03 Greedo on His 20-Year Prison Sentence & Why His Legacy Will Be 'Bigger Than Michael Jackson'
"I’m the biggest thing of this generation. I’m the 'Culture God.' I’m the thing that’s changing the world."
A lot can change in 45 days. After being selected as one of Billboard's top 10 hip-hop and R&B Artists to watch at the start of 2018, 03 Greedo became Enemy No. 1 due to his comments made about Tupac Shakur in a March interview. Despite his manic musical output -- which favors the likes of Gucci Mane, in addition to his unwavering candor on records -- Greedo's name was temporarily sullied.
In the eyes of hip-hop purists, his remarks against the venerated MC was damning and downright abominable. Still, despite the callousness of avid Tupac fans, 03 trucked on and released his hard-nosed effort, The Wolf of Grape Street, one week after he was crucified on social media. Laced with grit, precision, and promise, Greedo exudes the brazenness of a certified LA gangsta who lives and breathes the G-Code. A month after The Wolf of Grape Street was released, Greedo was faced with another roadblock; one that even his street savvy couldn't evade.
In late April, Greedo was sentenced to 20 years in prison. In 2016, Greedo was charged with possession of more than 400 grams of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, according to Pitchfork. Greedo's management confirmed that he pled guilty on both charges and was sentenced to 20 years. The news came after Greedo seemingly outed himself on Twitter a week prior with this cryptic April 25 tweet: “Never thought I’d have to retire the year I blew up."
Rather than sulk and drown himself in his thoughts of melancholy, Greedo, steadfast on being a rap immortal, morphed into an indomitable workhorse. His mission was simple: Create 30 albums before being sent away for 20 years. In his mind, if he can't dictate his own life on the inside, he damn sure as hell will do everything in his power to solidify his legacy before the clock runs out on him.
During our 25-minute discussion in early May, he conveyed to Billboard that he completed 13 out of the 30 albums he vowed to finish. Greedo also speaks on his legacy, why he'll be bigger than Michael Jackson, his love for his rabid fanbase the G-hive, and what advice he would give to kids that look up to him. Check out our conversation below.
What was your initial reaction when you first heard the verdict?
I don’t wanna talk about that. I don’t wanna wake up and think about that. I understand it’s your coverage, but people are asking me about something that’s going to ruin my life.
Ok, so you tell me what’s on your mind, then.
I’m focused on being the best rapper of this generation. Let’s talk about the things that I do that people praise me for, not my downfalls. I want to focus on the 30 albums I’m going to drop. I can’t go anywhere, get off any plane, and not get noticed. I’m the biggest thing of this generation. I’m the Culture God. I’m the thing that’s changing the world. That’s what people need to focus on about me.
Nobody ever put me on a headline of “Best New” this or that -- only once or twice. It’s usually about my scandal. I’m trying to get away from that. I’m from the projects. My whole gang, none of them rap. One of them's on the run. One of them's fighting a murder. One of them is dead. I don’t want to focus on the negative in my life. My whole thing is, I want to get out of this shit. I’m the dude changing the world. Jesus wasn’t flawless. New leader of the world. Everybody agrees with that shit. Y’all late. That’s what the streets are saying.
Does that bother you that people are waking up now and that they were late to your initial burst into stardom?
There’s always going to be shit like that. I just get bothered by the negative press. That’s all they want to do. Man, I’m not 6ix9ine. I make music and I focus on that.
Jeff Weiss did a piece highlighting your legacy and said even if you don’t release any more music, you will go down as one of the best artists that LA has ever produced. How does it feel hearing that?
Satisfaction because that’s what we’re doing. That’s something that we’re working towards. We know that’s what’s up with us.
I heard you've got twelve mixtapes done already.
Thirteen now. I’m wrapping up the one with Mustard tonight. We kind of had lost contact, but shit’s straight now.
What’s been the process with you banging out these tracks? I know it’s nothing for you to drop a 30-track project, since you’ve done it before.
I do like fifteen songs a night, so I can do that in like two days.
What’s been the dopest fan reaction you’ve ever had since you have the G-Hive riding for you heavy nowadays, especially with you set to go back into jail?
When people make paintings and drawings -- I’m really into art -- that shit hard. I think my absence is going to make me more of a celebrity and an icon. It sounds like when people die, but I actually get to come back from the death, you feel me? You know when n----s be like, "Rest in peace" to this n---a [that's when they get famous]. When Boosie went to jail, he got more famous. A lot of people didn’t like Boosie at first. A lot people didn't Gucci like that at first, but when they got out it was different.
Has there been one record that you penned recently that resonates with you the most?
"Floating" off of God Level. It’s like I’m walking on air or I’m walking on water. It’s like I’m [the] Jesus Christ of the projects.
I know you’ve got your family and of course, your daughter. How have you been preparing them for your departure?
I’ve been in jail most of my life. I had my daughter when I was seventeen. This generation is like the daddies that want to save the day, but the generation that we grew up in, none of us had daddies. So, we’re going to make do of what we can. I already got ten million streams off of my independent catalogue, so they’re going to be set.
Once you get out, your legacy is going to be crazier than what it is right now, no?
Bigger than Michael Jackson. Up there with Bob Marley and shit, Melodically, lyrically and creatively, the way I move, the way I change things for my community, is what’s going to make people love me as a revolutionary. I ain’t sitting here trying to be a Black Panther, I ain’t sitting here trying to be nothing that was already out.
On Twitter, you spoke about how foul the legal system is. What do you think can be done differently?
This is not normal. This is a trap that they took over already and we’re way generations down the line. We’re not even supposed to be over here. They went and got us, and now they don’t want us over here. The legal system is fucked up.
Do you feel like they robbed you of your success?
Yeah, they know what they’re doing. I feel like when I caught the case, they didn’t know I was a rapper. When they found out I was a rapper, they wanted to hurry up and make me take that deal.
From the tattoos, to the raps, to the interviews, what is the biggest misconception about you as a person?
Ain’t nothing wrong. If n----s know what’s up with me, they know. When people see me, they know this is the guy that’s made change and helped the kids. They know I got that Post The Report Card Challenge.
Real recognize real at the end of the day. Sometimes, you can see a headline and say, “That’s not me. That’s not who I am.”
People already know they’re bullshit. People know they’re lying. Everybody already know me. Everybody know what’s up. I got this thing called the G-Hive, kind of like how Beyonce got the Beyhive. When shit ain’t right, they’re the ones who handle that. They don’t really let people talk bad about me. They got something to tell anyone who says something.
Before you go in, right now, what would you want your fans to take away from you right now and how would you want to be remembered?
I ain’t never dropped no album as 03 Greedo. I only came out since I had this case. I could have been the n---a that could have bailed out and wanted to fuck bitches, but no, I wanted to grind. Six, seven tapes later and thirteen more done and shit, don’t let anybody stop what’s going on. I still got a mouth to feed. I knew I was going to do time. For two years, I knew. Instead of sitting on my ass, I made videos and all these songs. Wherever you are, just do that shit. It ain’t ever over. Everybody’s like, “How are you so calm?” I ain’t calm, it just is what it is. What I’ma do, pull my hair out? It is what it is. I’m a gangster.
You don’t have time to be scared. You have people that need you at the end of the day.
Ain’t shit to be scared of. I’ve been to jail many times. I grew up homeless so that’s free room and board. I think God put me through so much shit that so I could be this spokesperson now.
What advice would you give to a kid right now who’s a fan of yours?
Be a man early. I was forced to be a man at twelve years old. Be a man early. You got to be able to stand on your own, too. Nobody’s holding your hand. You can’t fold. You need to go extra hard.