Fresh off a Coachella performance with his new supergroup Gucci Gang (including himself, Lil Pump and Gucci Mane) and a gold-certified single, “Nephew” featuring Lil Pump, Smokepurpp is hoping that his latest EP, Lost Planet, continues the positive momentum.
When asked about his current headspace during a hectic few months, the Florida rapper’s answer is simple: “I’m happy.” But the road to this blissful state of mind did not come easy. During his rise to fame over the past three years, Smokepurpp’s name was synonymous with his heavy drug use, although that was never his intention. Last year, he decided to quit the lifestyle for good, which sent him down a dark recovery road. “The people around me told me I wasn’t myself,” the rapper, who quite Xanax and lean, tells Billboard. “I just had to make that decision, and I’m way better now, and I think it shows.”
Lost Planet includes features from Gunna and Lil Pump, and also showcases beats from producers like Kenny Beats and TM88. The EP arrives as he gears up for the release of his latest full-length Deadstar 2, the sequel to his 2017 project which peaked on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart at No. 24.
Smokepurpp recently stopped by Billboard to discuss his Lost Planet EP, Gucci Gang, and life after quitting Xanax.
The fans know you don’t like to drop new music too often. What made you feel like it was the right time to release this new Lost Planet EP?
I definitely prefer quality over quantity. My last project dropped one year exactly around this time. After that, I only dropped one single, which was “Nephew” with Lil Pump not too long ago. I just like keeping people on edge, so that when I do drop something, it has a big impact.
How did that Gunna feature on “Baguettes”come about?
I really just hit him up through the DMs telling him, “I like [your] music. Let’s work.” And he said to me, “I fuck with you, too. Let’s get it.” I sent him the song and he sent it right back. It was smooth.
You usually produce your own music. Who else had the privilege of having some production credits on this EP with you?
It’s definitely a lot of me. A lot of Kid Hazel from Slaughter Gang. Tre Pounds. There are actually a bunch, and it’s actually not hard for me to work with new producers because I’m a producer myself.
You and Lil Pump were rapping in high school together for fun, and then you guys both blew up. Did you ever imagine this could happen?
Honestly, not at all, but I’m so happy it did happen because this is truly my passion. I didn’t want to do anything else besides music. I never wanted to work for anyone else. I never ever wanted to have a “real” job, and I never did. So if this music shit didn’t work out, I took TV production so I know how to film. I produce and I write, so basically I’d find a way back to music eventually. But if it weren’t for music, I’d be back in the streets up to something. I wouldn’t want that. Music saved me.
You’ve opened up about how you never wanted to be an influence on the younger generation in terms of drug use. However, drugs were genuinely a big part of your life. How are you finding the balance now of continuing to rap about your past but not wanting to be an influence for kids to start using drugs?
We were making music for ourselves — we really didn’t know it was gonna blow up like that. So as we were making music for ourselves and it started blowing up. Everybody was like, ”Xan this” and “Xan that,” and “Purp this” and “Purp that.” That was absolutely never the intention. Our intention was making music for us to listen to. It was our outlet.
It’s kind of like saying a street rapper can’t rap about being in the streets anymore because he’s not in the streets now. He’s lived that life, he did what he did, and it’s always there in his past. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t rap about it and completely leave that behind. It’s a part of what made him who he is. So it’s the same concept. I find the balance to still rap about it because I still talk about it, but I also am honest and I talk about what it did to me so people will know.
You and Pump being in a group together makes complete sense, but how did Gucci Mane come into the picture for Gucci Gang?
I’m signed to [300 Entertainment co-founder] Todd Moscowitz, and Gucci is signed to him too, and Todd pretty much manages me too because he signed me, and also Adam Lublin and Josh Marshall. Me, Pump and Gucci were cool from the start — like, he sent us “1017” chains and you know, we were always on good terms and making music. When the Coachella thing came up, we just came up with a supergroup, Gucci Gang. It wasn’t only based around Coachella, but it was right. It was just perfect timing, you know? And now all three of us are headlining the stage at Coachella. The dynamic is good and the music comes out good no matter what because Gucci, he’s a gangster. He’s a trap n—a, and that’s what we were, even though I don’t do that anymore. Everything just kind of matched perfectly.
You’ve touched on how the aftermath of the decision to stop using drugs sent you into a dark place. It’s clear you’re doing way better now, so how did you bring yourself out of that?
I really just wanted to do better, and I just wanted to be better. I was just like, doing a lot of dumb things at the time — missing important studio sessions, not being myself, stuff like that. The people around me told me I wasn’t myself. I just had to make that decision, and I’m way better now and I think it shows.
Deadstar has this theme about how you feel like you’re dying.
So the new album that’s coming out, Deadstar 2, is a continuation of the same concept, would you say?
It’s the same type of theme, but I definitely grew a lot from Deadstar. The first one came out almost two years ago. It’s almost the same theme, but just a lot better, and it’s more of the pop side because I have some pop songs on the first one and I have more of that coming. And I still have the stuff that I originally do, like the hard-hitting stuff. I just gave ‘em all of me.
Where were you at in your life at this time last year? How does it feel to look back on all the progress you’ve made?
Wow, spring of last year, I was on my first headlining tour. It was the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour. This was right after I dropped my project with Murda Beatz, Bless Yo Trap. It’s crazy you ask that, because honestly sometimes I do think about it and I’m like, “Damn, nothing has happened.” But now that you’ve said that and I look back, I’m like, “Wow, a lot has happened.” I guess I feel that way because it’s me and I feel normal on a day-to-day, but in comparison, the changes are big, especially internally.
What’s the main thing you notice that changed about yourself?