It’s been a long time coming for Miami's own Ball Greezy. Last year, he deviated from hip-hop norms and looked inward on his first Feel My Pain mixtape, which featured Jim Jones on the title track. Now, as 2016 comes to a close, the Miami native prepares for the new year by continuing to vent his pain and feed his fans.
On Thanksgiving morning, Greezy released his latest project, Feel My Pain 2. It was embraced by not only those who have been following his dreary yet successful path for over a decade, but by some of the top DJs and artists in Miami.
“My music makes you want to roll up and get your shit together — not roll up and turn up and fuck up everything you’re trying to save,” Greezy tells New Times. “I came from the heart with Feel My Pain 2, and I’m going to continue to come from the heart with it because that’s what they want to hear from me. That’s what I’m known for.”
As we sit inside the partially Khaled-owned Miami Gardens restaurant Finga Licking, Greezy dives deeper into the nine-track project, which features production from his go-to beatmakers D-Roc and Gorilla Tek. He let it be known that he’s not into making the same ol' “trap shit and mumble rap” that’s feeding the momentum of new emcees in the game. Even when he found himself trying to go down that path, he stopped dead in his tracks and went the other way. It’s just not him.
For a little over a decade, Greezy, who was first known as "Ball Grimm" in his early days of rapping, has been dominating radio stations all over Florida with smash singles like “Shone” and “I’m the Shit." Since then, Greezy has worked with the likes of Rick Ross, Jim Jones, and plenty more.
Before the food arrives at our table, Greezy reveals the true turmoil that went into his latest mixtape, Feel My Pain 2.
New Times: Tell us a little bit about your come-up. You’ve been in the game for over a decade by now.
Ball Greezy: I grew up around music. My daddy played guitar, and I even played the drums for him. That’s how I made my shoe money with him on the weekends. When I started, I was, like, real young — probably around 13. But my brothers and them used to be rapping too.
Your family is of Bahamian descent, right?
Yeah, my momma is from the Bahamas and my daddy is from Turks and Caicos. I basically came up around the music. Our house had a little house in the back, and this dude, RP, had moved in. He was from Kansas, but he had a studio going on. My brothers and them used to go back there and rap, so I’d go back there and listen to them. I got a kick out of just watching them do it. One day I tried it. It's crazy because when I tried it, my partner and I — his name is Mash; he’s been with me since the beginning — we made a song, and the song happened to grow legs.
After your success with “Shone,” you went to do other major singles like “I’m the Shit” and ended up working with Rick Ross.
I actually did “I’m the Shit” like a month later. They weren’t really letting me use the studio like that, so I had to go in when I "couldn’t get in" — you feel me? A month later, I had "I’m the Shit." Then me and Tek was in the studio, and he said he liked “I’m the Shit.” I told him it was cool and that it was some mixtape shit. Two weeks later, DJ Nasty [of 99 JAMZ] came by the studio and told us that he dropped it in the clubs and they went crazy. I thought it was just a mixtape record, so if I hadn’t tried to show him what the record was then I would have never see it for what it was really worth. It wasn’t no mixtape record. That thing went viral.
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Now you’ve got Feel My Pain 2 coming out. Tell us about the sequel.
It’s crazy because I wasn’t even going to drop Feel My Pain 2, but the streets were telling me Feel My Pain is a classic. I was going to come out with my next album, Who Gone Stick Me. I’m like, nah, I got to give the people what they want. I got them listening, so I might as well continue feeding them. People who I let hear it before I dropped it said, "Damn, you still got pain built up?" I’m like, "I’m still here — what you mean?" So the part two goes in, and on Thanksgiving they got that part two.
What songs bring out the most of your pain, frustration, and emotions that you’ve been going through since you started recording the mixtape?
There are a couple of them. I got one called “I Try” and “It Ain’t Easy.” This whole thing is like you going to personally feel like you know me. If you don’t know me, then you’re going to want to meet me after hearing it. You're going to be able to relate. If you ain’t going through what I’m going through, then you’re going to feel my pain. I’m keeping it G all the way out. There’s no sugarcoating nothing because I feel like if I’m going to do it, I’ve only got one shot to do it. There’s no Plan B for me.
Within the last decade, the diversity of artists in Miami has changed significantly. You’ve moved on from that up-and-coming phase to established emcee. How have you handled that transition while proving yourself as the OG for new artists to look up to?
I feel like that comes when you don’t put in work. If you putting in work, then you ain’t got no point to prove. If the circle you came up with know you a real nigga, then you ain't gotta prove nothing to the new niggas and show them that you’re a real nigga too. You’ll be trying to prove something for the rest of your life. Them dudes know I did my thing. I’m 100 and I’m real. I kept my shit G and solid from the beginning, so I don’t got no point to prove. I’m not going to go back to what we used to be doing just because we cool and all that. I’m not with that. If you stay in the same circle and think it’s going to work one day, then I can’t help you figure it out. My ideas and your ideas should come together like nothing we’ve never had before. But if my ideas come to yours and we put them together and it sounds like back in the days, we’re not going anywhere, man. We moving backwards.