It’s safe to say that the West Coast is back. With the meteoric rise of TDE, YG, Dom Kennedy, DJ Mustard, and Ty Dolla $ign, the state of California has the rap game on tilt. With everyone savoring for an opportunity to be the next artist to represent Cali, Casey Veggies has waited patiently for his time to come. The Inglewood rapper exudes everything that is Cali. From his adoration for the L.A. Dodgers to his poignant raps, he bleeds Cali.
For eight years, Veggies grappled with adversity in hopes of one day releasing his debut album. After releasing a bevy of mixtapes, including his most decorated project, Sleeping in Class, Veggies started seeing signs of promise. The former Odd Future member began seeing deals fall from the sky. Jay Z reveled at the sight of the young Cali rhymer and brought him on board to Roc Nation for management. Then, Puma reached out to Casey and offered him an endorsement deal. Afterwards in 2013, Veggies signed his first major label deal with Epic Records, solidifying his status as a major label recording artist.
Despite numerous hindrances along the way for Casey, Epic announced that his first album Live and Grow will drop this May. His first single, “Backflip,” features his fellow Cali cohorts YG and IAMSU. At the tender age of 21, Casey is doing backflips on his way to reaching the pantheon of rap.
Champs Sports sat down with Casey to discuss his new album, his deals with Puma and Roc Nation, the biggest piece of advice he received from Jay Z, his favorite fitted cap, and what he learned from his trip in South Africa.
*** *** ***
We know you’re a big snapback and fitted kind of guy. What do you think makes a snapback unique?
When it’s not like doing too much and it has like a sleek design to it. I like snapbacks that fit like fitted caps really. I’m not like super big on snapbacks. I only like the ones that kind of fit all the way over your head. I like fitted caps over snapbacks.
Since that’s the case, what’s your favorite fitted cap of all time?
My favorite fitted cap of all time would have to be the L.A. Dodgers fitted. I’m from L.A., so I got a lot of pride in my city. You know what I’m saying? Blue is my favorite color. I love how the blue just pops out with the white L.A. logo. It’s a classic.
I’m from New York. What would a guy like me need to wear to fit in on the Cali scene?
(Laughs) I mean, we got all types of styles out here. It depends on if you’re trying to go fly or regular. You get some nice jeans, a fitted cap, white shirt, or a hoodie. You can’t lose either way. Our culture is so diverse. I feel like back then, the West Coast had to be a certain look to how everybody dressed. Now, everybody is just rocking with their own style.
If you can compare how people rocked their clothes from the 2000s to now, what would be some of the differences?
I feel like fashion wasn’t really that big back in the day. Everything wasn’t so designer-driven. I was just talking to my friend about it the other day. It seems like people didn’t really care too much about the fashion. People were wearing big shirts and their jeans were baggy. It wasn’t very stylish. I feel like all of a sudden in the new millennium, people just started trying different things. I feel like now with the way fashion is, it’s very ahead. I feel like we were once behind, but now we’re very ahead of the curve.
Talk about your collaboration with LRG back in the day. How did that collaboration come about for you being able to design and sell your own Casey Veggies cap?
Man. That brings back great memories. We did a collaboration with LRG for the Casey Veggies hat. That was my first time really putting product out there. The fact that I was doing it with LRG; it was just a great experience. We was just having a good time with that. We did about 300 hats. All of them sold out. I probably have about a few at my house right now that I kept because they were so dope to me. But, yeah man, it was just an honor to drop that release. LRG was a classic brand that I used to rock in middle school and high school. So it was just dope to be able to get to the point that I was doing collaborations with them.
You had a track called “Young Winners” that was featured on NBA Live 14. How did it feel knowing you had a track on such a popular video game franchise?
Man that was dope. It came out last year and I was super excited about that. It was a good look. Now I gotta get some new music on some more video games. Like 2K or something. (Laughs)
Are you a Live or 2K player?
Live is killer, man. I love Live. I didn’t get a chance to really play the new one too much ‘cus I never really had the time to get into it. I liked it on the PS4, but I’m on the Xbox now. So you know the 2K is crazy on the Xbox.
You linked up with Puma a while back. What made you decide to work with them specifically?
Yeah, man. The Puma link-up was just a great situation that I couldn’t turn down. It was just a great opportunity for me to show people that you can take it to a different level and do different things with music. I was just super excited that Puma — a classic brand that’s been out for years and still able to relevant — was excited to partner up with me and just embrace me and my brand. I think it’s just beautiful doing collaborations with Puma and just being able to get all the stuff out early and see the brand being taken to a whole other level. I’ve been with Puma for like two years now. Just to see how they’ve been trying different things and new things has just been dope.
Do you have a particular favorite sneaker that you rock?
Definitely. I really love the Puma suede sneakers. I think a lot of people love that shoe. That’s just a classic design. But really, I like the full-colored Puma shoes that have like all-black or like all-red bottoms. A black-on-black or red-on-red. And I like the gum bottoms suede. The States that came out — the Puma States are crazy too. I just got the new suedes. They have some new Puma suedes that they got that’s patent leather. Man, they’re crazy.
I know you’ve been rocking out with Roc Nation for a bit by teaming up with Jay Z on the management front. Over the years, what’s the biggest piece of advice that Jay has given you?
He really just picks my brain for a little bit. I would ask him questions and I had the opportunity to build with him and vibe with him. I had a chance to have a relationship with him through the company and just through the fact that he was willing to sign me to his management company. We still building our relationship and just trying to figure it out. I just been more focused on my stuff. He really just showed me that you gotta just depend on yourself and do your thing. You’re always gonna get your shot. That’s what it’s all about. I mean he’s over there doing great things. He’s a legend. I have so much respect for Jay Z. I just saw him the other day at Big Sean‘s listening party. He hollered at me like, “What’s up kiddo? How you doing?” (Laughs) It was just dope how he just showed that love. That’s what it’s all about, man. We’re just doing it. It’s been an honor to be managed by Roc Nation.
I know you went to South Africa for a while. Talk about that whole experience and how it changed you as not only an artist, but as a man as well.
Oh yeah, I definitely did a lot of growing that week. I learned a lot about the culture and it’s like a whole new world out there that people don’t even know about. I feel like it just made me want to embrace it. It made me realize that there’s so much more going on out there in the world. The way they act out there and the way they care about the culture and how it’s so strong definitely inspired me. When I was out there, I went to Cape Town. We did meet and greets. I met with a lot of people out there. I just spoke to everybody out there that I could speak to. We had a lot of fun. It just showed me that there’s a lot going on out in this world. People underestimate what Africa has to offer.
It feels like you’ve been in the game for so long, but yet you’re so young. Do you have that same mindset regarding your music career?
Man, thank you. (Laughs) I got rap lines that talk about things like, “I’m young, but I’m still a veteran.” I’ve been doing it for eight years. I’ve been just putting out music and just climbing up the ladder trying to get to the next level. A lot of people take off very fast and for some people it’s a full process. It’s like a growing process you gotta go through. For me, I’ve just been going through that growing process and putting everything together. It’s just been a crazy journey, man. That’s what life is all about — experiences and just taking it up another level. That’s all I been trying to do, man, just take it to the next level every single time I come back. With this new album that I’m about to release called Live and Grow, that’s what it’s all about. Growing up. It’s about that process that I went through and all the things that happened in that process. I’m just excited to release new music and get back on tour. It’s gonna be crazy in 2015.
You just touched on your debut album with Epic. What can fans expect sonically, and feature-wise on the new album?
Yeah, man. The album is definitely a step up from everything that I’ve done. I just always try to get better with creating music. You know, with this album, I feel like I captured a great vibe. It’s just a great vibe all the way through. It’s a very listenable album. It gives off a lot of different emotions. That’s what it’s all about. With this album, it’s a real life self-expression album. I got Hit-Boy on there. I got a lot of dope producers from L.A. on there. I got T.H.C. and DJ Mustard. I got Ty Dolla $ign. My single “Backflip” is out right now with YG and IAMSU. I got my next single that’s coming real soon in a couple of months.
I gotta ask for the fans out there, before I let you go, if you could pick one track off the album that you feel is really gonna blow people away, which track would that be?
My next single “Wonderful,” featuring Ty Dolla Sign. It’s a major record. It’s a feel good, all-around record for everybody. I feel like it’s something that the whole world can feel. It’s produced by the homie Hit-Boy. So yeah man, Casey Veggies featuring Ty Dolla $ign, produced by Hit-Boy. It’s an amazing record. I can’t wait to put it out. The whole album is amazing, man. Every song on there I hold close to my heart. It’s stuff that I really think the people will feel. That’s what it’s all about. Telling your story and putting out music that you really feel. There’s a record on there called “Ah Man.” I think it’s gonna be a record that a lot of people call their favorite. It’s gonna be something that they can ride to and just think about life. It’s called “Ah Man,” produced by T.H.C. So I can’t wait to put out this album. It’s gonna be amazing.
Follow Carl on Twitter at @TheRealCL24