Curren$y and Fendi P have been linked together through the former’s Jet Life collective for a decade, but somehow, New Orleans’ most prolific rapper and his student have yet to hop on an album together.
“It just felt like the right time. You know the term ‘Stay down till you come up?’ That’s my world, boy,” explains Fendi to Billboard on the heels of their fantastic collaborative record, Smokin’ Potnas, released earlier in March via EMPIRE. The album treads similar territory to other Curren$y releases, in that the beats are blunted and the lyrics revolve around cars and weed. But Fendi adds a crucial new voice to Spitta Andretti’s wave, giving the album a balance and decisiveness that situates Fendi as the heir apparent of Curren$y’s decade-plus run as the South’s sturdiest stoner.
“I’m not necessarily prepared for my retirement, but there’s enough life to share with those working and carrying it. [Fendi] P has proved that time and time again,” says Curren$y. While the veteran doesn’t cede the spotlight in favor of propping up his latest signee, he offers enough room to let Fendi establish a coherent aesthetic and engaging personality.
Fendi, for his part, did most of his studying under Curren$y’s tutelage. “It’s like he’s putting a blueprint up, hitting the moves so I can basically follow what he puts out and also create my own version of it,” explains Fendi.
On Smokin’ Potnas, Fendi goes toe-to-toe with Curren$y and creates a dynamic less focused on teacher and pupil than two peers going head-to-head. Considering how consistent both have been, there’s likely a second volume stashed away somewhere. “It was so fun,” explains Curren$y. “When it was over, it was like, ‘Damn, we done. I just want to do more.’”
See what else they had to say about Smokin’ Potnas, staying productive amidst the coronavirus and more.
How are y’all hanging in with the pandemic?
Curren$y: I’m watching The Simpsons at my house with my kid and listening to Fendi talking about the coronavirus, which I’m interested in listening to myself. I got some good s–t on there.
Fendi P: I was recording in Atlanta, but now I’m back in New Orleans and chilling.
You two spend a lot of time in the studio together, but how did you decide to finally work together on a joint album?
Curren$y: It wasn’t even like work. We’re in the studio a lot, but usually if I’m there, I might just be sitting smoking while he’s doing his thing, or he’ll be hanging out at my session. This is our first time really, where the sessions were for us. Every beat that played, we were the ones who thought about if it fit or not. Working with each other, it was our first time doing that, so it really was painless. We did so many records in such a short amount of time. We probably could do a volume two, but just didn’t make it.
Fendi P: The look of the machine changed as we were setting it up. And personnel changed. Curren$y stood in his position the whole time. Who else could I work with?
Curren$y: He’s already [got] the name, but we need to draw more attention to that name. He puts out as much music as I do; it’s just that I’ve got a corner. I feel like it’s something I have to do to try and garner more light, shed more light on his situation.
Fendi, what’s it like having someone like Curren$y in your corner? It’s got to be a pretty amazing feeling.
Fendi P: He’s doing with his career what I’m trying to do, so I’m watching him — I’m learning. I became a fan by watching him perform and just working with him in the studio. It helps me for when I’m in my sessions. I know like, s–t, I can’t be in here bulls—ting my two records. This n—a in the session, he’s doing something. So I have to work hard as that n—a, and burn it up.
Was it competitive in the studio with you two? If someone comes with a good verse, does that push the other? Or is it all pretty cordial?
Curren$y: If one of us goes off, it makes the other one go off. We’re like the dream team. They don’t have any competition because each one could carry the team on their own. But the beauty of it is we can sit down for a long time and go back and forth. That’s when it’s tough to do. You have people with star quality. Everybody has their own star in their own right. Some people feel like they need to drive or you need two steering wheels for the car, but I drove a bit, and then he drove a bit and I stayed in the passenger seat and I slept or I smoked. And we got there.
That’s when I was just waiting to put it out, because I knew once we put it out then we could start working again as far as supporting it. Just in doing things like YouTube videos for some of the records and stuff. We just started working on it again, you know? We just got to be more creative with this f–king virus floating around.
Fendi P: Yeah, the content and s–t, you might see our next joint, we might have masks on or something.
Curren$y: I was in the studio yesterday. Me and Freddie Gibbs spoke and were talking about getting some stuff done. So I went to the studio to pull up some beats and s–t. I haven’t stopped working — I just rubbed everything down and wiped the whole place.
Fendi P: I’m back in New Orleans now, so we’re probably just going to live it up. He’s not too far from where I’m at. As long as we stay six feet away from each other, we should be able to shoot videos.
Where do you guys view your places in the New Orleans rap scene right now?
Curren$y: I feel like I’m a staple. Not so much on the scene, but in the game. Because there’s two different realms in the town, as in any city. I’m in the underground. So no matter what success I’ve had, what I’ve done, and what numbers I put up, it’s all underground. So there’s still some people in the city who don’t even know me when they see me, but they might know a record or two. My name carries weight within the industry, so that’s a good thing. But as far as in the city, I feel like I’m the most known unknown.
And does that keep you pushing?
Curren$y: Yeah, of course. Not so much for the recognition, but for the paper. It’s good to have more money.
Fendi P: I feel like I’m still in school. People are curious to see what it is that I’m going to do, being that I’m under the Jet Life brand. They just watch from afar. It’s more like I’ve got to show them what I’m made of. I came to get all the money. We came to have that mark like how No Limit and Cash Money have that mark, because their names are still in conversations. That’s what I feel like we’re doing with Jet Life.
And what is the philosophy of Jet Life, in your own words, Curren$y?
Curren$y: It was an acronym in the beginning, representing the idea of just enjoying this s–t. And honestly it still works, because I’m playing a game of Gran Turismo and Call of Duty right now with The Simpsons on in the background while everybody’s quarantined. I haven’t had time to play my video games as much as I wanted to, so I’m happy about that. I’m putting my shoe closet together and s–t, so that’s good.
I’m always naturally enjoying life, regardless of what happens. You got to find the silver lining, you got to find a way to spread your mission. Especially in this world where clout is damn near money, people would rather be more popular than paid, so you got to start learning about what really counts. You look at it like that in black and white. We win all the time on that.