Question in the Form of An Answer: Scotty — Interviewed by Will Johnsen

I first heard Scotty thanks to DJ Burn One and their project “Summer Dreams.” Filled with Burn’s trademark country rap beats, Scotty expressed himself clearly and elegantly. He covers...
By    August 1, 2012

I first heard Scotty thanks to DJ Burn One and their project “Summer Dreams.” Filled with Burn’s trademark country rap beats, Scotty expressed himself clearly and elegantly. He covers ground that you’d expect him to cover, but also focuses on finding positivity and hope. He has a laid back flow that you ride with. His message is clear: he’s Southern born and bred, fleshing out the particulars of what that means to him.

I traveled to the South for some exploration and conversation, both of which Scotty helped me out with. After meeting by an abandoned grocery for a photo shoot, he and his rep LaMont (a childhood friend) showed me around the town before we pulled up to a bar in the Little 5 Points neighborhood, where we sat down and talked for an hour about family, escaping the trap, and open mic nights in the ATL.– Will Johnsen

WJ: When did you first start to hear Hip Hop?
Scotty: I guess my mom and dad was always, like my moms used to play 2Pac when I was young, but I really didn’t get into writing music until I was in 7th grade. One of my homeboys turned me on – King J – he’s in the Navy now. He was rapping man.

WJ: Was this released anywhere?
Scotty: Nope, we had CDs we did when we was young though. But he put me on to it. From there he had to leave and go to the Navy when we got out of school and he was making all the beats for us and when he left he left all the equipment and so I started making the beats doing the albums and turned into people liking it. I was selling CDs at school for a dollar.

WJ: Did Atlanta push you to want to rap?
Scotty: Definitely. After Outkast came out, Southernplayalistic.

WJ: What was that like for people here?
Scotty: It was crazy. Atlanta always had artists, like the bass, but then when Outkast came, for me, it was like the coolest shit that I saw. There was a lot of people that was here, but in terms of stardom and what they represented, like they was talking about the South in a way that other people weren’t talking about it. Flip flops and white socks, Braves jerseys, they had the braids. It was just a whole different culture they brought.

WJ: Was everyone before them focusing on harder, street oriented content?
Scotty: Naw it was more club music, you know booty shaking music. But then Outkast came in and they was talking some real shit, like they was saying something everyone in Atlanta could relate too. “I caught the 86 Lithonia headed to Decatur” – I grew up in Lithonia, we knew what that was, the 86 Lithonia was a bus that would take you from Lithonia to Decatur so when they came out saying shit like that on a mainstream level it was like “oh shit!” cause nobody else was saying stuff like that.

WJ: So what did you do after high school?
Scotty: I went to college for a year, Savannah State which is about three and a half to four hours from here.

WJ: Did you keep making music out there?
Scotty: Actually I went out there to play ball and when I got out there the coach quit like the same day and I ended up walking on the basketball team, I played half the season and we was terrible. I came from Redan [High School] we was winning like 25-3 and went to Savannah and we was like 0-25, first half of the season and so I left. I got a record deal while I was in Savannah in the first semester and then I was going back and forth from Atlanta to Savannah cause I had to record the album.

WJ: What was the story with this record deal?
Scotty: I was in a group called Monopoly Fleet – there were five of us. We grew up together, was rapping together throughout High School and we had a CD that I produced called 2339 Underground Boyz. So we put that out in Savannah and it was out in Atlanta of course and then we got the deal and was working with Mixo, he produced “Shawty Swing My Way” he worked with Maxwell and Goodie Mobb, Cool Ace, he was working with some other groups. Mr. Cool who did “Born Threat” – we worked with all these guys, just going back and forth. But the deal didn’t work out or whatever.

WJ: Are you still making beats?
Scotty: Naw, me and Burn been talking about this. I stopped because I was trying to focus more on writing, like let’s pick the strong suit. It’s tough trying to make the beat and then write to the shit. You can do it but it takes that much longer. I knew that working with other producers opens other doors.

WJ: Is Burn trying to get you to make beats again?
Scotty: Naw they won’t even let me touch a track. We just talked this week about that music, he want me to send him that he hasn’t even heard it yet. Old school, this is when I was Scotty PI.

WJ: So the record deal falls through, you are out of school. What’s next?
Scotty: Damn… I moved back to Atlanta, I got involved in the whole little street life. From there I was still making music but it started to fade away. And then I just got caught up in the streets. I wasn’t no kingpin or nothing, I was just moving myself in the whole thing. Women, drugs, selling drugs, and then I just changed my life.

WJ: Was there one moment that snapped you out of it?
Scotty: I met my homeboy one day and he told me about some stuff he had gone through and how he changed his life and at the time I was just stressed out about a bunch of shit and I was like you know that sounds like the answer and I just stopped. I flushed a quarter pound of weed down the toilet, gave up all my clientele and just stopped for years. And then I started rapping. I was trying to change my life so I was trying to separate myself from certain situations.

WJ: It sounds like you escaped the trap.
Scotty: Yeah, kinda sorta. (Laughs) I still fuck with homies now, now I can go back and kick it and not have to deal with the same shit. It’s hard to go around your homies when you trying to stop something you’ve done with them for the longest and that’s what you know ‘em from. So I was like I have to pull myself out of this shit for a minute before I can go back and not be influenced.

WJ: How long did it take you to go from getting out of that to starting to feel confident in your craft again?
Scotty: There was a family event one day and someone was like “Hey you should rap” – and nobody knew I rapped and I did it and peoples was like “you can really rap.” Me and LaMont [Scotty’s childhood friend] talked a lot too and he encouraged it. Everyone who knew me was telling me “Man you can’t give up rapping, you’re too good at this shit.” And then I just started doing it and noticing that people liked it again.

It was different though, when I rapped back then more of what I was talking about was selling drugs, a lot of street shit. When I started back rapping it was more positive, the music I was making and people liked it. I was like “I’m saying some real shit and people like it!”

So I just kinda got back into it and went into Block Ent. one day and I was fucking with him. I had met somebody at church who was talking about a studio, and I went by there and ended up staying there for seven or eight months.

WJ: How did you end up connecting with Burn?
Scotty: I met Burn over there at the same studio, it’s in Curtainwood, right down the street.

That whole experience was like my introduction to the music business, like I would go for the first three months, I was going up to the studio every single day until like three or four in the morning, sometimes until six in the morning – and not record shit. Just watching, just being in there, writing raps, hoping that I was going to get on a track. Finally they put me in the B room and I started recording songs, but the B room was kinda like, it was still a studio, but it wasn’t the A room with the quality shit so nobody listened to shit out of the B room. I did like six songs I think and the songs sounded good, and so that experience led me to the A room and start working on stuff with Gorilla Zoe. That’s how I met Burn One, Gorilla Zoe was working on a project late night, Burn One was there hosting the project and I ended up on one of these songs Gorilla Zoe was on. And then me and Burn One was up just talking about music shit and saying we gotta do something. Then about a year later we link up.

WJ: How long did Summer Dreams take to make?
Scotty: The actual process of the music was really about a month, month and a half.

WJ: You recorded the whole thing here?
Scotty: Yeah we did everything in Atlanta. Like the way we record now even, I go get in the studio, while they’re making the beats, I’m writing the raps.

WJ: So you are writing to an unfinished beat?
Scotty: Yeah, but from the beginning, by the time they lay down the first like, whether it’s keys or guitar I can get an idea of where it’s going or where I want it to go. It just kinda works out.

WJ: Does Burn play conductor to these beats, organizing the different live elements or is he actually playing an instrument as well?
Scotty: He plays guitar now, he’s learning, but he does that a little. But for the most part Burn is pretty good on the drum machines, Walt Live plays the keys and Ricky plays the guitar. Sometimes he gives them a little bit of direction, or somebody comes up with an idea, they take turns like Walt Live might play something on the keys and Burn may already have something for it. It just all depends.

WJ: What’s it like making music in a town where people from far and away places pay attention to what happens here?
Scotty: I really don’t think about that much. I guess it’s cause I’m from Atlanta, and this has always just been home to us, like I don’t know if everybody has always been rapping, like when we were growing up everyone wanted to be a basketball player, everyone wanted to go to the NBA. And then it kinda switched somewhere along the way and everyone wanted to be a rapper. I guess it’s a good thing that Atlanta gets attention like that, but it’s also like being in a town where everybody is doing the same shit. It’s good and it’s bad. People come to Atlanta trying to start a rap career and I don’t understand it cause you could be the man where you at, if you stay in your town, but instead you come here where there is a 100 people rapping anywhere. There is open mics every single night in Atlanta.

WJ: Oh really? And cats show up to em?
Scotty: Every single night.

WJ: Do more rappers show up than an audience?
Scotty: There’s way more rappers. I’m not saying the music is terrible, it’s just, when you trying to become an artist – that’s why we started doing our own shows. It’s good practice to do those kinds of events but what happened is, imagine being a rap artist trying to rap to a bunch of rappers. Nobody wants to bop they head to your shit, they feel like they contributing to your campaign and not theirs so you really just rapping in front of a bunch of people who got their arms folded. You can build your name a little bit, I was getting it in just cause I was pushing flyers and CDs but… there’s a lot of rappers man.

WJ: Was your mom always supportive of your music growing up?
Scotty: Yeah. I had my first studio in my mom’s basement, so I used to always have people over, recording in the basement, so she was always supportive of it, she never really said nothing bad to me about rapping, except like after a while she was like “ok, I want you to go to college, get an education” – it wasn’t something I was gonna do though you know?

WJ: What was your mom’s reaction to you asking her to do the intro to Jiffy Cornbread?
Scotty: She likes doing that shit. She was excited.

WJ: Did you bring her into the studio?
Scotty: We went into the studio, we was in Chicago. She was in the studio when I was just leaving; she came to the studio and did it. It was just some impromptu shit. It was cool though.

WJ: How did that happen, going to Chicago and recording this project with these guys?
Scotty: I met Prolyfic and Soundtrack in Atlanta, at my attorney’s house. That night when I met them, they were like let’s do an EP. They had never heard my music, so we got in at night, I went in and did one track, they say “come back on Wednesday.” I come back and they say “Lets do five songs tonight.” This is at like one in the morning after a show I had.

WJ: You wrote them all that night too?
Scotty: We did five songs, wrote and recorded, everything.

WJ: They make the beats on the spot?
Scotty: Naw they had most of the beats already done. We finished about 9:30 that morning. And so after that shit, it wasn’t done and we was really just kinda working, just to be working, there wasn’t no real goal in mind from the beginning, like we was like let’s do an EP but it was a played with idea. The music came out dope, so we was like “Damn, we might be able to put this shit out.” I ended up going to Chicago to finish it up, and then like we didn’t finish it, so I went back up there again and we finished it up. Which is cool though, I like to get in the producers zone and definitely make sure I’m in the studio with them. I don’t do a lot of over the email songs. I get tracks from producers all the time but it’s just hard. Everybody have a lot of good tracks, so it’s gotta be more than just a beat that I write too. Some kind of inspiration, something is coming out of it besides me just to do it.

WJ: Did Chicago have some influence on what you were writing?
Scotty: Yup. The atmosphere. My mom is from Chicago.

WJ: Have you spent much time up there?
Scotty: When I went up there with them that was the first time I’d been there. The place that my mom grew up was like five minutes around the corner from where we was recording at.

WJ: You said you went back after you started it?
Scotty: Yeah I went back and I was talking to Burn and I was like it needs a little grit in it, you know what I’m saying. A lot of the music was sounding too commercial. And I didn’t want to take people from a project I did with Burn One to some real commercial ass shit and lose people. So we went back and got back into the studio and recorded a couple more tracks, made some tweaks.

WJ: What inspired the name of the project?
Scotty: Jiffy Cornbread Experience? I try to come up with names, like I’m trying to come up with a name for a project I got with Burn One right now, but it just came to me like Summer Dreams just came to me. I grew up on Jiffy Cornbread, my moms cooked it growing up and it’s like some shit that is very southern that hasn’t been talked about very much. Like everyone know about collard greens, and ribs, chicklets, southern shit, but Jiffy Cornbread, hasn’t really been talked about. And it’s good as hell.

ZIP: Scotty – The Jiffy Cornbread Experience

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