I’ve immersed myself in Velma‘s tracklist so many times that every song has had it’s chance to get stuck in my head (even the interludes). If you heed Drake’s suggestion in “F**kin’ Problems” to “print the lyrics out and have a fucking read-along,” you might believe that this is the product of a seasoned poet pouring his heart out during his mid-life crisis.
Teaming up in a garage with Pittsburgh production team One800, he pairs his experiences with buoyant beats and infectious guitar riffs to deliver the twelve tracks of Velma, one of my favorite projects of the year. He tells me over a Zoom call that he “wanted to paint a picture that people could rip pieces off of, and put on their collage.” I ended up ripping some pieces out of our hour-long conversation as well (edited for content). Continue reading below.
Zac: What’s it like having so much support from Rostrum?
My Favorite Color: It’s dope. They treat me like family. It’s dope to see they actually care about their artists. A lot of times there could be A&Rs fucking with an artist, but then the people that work for the label don’t even know your name, they dont know your craft, they don’t know anything. It’s crazy being in a Rostrum group chat and they know my shit better than I do. They look out for me. I could talk to the label head any time I need to. It’s organic.
I’m sure when most people think Rostrum Records, they immediately think of Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa. How do you handle that comparison?
Mac Miller is one of my favorite artists ever. Wiz was one of the first rappers I actually invested time into learning his whole catalog. It’s an honor to even have that type of pressure to live up to them. It’s an honor that people even give me the same exact chance they gave them. I think it’s super dope my name could even be mentioned in the place that they started.
Besides Wiz and Mac who were some of your early influences?
Isaiah Rashad’s my favorite rapper, period. Before I even started making music I was like, “Aight, I want my shit to sound kind of like this.” I loved Odd Future, Frank Ocean, Earl, Tyler, and a ton of alternative shit. Random rock. Neo soul. A combination of bending genres.
I like movies a lot too, so I would invest my time into old-ass films. I think every 5 years there are [so many differences in dialogue]. I love diving into the fact that people change that much with reality and new cultures, so I try to apply that to my music. I try to stay diverse and have a new story and get more and more detailed just because of how detailed [what] I watch is.
It’s interesting you say that, because one thing about Velma that I thought was a breath of fresh air is that it doesn’t overflow with pop-culture references. Simple words can get the point across.
I think on “Still” I was rapping rapping a little bit more but that’s just to show people that I’m capable. I feel like I have 5 albums in the cut. Velma’s 2 years old. It’s been done for 2 years.
Were you at all worried about whether a 2 year old record would still apply to you as a person?
That’s a great question because I talk about that a lot. Putting out an old album is super dope because if it can still stand the test of time, that’s amazing. But the sad part is, in the hip-hop world you have to promote yourself in a way that also applies to your craft. A lot of times it’s like I’m promoting who I was 2 years ago. Of course I have changed a lot, but it’s cool because I changed to the point where I totally understand who I was 2 years ago.
Whenever I wrote Velma I didn’t understand who I was, I didn’t understand what I was going through, etc. But now I’m at a point where it all just makes sense. If anyone has a question about the album or how I felt during a song, it’s so easy to have a response because … I know now. I’ve grown.
That’s great to hear. I have to ask, what’s your favorite color? And how did you come up with the name “My Favorite Color”?
My favorite color is orange. But my name actually has nothing to do with what my favorite color is. Before I started rapping, I told my mom that I really wanted to rap. She basically told me how to come up with your own style and the best way to go about it. She said it’s like coming up with a color you’ve never seen before. Whenever I started making music and I was fucking with it, I was like, “Wow. I don’t know a lot of stuff sounding like this. This is my favorite color. I’m my favorite color.”
Besides the fact that there’s a song called “Funeral” on the album, I noticed some death related bars strung throughout other tracks. What’s your stance on death? Are you afraid of it? Are you welcoming it?
I’m not afraid of death because it’s inevitable, but I’m not welcoming death because it’s taboo. People are so ignorant to the thought of it because none of us know what it is. I like to touch on it because people talk about it like it doesn’t exist … I try my best to present it in a relatable way, but it’s an unspoken relatability. A lot of people won’t admit it’s relatable until they relate to it.
Do you think there’s a difference in being able to connect with artists in Pittsburgh vs LA?
No. I think its all about how good you are just talking to people … In Pittsburgh, a lot of artists would want to talk to me, already being a popular one in the city. [You could walk up like] “Yo do you fuck with grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly?” Thats a whole conversation right there. And at the end of that you could say “Oh, by the way, I make music.”
LA is different because everyone here thinks they’re something. So it’s all about not having the same ego as certain people, staying true to yourself … A lot of famous people think that [everybody] just wants something from them, but I don’t want anything from anyone. If I ever met 24hrs or Dom Kennedy or MadeinTYO, I think I’d give off an aura that I’m just a cool kid who happens to be here and happens to rap. I’m just telling jokes the same way I would in English class in 11th grade.
[The best] advice I could give about connecting with artists is to have a reason to connect with them. Don’t force anything. It’s the same as writer’s block. You force writer’s block, you’re gonna fuck up your words. You force friendships, you’re gonna fuck up (pauses) your friends.
It’s no wonder to me that the adolescent-like sliver of his personality attracts others. We even discuss how brands like Myro deodorant and Smarties have taken an interest in his style.
You know how people have private rooms in studios? I just want a room of opened Smarties all the way to the top. “Yo don’t open that door!” Then somebody opens it and they’re like, “Yo, that’s the most inconvenient room ever! Why do you have this?!”
See what I mean?
What’s your favorite candy?
It started being inconvenient to my life, so I stopped eating candy around 10th grade. It gave me eight cavities. I was so addicted to candy in 9th grade I would get Starbursts and Skittles, and I would shove the Skittles inside of the Starburst, and I called them Skartles. I would sell them in high school. In class we had this Shark Tank project, and I made those and everybody gave it a thumbs up. Shoutout to Skartles.
The existence of Skartles piques my curiosity about his titling process.
Do you typically come up with song titles after writing them?
Always after. Sometimes it’s a hook, or a word I didn’t actually say in the song. It just has to be something that applies to how I felt.
Was it the same way with the album title?
I knew I wanted it to be called Velma forever, I just didn’t know why. I knew that I wanted that name to represent something way bigger than a Scooby Doo character. It’s equivalent to how people call the devil Lucy. I love albums with names you don’t instantly understand. Hearing Doris for the first time I was like “Why is it called this? Let me listen and understand.” Even if you don’t hear [the word] “Doris” a million times it’s like, “Damn, that felt like Doris.”
“Is Velma a bitch or is she nice?” That’s exactly what life is and that’s exactly what we ask about the industry. It’s perfect to not really understand it.
I sense that you have a lot of yin and yang ideas. Do you have a certain mantra about life?
That’s basically it. I think there’s good and evil, but I think they’re both the same thing … It’s a never ending battle of perception. A lot of things are perception based. It’s very complex. It’s literally hard to talk about because you could be perceiving what I’m saying wrong right now. I think shit’s very deep.
Do you think communication can iron out any issues with perception?
No. I think that’s the first step that’s wrong with perception. People try to communicate it. People try to understand it with words. Meanwhile perception is how you’re mentally perceiving something.
Of course, actions could help explain your perception to someone, showing them why you feel like this about this. But at the end of the day, it’s how you feel and how they feel. Neither of you are wrong because it’s how you [both] feel.