“D–n, they don’t even have the good s–t,” Oakland, CA’s Guapdad 4000 says while strolling through the aisles of a CVS in Lower Manhattan. Although keeping himself well-groomed is a constant priority, this week it’s extra crucial because it’s New York Fashion Week. Visibly disappointed by the lackluster selection of hair products, the rapper exits the store and continues his impromptu quest for said “good shit.”
Guapdad arrived earlier in the week, excited about his first NYFW experience despite accidentally forgetting to pack his hair products, putting himself at the potentially perilous risk of being spotted out in NYC with non-moisturized waves. He’s simultaneously gearing up for the release of his debut project, Dior Deposits, which released Friday, Oct. 25. Dior Deposits features names like Chance the Rapper, Tory Lanez, and Charlie Wilson, while maintaining its Bay Area flair with contributions from E-40, G-Eazy, Nef The Pharaoh, and Slimmy B of SOBxRBE.
Later that evening, he pulls up to the Pyer Moss fashion show at King’s Theatre in Brooklyn with his fellow Zoink Gang comrade, Smino. For Guapdad’s outfit choice for one of Fashion Week’s most high profile shows, he rocks a barong, a thin and delicate embroidered shirt traditionally worn by men in the Philippines.
The Ferragamo Falcon, who is of Filipino and Black descent, will never shy away from a chance to showcase his roots. On “Prada Process” featuring 6LACK, which he later shares is one of his favorite cuts off Dior Deposits, he raps: “On my Mama, I been tryin' my f–kin' best not to be out here trippin/ Come from immigrants, I'm livin' different.”
“It was wild for me because when you’re young, you don’t realize that being [from a family of immigrants] is that abnormal until you interact with other people and you see they aren’t living the same way as you,” he says. “Kids used to make fun of me but it never really bothered me because I was smarter than them anyway.”
“Prada Process,” arrives after his relatively calm 2018 on the music front, but a rather pivotal moment for Guapdad’s rap career came earlier this year in July. At the top of 2019, a whopping sum of 343 invites were sent out by Dreamville, digitally beckoning artists to come collaborate in Atlanta at the Revenge of the Dreamers III studio sessions. A total of 142 songs were made, and later on had to painstakingly be dwindled down to a more album-friendly 18.
Considering the 300+ contributors, rap veterans and newcomers alike, who eagerly waited months to see if they made the final cut, it’s worth noting Guapdad’s name can be spotted on the final track list not only once, but three different times throughout it (technically four due to the Zoink Gang feature on “Oh Wow…Swerve”). He is one of the only non-Dreamville acts to appear on the Billboard 200 chart-topping album multiple times.
“I really feel like I was on so many songs in the final because my focus wasn’t on trying to be the best rapper in there. Like, I already know I can rap,” he says. “So my focus was on making the best records, the best songs, the best music, not just trying to out-rap. That’s why the cuts that I made lasted.”
Despite this highlight, early last week (Oct. 20), Guapdad explained to fans in a candid Instagram video this year definitely had some lows to match the highs. After losing both his great grandmother and the West Oakland house he grew up in, he shares he has to put his dog down later on that day due to a heart murmur and intestine failure. “I feel like this is a big transitional period for me,” says Guapdad in the video as a single tear rolls down his face.
However, it’s not uncommon for a budding star to be hit with a storm of growing pains as a signal they’re gearing up to catapult into stardom. Check out the full conversation with Billboard below about Guapdad’s new album, his childhood, and being at the Dreamville sessions earlier this year.
Set up the scene for me of a typical day in your childhood.
This is in West Oakland, CA. You see thugs in the street. Hood n—as on the corner, doing their thing and living their life. Going up the stairs to my house, you see this old lady who looks Chinese and you can’t even tell she’s Filipino. She goes into the kitchen and she has her daughters already cooking some Filipino food. That’s what you smell, that’s what that steam is. Cartoons are playing in the background, you follow the noise into the living room and sit down. You see a young kid watching and drawing cartoons, and that’s me.
Speaking of cartoons, you’re clear about your love for anime. What’s your top five?
Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Yu Yu Hakusho. Watching anime keeps me creative. Anime is one of the reasons I be so wild and I say crazy things in the studio. I don’t even watch things with real people. I feel like it keeps me youthful.
How old are you?
You don’t look 27.
I know. It’s because I watch anime.
Do you remember your first memory with music?
I got an auntie. She makes wild music and she’s actually pretty crazy. She was always the one encouraging me and my younger cousins to rap with her. We would make music videos at the house and s–t.
Fast forward to now, you have your debut album, Dior Deposits. Is there a moment or creative break you had while crafting this project that sticks out to you?
There were so many moments, but I’d have to say “Prada Process.” I wasn’t even in the studio with 6LACK when he cut his verse, but I just vividly remember being so mad that day for some reason. I was just heated and flustered. I went to the studio and James Delgado — the producer who produced most my s–t — pulled up that beat. I just went in there and vented and freestyled that whole thing. I sent it off to 6lack instantly at like 4 AM it felt like, and he sent it back the next day.
It’s my favorite not just because I felt like I got a lot of s–t off, [but] because I got s–t off in every song. I was at a point where I had so many of these cool and amazing features, but how can I wrap up this album? The outro was already done, but how can I make it a complete body of work? I needed that song. When that was done, it just felt right. So that was definitely one of my favorite sessions, besides of course being in the studio with Charlie Wilson. Legend.
In relation to good studio sessions, what’s the best thing you learned from being down in Atlanta alongside everyone at the ROTD3 studio sessions earlier this year?
The best thing I learned is I’m as tight as I think I am. It comes from being in the room with other n—as who were really that good. I was bringin’ it regardless, but it was fun to bring it while other people were bringin’ it, but those people already got their accolades. I’m a new driver on the race track going against n—as who already got their Cup titles. I’m not only keeping up with them, I’m winning some of the races. But my focus wasn’t on that, it was more about making great records. Everyone was going to go in there trying to be Cole or Wayne with the bars. I mean, we could all show out, but then the whole project would just be n—as rappity-rapping for ten years. Nobody want that s–t.
Where were you at during this time last year and how does it feel to look back at that from where you’re at currently?
Around this time last year, I was shooting a campaign with Footaction. I also dropped my song “Bitch I’m On,” which is now one of my biggest songs that I play during my shows and stuff. I was tryna figure all this s–t out and I was trying to put this album together. I was in between deals and I needed money and the Footaction deal came through and put me in a better position. I bought a house and moved in. Seeing this progress I made in just a year just makes me feel like this was supposed to happen. It feels like I made sure whatever was supposed to happen, happened by just staying the course and working hard.