How King Von Used His Time in Jail to Become a Better Rapper

King Von

King Von

When you name your project after LeBron James, naturally, the expectations are going to be raised to match the greatness No. 23 displays on the basketball court every night. LeVon James, which drops Friday (March 6), is a fitting title for emerging talent King Von, since LeBron's heir, 15-year-old son Bronny Jr., is a huge fan of the Chicago rapper. In fact, the teen first introduced Von's street tales to the Beats by Dre speakers of the James household last year.

A lot has changed for Von since his last visit to the Billboard office in early 2019, where the reserved MC followed Lil Durk around and took in his first press run from the sidelines. A year later, King Von is now the main attraction, and he's brought an entourage of 10 and his girlfriend, Asian Doll, along for the ride with him.

The 25-year-old is happy to just be outside the confines of his Atlanta residence, as he remains on house arrest while facing two open cases in Georgia's Fulton County, but is traveling for work now that he's opening on G Herbo's PTSD Tour. The pair of Chi-town natives went to high school together on the city's South Side at Hyde Park Academy, and also collaborated on the LeVon track "On Yo A--."

"I need a lot of money," Von says of his only 2020 goal. "I'm trying to stack that s--t to the roof." The Only the Family rapper is looking like wealth compared to his previous visit: His thick chains clank against one another as he shows off his glistening "O Block" pendant that keeps the memory of lost friends alive, with their names engraved on the back. Along with his chunky pendant, Von's love for jewels is apparent as he rocks icy watches on both wrists, and pinky rings the size of chicken nuggets.

The burgeoning artist earned a spot on our Hip-Hop/R&B Artists to Watch list for this year, and the vivid storytelling in his repertoire is the main reason why we expect Von to continue his rise. He credits his time spent behind bars as to why his creative fables became so evocative.

"In jail, you don't do s--t but read, write, and think about the past s--t that I did," he says. "In jail, you don't got nothing but memories in that b---h. I was reading a lot of books in there. That's probably where that s--t came from."

Check out the rest of our interview below.

Billboard: Was LeBron James an inspiration in the studio for you making the project, since you named it LeVon James?

King Von: Yeah, I f--k with LeBron hard. He's my favorite basketball player. LeBron's son Bronny too. I f--k with him. We talked through Instagram about "Crazy Story." He told me they play my s--t a lot.

Are you planning to continue the "Crazy Story" series?

Somebody's gotta die. I gotta catch a dude or he's gotta catch me, so it's gonna keep going. I'll probably stop at "Crazy Story" [Part Five], so it's gonna be a whole movie at the end -- a real movie in the theaters.

One of your go-to phrases the fans love saying is "We not from 63rd!" How'd that become a thing?

They stole my bike when I was little. Nah, I'm just playing. I'm from 64th and 65th, and just not from 63rd. It was just in a song and everybody liked it. You know how it goes, the people really make something what it is. I just put it in a song and they ran with it. It's a whole trend now.

The project's lead single, "Took Her to the O," has over five millions views. What's that record about?

The O is where I'm from. It's short for O Block. The song is about how I met a hoe at the store and b---h sucked me up and s--t. I was gonna take her to the block, but she forgot her purse. I doubled back and she was taking too long to come out and another n---a pull up and he get to tweaking with her. He starts beating her up, so I'm tryna get up out of there, but he throws a brick at the car and there's an altercation. I resolved it.

G Herbo told me you guys went to high school together. How did that friendship start?

Yup, at Hyde Park. That's my boy and now we're on tour together. He's younger than me; I was, like, a junior when he was a freshman. I was a junior and then I went right to jail. I was getting in trouble. Then he gets to rapping and I'm seeing him going up from jail. Then I started rapping.

Do you feel like you could be incriminating yourself with your storytelling?

Nah, I'm not going to tell you about nothing I did. Hell nah. I'm not gonna tell you about it if it's real. Who'd I rob? You hear some s--t in the music, but I'm just telling you stories. I'm an artist with this s--t. I'm making s--t up and I'm telling you about it. I'm never going to give you anybody's names or anything.

Word, I get that. I just feel like if you have open cases against you, the legal system could try to use your raps against you.

Yeah, for sure, but that's gotta be facts. It's gotta be real. They're crazy. They bogus and have to use their imaginations or be able to take someone else's experiences. [I] don't talk about [anything I've done]. I would never do some s--t like that. That doesn't make any sense.

Have you been moving any different since the cases last year?

Yeah, I'm on house arrest. I can leave for work purposes, but other than that, I'm in the house working. I can't do anything right now. I'm in the house making songs, writing, and recording. I make videos and go to check-ins.

What's the biggest difference between living in Atlanta versus Chicago?

I ain't really got problems with people. In Chicago, you know you got beef with everybody. In Atlanta, you're chilling, but you don't get too comfortable. Like, if I go to the store, it's not like anybody's gonna come out shooting at me. Everybody's cool though.

Being someone that's against snitching, could you ever work with someone like 6ix9ine?

He's bogus and dead wrong. Hell nah.

What other plans do you have coming for this year?

I'm trying to go up. I got a lot of names for my next project, Vonald Trump. Nah, I ain't gonna do that, but that sounds good. I go off instinct of how I be feeling.

Listen to King Von's LeVon James project below.