The Mix 002: LilC4

today28/02/2024 5

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In 9th Grade you moved to Woodbridge, and before that you were in Newark. Tell us about the times circa 2011 when you were rolling out hits like ‘Woodbridge Anthem’ and ‘STB Anthem’, what was it like putting the videos of those tracks and dances up?

I’ve been dancing my whole life. When I was a sophomore in high school, I started using my mom’s laptop. She had her work laptop, this fat old HP with a mouse in the middle….I’d take it and download Fruity Loops. I had a group of friends who were in tune with Jersey but nobody had exposed them to truly dancing and showing them how it is. I shot the ‘Woodbridge Anthem’ video on an iPod Touch. ‘STB Anthem’ is really important. Those dancers you see in the video are my people who I grew up with from baby baby times, like Santana, he made Santana Rock, it goes viral each year. A lot of people in that video are global dancers who created dances that went worldwide but people don’t acknowledge their contributions. When ‘STB Anthem’ happened, I was 16, it was the end of my sophomore year and I was around my neighbourhood, in Newark, 730. That’s why it’s called ‘STB Anthem’, Seven Thirty Boys! Me and my brothers Santana, Yayo, Zeek, and Haadymack, at that time we were the upcoming generation of dancers. To the OGs, the way we were coming out with these routines and different dances, then with my beats being faster than everyone else’s stuff…it stood out. That’s really a memory because of the life it preserves. My brother Santana, he’s incarcerated at the moment and we miss him and Yayo in the club community. ‘STB Anthem’ is a childhood memory that people who know me and the community see its importance.

What were the parties you played like? I heard you would have them packed out to like a thousand.

I was just talking to one of my friends and telling them how the parties back then were totally different. Back then, everybody came to party, it wasn’t about nobody being lit or having more money than somebody else. It was fun and all love. Thousands of kids would come to see me DJing. We’d take pictures without any ego. How I’d dreamed parties could be… it actually turned out like that. I started out with house parties. I’d charge $200 to $300 to do a whole party which is nothing to somebody now, but me being a kid, I just wanted to be out and booked. I started off in Woodbridge, then as I got more recognition from ‘Woodbridge…’ and ‘STB Anthem’, I started going to South Jersey by train and travelling to Florida. They started booking me out of state. It’s a big difference bringing the Jersey sounds out of state, everywhere I go it’s a difference.

Who do you think we should be paying attention to in Jersey?

My cousin JIDDY, his sound is refined, in-tune and he stays working. My little bro, MCVertt. He’s a two-times platinum record producer off of just one song – and he saluted me as an influence at the time his song with Lil Uzi [Vert] ‘Just Wanna Rock’ came out. SteezTheProducer. C4MusiQ, he’s a good writer, he raps and he makes beats. LetsGoYanii, somebody put me onto her, this girl I know who plays music a lot. She hard and one of the LabSisterz crew.

You have another track with Neyy Boogs on vocals who’s part of LabSisterz. What’s your process working with vocalists?

It used to be harder to get vocals out of people, only a handful of people took it seriously. But now, everybody wants to get on a club song. I mostly work with women vocalists, I reach out to the girls and request they make vocals for me for my next song. Most of the time I write the songs – it starts with a list of phrases or catchy rhymes. I listen to the beat and I start mumbling little things, I keep them in my notes and send it to the vocalist. The drums that I use automatically work with a woman’s voice. Then I’ll sample it all. The business side of the writing is important for publishing rights, and it’s also because I know what I want my music to sound like.

Read this next: The 20 best New Jersey house records

What was music like for you growing up?

My favourite rapper growing up was 50 Cent. I used to wear durags and army fatigues! Mobb Deep. That’s my father’s favourite group who he played every day when I’d come home from school. I’m from a Black family, so everything’s got to have music alongside it. When we clean up, we’ve got to have music bumping, when we cook, music.

We’ve spoken before about you coming up ‘from the trenches’.

My mom made the best out of what she could. But living in Newark, in the hood, it’s two options for you to go with: dead or in jail. We weren’t in nobody’s way, it’s just, you become a product of the environment. If I didn’t gravitate towards or focus on my music I’d be in the same situation as some of my brothers. I started off with nothing, it wasn’t just no money, it was no guidance. I had vision but every step was me trying to figure out a chance.

What was that moment where you really felt like you were figuring out something different that no one else around you had done before?

On my birthday, when I saw my first album ‘El Cabra’ on Apple Music. In that period, I was in a dark space. My mom was always there – she had two jobs, and I’d be raising my little brothers in the meantime. I’m the oldest of my siblings on my mom’s side. I had to make sure everybody was fed in the house, a lot of responsibilities. I had a child and knew I had to grow up. The only thing I really had was my music. In 2017, SoundCloud was only paying us $200-300 each month for viral songs, which was nothing, and it was the only platform people knew me from. I didn’t have the money to put my album on streaming platforms at the time, so my mom used her credit card to actually fund that first project that went out. I had $0 to my name. A month later I was booked to go to Florida for an event where they paid for my flights, everything. That was the beginning. With distribution, people were telling me to put it on streaming services but when you don’t have guidance, you don’t know where to start to even put anything anywhere. But once I did that and started seeing my first thousand dollars from a royalty check, I never looked back.

Do you think fatherhood changed your approach to music?

Fatherhood sustained my personal music footprint. With my daughter, she’ll normally hear me making the music – but it’s different when she goes to school and hears her friends playing it and she’ll go “oh that’s my dad’s song!”. Once, I went to collect her and her friend’s were playing jump rope outside, when she told them her dad was there they were saying “oh my God, her dad is C4” and asking for pictures. To her she’s thinking “that’s just my dad”. Knowing that I’m really somebody to her is a dope experience. She dances now too, she’s taken after me a lot so far.

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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