A couple episodes ago we interviewed Mike B who put us onto a young cat named Leland who really surprised me. He’s quite young in age, but that doesn’t translate into his raps. The art of storytellin’ is raw, real, and something all of us struggling creatives can identitfy with. We spoke to Leland about his new 8 solid track project and why everyone should adopt the philosophies of Leland and stay hungry! Read below for the full Q&A…
Strugglin’ Artist is an update on your life, very honest, very real. Five years from now when you make it big are you going to name your album ‘filthy rich and nice cars’?
Leland: First off thank you for this opportunity I really appreciate this. Honestly in five years from now I see myself doing much more than music. I’d like to have my hands all over the planet, I see myself using my success & the money it comes with towards improving it as much as possible while I exist. We’ll call the album, “WE ALL EATING” [laughs].
Kidding aside, I think its really rare for a guy 21 and under who wants to be a rapper to not embody a 2Chainz persona, who goes back to the essence of hip hop like Tribe Called Quest, and come out with some real story-telling records. Did you have any conflicts with what kind of artist you wanted to be?
Leland: Actually, yes. Rap is crazy man! There’s so many categorized artists & sub genres within the genre. I always wanted to be Kanye. “Late Registration” was that album that made me want to rap way back in middle school, & I honestly didn’t know how it was going to happen I just wrote rhymes to beats I liked. [The] first joints I recorded were over Tygas “Lap Dance” & Chris Brown “Deuces” that shit was hot in high school [laughs]. Late in my senior year of High School when I discovered Tribe, I knew how I wanted to do things. I knew I wanted to represent & stand for something positive. (Also I was raised well shouts to moms one time) It’s a lot of characters in rap it’s not enough people. I want to be a voice for people, I’m still kind of figuring things out I’m getting there though.
Around this time last year you released ‘Soon To Be Somebody”. Whats changed for you since then and how has your mind, sound, and rhyme matured?
Leland: Yes, very much has changed since “Soon To Be Somebody”. I feel like every day I grow, every day I learn, every day I have a better understanding of myself & how I want to express myself. Since “STBS” I’ve made & lost friends, had relationships with amazing women, I’ve studied tons of music (not just rap), I feel like my word play has improved & I’m becoming even more relatable because I’m still maturing & I’m living more life you know? I’ve stopped worrying about how people will respond to my creations. I’m just creating now, I feel very free.
Was there something different you wanted to portray on your new album $trugglin’ Artist or was it just a continuation of what you’ve done so far?
Leland: Yes & no. Yes for the people that have heard “STBS”, just like I said I’ve matured, I’ve improved, I’m more comfortable creating than I was a year ago. STBS is me saying “yo I’m out here I’m active I’m gonna be doing this now” & $truggling Artist says “yo I’m out here I’m still active, I’m getting the hang of this, but I’m still working out the kinks”.
No, for the people who are hearing me for the first time. Obviously I just now exist to them & I want them to listen to who & what I am at this point in my life.
I noticed the symbolism of the letter ‘s’ in your current song titles are dollar signs. Does money equal success for you as an artist?
Leland: The $ to me, represents the worlds perception of success. We have this limited time on earth, who’s to say anyone is wrong for wanting money & materials? Who can truly tell you what success is when everyone has different eyes & ways of thinking. To me success is providing for my family, giving them anything they want & having them live stress free for generations until my existence is forgotten. Success to me is changing one mind in my time; if I can improve one persons mindset on this planet I am successful. That being said I’ve been successful for years in my mind. We all have money problems, either too much or not enough regardless people can relate to this $.
What are some of your favorite Asian films or Anime?
Leland: Dragon Ball & Dragon Ball Z was everything to me growing up [laughs]. Pokémon of course, I fucked with Inuyasha, Mobile Suit Gundam, Cowboy Bebop, Full Metal Alchemist…I love all that stuff!
The Art of Shit Talking you describe dreams of granite counters, pools, money; the suburb life. A perfect example of something to strive for. Are you afraid that once you achieve your material goals, the hunger for more will abandon you?
Leland: I feel like a lot of people get comfy with their idea of success which isn’t wrong at all. It’s like betting on a game of pool, dude calls 8 Ball corner pocket, sinks it, now what? You either buy your boys a round of beer & enjoy your time or call out the next dude. Timing plays a major part too, how do you stay relevant every year? When I achieve my material goals it’ll mean all my people are taken care of and I can focus on businesses for the greater good & providing better situations for those less fortunate around the world. It’s a big world you feel me?
I ask because if you bring up Nas, Jay-Z, or any other iconic rapper, people always say their first albums are their best. Not because they want to make a good first impression, but because they’re hungry. Is this something you agree with?
Leland: I agree, upmost respect to those men I cannot speak for them, I pray to be mentioned in the same sentence as them all I know is i’ll be hungry the rest of my life.
You’re gaining a lot of momentum lately, how will you carry it into 2014?
Leland: Yes the momentum is such a crazy feeling. I’ve got an amazing team man, & I’m working on much more than music for 2014. It’s definitely a building year for me & I’m excited for it.
Lastly, any general advice you can share with my readers on chasing your dreams?
Leland: CHASE THEM! Do it for the right reasons, & never forget those reasons. Surround yourself with people that inspire you & push you to be better. This is your life & your world create your dreams. The universe gives you what you give it, keep a positive mindset. Lastly, everything happens for a reason, you may not understand why at first, but you will eventually. Call me Furious Styles [laughs].
Want to be a part of Mr. Le’s journey? Follow his cookie crumb trail below:
Twitter: @YoLeland @whos_mikeb @LODEFbeats @_RobertLawrence @blacksheepgiant @arzito_ @onethought2dots @jakeosmun
IG: @YoLeland @mikebeeezy @lodefbeats @therobertlawrence @Jazzandthegiant @onethought2dots