The Green Room with Curren$y

Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

When the topic of the best live performers in hip-hop comes up, one name that is often overlooked is New Orleans rap artist Curren$y. The Hot Spitta has a deep discography of dope mixtapes and albums (his latest release Bales with Young Roddy is out now), but equally impressive is his stage show. He rocks the crowd with no need for a hypeman, and pulls random songs from his back catalog without ever missing a bar, reciting his verses with incredible breath control, clarity, and charisma. And his fan base is more than dedicated, screaming #JetLife with pride, mouthing along to every word as if they wrote the raps themselves.

For our latest Green Room feature, we caught up with Curren$y on a day off from his current tour to discuss life on the road, and what it’s like backstage at his shows. Some things you might expect, like the abundance of weed and women. But even though we all know Curren$y is a pothead, it still may surprise you that he never does any sort of preparation for his performances. There’s no set list, no rehearsals, no nothing. Ever. His whole production is completely effortless on his part. Yet he consistently puts on a tight show, and remains one of the most talented live rap acts in the industry. When it comes to this rap shit, Spitta’s a natural.

Find out about Curren$y’s pre-show rituals, how he gets rid of uninvited dudes trying to hang out backstage, what he likes to do on the tour bus and in your city when he’s not performing, recording on the road, hanging out at Rock the Bells, being targeted for weed, memories of doing shows with No Limit and Young Money, and much more in this extremely green edition of The Green Room. Yeauuh.

Backstage/Women

Curren$y: “It’s basically two different situations. Bringing them in the back of a good situation, or bringing them in the back when it’s not so hot, when everything on my rider’s not there, or we don’t have the shit we’re supposed to have. That’s not tight. There’s the good, and the bad.

“There’s times where it’s exactly what you think it is. Fuckin’ hip-hop extravaganza. There’s fuckin’ titties, and bitches, and fuckin’ champagne. And pretty much whatever you want is there for you. And then there’s the times when the fuckin’ promoter is like, ‘Ah, yeah, we weren’t able to find Rose Moet, but we do have Korbel.’ I don’t know if you know about Korbel, but that’s like the fuckin’ cheap wedding champagne.

“My rider is not really that extensive. I got a couple bottles of champagne on there, vodka for the people that drink it, so everybody don’t go diggin’ in my shit. Fresh undies, fresh wifebeater t-shirt so I don’t have to leave the show in all that sweaty shit. I don’t fuck around [with putting food on my rider] because it all gets cold before you get there. You show up to a tray of old burger sliders and get salmonella. I don’t concern myself with grub [backstage], I just get something after the show.

“There’s times when there’s hella bitches back there. But then there’s times when it’s a dude fest, and you gotta clear the room. Like a hundred dudes that you don’t even roll with. I just tell them to raise up. Like, ‘Whoever didn’t arrive with me when I came here, give me a little minute.’ Or I’ll just say, ‘There’s too many dudes.’ I’ll say that. And that makes them remove themselves from the situation. It’s not like, ‘Yo, get the fuck out.’ It’s more like, ‘There’s a shitload of dudes here. I’m uncomfortable. Is anybody comfortable being in a room full of dudes? ‘Cause I’m not.’ And then they’ll just [leave].

“[The amount of women that want to come backstage to see you] depends on how hard you’re going in these streets. If your [music is] already reaching into those towns [you’re gonna be touring in] when you’re not even there, then your arms are already reaching out and rubbing backs of sexy bitches before you even get there. Then when you get there, it’s all gravy.”

Daytime Tour Activities

“I usually get there the day of [the show]. We take the tour bus, ride real slow, and cruise. But if I have the privilege of getting there the day before, I’ll see where some cool shit is at. I might go to the zoo, or some type of shit like that. Something cool like that on the low. Get crazy stoned and go to the zoo. Or the aquarium. If you go to the aquarium, you can see animals, and not have to be in the heat.”

On the Bus

“[There’s a lot of] Madden tournaments. I don’t participate in the Madden challenges or none of that shit, but the homies are Madden heads, so they do that shit. I might play Call of Duty or some shit like that. But most of the time, I’m in the back, in the little lounge area on the bus, listening to oldies. Just jammin’, burning incense. Watching old movies. Fuckin’ truck stop finds. You go to the truck stops and buy those $4 DVDs. I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, that type of shit. Big Trouble in Little China. Watch all the shit. I buy all the model cars out the truck stops, too.

“Right now, I’m the only one performing [on this tour], so it’s just me, my manager, and my friend since diapers. We lightweight. We just got a big old bus to chill in. All my homies are on the road on a separate tour. We got two tours going on right now. The Red Eye Tour is everybody else who’s on Jet Life Records. That’s a whole other tour. They got a bus full of people. I’m just dolo right now.”

Trademark da Skydiver’s Status

“He’s in a cave writing raps. He’ll resurface. It’s no beef or nothin’ like that. He’s just the guy in the group that’s missing in action. Everybody has one. Someone in your favorite group is always missing. Let’s keep it a hundred. Cash Money, we never knew where Turk was. But he was always there. Dipset we didn’t know where Freekey Zekey was. So he’s that dude for us right now. But he’ll be back.”

Recording

“All the shit we have in the studio, we just put the same shit up in the bus. I don’t know the exact terms, but I got my mic, my pop filter, my stand. Sound proofing foam shit. The mixer and all that shit. We put all that shit right in the lounge area on the bus. And I record in the back. I recorded a grip of songs on the bus. I write the same way I do when I’m at home. I write when I record. I don’t really write until I’m in the studio. I write when I’m in there. So if [we’re on the road], and I happen to come across some beats that I want, we hook the shit up. After we do the show, I’ll get to work.

“[I’ve been recording for] New Jet City: The Director’s Cut. This will be the one we come out with for retail [and it will have some extra tracks on it]. Me, Birdman, and Wayne just finished a record. I’ve been going back and doing some shit with people that my people want to see me next to. I don’t really play too much mainstream rap shit. I just stay in the cut. But they’re always like, ‘Man, we wanna hear you on songs with these more ‘on’ niggas.’ And I got love and respect for them and from them. So it’s nothin’ for me to reach out and get a record done. I just never even bother to do it. But I was like, ‘Fuck it,’ and started reaching out, to give my listeners a chance hear me do shit they want me to do. It’s all gravy.”

Packing

“This time, I didn’t leave too crazy, because I do my shopping on the road. You’re in places where you’re not gonna be, so I’ll be like, ‘Let me go run in here and holler.’ A lot of stores show love too, so you end up leaving with a lot of free shit. There’s times I just came out with empty Louis luggage, and just showed up like a refugee, just grabbing shit and copping shit. This time, I brought some [Air Jordan] True Blues, two pairs of white on white Air Force 1s, mids and lows. The original 89s, blue, white, grey, and red Air Max. I brought those with me. I was trying to find the Tape Pack, when they did the red 89s again. I’ll come across them in one of these [cities]. I don’t know how I didn’t grab them in Portland, but I’ll get ‘em.”

Dogs/Cars

“The dogs can travel with me, that’s no problem. Occasionally, if a [tour] stop is in the south or something, I’ll have my homie trailer one of my cars to me. Recently, we stopped in Atlanta for three days, and I missed my cars a little bit. So they brought the Ferrari to the bus for me, so I could drive it around and shit. I got the Spider. I’m still holding the same one. The next move I’ll probably make will be a 512 Testarossa, with the vents on the side.”

Touring with No Limit and Young Money

“Both of those situations just taught me to stay hydrated. I’ve seen people have rough times. In the crowd, or [on the stage]. People passing out and shit, and they’re not even doing that much. So I’m like, ‘Oh, you gotta stay 100, because this is a grueling situation.’ So by the time it was [my turn to do my own shows], I was already so conditioned for it, I didn’t have prepare for it. I been through it already.

“I can’t remember [any of my first performances]. But I do remember the first time people told me about performing in Denver, and about the air being different. I was nervous, because I thought I was gonna pass out. People were like, ‘Watch how you breathe.’ But none of that happened. I was fine.

“The reason [I never was really excited during my first performances] is because when I came into the game, even when I didn’t want to rap, I was in it, just from being around C-Murder and Soulja Slim. I already was on it, so it just didn’t feel like nothin’. It’s just what I was seeing. It’s just what I did. I hate to sound cliche like that, but that’s what it was. When I didn’t think I was gonna be a rapper, when I thought it was silly, it was still right in front of me.”

Curren$y Rapping on the Tour Bus with Lil Wayne

Pre-Show Rituals

“I say my prayers before I walk on the stage. I say my ‘Our Father’ before I step on stage. Always. Other than that, I’m already smoking all day, so it’s nothin’. If they got a pool table in the green room area, I’ll probably shoot some pool. But that’s about it.

“Sometimes, when I get to the show, if there’s a fuckin’ line wrapped around the shit, when it’s sold out and motherfuckers can’t get in, I’ll get out and smoke with them and hang out. It’s wack [that more artists don’t do stuff like that]. I don’t really say ‘fans’ like that. I don’t see it like that. I listen to music, too. Whoever I listen to can’t say I’m less than them or whatever. So I don’t [refer to people who come to my shows as ‘fans’]. I’m not always performing. I go to shows, too. I’m not always rapping. So you can’t look at a motherfucker another way.”

Rock the Bells

“Rock the Bells is like a AAU camp. You might tweet a motherfucker about doing a record or some shit, and you might not see that a motherfucker got at you. But at Rock the Bells, you’re seeing everybody. So if you want to holler at Hit-Boy for beats, dude’s liable to be there. I met B-Real when I was in L.A. for Rock the Bells, and dude was so cool. We just smoked and chopped. And that’s also your opportunity to check out other sets. I saw Tyler [perform] at Rock the Bells in San Francisco, and he’s fuckin’ crazy. His show is nuts.”

Being Targeted for Weed

“I got open cases right now that I feel like are direct results of me being targeted. That’s an ongoing thing right now. So as long as we are who we are, that’s what it’s gonna be, until it’s nationally decriminalized all the way to a recreational state. Everybody got medical cards, and we’re protected in certain areas, but the areas that we’re not, they know we’re not, we know we’re not, so they’re ready to pounce on us. And there’s nothing we can do about it. So you’re either gonna quit smoking, or deal with the incurring problems from fucking dicks that don’t understand it. Which is why I’m in the situation I’m in now. And that’s just that.

“It’s the choice I made. This is me. This is what I’m gonna do. This is who I am. And there’s nothing I can do about it. So I just do my thing. All you can do is be careful, and protect yourself. And the only time you can really kick your feet up is on the left coast, or Denver, or places in Washington where it’s decriminalized. But other than that, keep your guard up, and do your dirt by your lonely.”

Set List/Rehearsing/Performing

“I don’t make a set list. My DJ will verify. I just gave [him] a stash of my songs, and said, ‘Do your thing. Just don’t catch me slippin’.’ So I’ll be like, ‘What’s next?’ And he’ll tell me. Or I’ll just hear the beat. It’s my songs, so I gotta know ‘em. Straight up, I don’t even approach this shit like [you might think I would]. I don’t have a set list. I don’t rehearse. I don’t meditate. I don’t think about it. I don’t visualize it. I don’t do none of that shit. My DJ got my beats, and when I go out there, whatever’s gonna come on, that’s what I rap. Straight up. I don’t fuck with a process, or guidelines. Fuck all that. I don’t know none of that.

“I don’t know how or why [I’m able to rap on stage with such incredible breath control and no hypeman]. God’s holding it down for me. He doesn’t want me to have an asthma attack on stage. I have asthma, so I don’t know how I can smoke weed and do a show. I don’t need my inhaler when I’m on stage, though.

“You can’t not do ‘Elevator Musik.’ There’s shit that you have to do. But that’s not on me. My DJ is driving. I just wanna smoke and kick it. At the end of the day, I’m having fun saying the raps on stage, because I’m fuckin’ high, I’m seeing my friends, I’m dressed cool, other people are dressed cool, I’m potentially gonna meet a chick, I may sign boobs, I may bring said boobs back to my hotel room. So it’s always gonna great. It doesn’t suck, and there you have it.”

Favorite Cities/New York Show with Special Guests

“All the places where weed is okay [are my favorite cities to visit on tour]. Outside of that, Houston’s dope. Dallas. New York’s always fun because you can be hella productive out there.

“Action Bronson coming through [my show in New York] to do ‘Bird on a Wire’ was pretty big for me. That was dope. Whenever anybody comes through it’s always cool, because that’s a sign of respect. If a motherfucker reach to me to come somewhere, I’m there. So if I ask somebody to come through and they come, that’s always tight, and some reassurance that you’re doing some work. And if a motherfucker just come to show love by surprise, like how Lupe fell through [in New York], that’s dope. That’s the kind of shit I do. But, I’ll be at your show, and you won’t even know I was there, because I don’t even know how to get back there.”

Full Set at SOB’s featuring Action Bronson, Styles P, Stalley, Lupe Fiasco, and more (2013)

Making Guest Appearances

“I’m not that famous. Lupe Fiasco could come to my show, get to the green room, get to the stage, because he’s fucking Lupe Fiasco. I might be at your show, but I’m not about to tell this fuckin’ bouncer that I’m me. And I don’t have nobody in front of me to tell somebody, ‘Curren$y wants to come to the show.’ And I’m just there. Either I paid to get in, or I went with a bitch, or whatever. But I saw your show, and that’s that.

“But if I know you, [it’s different]. French Montana came to the House of Blues, and that’s my friend, so I went on stage. 2 Chainz, Big K.R.I.T., people that I actually have music with and shit, then yeah, [I’m on stage with them performing or hanging out backstage]. But some people, I like their music, but I don’t know what kind of people they are, so I’m just gonna try to check the music out.”

Problems at Shows

“Shit happens. There’s physical altercations and all kind of shit. But it’s work. It’s hustling. There’s haters in everything you do. Occasionally, there’s shit that happens, but fuck all that. I never didn’t pick up my money! That’s what it’s all about. Ain’t shit ever happened where I ain’t get paid. The day I don’t get paid, then something went wrong.”

Traveling Overseas

“Anywhere I haven’t gone, I’m down to go there, as long as they can find a painless way to do it. Flying that long is hard. I’ve been overseas and all that, but it’s just tough to fly that long. It’s rough. But when they reach out, and it’s there, what can you do?”

Coming Home

“I miss my shit. But once you work hard enough, you can take breaks. I’m at home right now. I’m at the rim shop. I’m looking at my car that I missed while I was on the road. I’m about to drive it for a day or two, then I’m going back to work. But it’s just like anything. People miss their kids when they’re at the office. But you’re at the office because you love them. So everything that I miss playing with when I’m on the road, I know I wouldn’t have it if I wasn’t on the road. I know the value of being gone, so I don’t get too caught up or sick about none of that shit, because I know that’s how I got it. I remember when I wasn’t going nowhere.”

Curren$y’s Dream Concert Lineup

1. Action Bronson
2. Max B
3. Soulja Slim
4. Biggie
5. Dom Kennedy

“And I’m smoking so much weed at that show.”

Photos via Curren$y’s Instagram and Young Roddy’s Instagram

Previously: The Green Room with Action Bronson | The Green Room with U-God