Stunna 4 Vegas may have come up alongside DaBaby, but he is by no means a sidekick. The 23-year-old Salisbury, North Carolina rapper stands firmly on his own -- or rather squats in Stunna's case. When fellow North Carolina rapper DaBaby began blowing up about eight months ago, you couldn't help but notice the tall, lanky, ski-mask sporting, partner in crime he chose to share the stage with.
"I saw raw talent. I could look at him and tell he never had shit," says DaBaby. "In a room full of his peers, he would stand out. I could tell that without having anything, he still walked and talked like a star. So I felt like it was only right for me to help that star shine." And so the story of Stunna began, arriving on the scene six months ago with his breakout song "Animal." Amassing almost 14 million views on YouTube, "Animal" finds Stunna nad DaBaby trading tales in a room full of gun-toting hustlers. Stunna hasn't taken his foot off the gas since then, dispensing punchline after punchline of creative wordplay.
"It's an incredible feeling when you get the chance to work with artists who have great personalities and energy like Stunna 4 Vegas and DaBaby," says Garrett Williams, their marketing director. "They love brainstorming marketing ideas, aren't scared to push the limits or go left to deliver their message. And most importantly, they always want to engage with the people."
Authenticity has allowed Stunna to find his groove in an industry he's still figuring out. As long as he can be himself -- like the time he put a ski-mask on Nardwuar -- then it feels like he may have found a home in the rap game for some time to come. On his new project Big 4x, which dropped Friday (May 10) Stunna finds himself right at home, with energetic, high octane raps and some noteworthy assists from Offset, Young Nudy, Lil Durk and NLE Choppa.
Billboard linked up with Stunna 4 Vegas to talk his debut project Big 4x, his rapport with DaBaby, his song-making process and his sudden come up under the guild of Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment.
How’s it been navigating the industry?
I ain't really feel the industry too much, I'm still a regular person. I just got industry-people money now and been doing shows. But I ain't really feel too much industry shit. I still stay in the same neighborhood I been in. But I'm about to go industry though.
What kind of music did you listen to growin up?
T.I., Gucci, Lil Wayne, whoever was popping around the time.I was big on the Southern sound. That's really where I got my sound from, listening to Southern rappers.
How long have you been making music?
About five years. I started my senior year of high school and then just got real serious after I graduated.
Do you write
Nah, I don't ever write.
How do you go about beat selection and working with producers?
I listen to huge producers but they don't really move me. I don't even really listen to huge artists because they don't move me either. I listen to more underground and people on the come up like me. I stick to what I know. The beats I really be getting on, ain't no big producers in the game making beats like that yet. So I really look at it as every producer beat I'm getting on, I'm helping them out. Making sure people know who they are.
I feel like when bigger artists get big, they just lose it. I mean look at the game now, every rapper that was poppin' last year ain't it, feel me. Only big artist that I really listen to and like is 21 [Savage] and Offset. I like Blueface, too, but I feel like even though he’s big, he’s a freshman, too.
How did you and DaBaby link up?
Before he was who he is today, he had been had a big name in North Carolina and I was like coming up and as I was getting my name around North Carolina a little bit. He had liked a music video of mine on a DJ page -- DJ B Eazy, best North Carolina DJ. And then DJ B Eazy sent me a screenshot and I hit up DaBaby like, "Let's do a song." We linked up and made the "Animal" track, and then, the video like a week later. And it just went crazy like it did more than I expected it to do. It really changed my life. Me making that song with him changed my life.
Then, we came and sat down and made the Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment thing. It was a genuine bond from the jump and we got in the studio and made songs together and we just had chemistry. Almost like we been knew each other.
You guys have the major label behind you but what made you guys choose to do things your way? The Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment way?
It's never been done before. That's exactly what it is. It's never been done before like this. You see other labels, other rappers and they labelmates with the jewelry and the clothes and that type of shit with a tape that blew up like two, three years ago and now all they are is fresh on Instagram. Like three years from now, me and Baby will still be the hottest rappers in the game. I think Interscope believes that, too. Interscope fuck with us how they fuck with us. We got a well oiled machine put together with just me, Baby and my manager, but Interscope is the big machine we did need.
I ain't just gon’ say we didn't need Interscope. I fuck with Interscope heavy though, I fucked with them ever since I met everybody when Baby signed. We just made it make sense though. And like I said, I ain't never seen it been done before. I never seen a rapper bring another rapper in the game and it take em’ six months exactly -- it took us six months to get me signed, but I was really rich in like two, three months just off us booking hella shows. Like me going everywhere.
The booking number booming.
Hell yeah, I meant that bruh, I really meant that. To the point where I was with Baby every show. The first month I had signed with em’, I was with em’ at every show. The next two, three months I was booked every day. I had probably like a weekend off every month.
What you said about when artists signing other other artists is pretty true. We’ve seen it through hip-hop history plenty of times.
I done seen so many artists come in the game under somebody else and they lame now to me. But they been lame or they come in the game sounding like the n---a who they just signed too, you feel me? Nah, that ain't Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment thing, though. Tell em' though, if you wanna put the word out for me, tell em' come to Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment, where dreams come true.
What has DaBaby taught you about the game?
He's taught me a lot. He's taught me a lot about the music business, handling business and handling it on grown-man time. I ain't really never ever had a father figure in my life and I ain't never really had a big brother to look up to, so I damn near raised myself with my mama, you feel me? Teaching myself how to be a man. But I feel like when I'm with him and I make mistakes, even when I see him make mistakes, and when I see him do what he do, I just be picking up on shit that I know I didn't learn when I was coming up tryna’ teach myself how to be a man. Like bruh gives me the best advice ever. Like you said, it's just destiny for us to come together how we did. It's like he don't ever tell me anything to steer me down the wrong road.
I probably smelled like an ounce or two. Because DaBaby had me spray myself before I walked in and that's the only reason why.
What was the mindset like going into this project?
To be honest, I didn't know I was going to sign before I dropped my project. So my mindset going into [it] was I gotta get signed off this project. Like, I gotta turn up like Baby did or whatever. That's what I was thinking. But now, all I'm on is I gotta chart! Like I gotta chart, I gotta show em’ that I'm just as hard as DaBaby, 'cause that's all he been telling me. But really, I don't wanna sound cocky at all. I'm not too much worried about it [charting] because I done seen the lamest artists chart and they don't really make music. I really make music. It might be loud or I yell, but that's just my style. I'm not just rapping. I'm not just saying anything, I'm saying what's going on every day around me. I'm talking shit that's gon' make you feel me. It's substance. I ain't one of them rappers that just go in there and start rapping. It's a meaning behind any song I've made. I'm big on being humble, too.
What’s the process of making music for you now that you’re putting projects together?
To be honest, when I do record, I just record. I'm not recording thinking about the project like that. I'm just recording and then when it come around and it's time for a tape -- like how it is now -- I got like 12 songs on Big 4x, but I made like 150 songs that I had to choose from. I could drop another tape right now if I wanted to. When I work, I just work, bro. I'll make five songs in a two-three hour session and then come back in two-three days and do the same thing. I really like recording and now I got it even more perfect now that I've signed and I got big racks and I got jewelry and all, it just turns me up. Like when I left Johnnys I just wanted to go record, I had some more stuff to rap about.
You got some heavy hitters coming in on this project with Young Nudy, Durk, Offset, NLE Choppa. How did some of those collabs come about?
Nudy had reached out to me even before he knew I was dropping the tape. He just reached out and hit me up saying, "You fire bruh and I'm a big fan. Let's work." We literally did the song like the next day. Jetson [Made] had produced the song so Jetson had Nudy do it and then send it to me the next day.
And with NLE Choppa, he reached out before I was even signed. Me and NLE met up probably around four months ago a little bit after I had signed to Baby. We had met up at SCMG studios with [CEO] Arnold Taylor and Yo Gotti. We was just all in the studio playing each other music. And Arnold Taylor had told me that NLE Choppa was a fan of me and I knew what he had going on, too. So after we met each other in person, we locked in, started communicated and later on, made a song. And we still talk on the phone ‘till this day. Anybody I've made a song with, I have a personal relationship with em. And that's how I wanna do it, I don't really wanna do it through labels because that's how you gonna make good music, knowing where their head is at with you.
What about Durk and Offset?
I think Durk was through the label, but right after the label did it, we got each other's numbers and got on the phone and started talking. Same thing with Offset. I had been locked-in with Offset because when him and Baby did their song ["Baby Sitter"], I was with them. I met Offset a minute ago and he told me he wanted to work, so we made it happen when it happened.
What’s the plan for after the tape?
Hopefully, tour. But just keep working bro, really just keep working. I wanna drop another album after I drop this one. I'm already gon’ top this one and it ain't even drop yet. I'm a drop Rich Youngin' after Big 4x. Big 4x is just the introduction but Rich Youngin’ is gonna make people say, "Damn. How much [music] they got?!"