the beginning of the year I was just playing around, but now I’m really on my shit.