Waka Flocka Flame shines bright in ATL [Article]
Atlanta, GA – This past Tuesday, Queens, NY born – Riverdale, GA raised rapper Waka Flocka Flame released his debut album FLOCKAVELI. The album was initially supposed to be a mixtape with DJ Holiday, but quickly began building a buzz online and the decision was made to drop it as an album. “Everything that was featured on the mixtape went straight to the album,” Waka told me.
The album includes some previously released tracks like “O Let’s do it” and “Hard in da Paint” and the current radio favourite “No Hands” which features Wale and Roscoe Dash. There are also plenty of Bricksquad 1017 rapper collaborations such as Cartier Kitten, French Montana, YG Hootie and Slim Dunkin among many others so if you’re a fan, you will be plenty happy.
“I describe my album like going to the circus, playing football, playing ultimate fighting, drinking 5 energy drinks, a whole bunch of powerades, and 4th of July …mixed in one,” Waka says with a smile when asked about the vibe of his album.
I recently got a chance to spend some time at Waka Flocka’s shows and I decided to write this article to relate those experiences to his music for hip-hop fans up north. I won’t lie, I was a Waka fan before the shows, but at that time I was just a fan of the records, not necessarily of the person or of the movement. Just before I left for Atlanta I also had the chance to see Yelawolf and Wiz Khalifa in concert and even though they don’t have records on the radio in Canada, they seemed to have a great fan base in their tour cities. I realized that in this day and age people are fans of a movement, the kind of energy you create among people with the same interests – where people become a fan of YOU, and not just your music. Once they are a fan of you as a person, they like, respect, and understand your music that much better.
“We started working on the album towards the end of summer,” DJ Holiday told HipHopCanada. “We came up with Flockaveli after everything was done. That was one of the titles we came up with and we felt suited the body of work best. For his cult following, for what he has going on, Flockaveli is like fun, crunk, fight music with his own swag to it. This is Waka’s first time putting out something and even though it came out quick due to the demand of the buzz that his singles created, it would be for him what Urban Legend was to T.I., or what Get Rich or Die Trying was to 50 Cent, or what 400 Degrees was to Juvenile and so on,” Holiday boasts. “Waka has team skill – he wants everyone around to be happy and keeps them motivated doing what he does. He cares about the little things and I can honestly say he’s a real genuine dude.”
DJ Holiday is also responsible for Gucci’s popular and breakthrough mixtape The Writings on the Wall and Nicki Minaj’s debut on the scene with Beam Me Up Scotty, both of which were pivotal in each artist’s career. “I definitely wanted “Flockaveli” to be up there with those two,” Holiday shares. “But I’m happy for Waka and for the success this album is going to bring. That’s my brother. I have my single “Trapped out” now featuring Waka, Pill, Yo Gotti and SL Jones out and we have a lot more to release soon.
“I describe my album like going to the circus, playing football, playing ultimate fighting, drinking 5 energy drinks, a whole bunch of powerades, and 4th of July …mixed in one”
If you’re not a Waka Flocka fan because you’ve heard “O Let’s Do It” and “No Hands” please take a listen to his album. It’s “Hard in the Paint” on steroids, and if that doesn’t get you hype, I don’t know what does. It’s hood. It’s raw and it’s a little messed up, but that’s exactly how Waka is. He’s also very charming, in a different-kind of way. Watching him perform in front of about 5000 fans at the Clark Atlanta University homecoming was a rush to say the least. The fans knew all the words to his lyrics, they all got up off their seats and they were all wilding out with him and rapping along.
The next day I also saw Waka perform at club Miami. He didn’t get on stage. Rather he got in the middle of the crowd and started wilding out, followed by some $100 bills thrown in the air, which completely drove the crowd in a frenzy. He later joined DJ Holiday, Roscoe Dash and Wale on a very tight stage to perform “No Hands” which again created a commotion among fans and attendees. Even if you do not like his music – if you were on that stage at that time – you would have been bopping your head with a smile on your face. Maybe that’s just Atlanta and that’s how people respond to music there, but it’s something I don’t see at too many shows up here in Canada. I see artists go on stage, perform, get off without as much as a peep or response. These are our own artists I’m talking about. Artists who we see in our daily lives, who rap about things that affect us all directly [and indirectly] and we don’t always show them love.
And there he was, this gutter, raw, crazy and energetic 6 foot something dread that was driving the crowd mental. It wasn’t just him performing; it was like a soundwave – when he moved the crowd moved, and everyone was performing WITH him. I spent all weekend listening to Flockaveli back-to-back and watching videos online. Interviews, music videos, behind the scenes clips, bloopers and anything else I could find on Waka Flocka. He’s truly unique, but he’s original, and he’s him. He’s not the most lyrical rapper out there – and I don’t think that’s what he’s trying to be either – he’s just creating a lane that suits him and reflects his personality – all while opening up his life to the public. It’s a bit angry, but I think we all get a bit angry from time to time, and we don’t always make sense when we get angry; we just want to vent and put ourselves out there, our emotions, fears, hopes and anything else that makes sense to us at that time. Where he grew up, where he comes from, what he’s been through, what his priorities, his mentality and his understanding of life is like – may not be the same as many people out there, but it’s his own, and I think we can appreciate it for what it is. Waka Flocka is definitely doing his thing and if you get a chance, go down to ATL and see how he holds it down – it’s definitely a different experience.
Photography and words by Lola Plaku for HipHopCanada
Waka Flocka Flame – For My Dawgs
You can follow Waka on Twitter @WakaFlocka1017.