You may think you don't know Lil Playy but you've actually heard him a thousand times. The up-and-coming songwriter wrote and appeared on the chopped-and-screwed hook of Ludacris' Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs No. 2 hit, "My Chick Bad," featuring Nicki Minaj. With many other writing credits under his belt, the rapper is approaching his turn in the spotlight with his mixtape and new single "Birthday Dress" from his upcoming EP (Fall, 2011). With super-producer Rodney Jerkins in his corner, is Lil Playy destined to become the next hottest hook man and a solo star in his own right?
In The Juice's new series, 'Freshman Haze,' we're spotlighting rising artists who deserve a double take and extra play time. Allow us to introduce you to our newest artist of the series, Lil Playy.
Resume: Rapper, Songwriter for Darkchild Productions.
Achievements: First rapper of de Passe Entertainment.
Body of Work: Mixtapes: "Tour Bus Muzik" (2011); Songwriting Credits: "My Chick Bad" by Ludacris feat. Nicki Minaj (2010), "I Do" by Twista (2010), "Work It Man" Kelly Rowland, Feat. himself, Lil Playy ("Here I Am," July, 26).
A Few Words...
The Juice: At what point did you decide that music was what you wanted to do?
Lil Playy: I was a kid that knew every song on the radio. When I was 15 [yrs. old], I went to Atlanta for the summer with my dad and he just started introducing me to different producers and we just started recording. He does real estate and telemarketing so he was introduced to a lot of people by [doing] that.
What were some of the first projects that you started to do when you were 15?
I recorded my first song called "P.L.A.Y." from my this dudes studio, in his house. I was performing all around Atlanta at the Underground, The [Royal] Peacock and different [places] like that. I met my manager when I was at Peacock.
How did you transition from recording to writing for other artists?
I was in the studio with a producer named Traxster and we actually were recording a song for me called "My Chick Bad." I wrote and recorded the hook. We screwed and chopped it and I left without putting my verses on the song. Later, he called me saying Ludacris wanted the "My Chick Bad" hook, we sold it to him, and he made it to what it is now. Ever since then, I've been writing [for others] as well as for myself.
What was it like to hear that song on the radio for the first time?
It was real crazy. If it wasn't for Ludacris that song would have just been sitting there, because I probably wouldn't have even finished it. He kept my voice on the hook. It was real crazy to hear my voice on the radio. I was just grateful that he even took it, put who he put on it and made it to what it is.
Who are some of the artists you've written for after that success?
I'm on Twista's last album, "The Perfect Storm,"on a song called "I do." I wrote the hook to that and I'm on the hook to that. I'm actually on Kelly Rowland's new album ["Here I Am"] on a song called "Work It Man." I've just been writing, just stacking up a lot of hooks. We're going to shop them all this summer to different artists.
How did "Work It Man" come about?
She came in and did a song with me for my album, so, she wanted me to get on one of her songs. I got on "Work It Man"and it's a crazy record. Rodney Jerkins introduced us and both of us [Lil Playy and Kelly] are from Houston so it was a music connection.
What was it like meeting and working with Rodney Jerkins?
It was crazy [meeting him] because of everything he's done so it was a whole lot of pressure. I didn't want to not get signed by him, or for him to think that I'm like one of the regular rappers that just come in and try to rap, so I tried my best and write the best songs I could ever write when I first met him. I guess it worked because I'm signed with him now.
How was the process of signing to Interscope?
When I was young and performing at The Peacock. They introduced me to Suzanne de Passe, and I performed for Suzanne in her office and she liked it. She introduced me to Rodney [Jerkins]. Rodney liked me. Rodney introduced me to Jimmy Iovine, and here we are now.
That's a whole lot of pressure too, though, because I'm her [Suzanne de Passe's] first rapper. I'm her only rap artist. I definitely got to hold it down. She's like my godmother, too.
Describe your writing process.
If I hear a beat, my hand will start moving-because I write all my music in my Blackberry. When if I hear a beat and it's just flowing, I just take off with it. But most of the time, I'll be somewhere and I'll think of an idea and I'll just write it down in my Blackberry. When I get to the studio, I'll tell Rodney, and either Rodney will make the beat, or he'll tell one of his producers to make the beat, and we'll just go from there.
Is it the same way when you're writing for other artists?
It's the same way. When I write a song, I'm like, 'Okay, will this be better for me, or would it be a better hit for so-and-so?' I see it like that.
What's the difference between your upcoming EP and your mixtape, "Tour Bus Muzik"?
The mixtape is more Houston, more street-feel. It still got songs on it for the ladies, but it's more leaning toward the streets. My album is more straight ladies, universal, every kind of music on it [is] like singing. There's pop on it, there's whatever you can imagine on it and it's just crazy. And it got Rodney Jerkins on it so you can't beat that.
When can we expect the new album?
We're still working on the album. It's probably going to be around school time again.
What artists inspired you wheb coming up?
Lil' Flip is the dude that got me rapping. I'm from Houston, so back then, he was the king of Houston. I knew every Lil' Flip lyric. Now, I'll have to say my favorite artist has to be Kanye West. Kanye West and then Lil Wayne. Actually, I like the old music better like "Tha Carter I," "500 Degreez,"all that. "Block is Hot" Wayne. I like all that.
Is if a goal of yours to write a hook for them?
Definitely. Work with them, be at their level, all that. Kanye West is a crazy artist. I definitely want to work with him.