An Interview With Certified Trapper

Isaac Fontes speaks to the prolific Milwaukee rapper about developing his own sound, growing up on the East side of Milwaukee, his wildly entertaining dance moves and much more.
By    August 17, 2023

Image via Certified Trapper/Instagram

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Isaac Fontes wears plaid flannels for the drip, not because it’s a national pastime.

Frenetic hand claps. A booming bass line. Freestyled raps with punchy one-liners about getting money, x-rated flirtations, and ingenious shit-talking. An accompanying DIY music video featuring green screened scenes of anything from screenshots of random streets on Google Maps, to a photo of Johnny Dang sitting on a gold throne, to a bowl of Fruit Loops. This is the Certified Trapper experience as he takes over the Milwaukee rap scene. Falling down the rabbit hole of the hundreds of self-directed music videos on Trapper’s YouTube channel is a delight. His videos are typically shot in his home studio as he flaunts his dance moves and consistently rocks his signature look: shiny grills and Cartier sunglasses.

Certified Trapper’s music is the meeting ground for the candid street rap of pioneers like Gucci Mane and Chief Keef, mixed with the outlandish inventive qualities of artists like Young Thug or Lil B. When street raps with charismatic flair and improvised imagination unite with the bouncy, clap-heavy production, it creates a sound unlike anything heard before. The beats, whose space is filled with the relentless rhythm of 808s, naturally provide Certified Trapper with ample space to flex his “low-end” regionality.

Raised on the Eastside of Milwaukee, Trapper first gravitated towards 50 Cent before discovering Chief Keef, Waka Flocka Flame, and Future. He started out rapping over “type” beats found on YouTube, but once this process of using, and paying for beats created by other creatives became mundane, he decided to briefly attend the Milwaukee Area Technical College to learn how to make beats for himself. He had his eyes set on becoming a one-man show. As a kid, Trapper was making and experimenting with an assortment of different musical styles and releasing these jaunts online – including an early remix of Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” that’s been removed from the internet entirely. “I did a remix to that and then I just… I did one beat, but I never stayed [with] it. Like, my dad used to want me to make beats, but I never stayed [with] it, then I had to go to school to actually learn about the software,” he says.

Music serves as an escape, keeping him away from the vices and the street activities of his past. It’s allowed him to maintain his focus on taking care of his three kids and putting on for his city. Last year, Trapper served an 80-day stint in prison; an obstacle that temporarily paused his momentum at a pivotal time in his development as an artist. He used the situation, which provided him time away from drugs, to toughen up mentally. The mistreatment at the hands of correctional officers was terrible, but the situation as a whole altered his mindset going forward.

Despite being locked up, Certified Trapper still managed to drop a total of 14 mixtapes and countless music videos in 2022, propelling himself and his sound to new heights. After several years cultivating his sound, it’s begun to pay off for Trapper and his city. Although home to acts like the legendary R&B singer Eric Benét, the comedian Gene Wilder and an annually-contending NBA franchise led by one of the game’s most dominant scorers in Giannis Antetokounmpo, it’s a city that’s historically been left out of recent national conversations surrounding hip-hop when scenes like South Florida, Flint, and Atlanta have taken over. Alongside Trapper, Lakeyah has been flooding the streets with her charisma and raunchy raps leading her to signing with Quality Control Music, and becoming the first Milwaukee-born rapper to be named a XXL Freshman. While Chicken P and Mariboy Mula Mar need to be on everyone’s radar too.

Late last year, Certified Trapper officially signed with Signal Records – a Columbia-affiliated label started by former APG and Capitol Executive Jeff Vaughn. On June 16th, he officially dropped his long-awaited project, Trapper of the Year, his first of 2023.

A couple days before he began embarking on his current U.S. tour alongside his close collaborator and friend BabyTron, I had the opportunity to speak to Certified Trapper over Zoom, for an expansive conversation during which we discussed his creative process, the creation of his frenetic sound, remixing a Justin Bieber song early on in his career and much more.

​​(This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.)

So I’ve heard you briefly say in other interviews it was hard growing up in Milwaukee. But I was curious, what specific area did you grow up in? And what would you say made it a difficult experience?

Certified Trapper: I grew up on the East side of Milwaukee.. On the East side, like downtown and shit. It was like, for young kids, it was a lot of fighting and shit, and then earlier, it started getting into guns and stolen cars and shit, around like, 12,13,14 and shit like that. And people, they steal cars and then end up getting guns and stuff like that. So it’s like, you have to be safe.

And it’s probably something that’s easy to get sucked into, right? When others around you are into the same stuff?

Certified Trapper: No, I wasn’t into that shit. I never was into stolen cars, or guns and shit, until like, I started actually getting into that shit, like trapping around 15-16 and shit like that. But stolen cars, no.

How about the best part about growing up in Milwaukee? What would you say the best part was, or is?

Certified Trapper: I’d say the best part would be school and being able to interact with the other people around my age. Like, parties and shit like that. I always liked to do music and shit. I really kinda stayed to myself, like I made sure I really only mess with people from my side of town. That’s why I do separate myself. I’m separate from a lot of people ‘cause I don’t just mess with anybody.

Right. Is the goal to move out of Milwaukee eventually, or do you see yourself living there for a long time?

Certified Trapper: I actually moved. I eventually wanna get into real estate in Milwaukee, and then a big house in Milwaukee. I just don’t wanna get into any more trouble there.

Right. I heard in another interview, about the experience of you getting kicked out of the house – I think you were like, 13? For having girls over at the crib, and then you went to stay with your grandma after that. So how would you say that experience affected your childhood and growth?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, like when I was 13.. Shit, I wasn’t getting clothes and shit every year like the regular kid usually gets. So it was like, my grandma was helping me and then that’s when I started actually taking music serious, ‘cause I had time. I made sure I went to school though, I made sure I graduated school because it wasn’t that much structure to the point where.. That’s just what I knew I needed to do – finish school.

Right, and then how did you discover your love for music? Was there music being played around the house when you were young at all, or is it something that you discovered on your own?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, I used to listen to 50 Cent and shit like that. So that kinda kicked it off when I was younger, and then when I started actually getting into computers and spending hours making music, it just came to me. But it’s like, it had to grow on me. It don’t just come to you, to be like, a musical genius or something like that.

It’s interesting that you bring up 50. Was he one of the first hip-hop artists you heard?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, 50, Gucci, Waka Flocka and shit. Then it was Chief Keef..

Yeah, I was gonna say, I heard you bring up Chief Keef, Soulja Boy, Future in the past. What do you think attracted you to guys like that, to their music specifically?

Certified Trapper: It’s just the image, and then that’s what we used to listen to in Milwaukee. Boosie and shit like that. We used to listen to a lot of that, a lot of the hood stuff and the trap stuff, like that’s really from the hood.

So that was the soundtrack in Milwaukee then, growing up? Were there any local artists that you listened to?

Certified Trapper: Not really. ‘Cause it’s not really that many big people, but like, coming up in the last couple years, yes. It was some local artists that I listened to and shit, and that I kinda looked up to and then I just kinda shot past them and missed them.

Yeah, you really started this whole current Milwaukee wave. You’re really the frontrunner of it..

Certified Trapper: Yeah. I feel like that’s because I came up with a new sound and stuff like that. I think when a different sound comes out of Milwaukee, then it’ll be like.. It just gotta be a new sound, and Milwaukee hasn’t been really put on like that.

Did your early work, like around that time, did it have the same sound as your music now? Or did it evolve into this?

Certified Trapper: I didn’t always make beats, so when I first started.. My first thing that I kinda did, it was like a Justin Bieber cover. (laughs) Yeah. I had deleted it, I wish I would’ve kept it up, but it was like, a Justin Bieber cover.

What song? That “Boyfriend” track maybe, or “Baby”?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, it was the “Boyfriend” track! It was the “Boyfriend” track. I did a remix to that and then I just.. I did like, one beat, but I never stayed [with] it. Like, my dad used to want me to make beats, but I never stayed [with] it, then I had to go to school to actually learn about the software.

Man, it’s too bad that that Bieber song is off the internet, ‘cause that would definitely go viral.

Certified Trapper: (laughs) Yeah, that is crazy. I think I would’ve went too f*ckin’ viral for that.

Yeah, for sure. I saw too, that you said.. Well, when you initially came out with your sound now, full of the claps and the dancing and stuff like that, the natural reception to it was people telling you that it sucked and it was just so different from everything else that was coming out. But what gave you the feeling that you had to stick with it, regardless of those opinions?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, it was [some] real hard opinions, but like, me making my own beats.. I was only getting the best sound doing that. I couldn’t use other people’s beats, so I was just like, staying to that and then.. Well, I noticed it ‘cause the only songs that I made the beats to would get a lot of attention, a lot of views and shit like that. And then I just knew that I had to come up with my own sound to even be different from most people. There’s not that many producers in Milwaukee..

There’s not a lot of producers?

Certified Trapper: It’s not that many.. It’s a couple of them, but it’s not different. They’re not different, like [as] producers. It’s kinda the same Detroit type shit.

Right. How about your drive? You drop so much music, so many singles, so many videos, so many tapes, and I heard you say that it’s not in you to be able to sit around and watch TV shows or play video games – you like to be productive with your time. So what drives you to work like that?

Certified Trapper: That’s my fun.. Shooting videos and then coming out with new music and stuff like that. That’s the type of fun that I have, and that’s my work, really. And then I know for sure, like, I had to keep pushing myself to the limits so I can be who I wanna become. Like, I don’t feel like I should hold back..

Yeah, I love that. You mentioned going to college.. It was the Milwaukee Area Technical College that you went to. So, you kinda went there ‘cause you wanted to learn to make your own beats and you were also kinda tired of using the “type beats” on YouTube, right? So you came up with your own type beats and you make them yourself now, which is sick. What’s your production process like in Logic? How long does it take you to make a beat?

Certified Trapper: Now, I kinda spend a little more time, but I know I can make like, 10 beats in an hour. I can make 10 loops in an hour, but I would think it’ll take me like, 10 minutes to make a beat or 15 minutes to make a good loop and shit like that. The first one might take longer, but the second one [will be] faster, the third one faster, the fifth one – way faster, and more creative type shit. Like, the first one gon’ probably be the worst, but sometimes the first one comes out the best.

But it’s just a matter of getting it out – even if it sucks, right? Like, you’ve gotta start somewhere.

Certified Trapper: Yeah, you just really gotta keep doing it. Like, one’s just not gon’ do it. You gotta keep trying, and at least give yourself enough try. That’s why I try to do more, ‘cause I’ll probably use, like, three out of six or two out of six beats that I make.

Why do you think the claps are the sound that you gravitated towards using the most in your beats? Do you have a specific memory to claps in songs, or what was it about that?

Certified Trapper: Well when I first started doing beats, it was like, nothing going on. It was like the beat never dropped, to me. Like, sometimes I’ll use the claps and sometimes I’ll not use them, and then after some months, then I knew that I had [something].. I think I just kept using my template and made sure I used them. I knew what I was missing type shit. ‘Cause I used to have the claps and then the cowbells, but people don’t know that it’s not just the claps and that’s why I just keep my mouth shut. And I don’t really show people, but it’s not just the claps. It’s the claps and the snare and the hi-hats. It’s like, all that gotta go together and you gotta hear the snares, or it’s not gon’ sound right.

And you were at that college for two years, right?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, two years.

But you didn’t graduate? Is that correct?

Certified Trapper: No, I didn’t graduate. I got like, seven to ten credits or something like that.

But what made you not see it through? Did you just feel like you’d learned enough, and you just kinda took your sound and ran with it from there?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, it was like.. The first year I went, I was like a kid, so I was just getting high and then falling asleep in class. At the same time, I did want to do the stuff, but I was just still coming to school high, thinking I could do that. I think I did three semesters. The next semester, I came and I didn’t smoke or do no drugs the whole semester and I did good. Then when I came back, I was on probation for it. I was on probation for not doing good in school and then they told me that.. Yeah, so I came and then it was just a lot of stuff going on.. [I got] into it with some n****s and shit, and then I had a lot of stuff going on at home. My music was doing really good by that time then, my last semester, so I just stopped going. And then I had some good classes – I had a vocal class, I had a lot of good classes.

Cool. Was being on [academic] probation, was that kinda the inspiration behind putting [down] the smoking and paying attention more?

Certified Trapper: But that wasn’t why I did that. I just knew I wanted to do right in school, so I just knew I couldn’t come high. So I did none the next semester.. Not even on the weekends! (laughs) Like, that shit tears you down. Especially when you tryna learn something.

Right. Were any of the other people in your program into hip-hop at all, or were they rappers themselves? Like, how did they take to your sound?

Certified Trapper: It was people in the program, but I don’t think.. Most of the times, when it be people in the program, they don’t have a studio at home or a Mac yet or anything [like that]. I had like, a whole YouTube and shit like that, but when I first came, it had to get like that. Like, a month after I got my check, my refund check, I got all my studio shit and my camera with the whole check. Then I took it from there.

So is there a difference in your recording process between before you started college and now?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, it’s different. I used to just freestyle, like just say anything or just use my voice, but now I know it gotta be a purpose and shit. And then my set-up is like, way, way better and costs way more and shit like that. My production is way better too.

How long would you say your process takes you from start to finish with a song? Say you’re putting out a song and it’s getting a video treatment.. How long does the process take you to make the beat, record your vocals, shoot the video, edit, upload?

Certified Trapper: I can do that shit in 24 hours! Not even 24 hours. I did a song like, two hours before we shot the video. So we did the song, shot the video and I dropped it that same night. And it’s that “Free Bands” video, and you can see that video looks actually good as f*ck. We had like, 15 people out there and shit like that. I can do that shit in the same day.

What would you say is the advantage of self-producing your music? Is it just being able to make your own sound and stick with it?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, it’s good ‘cause I don’t really need nobody. I don’t need a producer or a videographer or anything like that. But I do have a team, that’s what’s good about having a team and having people that you can trust and build with and rely on and shit like that.

Yeah, and do you ever write any lyrics down, or do you always just punch in/freestyle?

Certified Trapper: I wrote like, one time this month. But really, nah. It’s kinda like I write it because I come up with every line specifically, so it’s kinda like it’s written.

Yeah. And how do you find your pocket over these beats? I feel like if you were to give these beats to a lot of different rappers, they would probably have a hard time tackling it and finding their flow on it. So how do you do it?

Certified Trapper: It’s me. It’s all me. So I know what it is. But some beats that come out, I won’t use it. But I can come out with some shit that’ll be perfect for me and shit like that, but really, there’s people in Milwaukee and Detroit and like, a couple cities, that want my beats. People was really like, begging for them and shit like that. But really, people don’t know what to do with them. They just want it. (laughs)

They just want it ‘cause it’s popular right now..

Certified Trapper: Yeah, but it’s like, you can’t just get the beat and then do anything with it. I don’t know, I used to think that I trashed the beats.. Like, when I put lyrics on it, that I trashed it, ‘cause I felt like my beats were way better than my rapping, type shit. (laughs)

But now you’ve kinda grown to the point where both your rapping and your beats go well together?

Certified Trapper: Yeah. I’ve been working on other beats and shit too. That’s why I’m trying to rap on different music and listen to different music, so I can come out with a lot of sounds and shit like that.

Can you paint me a picture of your ideal studio session? What do you need to succeed creatively? What does a studio session look like for Certified Trapper?

Certified Trapper: All I just need is a laptop, interface and a mic. That’s it. A laptop, interface and a mic, and I’ll do that shit anywhere. And then, shit, most of the time it just be me in the room, like after all that shit I did, people not gon’ sit in the studio with you and you’re doing 10 songs in a f*ckin’ day. 10 songs and 10 videos, that’s like, way more than 10 songs ‘cause you’re doing 10 songs, 10 videos and then editing them and shit like that. Nobody’s gonna sit around you doing that.

Yeah, so you’re kinda free of distractions when you’re working?

Certified Trapper: Kinda. Now, it’s just my kids keep knocking at the door and peeking and shit, bothering me. But I’m on tour now, so I’m at the HipHopLab, but most of the time it be no distractions, yeah.

What about weed? How does that play into your creative process? Does that help you get in the zone or no?

Certified Trapper: Weed doesn’t. It doesn’t. It just makes me sleepy. Drugs don’t. I think, for the first time in a minute, I made a song without being on drugs. Like, usually, most of the songs, I was on drugs, but I don’t think that makes me creative.

Okay. Was “Straight Fire” the first song of yours that you remember getting a significant amount of views and streams?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, “Straight Fire..” I think that probably was the highest. I don’t remember how many views it had, but I know I was in jail when that shit blew up. But that was the first song that I created that started taking off.

Okay, and I’m curious if you’d say, within your own music, would you say you have a healthy balance of being humorous and serious in one?

Certified Trapper: Hell yeah! I’m kinda humorous, but it’s like, I don’t play. But I am funny. I’m not friendly.. I kinda separate myself from people ‘cause I’m a little bit scared of people ‘cause of the way people come off. But I’m tryna get into my communication, make it better.

There’s some memes and snippets of your videos and your dance moves, and stuff like that. Is that something that you embrace or is it something that you wanna get away from?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, people laugh and shit like that. That’s good. It ain’t no bad thing that you can embarrass yourself because you can’t be scared to embarrass yourself, or just show off yourself. But I’m tryna get into showing my personality and showing everybody in Milwaukee and shit like that without anything taking over my mind type shit. Like, any drugs or none of that shit.

I heard you say, I think it was in an interview with Tommy G, that one of your goals is to hit 100,000 subscribers on YouTube. Why is that a significant milestone to you? And what are some other ones that you wanna hit soon?

Certified Trapper: Hell yeah, I just want that first plaque! I just want the plaque.. The actual plaque. (laughs) But yeah, definitely the next one after that.. The million [subscribers] one. I do want a Billboard plaque too, like a Gold record or some shit like that. I ain’t really into the awards, but definitely them plaques!

You want something you can hold.

Certified Trapper: Yeah, and sit on the wall or some shit like that.

Yeah. One thing I picked up too, was I heard you talk about how manifestation plays a role in accomplishing your goals. How did that start – realizing that you can manifest what you wanna do in your career?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, like sometimes, I kinda feel like I was speaking a lot of shit into existence and shit like that, but if you want it, you gon’ get it. You gotta put it in your mind that that’s what you want and then you gotta do everything it takes to get it, type shit. If you basically don’t want it deep down, you not gon’ get it. (laughs)

Yeah, there’s something about just expressing it, saying it, putting it in the universe and then just letting it happen. I gotta ask because I was watching a couple of your vlogs on your YouTube channel… what does Certified Trapper like to eat on a daily basis? I’m only asking ‘cause I saw your one vlog called “CERTIFIED TRAPPER CANT COOK,” where you make a bunch of white rice and then you pour a shit ton of sugar on top.

Certified Trapper: Yeah! That’s ‘cause my cousin has like, diabetes and then he had me eating rice with that, but I like chicken fried rice, hibachi and shit like that. I like burgers, chicken sandwiches. I eat McDonalds and Jack In the Box, and shit like that.

Your career right now, it seems like it’s at the point where, obviously it feels like you’re on the cusp of really blowing up and going to the next level, and you’ve been adding fire to your momentum for a while now. You just keep consistently dropping. At what point did you feel like, personally, that it was rally starting to take off? Was there a specific moment or milestone or specific song?

Certified Trapper: When I went to Rolling Loud, then I really noticed. When we went to Rolling Loud and shit like that.. When I came home and shit, me connecting with BabyTron.. That had nothing to do with me being signed, so it’s like, I was getting signed already and then Tron just so happened to end up wanting to f*ck with me, so that was a blessing [in] two ways.

Yeah. Everybody’s talking about your collabs with BabyTron. I guess he DM’d you, right? That’s how the relationship started. Why do you think you guys work together so well musically? Do you think there’s a connection between the Milwaukee and Detroit scenes?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, it’s definitely a connection between Milwaukee and Detroit. And then, we do have a lot of shit in common.. He records his own music and shit like that. We really work hard, so shit. Hell yeah.

Yeah. One thing I love about your relationship with him, is the fact that he usually hops on your type of beats – it’s not the other way around, which it usually is, in cases where the bigger artist works with a smaller artist. But that’s not the case on the new mixtape though.. It’s more of a BabyTron type beat. Is that because you wanna be able to show your diversity as a rapper?

Certified Trapper: I actually got a song that was to my beat and it was supposed to be on there, but it wasn’t on it. That was supposed to be Tron’s.

I’m curious too.. You seem pretty laid back when you’re talking and doing interviews, like just chopping it up with you right now, but then your delivery in your songs is super energetic – it’s contagious when you’re listening. So how important is your music to you when it comes to self-expression? Getting things out?

Certified Trapper: When I first started recording music, I had to learn how to control my voice. I had to learn how to use it.. On the track, I have to either scream or really use my voice to get all the characteristics out [of] my voice and shit like that, ‘cause it’s a certain voice that I have to use. We all got different voices and shit like that, but that’s definitely within being a gentleman. I just, sometimes, try to control the volume of my voice.

Was that something that you didn’t really pay attention to with your earlier music?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, like in my earlier music, I didn’t really think too much that that was the problem.. The volume of my voice and shit like that. Like a lot of stuff.

Right. Can you talk about the significance of the release of Trapper of the Year? Like, you’ve released so many EPs and mixtapes and stuff, so why was right now the right time to drop a properly flushed out project like this?

Certified Trapper: It’s still kinda trapped out, for sure. It’s still kinda trapped out, even though them songs [are] from like, the last five, six months, so that’s different coming from me, because I usually drop songs daily and shit like that.

Yeah. Up until now, you haven’t really been known as a project artist, or a mixtape artist.. You’ve kinda just dropped so many songs and so many videos. But now that you’re signed, is the plan to hone in more and put together full bodies of work? I know Trapper of the Year is still your sound, it’s still a DIY sound, but it does seem more put together in a way. So is your aim to do that without abandoning your DIY charm?

Certified Trapper: Hell yeah. That’s what I plan on doing – making better music. And that’s why I got to the point [where] I am now, like making my beats. I feel like I do gotta keep using my sound and shit like that, experimenting. But the next project is gon’ be like, 10 times better. I just definitely had to get that out though, ‘cause I feel like I could’ve been dropped that. But my label was tryna push me to do better, do harder.

I wanted to ask you about that too, your signing to Signal Records. Why was signing to them the right choice and has it changed your process at all?

Certified Trapper: Yeah. I feel like it was the right choice for me because they believed that I can become a bigger artist. It was more [about] me becoming bigger than who I am now. And then, ever since I did sign, I’ve been getting bigger and bigger and shit like that. But we just gotta work together on me becoming a bigger artist.

Right. I know we’re only like, four days out of its release, but I’ve been bumping it all weekend.. I’m curious, are there any one or two songs that you’ve noticed that fans are really taking to? Or still too early to tell?

Certified Trapper: I think it’s that “Pape” song. That “Pape” song is real old. That “No Limit” song. That’s real exciting because I think they f*cked with that – “No Limit.” And nah, not even that.. “Strike One.” Really, if I could do it again, I would have all those songs sound like “Trapper of the Year.” It would be hard as a b*tch, like “Trapper of the Year!” (laughs) That’s real fire. Like, you see how “Strike One” kinda sounds like “Trapper of the Year?” It’s real turnt.. There’s claps in that b*tch, just hitting! But it’s plenty [of] different shit in there, so it came out how it was supposed to come out.

I gotta ask about your dance moves too.. They’re so entertaining to watch in your videos and even in the live performances that I was watching too. Where do they originate from? How did you come up with them?

Certified Trapper: Shit, it was just on some high shit. I don’t know if I could explain it to you ‘cause you don’t be.. But it was on some high shit, like when you real high and you do that, and you do it cold like that.

My favorite one is when you lay on the floor and then you got your arms going like this. **mimicks it** It’s crazy. (laughs)

Certified Trapper: (laughs) I got wet doing that shit! Ever since I did that, I ain’t did that shit again! (laughs) I got wet on the stage doing that shit, I was mad as f*ck.

Oh, damn. You’ve retired that one then?

Certified Trapper: Nah, I’ll still do it in videos and shit, but not on the stage.

They’re just such an interesting component to your videos, and the dance moves fit the music so well.

Certified Trapper: Hell yeah. My label be tryna tell me to practice my dance moves. (laughs)

They’re tryna get like a choreographed dance move?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, they’re tryna have me practice. That’s what I definitely need.. People behind me and shit like that. That shit would be fire.

I wanted to ask you about the experience getting locked up. I just was curious, like, you were locked up for 80 days? That’s all I need to know. And how did that experience change you, in the way you move?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, it gave me some days away from drugs and shit like that. That’s how I was looking at it the whole time, ‘cause you see, then, I was skinny as f*ck. I was doing drugs real, real, real bad. But not real bad, but I was just skinny. I wasn’t eating or none of that shit. That’s what that shit taught me. It made me a little bit tougher type shit. Like, I was in there eating and shit.

Was it like a mental thing too? Helped you mentally?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, it was a mental thing. Yeah, that shit was definitely mental.. Getting mistreated and shit like that. COs and shit.. They be little b*tches. They was on me and shit too, like it was a lot of COs around my age and shit, like officers and shit, so they were just on me and shit like that. It was like some special treatment ass shit.

You think that’s because they knew who you were? Because of your music?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, they knew who I was and shit. But everything got to popping off while I was in there, so they was just telling me everything, like, ‘bro posted your shit,’ ‘bro posted your shit.’

And then how did it feel after you got out? You had to obviously carry over the change in mentality into your everyday life now?

Certified Trapper: Hell yeah. When I got out, it was just like, that shit made me more thankful for this shit. The shit I got. And then it made me work harder. When I was in there though, I was like, working in the kitchen and shit for the last couple weeks.

And you have two kids, right?

Certified Trapper: Three.

Oh, three kids, sorry! I was curious [about] how that has played into your mindset or your process as a rapper too.

Certified Trapper: It’s big because they love me, so I gotta make sure I’m doing everything right. I gotta make sure I do shit right, so I can not be gone from them for months and shit like that. But really, they give me a lot of energy. They make me happy and shit like that.

They inspire you to go harder?

Certified Trapper: Hell yeah! Man, my baby’s so crazy. My daughter’s so crazy. I be having her in there, like when I be doing videos and shit. I was on the camera and I had a monitor.. You know the camera monitor where you can see what’s going on with the camera? I gave it to her and went in front of the camera, and she’s like, ‘do your dance, dad! do your dance!’ And she’s only two, bro. I’m like, ‘c’mon now!’ (laughs)

She’s starting to catch on! That’s funny. What’s the everyday routine for Certified Trapper? What’s an average day look like for you?

Certified Trapper: I’d say everyday waking up at 12:00 and shit like that. 1:00. But some days, it get different ‘cause I know I’m not supposed to do shit like that. But I was watching Mayweather and shit, and he was just like, ‘your goal for life is to wake up and go to sleep when you wanna wake up and go to sleep.’ So, I need to get to that point, to where I can wake up and go to sleep when I want.

So that’s your goal? To get there?

Certified Trapper: Hell yeah. I look up to Mayweather a lot though, ‘cause he got that mentality to push yourself to the max, type shit.

Yeah. I wanted to ask about the overall Milwaukee scene.. You know how Lil Yachty put on for the Michigan scene when he made the Michigan Boy Boat album? If someone like Yachty or someone on that level were to do something similar to that for the Milwaukee scene, what do you think that would look like? Who would be on the project?

Certified Trapper: It would have to be me! I mean, it’s not that many people, but it could be some other people ‘cause they do got talent. It’s like, a lot of different sounds out of there. I know everybody ain’t gon’ like the sound, or like the shit I f*ck with, but I don’t know. But I know it’s gon’ turn out nice though, once somebody puts the city on because there’s only like, two people signed from Milwaukee.. K CAMP [is] from Milwaukee.

I know you don’t follow or watch sports, but did you see Jordan Poole shouting you out in a post-game interview?

Certified Trapper: Hell yeah, I f*ck with Jordan Poole! I do gotta get into sports and shit like that, ‘cause I never did that shit. (laughs)

Yeah, that’s cool. I loved seeing Poole shout you out, that was just like, a testament to how huge your sound is right now. How do you feel about your music gaining traction beyond Milwaukee? It’s obviously a very regional sound, but it’s clear that at this point, it’s resonating with a lot of people from all over the place now. How does that make you feel?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, it makes me feel good that I can connect with more people and shit like that. ‘Cause it be people from weird places like Russia hitting me up and shit like that. Crazy shit. But I like engaging into the cultures, so that’s why I like that shit.

I wanted to ask you this earlier, I totally forgot. I love that you’re wearing a BAPE hoodie ‘cause I wanted to ask, when did you cop your first piece of BAPE? ‘Cause I feel like that is something that’s become synonymous with Certified Trapper and your whole brand.

Certified Trapper: Hell yeah. I never really knew about BAPE, but when I started finding out and shit.. I never really had money like that, so when I started getting that shit, I just like, I don’t know. But when did I get my first BAPE [piece]? I had some BAPE shit when I was little, but I just got my first BAPE shirt, I think it was like, 2022 or some shit like that. I just started getting on that shit, ‘cause I was never really no dressing person, just trapping shit. I f*ck with BAPE though. I do f*ck with that shit.

Where do you wanna be in 5-10 years from now? Where do you see Certified Trapper in your career? Where do you see yourself being?

Certified Trapper: 10 years.. What I’ma be? 33? 33..

You mentioned real estate.. Do you wanna have a big house?

Certified Trapper: I’m just tryna think how big though, ‘cause I’ma be 33! (laughs) I need multiple houses by 33, or just a good big ass house. I’m glad you asked me that ‘cause now I gotta think on some shit like that. But definitely, 33, a big, big, big ass house and then some properties, probably a studio somewhere or probably more than one studio. 10 years from now, my kids’ll be teenagers. Well, one of my kids, so yeah, I definitely gotta get that shit together! (laughs) I’m glad you asked me that.

(laughs) It’s something to think about! What about the music? Where do you wanna see your career at in 5, or even 10 years from now? Where do you hope to be?

Certified Trapper: I definitely need a room full of plaques by then! Now, I’m gonna have to do some shit on the calculator, all types of shit, ‘cause there is some shit. With my music, I do want to at least hit #1 a couple times, like one time [at least]. That’s what I wanna do. That’s the type of shit that excites me, like charts and shit like that. That’s why I was waiting for my shit to hit a chart or something on iTunes. I was looking at my shit.

I’m just saying, I could see it happening with this tape for sure, and if not, the next one. What about your legacy in Milwaukee? What do you want your legacy to be, both in Milwaukee and beyond? What do you strive for that to be?

Certified Trapper: Well shit, it’s definitely gon’ be a lot of rappers and shit by then. There’s gonna be a lot of rappers and shit coming out, so I just want people to just keep going. Some people, like, where I come from, they don’t think that you can do anything you can, or that you put your mind to. You’re supposed to just believe yourself. People, they don’t believe [in] themselves. Some people don’t believe [in] themselves. But all we need is like, the sources and shit, and certain people you meet and shit like that, but it’s gon’ be some big shit coming out of Milwaukee. There’s just a lot of talent.

Yeah, I feel like this is just the start too, like it’s just starting to gain traction now, or at least within the past year or so. How about the rest of your year? What does it look like? Are you planning another project?

Certified Trapper: Yeah, hopefully! Hopefully I get on another tour, that’s what I’m looking forward to. Probably another project, I’ma drop some singles for sure. But I’m looking forward to doing a big single. Like, I gotta just know that I wanna do it and know the numbers that I wanna get, type shit.

I just had one more question about the videos. How did the green screen thing start for you? Was there any inspiration behind that, or you just wanted to be able to put whatever you wanted behind you?

Certified Trapper: I think I came up with the green screen when I started doing the Instagram videos with the green screen, and then AyooLii – shoutout to AyooLii, ‘cause if it wasn’t for him, I probably would’ve never did that shit. But AyooLii had one already, like he bought it for like $20 or some shit like that, and he brought it over, so I just used it and did the video.. The first couple real music videos with the green screen. I still got his green screen.

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