Since 2006 Miami's Webbz has worked with Rick Ross, Flo Rida, and Gunplay.
And though he's always proud of his friends' triumphs, it can still get a little frustrating when everyone around you seems to be enjoying great success. Especially if you're still considered "an up-and-comer."
But even if he's not getting major radio play and millions of dollars yet, Webbz remains a player on Miami's hip-hop and rap scene, which just might be about to blow up, as evidenced by the 305 Live showcase at this month's A3C Festival in Atlanta.
Recently, Crossfade sat down with Webbz over some Flanigan's to talk about his new Medicinal EP, cliques in Miami, working with Cam'ron, and grinding on when "you want to quit."
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Crossfade: You've been doing this since 2006, and you've worked with a ton of artists that have gone on to be successful. Does it get frustrating?
OK, then let me ask: How frustrating does it get?
You want to quit. You're looking at everybody else winning. You hear Kanye say it. He said, "Damn, are these dudes that much better than me?" Like, yo, what's going on? But sometimes, it's not your time. That's why I do the Rubik's Cube for my clothing line. Everything got to line up. Song got to be right. Buzz got to be right. The visuals got to be right. The timing. Everything got to line up properly. Some people drop a record, like Bobby Schmurda, and it pops. But even then, it has a time limit, and he's gone in three years.
It definitely gets frustrating. I've quit 50 times over. But something keeps pushing me back. An opportunity would pop up when I would want to quit, like Khaled and E Class album. Like, "They want you on the album." I guess I keep pushing.
What do you think when you're still called "an up-and-comer"?
What can I say? I don't think nothing of it, really. I like to think how many people from that era still can consistently put out good music. So I understand the "up-and-comer," because I haven't broken through the ceiling. At least I'm still in the talk every year with all the top rappers. And this is Miami we're talking about. Not like we're poppin' off artists every year.
Is there a point when you have to be honest with yourself and say it's time to move on?
I've thought about it before. Like, "Yo, I'm wrapping it up like this if it don't happen." But like I said, opportunities always emerge. Big opportunities you cannot deny.
Last year, for instance, even then, going through the motions, I get a Cam'ron record at this stage in my career. Stuff like that,. Who does that happen to?
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Speaking of Cam'ron, how did that song, "Make a Way," off the new Medicinal EP, come about?
That was somebody in the street that knows Cam, one of my homies. And he told me that he knew Cam'ron. I'm like, "Yeah, right. Whatever." He was like, "Hit him on Twitter." So I hit him on Twitter, like, "So-and-so wants you to holla at me." He follows me and DMs me, leaves me his number. I'm like, "Whoa, OK. You do know him." I put him on the phone. When he comes to Miami, he's going to do the record.
There was like six months in between. But one day, sure enough, Cam's going to do the record. Just like that. Comes to studio, he's on the way to Nicki Minaj's album-release party. He's on his way, he stops. It's like 2:30 in the morning. He waits for like 30 minutes outside, waiting on the engineer. Comes in, does the record, leaves at like 3 o'clock, goes to the release party. Don't charge me. Did the record together. That was unheard of. Played him some music. He was like, "Yo, you're dope." That was perfect.
How did your partnership with Valholla Entertainment happen?
I've known Vince Valholla since '07 through a mutual friend, Phatz. Me and Phatz, his artist at the time, we became friends. We used to do records back and forth. And I just always respected what Vince did. I liked how he moved. I just liked how he handles business. I liked how he made Phatz look. One day, I was just like, "Man, it would just be a dope move to team up with him, because what he does, I'm kind of missing." His social game is crazy. It just made sense.
And what was it about producer Young McFly that made you want to work with just him on Medicinal?
His production fits me perfect. If you hear my music, I have an up-North style. I like soul samples. Street Runner was my first producer. That's where I come from. So he has that. Not too many people do that sound and do it well. We started with a couple of records. The Cam record was the big one, and I just thought he was real dope. I didn't think McFly was getting his just due. So I was like, "Let's do a whole project together. I already like all of your music. I think it would be dope and would be a good look for you too." Like some Gang Starr type of vibe.
The trees. We both have a love for the tree. He’s a boarder line hippie. He might as well walk barefoot. McFly is a hippie. And if you listen to my music the tree is very prevalent throughout. It just made sense. Perfect topic for both of us. And of course, the thing coming up, November for Florida. Little cross-promotion.
And then the music is really medicinal for us. We dead serious about this music. It’s just like the tree. We need it to survive.
Yes or no? Does Florida vote to legalizes medicinal marijuana in November?
Yes! Of course they’re going to pass it. It’s already a go. They already got like 84 percent. That’s going to go. Just going to be medicated at first, though, but that’s a start.
How did A3C go this year?
A3C was a success. My first time up there. The Miami stage was a success. The venue was packed. Everyone had a real good performance. The energy in there was real dope.
How was it seeing acts from all different cliques come together for the 305 Live showcase?
That was dope. All the artists were actually talking, kickin' it, smokin', chillin'. And it was dope, because it was the first time I've really seen different genres of Miami music. Usually it's always the street rappers or always maybe the J. Cole type. This had a nice little mixture of everybody. Everyone got along. Iceberg was coming in, dapping everybody up.
Out of those performers, who did you meet for the first time?
Ransooo [Rockchild], Star Life Nick, Cashe. I'd met [Lil Champ] Fway, but during this whole thing, it was the first time we actually spoke. I really haven't spoken to SDotBraddy and Robb Bank$. But everybody else, first time meeting them.
Why is it that you and other Miami rappers may have not interacted with one another?
I don't know. That's a good question. In Miami, everybody was doing their thing, but just doing it on their own. Like, "Yeah, I see you," but not going to acknowledge you. Everybody was just racing to get to the finish line. But now it looks like people are like, "Oh, I see you" and give you dap.
Why is that, though?
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I think that's Miami overall. The crabs in the bucket. But everybody, slowly but surely, is like, "Yo, man he's doing something. He's from my city. I might as well link with him. Maybe that can help me do the same." People are noticing you get further interacting with each other. We're all poppin' on different levels. Why not? Everybody can help each other.
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Follow Lee Castro on Twitter: @LeeMCastro