ABOVE: CURREN$Y IN NEW YORK. PHOTO BY CAVIER COLEMAN. PHOTOGRAPHER'S ASSISTANT: LORENZO HOLDER.
"Jet Life" is the name of Curren$y's record imprint; the first single off of his newest album, The Stoned Immaculate; and philosophy by which the rapper lives his life. Standing on the balcony at Curren$y's New York concert, it is a little alarming to see a wave of raised hands, each one closed in a fist, pinky and thumb extended, saluting the performer with the Jet Life sign. Curren$y might not have reached the same level of fame as his friends and sometimes collaborators, Wiz Khalifa and Pharrell Williams, but the man clearly has some loyal (largely teenage-boy) fans. Interview met Spitta—as he is known to his friends, or at least the people present at the time of our interview—last week to talk about the forthcoming release of his eighth album, imaginary friends, and childhood crushes.
Some things we learned over the course of our conversation: Spitta is 31, but does not look it; is generally pretty affable and humorous; has small feet; and can smoke an impressive number of joints in 20 minutes.
EMMA BROWN: How long have you been in New York?
CURREN$Y: Just a few hours. I just woke up a little while ago.
BROWN: Is there anything you particularly want to do while you're here, or are you just in and out?
CURREN$Y: I did everything I wanted to do. I wanted to go to Bubby's and get something to eat, and I wanted to go to Flight Club, and I just did that. I managed to do my New York checklist perfectly. Those are like the two things that I have to do when I get here: make sure I find something cool to eat, and go to Flight Club. They had a lot of shit in a seven-and-a-half [shoe size] today. There's usually not a lot of shit going on in my size, but today they were showing love. It was beautiful.
BROWN: Did you get anything?
CURREN$Y: Yeah, it's all in the truck. I got some [Air Jordan] 3s, some Fire-Red Vs, and some Cinco de Mayos, and I think my homie got some O.G. 3s. We did some shit right quick.
BROWN: The Stoned Immaculate is your eighth album; that's pretty prolific. Are you excited about it? Or has the novelty of releasing an album worn of?
CURREN$Y: Yeah [I'm excited]. I put my hands on it today—I actually had the case and the CD in my hands a little while ago. I was excited that the art department nailed everything to the wall; exactly how I said I wanted it to be. Everything was tight. All the songs that I wanted. I just heard a lot of the mixed-down versions in the truck; I don't really listen to myself, so I was never really listening to it when it was getting mixed down. But now that I can hear it for the first time, I'm very excited.
BROWN: You work with a lot people on this album—Pharrell, 2 Chainz, Wale, Estelle—how do you decide who you want to collaborate with? Do you just work with your friends? Or are these people you heard and were fans of?
CURREN$Y: I hear people and I like them, but, if in the course of life I never meet these people, or end up forming some type of friendship, then I'll probably never work with them. I'll just continue to be a fan of what they do. If in some kind of way, our paths cross, that's because the universe wanted that to happen. Me and Pharrell [had] known [each other] for years prior to me calling him to work on this album. I had known 2 Chainz since he was Tity Boi, so he was my friend regardless. Wale was my homie for years; it just so happened that he was doing amazing, so it was tight that I be calling him. Wiz [Khalifa] is like my fucking brother; we came [up] in this shit at the same time. He's like a fucking megastar, but it's nothing for him to stop megastar-ing, to do whatever for my shit.
BROWN: Does anyone ever say, "Sorry, I'm too busy. I'm too big now" when you call them?
CURREN$Y: I don't know people like that. I don't do that kind of shit, so I don't surround myself with people like that. If you have the potential to tell me some shit like that when we're friends, then I don't know you. So it'll never happen to me.
BROWN: How did you meet Estelle?
CURREN$Y: I was never physically like, "How you doin'?" It was by way of [producers] J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League. They knew what would be good—they are geniuses. [When] I finally got my vocals down, Estelle went in and redid some shit. I kind of feel like we know each other musically, because she did see what my vision was and what I was doing, and then she, in turn, added some more things to it. We still have yet to shake hands, or hug. But that'll come at an awards show, after we sell like 12 zillion records [laughs].
BROWN: There are some recurring major themes in your songs, do you ever get bored of rapping about "clothes, hoes, and weed?"
CURREN$Y: No, because I feel like I'm only supposed to rap about my life and what I'm doing, and all I'm doing is getting high and chillin', so that's it. If I [recorded] some other shit, I'd feel lost. You gotta rap about your life.
BROWN: What do you see as the point of your music?
CURREN$Y: Just do what you wanna do. If you stick to your guns, stick to what you're saying, then, in the end, the universe will give it to you, because you believed in yourself. You can pretty much just create your own world; if you don't like it, then just make it how you want it to be.
BROWN: Do you ever think about what you want to bring to the hip-hop genre?
CURREN$Y: No. Hip-hop is fucked up; I'm not gonna be able to save that shit. I make music, I make my shit. I hear that label, "hip-hop," is put on something that I definitely try not to do.
BROWN: How would you describe your style of music then?
CURREN$Y: You gotta listen to it, there's nothing I really could say. I could name the stuff I talk about, [but] then you would label it. You'd be like, "He's a weed rapper," or some shit like that and that's not the case. It's music, you gotta hear it.
BROWN: What's your favorite song to perform?
CURREN$Y: "Famous." The way they lined the bass line for it, the venue speakers wherever we're performing always shake everything in the building. I can feel it in my feet every time that song comes on. That's my favorite record to perform, for that reason.
BROWN: Do you have a pump-up pre-show routine?
CURREN$Y: No, I drink water, say my prayers. That's it.
BROWN: Your own original prayers or a traditional one?
CURREN$Y: No, I say "Our Father." I only know that one and "Hail Mary," and the good old "God is great, God is good" before-you-eat one. That's all I got. Other than that, I'm just talking to God, "Yo, don't let me break my ankle again, bro." Stuff like that. And he holds it down.
BROWN: How did you break your ankle?
CURREN$Y: Jumping down from the stage to go say "What's up" to the crowd, since it's their show.
BROWN: Do you remember the first song that really resonated with you, that made you want to be a performer?
CURREN$Y: Shit. I don't know. I guess the first rap song I heard... some LL Cool J shit or something, probably. Fucking Kool Moe Dee or somebody.
BROWN: And what about the first girl you had a crush on?
CURREN$Y: I think the first time I really liked a girl, to the point where away from school I thought about it, was in the fourth grade. Her name was Valencia. Valencia had a Jheri curl, [laughs] but Valencia was really cute. I caught flak from the homies, even in fourth grade, they were like "her hairstyle." A lot of the other chicks weren't rolling that, but she was unique, and I really liked that. One time when they were showing movies [in class], me and my one homie went through all the desks so I could get her this note to let her know, "I'm fuckin' with you." That was for real.
BROWN: What was her response?
CURREN$Y: It was all good. We exchanged numbers, and we talked for like two hours. It was cool. Nothing else happened. I was in fourth grade. But I do remember that.
BROWN: Did you ever have an imaginary friend?
CURREN$Y: Nope, I always wanted to. I had a few friends who claimed to have them, but I didn't believe in it. I saw Drop Dead Fred  and I wanted one because of that, but I could never convince myself that I had one.
BROWN: If you could go back in time and give yourself advice for your first mixtape, what would you say?
CURREN$Y: Get the stuff mixed down. [When I started] I was just recording in my home closet, and people would say "I can't hear what he's saying." I was just rushing it. That was trial and error, though. I don't know if I would have told myself to do that. I needed to make the mistakes to find out on my own and then do it. You gotta take the bumps. Maybe I wouldn't advise myself of anything. Whatever mistakes I've made, I would probably just let me make them, because it did this.
BROWN: What are you doing after this interview?
CURREN$Y: Smoking another joint and going to figure out what clothes I'm wearing to my show tonight. I'm just gonna go see what the police didn't ball up, because they ransacked the truck, so some shit is too balled up.
BROWN: Really? Does this happen a lot—did they stop you randomly or did they know you were coming?
CURREN$Y: Oh, I don't know [laughs]. I didn't ask them. I don't talk to them when they do that. I don't ask them questions. They tend to ask us the questions.
THE STONED IMMACULATE COMES OUT TOMORROW. YOU CAN PRE-ORDER IT NOW FROM iTUNES AND AMAZON.