Q&A With Slim The Mobster: Discusses Dr. Dre, Music Vs. Streets & Fake Rappers

By Jay Casteel (@JayCasteel)  |  11/30/2011

Slim The Mobster - Photo by Estevan Oriol

Slim The Mobster is a newcomer from South Central Los Angeles with backing from one of the game's biggest and most consistent producers in hip-hop history: Dr. Dre. The young rapper has been working behind the scenes with the legendary producer for the last few years, and has finally stepped out from behind the curtains and into hip-hop fans' radars.

His first offering is his debut street album/mixtape, titled War Music, in which he makes his introduction. Comprised of 11 tracks -- including features from Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Prodigy -- the Dre protege shines, effortlessly painting pictures of Los Angeles' inner-city through his raw lyrics.

Dre recently stated that his musical focus will be Slim and rising west coast star Kendrick Lamar, so you know this guy's official ... because Dre doesn't co-sign anyone less than stellar. With that being said, Slim is definitely someone to watch for, and he gives you an appetizer with War Music (Download it at MixtapePass.com).

We were able to link up with Slim for an exclusive interview and photoshoot (shot by legendary L.A. photographer Estevan Oriol), where we got acquainted and he tells us about his journey from the block to one of the most in-accessible rooms in the music biz -- Dr. Dre's studio.

Now, it's your turn to get acquainted...

BallerStatus.com: You've called your first meeting and opportunity to work with Dre like hitting the lottery. What happened? How did you link up with Dre, and what was it like getting into the studio with him initially?

Slim The Mobster: When I gave him my number, I wrote my number on a lottery ticket. That's what made him call me. Once I started working with him, at first, it took some time getting used to. But, it's cool now.

Slim The Mobster - Photo by Estevan OriolBallerStatus.com: It seems like a long time, but it's just been a few years since you first hooked up with Dre. How have you changed over this time, as far as your mentality, your work ethic, etc.?

Slim: A lot of things changed. I just think it was the best thing for me. You don't always get all the right opportunities and chances in your life, so I've been blessed.

BallerStatus.com: Obviously, you were doing music before, but what have you learned, working with him and others in the camp, thus far?

Slim: Patience ... definitely patience. I learned more about life, in general. He showed me a lot of things, just as a grown man.

BallerStatus.com: In a previous interview (with DubCNN) you said that the "hustler" lifestyle appealed to you, and you chose that over rap music. Why? And, what you made you change your mind?

Slim: My mom, my dad -- they was young -- so, my grandma raised me. When you're able to do certain things that you wouldn't normally be able to do, you gonna take advantage of it. I felt like, when I was young, my grandma was a lil slower, so I could do things a lil faster. Like, I caught on fast -- I knew how to sneak out of my house and steal her car when she was asleep (laughs). Versus, if it were my mom and dad, it wouldn't have happened. [Grandma] goes to sleep at 9 at night, feel me? Those little things is the things that made me start in the streets, because you're looking for someone you can relate you. When you're a teenager, and your grandma is in her 50s, it's gonna be hard for her to even catch up, or keep up with you. So, I found more comfort with the dudes that was hustling on the block, rather than being at home. I just left.

I guess I was 12, 13... was when I started rapping for fun. Around the same time, I started finding out about the streets, is when I started finding out about the music. It was just for fun, though.

BallerStatus.com: By now, people know your uncle is former drug kingpin, Freeway Rick Ross. He has quite a story himself. Has he given you advice, career-wise, and what kind of impact did his past have on your?

Slim: He just told me to use the same mentality that I had in the streets. Not far as the physical mentality, but the hustle and the grind. You can't forget about those things. [And] to be right, be legit. It's easy to get bad money, but bad money go fast. When you work for something, you spend it a little different than just some regular street money. It's harder, like we work for this money. It's easy to blow whatever, because you feel like you could do it again because you did it already.

BallerStatus.com: You've have your debut project, War Music. Tell us a little about that.

Slim: We got new things on there, couple old things on there. It's not something that's been done for two, three years though. It's new, but it doesn't take a long time for me to make music.

BallerStatus.com: Dre is very particular about what he releases to the public. Obviously, Detox has been in the works forever, and it seems he's never happy with it. What Dre's involvement in War Music?

Slim: Dre is letting me do it. It's a different time than it was 10 years ago. Like, certain things gotta happen, and I guess he sees that, so we making those things happen.

BallerStatus.com: It's called "War Music." Can you tell us about its overall concept?

Slim: "War" is the bad, and "Music" is the good, you know? It's the only two things that keep me sane, knowing what I have to face if I go back to the streets. Those are real issues to me. It ain't no fairy tale. Some dudes are like "I'm really in the streets." Well, I'm not in the streets, I'm in pursuit of my career. You gotta figure out what's more important.

The War Music whole thing was like .... it's a time right now like I have to go through some things to get what I really want. It's like a trailer, you feel me? I'm just getting ready to go up to the next level, so War Music is like the lead up to the movie. That's when you gonna get to really see what I'm talking about. Right now, I'm not the average type of rapper, because I'm not talking about what the average rappers be talking about.

BallerStatus.com: What's your process as far as picking and choosing what makes the album and what doesn't?

Slim: Really, I like whatever the bitches like. I might be in the studio working, and I'll play some music and whatever I get the most response from (good or bad), then I'm gonna go with that song. As long as you talk about it, that's where I gotta go. Even if you say something bad, at least you gave me a reaction, which says it touched you in some way.

BallerStatus.com: Sha Money XL is involved. He's a veteran producer and businessman in the music game. How much input did he have on "War Music?"

Slim: Dr. Dre introduced me to Sha Money. That's my other hat. That's my business. He's everything to the project, me and him.

BallerStatus.com: I read, in a previous interview, that you like to listen to mellow music, like Usher, etc. Your music is so raw and for the streets, so how does listening to R&B influence you?

Slim: It ain't even about the influence, the music just like ... if you're a construction worker, the last thing you wanna hear when you get home is a hammer. Like, for me, I [rap] and know all about it, so I wanna hear something different. I don't wanna hear what I already know. With R&B ... but not just that, I listen to heavy metal, rock, everything. Different times, soothes different moments.

Slim The Mobster - Photo by Estevan Oriol

BallerStatus.com: What's in your ride right now?

Slim: I got Miguel, I got Boyz II Men, Chris Brown, Jamie Foxx, Jazmine Sullivan... My music is part of my life -- sh** I've been through, and done. I don't know how to talk about love like a singer, you know? (laughs) So, I wanna hear other stuff when I'm not in the studio.

BallerStatus.com: What's your take on the current state of hip-hop? The youngsters are really making an impact... so what do you think of everything right now?

Slim: I ain't mad at it. I just feel like people should be more open to other things, but it's our job to make sure [the fans] like it. So, it's on us.

BallerStatus.com: Gangster rap has kind of declined (as far as popularity) from his prominence in the 1990s and early 2000s. Now you have a lot of youngsters, skateboarders, and white rappers making their marks. What do you think about that?

Slim: Well, Lil Wayne just sold almost a million units his first week. If you pay close attention to his music, he talking about being a Blood. He talking about "Pow Pow, Bang Bang" -- that's gangster rap. I don't care how categorize it, or how you dress to make it presentable to you, what he talking about is it... I think people tend to forget about that.

BallerStatus.com: It seems like being a "Blood" has become a trend in hip-hop. Do you have any feelings about that, being that you're a Crip from South Central?

Slim: That's just more proof that gangster rap ain't dead (laughs). If you pay attention, we got a crazy influence, because if you look in New York, we got a heavy influence out there if you really paying attention. Everywhere else too. You can say, "We ain't on that... whatever". But when you go to Chicago, they got rules and guidelines on they gangbanging tip too. Like I said, I think it's that people want to make it not ... not recognizing how big gangster rap really is. They scared of it. It cause some rappers lost their lives over it. But, if you believe that [gangster rap is not promeinent], than that's what it is. It's not something that nobody can change, but it's there underneath it all.

Me personally, I don't think it's dead. They trying to make it like it don't exsist. But, if you turn on the news, it ain't no different than what we talking about in our music. People tend to forget, they want musicians to be role models. I'm an entertainer, I'm not a role model. I'm a role model to my kids. But, what you teach your kids and what I teach mine, might to two different things entirely. Like, I gotta make sure that me and mines are on one accord; and you should do that same. I know what my kids listen to, do you? You know what I'm saying?

BallerStatus.com: Does it bother you though? When rappers portray something they aren't currently or never have lived?

Slim: That bothers me a lot, because half of the dudes that is doing it ain't about what they talk about. It's cool now to be a blood, because of the fashion statement that it is. But, like, I wouldn't tell nobody to join no gangs, to be no Blood or be no Crip, because if you really doing what you're supposed to be doing (as a gangbanger) than you could never be a rapper. Just being honest. I from where I'm from, I would never downplay my history, but I'm not gonna up-play the bullsh**. I really been through it, so I'm not gonna put my homies in more of a situation, when I already know the situation. If I don't know the situation then I'm not willing to put everybody in jeopardy through music -- like saying "cuz" on every record, and screaming "I'm from...(where ever)". I don't do that. I ain't gonna do that.

I'm here to entertain your thoughts and make you think. I don't want no kids to be fanscinated by what I'm saying in the music, I want them to be fascinated that I was able to come from the ghetto and make something good out of myself. That's what I want them to get out of it. Not "Oh, I'm a Crip from ..." I don't wanna do it on some gangbang level like that. I did that. Gangbanging is fun when it's new, but when you been doing it 10, 15 years, you look at it differently.

BallerStatus.com: When fans listen to War Music, what do you want fans to take from it?

Slim: I'm not at all promoting gang violence. I speak about certain things in a different way. If you tell your kids "Stop" in a calm voice, then they might not take you serious. But, if you tell them in an aggressive manner, there's more of a chance that they're gonna listen because you kinda scared them to listen to you. I say the same thing with my music. I'm giving you a message, and I'm giving it to you kinda hard, because that's how I really want you to understand it. I'm not telling you to go do anything. That's not what it's about.

Slim The Mobster - Photo by Estevan Oriol

BallerStatus.com: Over the years, artists have left Aftermath and their complaint was that they couldn't play the waiting game forever. Did you ever feel like that?

Slim: I made a couple dollars (laughs), I don't always go through the same thing everybody else go through. That's how I've been able to be so patient. There was a point in time that I wasn't even worried about my own record. I'm just waiting on my time. When they tell me "Hey, it's your turn." Then hey, I'm ready.

BallerStatus.com: You've been working with Dre on his Detox record, which is big. Have you ever sat back and really thought about how big of a project that is? And to be involved in it?

Slim: Nah, I never thought about it. It's like a job. When you go to work, you don't be like "Sh**, I finna go to work!!" You go to work and think "I gotta make sure I do my job right." I never really looked at it like it's this record or that record, I just go to work.

Photos shot by Estevan Oriol (EstevanOriol.com).