The last video Nipsey shared on his Instagram account promoted Pacman’s video, captioning the teaser “New @1960pm w @otgenasis OUT NOW.” The video has drawn more than 800,000 views on YouTube since it was first released, and Pacman said he’s gained new supportive followers since his late label boss shared the video.
“The day before he passed, we released my video and I was the last post on his page. And that’s pretty much where all the traffic came from,” Pacman says. “So on his page, the ‘Never Gon Change’ video got like 19 million views, and I got over 100,000 followers just from that. They’re supportive, though, so that’s been what’s helping me.”
As one of Hussle’s close friends and artists signed to his All Money In Records label last year, Pacman raps on No Guts No Glory about his emotions and real-life experiences, ranging from dealing with fake friends, jealousy controlling emotions, spending money, and his thoughts on Nipsey’s death.
“I feel like the best music comes from experience,” Pacman said in an interview with Billboard. “So whatever I went through this year, that’s what’s inside [the album]. You gotta tell the truth.”
The 14-track project includes collaborations with other well-known rappers, including O.T. Genasis, Mozzy and YBN Nahmir, who Pacman recruited “organically” and said that the features were “done out of love.”
“I take a lot of pride in making sure I have real-life relationships established with any collaborators for my personal projects,” he says.
Below, you'll find the rest of our conversation with the Cali rapper, as he touches on how he got his start in music, some of his favorite songs from the album, the inspiration behind the title, working and collaborating with Nipsey, future plans for the label and much more.
How did you get started in the music industry?
I grew up in LA on the west side, in the Crenshaw District on 8th Avenue and 63rd. I got into music late, really. I was doing what regular street n---as do on the block. The homeboy B.H., he’s from the label also, he asked me to do a song with him, but he convinced me to go to the studio with him one day. I went, and when he played back my voice, I’m like, “This shit hard.” So the next day, I go to Guitar Center and buy all the cheapest equipment. I was freestyling for a long time, taking beats off YouTube. I was trying to figure out what to do for the longest time, 'cause I was brand-new to it. But I figured it out, though.
How did you get introduced to Nipsey and when did you start collaborating on music together?
It really wasn’t an introduction. It was an organic connection, especially being around the same circle of friends. We’re from the same neighborhood. He used to always see me, and one day he asked me if I wanted to shoot a scene for his music video. And the scene he wanted me to do, it made sense for me because it was what I was doing in real life: selling dope. So he just wanted me to do it on camera in his music video for “The Hussle Way” and play that role since it was a real-life reflection of my situation.
You were featured on Nipsey’s “Where Yo Money At.” How did that come together and what was it like working with him on that track?
He was in the studio working on that record and I popped up on him. It was so short, as soon as I walked in through the door, he was like, “Aye, go in there and do this for me, I need some of your flavor on it.” He was in there with an engineer and smoking a blunt at the desk, and I was like, "All right." That’s when I went in there and said the “big guns, big guns” verse. But he likes his stuff perfect, so he made me do it probably 100 times. Yeah, it’s gotta be right or get out, for real. And that’s how it went about.
What was your personal relationship with Nipsey outside of music?
It started off like a friendship, that built into brotherhood. He embraced me 'cause I had the right energy and he saw me working hard. He would pick me up and we’d drive around the city and we’d talk about a plan to make a gang of money. You know, trying to figure it out. We’d do circles from Crenshaw to La Brea, just driving around. Sometimes I’d be like, “We gotta go a different route, I’m tired of this route.”
How did you get signed to the label, and why do you think he chose to bring you on?
He admired my work ethic, he’d always say that. I did like 10 mixtapes by myself and was recording three or four songs a day. I enjoyed it, and he saw that, and he admired that. But it really wasn’t a conversation; it was more like he just told me we gon’ find the paperwork and that he wanted to sign me. Everybody [Cobby Supreme, J. Stone, B.H., Cuzzy Capone, Killa Twan] got signed at the same time, we all came on together. We're all family, we’re all from the same neighborhood.
What’s going to happen to the All Money In label? How do you and the rest of the team plan to continue the legacy?
We’re gonna push it to its limit. [Nipsey] didn’t entertain no quitters. We fa sho gotta keep going. We got a strong team, we’re still working and having meetings and everything. We’re trying to keep each other’s heads on straight forward, we have lunch or dinner twice or week. Everybody’s gotta work as one, 'cause we struggled as one. ... Instead of everybody just looking at Hussle, we gotta do our part too.
How did you come up with the album title No Guts No Glory? What was the inspiration behind the entire album?
I just felt like if you ain’t got the drive, you can’t be scared to sacrifice. Sacrifice takes guts. And if you ain’t got the guts to sacrifice, then you ain’t gonna reap the benefits from the good. I ran it by Hussle in the studio, and he said, “Yeah, that shit hard.” The way I record, I do it off my life events. Whatever I'm going through at the moment, that’s what you’re gonna hear at the moment. If you go back to my old albums, you’ll hear when I got some money, you’ll hear when I’m broke, you’ll hear when I’m sad, or whatever the case might be. I record off emotions and experiences.
You mentioned that you rap about actual things you go through and experience. What kind of life events did you experience this year that went into the project?
Dealing with fake friends, how jealousy and certain things can control another human’s emotions, money that I blew that I shouldn’t have, of course Hussle, some late-night situations on the block with the homies, a few plans I got for the future, my little sister that’s in jail. Everything that’s happened is there.
Do you have any favorite tracks from your album?
“Fuc You N---az” -- that’s more so like how I feel towards us, towards my community as a whole, the world as a whole, just based on the [Nipsey] situation. I feel like that wasn’t supposed to happen. I feel like they is supposed to be scared to do that type of shit, and we didn’t make n---as feel scared. I feel like we failed him as a whole.
“Reasons” -- this song is about another situation similar to Hussle’s, where the homie killed the homie, and my sister's in jail for something she wasn’t involved with.
“Right Now” -- this one’s featuring Garren and it’s like, go get it right now 'cause it ain’t gonna come to you. N---as finally get to where they wanted to be and they get to 100,000 still do goofy shit and end up in jail when you already had it your way.
What are you hoping people take away from your album?
I really want them to understand who I am. How to be loyal, you gotta be loyal to your people. How to deal with certain situations. I want them to understand the value of life right now. Life is temporary; everything after this is forever. It’s cool to be sad, but you gotta keep going only because this is temporary. Just live your life, be loyal, live the right way.
Listen to Pacman Da Gunman’s No Guts No Glory below.