St. Louis has bred some major players in hip-hop over the years. You got Nelly, who pretty much put the city on the map, and then Chingy followed. Last year, though, saw the introduction of Huey whose smash single “Pop, Lock & Drop It” catapulted the 19-year-old rapper (at the time) onto the singles charts rapidly.
No 20 years old and several months after his debut album Notebook Paper dropper, the young rapper is faced with the stigma that goes along with rappers who break into the with a smash single, but don’t end up matching the same success with their second and third singles. But, in Huey’s case, it was a little different. According to the St. Louis native, every song he’s dropped since “Pop, Lock & Drop It” has received great feedback from faces and although they did not sell the multi-million numbers of his smash single in ringtones, they are doing steady numbers. And to Huey, he can live with that, so it’s no time to count him out just yet.
In this exclusive interview, the rapper discusses a variety of topics — from how he got into the game, ringtone rapper comparisons, his aspirations for the future and his much publicized beef with Nelly.
Believe it or not, Huey is a down to earth type of guy and is grateful for everything he’s accomplished thus far in music. But at the young age of 20, he’s looking to the future and sees the sky as the limit.
BallerStatus.com: You’re only 19, but you’ve been rapping for a minute now. Tell me a little bit how you began rapping and how you were able to gain recognition locally in St. Louis?
Huey: I’m actually 20 now. Now, that I’m an entertainer and signed to a major label, ain’t too much changed but I gotta think before I act. I can’t do the same things that I used to do. When I was a local artist or just in the studio recording… like I have a lot to lose, so I can’t do the same things I used to do.
BallerStatus.com: How did you first start getting into rapper?
Huey: I started when I was around 15. I started out making beats. Once I start rapping over the beats that I was making, of course I took like it was just a hobby. It was just something I liked to do until the day I met Chaka from Disturbing The Peace. He actually liked the words and lyrics that I was spitting. Basically, I had a chance, so after that, I took it real serious. I actually started to get into the studio more, I had my demo tracks and I ended up getting a manager. That was a big point in my life.
I always wanted to do something in the music industry. That was my goal. I didn’t like working at no fast food restaurants or nothing. I think I’ve accomplished my goal to at least making it to the industry. I haven’t accomplished my goals yet, as far as being that entrepreneur that I wanna be. I’m almost getting there.
BallerStatus.com: Your single, “Pop, Lock & Drop It,” was big for you. Was it hard to break that song initially?
Huey: In the city of St. Louis, I had to put in a lot of street work. I had to get a street team, as far as getting out mixtapes. I got a good relationship going with a DJ and he actually played the song at every club he DJ’d at. It got to the point where everybody was calling the radio station and requesting the song. Radio didn’t have no choice, but to get in touch with my management and get the song on the radio. That’s how the song got poppin’. It took a little time, we had to get our grind mode on.
BallerStatus.com: The first time you heard it on the radio, how did it feel and what were you doing?
Huey: It felt like it was a brand new song. It was like something that I never heard before, but I knew it was me. We was actually just sitting in the car, waiting for them to play it because they told us what time they were gonna play it. When it came on, everybody went crazy. That was the most exciting parts of my career.
BallerStatus.com: How many ringtones have you sold on that single?
Huey: We sold like three million.
BallerStatus.com: A lot of rappers these days have one hot single, sell a lot of ringtones and are unable to repeat it again. Has that thought crossed your mind? And how is Huey different from those one-hit rappers?
Huey: Nah, that thought hasn’t crossed my mind. It’s just the simple fact that the people you say are “ringtone rappers,” the one-hit wonders… one-hit wonders is somebody that just come out with one song. They might make it just for the ringtone and for people to dance to. I might my song, did the ringtones and all that, but the songs I been putting out since [“Pop, Lock & Drop It”] have been getting great response. It’s not a one-hit wonder thing with me. I actually think that I’m not one of them one-hit wonder guys that’s gonna make that song single and sell ringtones, because every other song that I have available for ringtones have been selling also. I’m definitely not one of those rappers.
BallerStatus.com: Your debut, Notebook Paper, dropped in the summer. Are you happy with how it’s done so far, regarding sales?
Huey: Everybody I done talked to, actually liked the album. It ain’t nobody that really disagree with what I’ve done. I tried keep it versatile as I could, so I had a song for every subject. I tried not to leave out any subject. I’m gonna do the same thing on the next album, but it’s gonna be better. The more work I do, I get better.
BallerStatus.com: Sales wise, we you satisfied?
Huey: Yea. Everybody know that the album sales compared to the years of 1990s to 2000s have definitely changed just because of the simple fact of technology. But, my album came out in June and I’ve sold over 300,000, so I’m cool with it. It’s definitely hard, right now, to go platinum. At the same time, you’re blessed to go gold. I’m satisfied. As long as I got the fans and they still love me and show me support, I’m cool with it.
BallerStatus.com: You’ve dropped three singles from Notebook Paper… are you moving on to your next project? Or are you continuing to push this one?
Huey: We gonna always push it, but I’m still working on my next album. I’m also working on a mixtape that I’ll put out before the album, but we still pushing this first one. It hasn’t even been a year since the album’s been out.
BallerStatus.com: So people who haven’t picked up Notebook Paper, tell us more about it.
Huey: Oh, it’s very versatile. We got the “lady I love you” records, the club bangers, the conscious records that’ll make you think for a minute, and we got the records about your swag and how fresh you could be. They can expect a total package. You definitely gonna feel the words on spitting, as far as the conscious records because it’s something that everybody in the world can relate to, regardless of what kind of job you in — teacher, doctor, lawyer. Somebody that you know or yourself have been through the situations that I’m talking about on these records, so expect a real life album.
Then, me being a 19-year-old on that album, its stuff that you wouldn’t expect a young person like myself speaking on. Once people hear it, they gone get attached to it. It was a good album that people would wanna hear, instead of somebody just making up songs that they think people would like. The things I was talking about were things that I been through or things that the regular person can relate to.
BallerStatus.com: What about Jive? Rappers in the past, such as The Clipse and E-40, have complained that the label didn’t put rappers as a priority or they couldn’t market them well. Have you had the same experiences with them?
Huey: Jive, to me, did a wonderful job. We spread it real, real fast with the single and album. There was a lot of people who had a lot to say about it. I think Jive did a great job. I don’t blame them for nothing right now.
BallerStatus.com: So, you’ve released three straight to the web music videos for tracks not on your album. What was your motivation for that?
Huey: It was just to give people a chance to get to know more about Huey, aside from knowing me from the videos you seen on BET. I wanted people to see me more often. And, it was just to show them it wasn’t just about the commercial songs that was on the radio, like give them some hood songs too that ya’ll would actually like and see a visual to it. The songs weren’t supposed to hit BET and it just so happened they played it on “106 & Park.” That was crazy. That was a surprise.
BallerStatus.com: But, a little while back, you and Nelly exchanged some diss tracks at each other. Is there still tension between you two?
BallerStatus.com: Well, we haven’t had the sit down that I’m actually looking forward to. Up until then, I ain’t got too much to say about that guy. I’m not gonna work with him until we actually have our sit down and everything is wine and fine and calm and collect. Up until then, I ain’t gonna say there is a problem with him. I’mma leave him alone, I don’t beef with singers.
BallerStatus.com: So, you guys are supposed to have a sit down?
Huey: Well in interviews, I said I’d be cool with sitting down with him and talking it out, so I’m sure it’s gotten back to him. If he decides to have that sit down, it’s on him. But until then, it is what it is. He’s an entertainer, I’m an entertainer, but we going our separate ways and we doing our own thing.