Chocolate Droppa is coming back to take what’s his. At least that’s what the rapper — known to many as Kevin Hart’s alter ego — is saying.
Sunglasses on in a studio at Capitol Records’ historic Hollywood building, Droppa was adamant about this mission when asked about why he called out the likes of Jay Z, Drake, and Future on his Motown debut freestyle.
“You gotta go straight for the head on a snake before you go for the body where the babies at,” he explained. “When you cut off the head, then the babies ain’t gonna have no place to go and talk to they mama. So, my thing was, cut off the head so people don’t have no mama.”
With a serious glare, he continued: “These rappers look at these other rappers as their mama. That’s why they be catering to these other rappers. I’m not that guy. I’m different. I don’t need no mama.”
That’s the mentality Droppa is carrying into What Now? The Mixtape, the companion to Hart’s stand-up comedy film What Now? So far, Chocolate has unleashed the Lex Luger-produced lead single “Baller Alert” featuring T.I. and Migos, but he’s got a lot more up his sleeves.
In an exclusive interview with Rap-Up about his latest work, Droppa held no punches, accusing Lil Wayne, MC Hammer, and even New Edition of stealing his hits. Plus, he had a little message for his rival T-Pain.
Fans are excited about your new record. What can you tell us about the creative process?
I mean, when we’re talking about the process, we’re talking about the process. You know what I mean? When it comes to me being creative, nine times out of 10, it’s me going some place where I can get in my own head so that would either be Utah or Bismarck, North Dakota. Those are my stomping grounds. I’ve got real big cabins out there where I get in my zone. My process was going out there and having a mindset of taking back what’s mine.
You said that on your freestyle in front of the Capitol Records building. Why did you decide to call out names?
I mean, look, if you’re going to give everybody attention, you gotta go straight for the head on a snake before you go for the body where the babies at. You understand what I’m saying? When you cut off the head, then the babies ain’t gonna have no place to go and talk to they mama. So, my thing was, cut off the head so people don’t have no mama. These rappers look at these other rappers as their mama. That’s why they be catering to these other rappers. I’m not that guy. I’m different. You know what I’m saying? I don’t need no mama. I’m comin’ out, I’m smackin’ everybody on the hand, saying, ‘Hey! Get ya hand out that pot. That’s my food. Don’t touch that cookie. That’s my cookie. Hey, hey. Don’t you goddamn put that cookie in your mouth ’cause I was gonna eat that cookie!’ That’s me basically saying, in a long story short, that I’m ready. I’m ready for whatever they got. That’s why I come at these people’s necks. It don’t matter to me, man. I’m a different dude. I’m an alien.
Those who are familiar with you know that you’re a battle rapper. You’ve battled T-Pain. How did you transition from battling to making music?
I mean, it ain’t really a transition. You know what I mean? If you look at my battles, my battles could’ve been singles. You see what I’m saying? Making a song ain’t nothing to me. That’s second nature. When I get in there, I get in there and when it’s time to get out, I get out. So, when you got that knowledge about a song, then you good. These other rappers that just wanna battle, they don’t know how to make songs. I can put a song together whenever I want.
You freestyle your battles. Are you freestyling this album?
[Starts freestyling] Everything I say is straight off the dome. I don’t take no information home. Ain’t nothing written that I say. All I ask is that y’all come see me play. What am I talking about? I’m talking about today, Day…Lewis!
You’ve said Lil Wayne stole “A Milli” from you, which was originally called “A Philly.”
What other songs have been taken from your catalog that people might not know about?
Um… “This Little Light of Mine.” That’s stolen. That’s when I was gonna go Christian in the beginning and that’s something that I had. It was stole from me from Zion Baptist Church. But whatever. I let it go. I never look back. What else? “Can You Stand the Rain?” New Edition. That was my song. It was a rap song. They turned it into what they turned it into.
Do you remember the bars off that?
“Can you stand the rain? / Rain and thunder bring me nothing but pain / So I’ma ask you again / Can you stand the rain? / I know storms may come, this I know / This I know, for sure.” That’s where I was with it. They stole that. Um… “2 Legit 2 Quit.” That was mine. Hammer took that and that hurt. That hurt because he stole that from under my nose. He came to the studio session I had and all he did was commercial it up. Mines was rough and rugged and raw. My shit started off like, “Don’t matter what sport it is / I’ma come back and make it do what it is / I don’t do shit that I say I can’t / I look up and I do my rant / Because I’m too legit to quit, motherfucker, what?! Too legit to quit, motherfucker, what?!” And he stole that from me.
Let’s talk about the Migos and T.I. collaboration “Baller Alert.” What do those artists mean to you?
You’re looking at two real hot up-and-coming cats, man. When I look at T.I., I’m like, “He got a bright future ahead of him. This guy got something. There’s a lot of potential there. I need to work with this cat.” He’s a young cat in the business and it’s cool to get with those guys and point them in a good direction. I felt that this was a good thing for him. Migos, he got that energy. I remember myself when I was at his point and T.I.’s point. I can put myself in both they shoes when I was there. Now, that I sit on the throne where I’m at, I said, “Let me go back and show some love. Let me go back and do what people didn’t do for me.”
Have you met Migos?
Yeah, I met him, man.
You only met one?
There’s two of ’em?
Oh! Well, I met the middle one. Which one talks fast?
Well, there’s Quavo and…
Oh, that’s what they was talking about? I thought they was talking about a shot.
There’s Takeoff and Offset.
Okay. Okay. Okay. I got it now. I got it now.
And as far as T.I. He’s got a lot of records and a lot of hits.
How many albums he got out?
He’s got a lot.
Ah, he must have put those out when I was on my community college tour.
Community college tour?
Well, it was basically one of the biggest tours to ever hit the market. You’ve gotta ask yourself, how many people don’t go to college and then go, “Man, I wish I would’ve went to school,” but it’s too late because a college is like, “We can’t.” They don’t know what to do. All those people gotta go somewhere so they go to community college. So, when you look up, you probably got somewhere north of 300,000 community colleges in the States. I definitely toured all of those colleges. It’s a good market. It’s like a church market, except it’s community colleges. I went there and built up a fan base and it ranges from age 18 to 76.
You’ve shared a lot of things that people don’t know about your music, but what about the person that is Chocolate Droppa? The soul? What do people not know about Chocolate Droppa that they need to know going into this project?
I mean, my name. A lot of people don’t know my birth name, which is Target Subway Best Buy. That’s my birth-given name. My parents spent a lot of time at Target, they loved Subway sandwiches, and they went to Best Buy to get deals on some of the hottest appliances. That’s my name. Another thing people don’t know is I almost made it into the Olympics for badminton. I’m a phenomenal badminton player. I can tie both of my shoes with my left hand. Yeah, that’s pretty dope. And in a 40-yard dash, I run a 2.3.
Musically, where are you taking listeners on What Now? The Mixtape?
Musically, I don’t know how many of you guys have ever been to the moon, but I have. So, if you haven’t, be prepared to go with me, man.
What artists will you be working with besides Migos and T.I.?
I can’t…Come on, man. I can’t give you that. I mean, you gon’ have me here all day. You trying to get exclusive-exclusive-exclusive. Just know that I got artists, man. I got your biggest rapper. Your biggest singer. Your biggest poet. Oh my God! Who’s this? Your biggest jazz player. Oh, what else we got? The biggest. The biggest what? The biggest something. You name something that somebody has done, they’re gonna do it on my album.
What about producers?
I mean, right now, Metro Boomin is somebody I’m working with. He’s dope. Me and DJ Drama have done past work. I’m trying to get Kwame, Tone Loc, MC Brains, Vanilla Ice would be nice. Like I said, man, you talking to somebody that just…I understand music. I get it. But I need somebody to get my sound. To do the same thing I do.
Finally, is there any beef with T-Pain or have you squashed it?
I mean, if we see each other, it ain’t all love. I’m not breaking my neck to go get to him, but I feel like if he wanted to come to make sure that we’re straight, he can come and do that, but I’m not gonna go out and extend that hand after I’m fresh off a destroy. You gotta come and you gotta put that stuff on your voice and you gotta be like, “Are we cool?” But you gotta do that in Auto-Tune.
–Words and photos by Andres Tardio