In 2013 the late, great Taylor Estrada, aka Sushi God, added me to Bitch Mob Task Force, a secret group on Facebook created and adminned by Lil B, moderated by Taylor and a group of task force generals B hand-picked, and dedicated solely to protecting the bitch and preaching his gospel. I soon found myself trapped in BasedWorld, a global community of Based pages and groups that united a diverse coalition of weirdos, outcasts, Harvard students, European DJs, NEETs, jocks, dealers, shooters, junkies, aspiring e-celebs, hypebeasts, hipsters and, most notably, the disorganized cells of first wave cloud rappers who understood B’s genius before anyone else. I was exposed to a new way of thinking and living; to the internet community as a conceptual and creative space; to B’s based ethos of radical tolerance, authenticity and genuine love; to a new strain of experimental internet rap that would soon transform pop culture.
The chief architect of this global creative incubation chamber is Cartier’GOD, an Athens, GA rapper and producer who has been five years ahead of the culture since he entered the rap game in 06. From 2008 through 2010, he formed the connections with Lil B enthusiasts from MySpace to Twitter to Facebook, created and maintained areas where they could congregate, and, along with Yung God, Agoff, and Soulja Boy, dropped some of the first iterations of the cutting-edge and influential genre that would be known as soundcloud rap 5 years later. Despite his myriad innovations, Lil B and Soulja Boy collabs, and the role he played in the formation of a culturally significant space for internet culture and rap music, he has languished in semi-obscurity for most of the 2010’s. This is despite him making “soundcloud rap” when Lil Pump was 8, dying his dreads before nearly anyone, and using the term “drip” since before the decade began. Rather than becoming frustrated, he simply kept innovating, each new track revealing a different incarnation of a mysterious digital pimp that seemed to levitate above cloud rap’s left field.
The style he has perfected over the last few years is a psychedelic new subgenre without an analog or precedent. Working with his blood brother Tre’Beats as production team Futuristic’Ideaz, Cartier’GOD has fused an array of electronic influences (Vaporwave, UK bass/ dubstep scenes of early 2010s come to mind), his roots in cloud rap, and a signature falsetto flow into a sound that is uniquely his. These innovations have attracted some of the post-soundcloud scene’s most gifted innovators, who have joined forces with Cartier to forge new paths and possibilities in a critical transitional moment for the genre.
Since 2017 he has frequently collaborated with Bladee, another cloud rap veteran who has become perhaps the hottest artist among a young and fashion-obsessed demographic over the last 2 years. After finding their chemistry on soundcloud loosies, Cartier and Bladee now bring the most out of each other: Bladee tempering his most abrasive impulses as a vocalist, Cartier relaxing and sinking deeper into their oceanic production. With their Heartbreakers collab album dropping this fall, Cartier’GOD will be recognized for his talent and considerable accomplishments outside of insular Facebook groups and depopulating soundcloud streams.
Besides his Bladee collaborations, Cartier has also teamed up with the aesthetically pristine Diamondsonmydick and brilliant young rapper/ producer Hi-C to form the Reptillian Club Boys. Where Cartier’s surfed out Bladee collaborations are light, airy, and cloudy, the Reptillian Club Boys fuse Hi-C’s deconstructed post-trap and Cartier’s ethereal sounds into a portal to a digital demon’s playhouse. Besides their pretty boy demon rap records, they also love to experiment with straight up surf rock in a way that no other hip-hop group has.
Cartier has been laying the groundwork for something special recently, and I knew I needed to get the story of his long, culturally significant career straight from the source. I recently got him on the phone for more than an hour, and replaying our conversation I discovered that Ocean Gang’s captain was often serendipitously accompanied by gurgling bubble noises from my large metal HydroFlask, giving his Georgia drawl a mystical quality. Below is our conversation about a career that has spanned more than a decade, swag thieves, Bladee and Reptillian Club Boyz collaborations, reaching the grandmaster level of music production, and his spiritual connection to internet culture as BasedWorld’s high priest. — Lucas Foster
Have you ever surfed?
Cartier’GOD: Yeah I’m pretty good actually. I’ve surfed a few times in Florida. Not really technical but I just can balance myself pretty good, I know how to catch a wave.
That’s the best thing I’ve ever heard, how did I know? I need to put that in the interview, especially cause that new Young Thug joint “Surf.”
Cartier’GOD: That’s like my style too! That’s like Ocean Gang reincarnated. We was rapping about being in the Ocean, at the Beach seven eight years ago!
I was listening to your back catalog, preparing for this. Someone told me recently that “you can only really judge an artist on output, how much are they releasing,” and it’s insane how much music you’ve put out. Tre’Beatz is your blood brother right?
What y’all have been doing with Futuristic’Ideasz recently is incredible. I noticed, I think what you guys do kind of clicked and really elevated to a new level about 2 years ago. The beginning of the falsetto flows, the reverbed out, lo-fi, crazy ass shit. Electronic sounding space shit. What influenced that?
Cartier’GOD: It’s an experimental stage I reached, I learned how to play with my voice, so to speak. How to sound different, all sorts of frequencies I use. There’s certain programs I use, trying to make myself sound different, but still the same too. I think about this in my head all the time. My brain is full of ideas that I’m trying to get out, piece by piece. I finally made myself sound like how I want to sound.
That’s a huge step, and what I consider the grandmaster level of production. When you reach that stage you are able to make music that sounds just like how you hear it in your head. And what you have done since you hit that plane is really impressive.
What DAW do you use?
Cartier’GOD: We on FruityLoops. I been using it since forever. This what got me here, this what helped me get my ideas elsewhere. I’m forever grateful to it. That’s why I call it FruityLoops, cause that’s how long I been on it.
You guys program all your own shit right?
Cartier’GOD: Oh yeah. That’s the way we go about it, making different sounds.
Speaking of production wizards, how’d you link up with Hi-C and Diamondsonmydick for Reptillian Club Boys?
Cartier’GOD: Diamonds hit me up on Soundcloud. I asked him to send me some shit, and it was hard, some different shit, Hi-C was on the first beat he sent. Then I made “Come My Way” with Diamonds and “Queen of the Damned” with Hi-C.
You’ve unlocked a whole new portal with them, with the RCB tapes. Reptiles, demons, vampires, digital strippers. It’s psychedelic as fuck.
Cartier’GOD: Definitely. Yeah, I have that part in me too. I got a lot of sides to myself, a very positive side, but if you’re based you have to equal positive and negative sides. Pushing positivity, but you have to balance it with negativity too, that’s Lil B. B’s raps, he’s very vocal with his raps, but it’s all about positivity too, at the end of the day. I felt like I can be myself, another side of me, with RCB, cause the more songs we did, the more I can get out that side of me. I’m just trying to get all of this shit out, that’s in my head, and in order to do that, I have to do different music. I can’t just get it out on the trap wave. I gotta get it out in every way ‘cause I listen to so many kinds of music.
I notice that in your catalog. The different sides of you. It’s evolving so much all the time.
Cartier’GOD: That’s why I appreciate RCB, we pretty cool. I was the first member besides Hi-C and Diamonds.
That Bloodthirsty EP y’all released earlier in the summer is so hard.
Cartier’GOD: Oh yeah, that shit is hard. I did most of the beats on that tape, that’s me showing them “hey I’m witch’yall, we can do this shit, we can take it somewhere else too, I’m doing this cause it’s a part of me too, let’s go deeper with this shit.” That’s how I brought out the surf side too.
That “PrettyBoyDemonGang Anthem Surfs Up White Boy Rock Swag” song you guys did is amazing.
Cartier’GOD: Oh yeah. We’re working on a new tape like that now.
You had the surf swag like 10 years ago, Hi-C and Diamonds, and they’re considered really innovative or experimental artists in 2019, and you’re able to meet them right there. That’s crazy to me.
Cartier’GOD: Haha. Hmm-hmm!
Speaking of collabs, the Bladee collabs are just going up, going crazy right now. How’d you link up with him?
Cartier’GOD: Pretty much he been a true, I’m not gonna say fan, he already been fuckin’ with me before I was fuckin’ wit’ me. I knew of him, but I really never had a chance to check him out. We linked up when one of my homeboys knew Bladee as well, my homeboy Steezy, he set it up, me and Bladee, and Bladee was down cause he already knew about me. So he wrote me on Twitter and I wrote him back, like “hey, let’s do the thing.” then I check out his latest shit, and I was like “oh shit, this motherfucker got some clout!” and I wasn’t really aware of it. I didn’t start working with him for the clout, I did the collab cause the music was dope. I got what he was doing, the auto-tune, the way his melodies was sounding, it reminded me of me, for some reason.
Yeah you guys have these crazy styles that are almost polar opposites, but the same. It really put together his tape, the Icedancer interlude you did with him, it was a perfect balance to it. Then your recent releases, especially “Let Me Go,” you really bring the best out of each other.
Cartier’GOD: Yeah, definitely. We got a lot of music we working on. The Heartbreakers EP, well not an EP, it’s a album, we’re doing a little more songs than we thought we were gonna do. Working on future collabs, doing songs that are not on his albums, doing songs that are on no albums, we doing songs wherever it fits. Mm-hmm. We actually talk about other stuff more than music sometimes. We just be DMing each other and writing ’bout normal shit.
He seems like a really interesting guy. And the wave he was rocking with, with Sad Boys, Gravity Boys, when that popped in 2014, that was another chamber or level of BasedWorld they unlocked.
Cartier’GOD: That’s true.
When’s the Heartbreakers album dropping?
Cartier’GOD: 4th quarter. We should be good around fourth quarter. I’m not gonna say exactly what, but the end. It’s gonna be a nice time. With everyone waiting around, I know y’all waiting on it.
Bladee is so hot right now. I live in LA, and everyone who doesn’t listen to rap, he’s their favorite rapper, artsy types, hipsters, internet people, goths.
Cartier’GOD: Oh damn, that’s crazy. He definitely on to something. It’s funny ’cause he wrote me last week and told me some people in Belgium came up to him, just to talk ‘bout me!
Growing up in Georgia in the 2000’s, did you ever think you’d be this guy who had a cult following all around the world?
Cartier’GOD: Not really, I knew I had the talent, I just never thought I’d put it together. I should be on a bigger branch right now, but a lot of stuff slowed me down, life situations, but I’m coming back up soon enough.
Were you always interested in music?
Cartier’GOD: Oh hell yeah.
Who were you listening to growing up?
Cartier’GOD: I got a lot of influences. I was listening to Outkast, booty-shaking artists from Atlanta and Florida. From New York I was listening to Dipset, Prodigy, I was real heavy on Alchemist and everyone he produced for. Nas, that whole scene. I was reall heavy on Snoop, Dr. Dre, the Dogg Pound, really all the people who really originated the shit in the 90’s. I was on all kinds of shit, alternative shit, MTV put me onto all the mainstream rock and shit that was out when I was growing up.
You were one of the first people to ever have a feature on a Lil B mixtape, how did that come about?
Cartier’GOD: At the time Soulja Boy, Chief Keef, and Lil Wayne were the first artists to collab with B. How it came about was me and Tre had made this song “Go Under,” we made the song, came up with the beat, I came through and I had an artist I was working with at the time Big C on there. I sent her a lot of collabs and that was one of them that we did. It was pretty big in BasedWorld, we put it on the Ocean Gang mixtape, Mermaids and Seaweed 2, I think it was. I guess B checked it out and loved the song, and he wrote me, and he took out Big C’s verse, kept her hook, and put it on Pink Flame a year later.
How did you first find the whole BasedWorld community and how did you enter into BasedWorld?
Cartier’GOD: About back in ‘08, I was checkin’ him out on Myspace and shit and he was droppin’ hella songs. And on all his songs, I got what he was doing right away, he wasn’t trollin’, well he was back then, but he was doing dope music and at the same time bein’ himself and that’s what I was doing too. I was just being me, not caring about what people cared, not sticking to the mainstream topics, he was going a different way, and I was going a different way as well. We somehow met up through just putting music out, I think he followed me on twitter before I even was in BasedWorld. He followed me on twitter in 07, 08. It’s crazy cause we felt connected right away.
That’s wild, I didn’t know you were making music back in 08.
Cartier’GOD: Yeah, yeah I just wasn’t putting it out on wax. I was more of a producer back then. I was making beats trying to get in tune, I made this beat called “My UFO,” it was a beat I kinda dedicated to Lil B, he never rapped on it or whatever but he recognized it. I was introducing him to a couple of my friends, and he liked what my boy Bang Bang was doing, he fucked with him real hard. B kept dropping hard ass shit and it just made me wanna be based, cause I heard him talking about it in all his songs, that it was a BasedWorld.
I heard him talking about it being a BasedWorld, but it really wasn’t, all the way back then, it was people with it, but they really weren’t. So we started building it. We started building community pages, based pages on Facebook, anybody who had based behind their name we friended them, and all of us clicked. We didn’t click through, like, writing messages to each other like “hey are you based?” they just started seeing statuses we made, which was based statuses, pushing based on statuses. A lot of other people seen it too, and that’s kinda how they got on based, through us. Seeing the weird shit we was doing, some people was diggin’ it, some people were like, very interested. Everybody just started catching on to like “okay, so this is based people, on Facebook” and the community just started growing.
What year was that?
Cartier’GOD: Like 2008, 2009, more really like 2008.
You were talking to all these people from all around the country, and what united it was this completely left-field mentality and approach to things, of acceptance, positivity, experimental music. It was actually a really put together ethos for an experimental music movement.
Cartier’GOD: Yeah exactly. But actually, most of them wasn’t even making music. It was people just based who weren’t even doing music. A lot of the people I became friends with were just Lil B followers and listeners. I put a lot of people on Ocean Gang who weren’t even rappers, who actually became artists ’cause I made it so easy for them.
That’s so tight. When BasedWorld was starting back in ’08, ’09 did you know it was going to become such a huge movement?
Cartier’GOD: No not really, not at all. I was really just trying to find some based people who I could relate to. Cause the way I was living I couldn’t relate to a lot of people, cause they was on some other shit. They was thinking I was weird on some shit cause they weren’t really trying to elevate, they was just stuck in the same. The shit got crazy cause I became close friends with a lot of people on Facebook, cause we share that thing, we have that thing in common of the based lifestyle.
Yeah when I found Bitch Mob Task Force through my friend Taylor, RIP, in 2013 it completely changed my life. It connected me to people all over the world who had that same mentality of acceptance, loving yourself, understanding, it brought me into so many different cultures, people from Russia, Europe, Vietnam, South America, all over the US.
Cartier’GOD: That’s crazy cause I brought so many of the BasedWorld pages together and I brought a lot of people together and a lot of people started ranking up in BasedWorld, started making their own based pages, it kept branching off and branching off. The leaves on the branch would be the people that are on each branch, it just kept growing like that. I can really say that I kinda put that shit together, for the BasedGod. Other than his Lil B page, his Lil B page is really kinda where it all started, where I found people to recruit, found some more Based Boys to be like “Let’s get, let’s crank up some worlds” cause that’s what Based God wanted us to do. I was down with him to the point where I understood his basic commandments, and I was grinding just to get noticed by him, and it worked. I’m really the only one in BasedWorld who has his own community, which is Ocean Gang. I birthed a whole other community in BasedWorld which B recognized and gave me my respect for.
It was so ahead of its time, creating your own reality, birthing worlds, you have online communities now, but BasedWorld was so ahead of its time in terms of creating these self-contained mythical universes on the internet. And it was going on before Twitter and all that other shit popped off.
Cartier’GOD: Hell yeah, I slick was the puttin’ the hashtag, bro, I was putting hashtags in front of everything before twitter even came out. I believe they stole my pound swag, my hashtag swag, you can go through by the date, and look at all the songs with the hashtag on ‘em, and Twitter wasn’t even out when I was dropping my first songs.
What was the first song you did with Soula Boy?
Cartier’GOD: The first song I did with Soulja Boy was called “Word Around the Ocean.” He called it “Splash.” The weird thing is he sent me the goddamn song, I sent him the beat, he sent me the song back, then I dropped that song, then I see he released it as his own song called “Splash!” I was a little pissed with how he did that, but I was still happy cause my brother Tre got a producer credit for Soulja Boy, so did I, like I said I was producing.
You created Ocean Gang, you made “drip.” I don’t know if you even want to speak on this, cause I know the real story, and the real know the real story. But basically there was a guy named Ugly God who basically ran off with your whole swag, with Yung God’s Ugly Mob swag in a pretty egregious way. What’s the story behind that?
Cartier’GOD: From what I was told, he reached out to Yung God a few times. He was pretty much a follower of Ocean Gang, he knows about everything. I guess he felt like it was an opportunity for him to come up off of it, or not even come up off of it. He probably made a song,which he liked, which was like an ode to Ocean Gang, but he blew up off of it, and he just left Ocean gang in the dirt.
I’ve seen screenshots of him messaging Yung God, where he’s like “Yo I’m trying to get on, blah blah blah,” he was basically like an orbiter of BasedWorld, not even leveled up.
Cartier’GOD: Right, exactly. I don’t know much about him. I know he blocked me and Yung God on twitter. He tried to give me respect one day, it’s on my Instagram still, on this post where I was on stage with Lil B, and whoever edited the video put his song “Water” on there. A guy came in the comments and was like “has Ugly God gave you your props?” and he tagged Ugly God, and Ugly God did say some shit like “shouts outs to BasedWorld,” He kinda gave me props but, not really…
Cartier’GOD: Yeah. But like you said he probably didn’t fuck with me, he probably was fuckin’ with Agoff and Yung God. That’s what a lot of people love to say, when I come for my respects for using my shit, for using “drip.” I had to battle underground niggas before I had to battle any industry niggas. I still let it be known that, you know, that’s my word. Future was one of the first mainstream artists to start using the slang. And I know cause I watched one by one so many artists start using it. Before the Migos started using it, there was a couple underground artist who was using it, acting like they came up with the swag, like Water Boyz, seshollowaterboyz. I even talked to Chris Travis back in the day in the inbox, cause I seen a lot of people using my lingo in the comments on his picture, and he was like recognizing how people took Ocean Gang whole shit. There was so many people trying to run off with the swag, Famous Dexter, Sauce Walka, but shit was already written.
I remember old flicks of you, like 2012 or some way back shit, with the dyed dreads, the Cartier, the designer, the tight pants, the whole swag.
Cartier’GOD: I can definitely say I was one of the first to dye their dreads in the rap game, The Versace, before the Migos, I was rockin’ like vintage Versace jewelry I was coppin’ off Ebay, like $500 pieces, used, tarnished, gold Versace pieces that some old white lady might’ve had. Rockin’ that kinda jewelry. People would say I’m trippin’ but I was before everyone, except maybe Soulja Boy.
Would you say you almost have like a spiritual connection? Like I’ve felt this too sometimes, not on your level, when you’re on the internet so much you can see futures happening, you can tap into the collective subconscious. Would you say you feel like that?
Cartier’GOD: Yes, definitely. That’s actually kinda what I did.