Before he was a rapper, signed with the $uicideboy$ label G59, Germ was a skater in Atlanta, so he was used to rolling with the punches. “When I was super young I wasn’t doing shit. I was just skating and going to school. Failing every class,” he says over dinner at Tribeca’s Mr Chow, poking at some chicken satay that he didn’t feel like eating. “I wasn’t successful, but I already knew it. I ain’t getting no real job, becoming like regular New York shit.” The Haitian rapper is soaring to new heights with a debut album under his belt called Germ Has A Deathwish, which features his close friends $uicideboy$, GNAR, and Pouya. Interview’s Lucas Mascatello met with Germ at the upscale Chinese eatery to discuss his candy diet, looking in the mirror while you’re high, and dealing with posers. Upon sitting down, the waiter comes by and pours them glasses of water.
[Waiter pours glasses of water.]
GERM: I thought they were gonna get the water from a special well or something, but he just cracked open a Fiji. I’m like, “Bro, you can’t do that.”
MASCATELLO: So what’s up? What have you guys been doing all day?
GERM: Fuck. We just did interviews with XXL, Hot New Hip Hop, Paper Magazine, Interview mag I think it was.
MASCATELLO: That’s me.
GERM: Oh shit.
MASCATELLO: Are you tired of talking yet?
GERM: Little bit.
MASCATELLO: Is this is your first time in New York?
GERM: No. I used to live here in Bushwick for a year when I was like 20. I turned 21 here. I got off probation like August 17th or some shit like that and then August 19th I was here. My boy bought me the ticket and we just came straight here from Atlanta. I had like 40, 50 dollars to my name. By the time we got to like Delaware, I had a double F, and by the time I get to LES to the skate park, I had like $12 or some shit. By the time I got to Bushwick to my homie’s crib, I was over with, tapped out, nothing.
MASCATELLO: The duck is a thing here. I don’t know if you guys like duck.
GERM: I don’t know about that duck.
MASCATELLO: The prawn toast is good, do you like that? They make a cake out of the prawn and then, kind of, fry it.
GERM: The hell?
[Germ and Mascatello order their meal.]
MASCATELLO: Let’s have the chicken satay, maybe a Mr Chow noodle. You want a shrimp roll or something?
GERM: I’ll do a shrimp roll.
MASCATELLO: I was gonna get the duck. So, what do you normally eat when you’re bopping around?
GERM: Let me tell you ’bout my eating: Sour Patch Kids and Hi-Chews.
MASCATELLO: Yeah, I heard a lot of rappers eat mad candy.
GERM: Bro, I honestly don’t fuck with food.
MASCATELLO: Why do you think that is?
GERM: I don’t know. My mom says it might be some drug use. I don’t know. You take like a Percocet or some shit, two hours later you don’t feel like eating. Thanksgiving, I’ll eat like half of one plate.
MASCATELLO: Do you still pop a lot of pills?
GERM: Sometimes. You know when you just high as fuck and you looking in the mirror? I do that all the time.
MASCATELLO: Some people get freaked out by that.
GERM: I don’t be freaked out, I just be like, “Damn, am I even faded?”
MASCATELLO: Do you talk to your mom a lot?
GERM: Yeah. I just talked to her. All the time. I’ll just call her, she’ll call me. I tell my mom anything, really. Give her a light version of what happened, you know.
MASCATELLO: How did you end up rapping?
GERM: Remember Vine? Vine was popping. I was making Vines and shit all the fucking time. And then they had the update happen, where you can re-Vine it. And when re-Vine happened–
MASCATELLO: Your shit got popping?
GERM: They were re-Vining the fuck out that shit. And Fat Nick seen it and he remade it. And Young Chop made it and shit.
MASCATELLO: That’s the chicken satay, it’s good. It looks crazy but tastes delicious.
GERM: It look crazy. I was gonna let it rock for a second. I mean, that shit look … Wow boy.
MASCATELLO: Adventurous eating, man.
GERM: You see, that’s where y’all lose me at.
MASCATELLO: What kind of adventure are you interested in?
GERM: Not a food adventure, god damn. I’d probably just try to go skate in a local thing, you know? I don’t really gotta go too far to do no shit like that. Take my skateboard anywhere the fuck I want. That’s what we did in London. We’d just skate to the park every morning and then figure it out. London felt like my first time in New York. We got kicked out of a bar.
MASCATELLO: As a person making music, making art, how do you feel about the industry around you that’s making money off of people making art?
GERM: Double-edged sword. I don’t really give a fuck about the business, honestly. That shit’s just not fun.
MASCATELLO: Tell me about making the album.
GERM: I’ve had four or five songs, three or four songs done for like half a year, maybe. And then, October, November is when I recorded the last chunk of it.
MASCATELLO: Is the violence in your music a kind of melodrama?
GERM: Yeah. It’s also like every day shit. It’s not necessarily me, but everything around me, seeing people spaz on each other and shit like that. But for real, most part, everything I say I had a hand in it. I seen it firsthand and shit.
MASCATELLO: But you feel like you rap about your life?
GERM: A bunch of shit that happened that wasn’t supposed to happen. I don’t know. It’s weird, man. Shit weird. I be like, damn, imagine if I never started rapping? Shit like that. Fuck would I be doing? Boy. Probably been dead. ‘Cause when we was on tour, Pouya crashed like four whips, crashed a whole car in a building and shit.
MASCATELLO: Is it surprising you how fucked up some people are getting?
GERM: Fuck yeah. ‘Cause I be fucked up and I see some people like, damn. Whole ‘nother level. Like, not even the same person.
MASCATELLO: That’s always something I think about. It’s cool to be fucked up and have fun, but having everybody know how fucked up you are…
GERM: Not lit.
MASCATELLO: Kind of a wash, right?
GERM: If you just start looking like you’re different, they start treating you different.
MASCATELLO: Is it cool meeting some of the people whose music you used to listen to when you were younger?
GERM: Yeah, for sure. Meeting them and then just start kicking it, and then figuring out they ain’t shit, like me.
MASCATELLO: What do you mean they’re not shit? In a good way, or in a disappointing way?
GERM: In a good way. I’m tripping too much, thinking too crazy, like, oh, this person is fucking out of reach, out of touch, super lit. And then sometimes you meet the person, and like, I don’t even wanna see that dude again. You know how many rappers I met that are completely sober? Don’t even smoke weed and shit. I think that’s the weirdest shit in the world. I can get it if you don’t want a cup of lean, or take a Perc. If you don’t smoke weed, you’re automatically a weirdo. If you a rapper rapper, and you been in the video with a blunt, and you not blowing huge gas when you at the crib, I hate you.
MASCATELLO: There are a lot of posers in rap. Sometimes your image becomes bigger than you can manage.
GERM: When I was super young I wasn’t doing shit. I was just skating and going to school. Failing every class. High school’s such a waste of time. I finally got my diploma like three years ago.
MASCATELLO: You always had an image of yourself succeeding? Or was this like an abstract thing?
GERM: You know in high school, in tenth grade, you start getting the college things to fill out? As soon as I got that shit, I’m like, bro, I ain’t going to college. I remember I told my mom that shit and she was hurt. Damn near cried and shit. She didn’t really fuck with rapping at first. But now it’s like, “I understand, this is what you gonna do. And now she’s like, “Oh, you’re doing good. I see you did that little mix tape.” My dad still gives no fuck. He be like, “I don’t give a fuck. Yeah, do what you do boy.” It’s weird. He literally don’t give a fuck, I don’t know. He be like, “You ain’t do what I wanted you to do but you’re good.”
MASCATELLO: You know The Smiths, the band? They have these lyrics, ”I never had a job ’cause I never wanted one.” I always felt like a lot of people who get successful pretty young have that attitude.
GERM: I wasn’t successful, but I already knew it.
MASCATELLO: Do you think you’re interested in being a celebrity at all? Or just having your music be well-known?
GERM: I don’t really give a fuck about being famous. I need a fat ass crib in Atlanta. A little tennis court, a little basketball court, a pool. Put a little skate park in the tennis court ’cause we’re not gonna use the tennis court. You feel me? I wanna own a bar and a skate shop and I’m good for my life.
[Points to the satay.]
I bit that chicken and I’m like, “What the fuck is going on?”