Swae Lee On His Prolific 2018, His Imminent 'All Bangers' Solo Project & Why He's 'The King of Melodies'

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He tells Billboard about his new Christmas music and his private highlights from 2018

As 2018 winds down, Billboard is asking a few of the artists who helped outline the 12 months in music to look again on their accomplishments, favourite reminiscences and pop-culture obsessions from the previous 12 months. Check out different interviews with St. Vincent, Anne-Marie, Kali Uchis and Dan + Shay.

If you activate the radio, scroll via YouTube or verify the homepage of your favourite streaming service or flick through YouTube, there's a stable probability that Swae Lee will pop up. The 23-year-old first made a reputation for himself as one-half of hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd alongside together with his brother Slim Jxmmi, however he confirmed that his skills can't be pigeonholed with the May launch of his solo debut, Swaecation. Packaged as a triple album with Rae Sremmurd's third album, SR3MM, and Jxmmi's solo debut, Jxmtro, Lee's album moved past his bass-heavy roots and explored extra melodic and tender manufacturing that highlighted his vocal capabilities. "It’s a dope feeling," he tells Billboard in regards to the album's heat reception. "Especially whenever you put out hella songs and the world is simply wanting increasingly more. It retains me impressed and motivated."

Hella songs, certainly: On prime of his solo work, Lee joined forces with artists throughout style strains for greater than a dozen separate collaborations this 12 months, together with: "Close To Me" with Ellie Goulding and Diplo; "Chun Swae" with Nicki Minaj; "Sicko Mode" with Travis Scott, Drake and Big Hawk; "Arms Around You" with XXXTentacion, Lil Pump and Maluma; "The Ways" with Khalid... and the listing goes on and on. Many of those tracks charted on the Billboard Hot 100, together with the soothing Post Malone team-up "Sunflower," which is at the moment at No. 7. And Lee isn't modest about his skills: "I’m the King of Melodies, fo sho’ fo sho’!" he says, laughing. "I’ll take that crown."

Below, he tells Billboard about his upcoming solo mission (due early subsequent 12 months), why he's over adlibs and what occurred to that unhappy Christmas music he teased on Twitter.

This 12 months, you confirmed a lot versatility on your solo album, Swaecation, and all of your collaborations with different artists. Why was it essential so that you can showcase these different sides of you?

By the center of final 12 months, I had put out so many songs that did good, however individuals have been forgetting [about them]. It’s like they have been attempting to sleep on me. But that’s the pure cycle within the sport: New, non permanent artists are available in, individuals assume they’re wonderful, after which they overlook about the actual artists and all the massive shit occurring. But I needed to preserve making songs and being constant, simply to remind them. Lots of people didn’t even know my full skills -- they labeled me as a rapper. Slim Jxmmi and my gang knew what I may do, so it was time for me to unleash the whole lot. So when “Unforgettable” [with French Montana] dropped and I used to be singing on it, everybody was like, “Oh this n---a is loopy!” And the numbers don’t lie after I sing on songs -- they only go up!

Were you nervous about dropping your first solo file?

No, I wasn’t nervous about placing it out. I understood the music and wished the world to digest it. But it would’ve been forward of its time! People could have to return in two years to understand it to the max, you realize what I’m saying? Even although it did fairly good -- I at all times seemed on the numbers -- I noticed it in my head doing higher. But I’m gonna be dropping essentially the most silly solo mission ever. When the followers entry music, it needs to be really easy for them to get to. I had Swaecation within the mixture of SR3MM, and that was 27 songs in whole, so individuals could not have recognized to get proper to Swaecation. I’m simply gonna make issues extra accessible and make a actual solo mission, perhaps about 12 songs. Just all bangers!

Do you've got an thought of what we will anticipate from it?

I’m pondering to drop it in late January or February. I’m working with Mike WiLL Made-It, Metro Boomin, Super Mario and in addition couple of underground producers who aren’t mainstream but however have that mainstream sound. Like I bought Chase The Money, Ronny J and DJ Sremm -- our Rae Sremmurd DJ -- on there too. But individuals understand how I’m coming with it, they see what’s going down! [Laughs] With this mission, I’m not enjoying. I’m stepping on n---as' throats. I’m gonna up the requirements for these 2010-whatever artists. I’m gonna push the music ahead.

You’re ending 2018 with one other prime 10 single: Your Post Malone collaboration “Sunflower” is sitting at No. 7 on the Hot 100. Do you continue to have a good time these wins, or are you used to them by now? 

Nah, I’ll by no means get used to that -- I’ll at all times have a good time my wins. I’m by no means going to brush these off. If I used to be nonetheless broke working at McDonald’s and had these identical issues occur to me, it might nonetheless be huge. I’m by no means gonna get to some extent the place I simply grow to be numb to these sort of issues, as a result of it’s not regular. The on a regular basis particular person isn't gonna be doing this. They’re not gonna be prime 10. Like, I’m regular up there, which is an efficient signal.

If I named an artist who was lively this 12 months, you’ve most likely labored with them, from Camila Cabello on the "Real Friends" remix to Diplo and Ellie Goulding on "Close to Me." What have been your personal favourite collaborations this 12 months?

I’d should say “Sunflower” with Post Malone, as a result of it’s a film placement [in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse]. The major character sings “Sunflower” and makes use of my vocals to calm him down in a sure scenario -- like my music was therapeutic for him. Benny Blanco and I did a loopy one which I preferred [“Better to Lie”], and that was one of the crucial illest verses I’ve ever did. [Begins singing] "Killin' the vibes, killin' the vibes/ All of this waitin' round, killin' the vibes." But one among my favourite collabs was the Metro Boomin one with Wizkid [“Borrowed Love” from Boomin's Not All Heroes Wear Capes LP]. Not to say my half on Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode.” I’m simply gonna choose up my Grammy for that one!

Another essential milestone of yours: You lastly launched, "Ear Drummers Presents Christmas at Swae's," the unhappy Christmas music you teased last year!

I’m gonna say that I’m dropping the perfect Christmas carol in 50 years. I do know it’s an enormous assertion, however I strongly imagine it! [Laughs] The music’s vibe is basically tears of pleasure, however it may also be taken as unhappy tune. It’s so bangin'. And I need everybody to do the “Sad Christmas” problem and simply play my music whereas opening items...and cry whereas they’re doing it! 

What’s the perfect live performance or efficiency you noticed this 12 months?

It was Childish Gambino. I noticed him in Atlanta, and we have been on tour collectively. Watching him doing his factor on stage and the way he carried out was inspiring.

What's a music you couldn't get out of your head this 12 months?

Sheck Wes’ “Mo Bamba,” however everybody’s gonna say that, so I’m gonna choose that Don Toliver and Travis Scott music. [Astroworld’s “Can’t Say”] What’s it referred to as once more? [Sings] "No, you possibly can't say if I'm mad or not/ Smokin' hella weed, I'm on the alcohol.” I like that music!

What’s a musical development you’d wish to see go away in 2019?

Everyone attempting to do the identical adlibs: “Ooh yeah! A-yuh!” Everyone’s doing it, and nobody is switching it up! I gotta swap up my dances too as a result of everyone seems to be doing them. I've a bit one-two step that solely I can do.

What was your most memorable fan interplay this 12 months?

Ah man, there have been so many! But this one man purchased my meals as a result of I ain’t don't have any cash on me! So he purchased me and my mates’ meals, and I gave him free tickets to our live performance. It was only a scorching canine avenue vendor after we have been in Los Angeles. He did an excellent deed. That’s an actual one proper there.

Name one other artist you’d most like to ask to a vacation dinner with your loved ones.

Post Malone, as a result of he’s gonna come via with the great vibes and items. Just ingesting corkscrews and eggnog and turning up. Just having an excellent ‘ol time!

Speaking of items, what are you getting your pet monkeys?

I have to get them their first piece of clothes, so I’m gonna purchase them onesies, ensure that they've all of the fruits that they love on a plate that’s greater than them and allow them to go ham.