By Natalia Kopelman
LulBrudda wrote his first songs in jail, at the age of 13. He’d already been rapping and free styling, but when he got locked up, he sat down and started writing about his life.
Growing up in Longview, Texas, his dad was incarcerated and his mom was also in and out of jail. He was raised by his Granny, who he describes as a “ride or die” woman— the most important person in his life.
“I loved music. I never thought about making money from it…I just had a passion. I grew a fan base and my city, they loved it.”
“I was 16 or 17 when I got into a real studio and saw everything was different. I used to write…and when I got into the studio, I’d be nervous about what I was finna say. It used to take me some time to write a song, but now I go in the studio and I freestyle…I feel excited and happy, like dang, I know what I’m finna say and I know I’m gonna make some good music.”
LulBrudda says he used to make music just for himself, but now wants to make something meaningful for others too. He teaches himself by listening. “I used to listen to music, just to feel the feeling…now I don’t just listen to music, I listen to the craft and I know there’s a song for every feeling.
When I ask how he connected with Young Money, he leans in and smiles, “Okay listen, I’m from Longview…”
Trent Williams, of the San Francisco 49ers, is also from Longview. He heard LulBrudda’s music and reached out to him. They became friends and went together to the Hit Factory in Miami, where Trent knew important people, including the President. “I was rapping and Mack Maine walked in. From there, I don’t even know what they were talking about…I just saw their lips moving and after that, I kept flying out because they were asking about me. Boom.”
LulBrudda says he had to make music work. The way he was looking at his life, he didn’t see any other option. He used to think he might play football, but his grades weren’t good and having been to jail, he couldn’t see himself having a job, being told what to do. If it weren’t for music, he says straight up, he’d probably be doing something illegal. Being in the position he is now, never felt like a dream. It was the only course he could imagine.
“The one thing that made it feel unreal, was how much my mom loved Lil Wayne. He was her favorite rapper, she wouldn’t stop talking about Lil Wayne…so meeting him amazed me, even though I’d already been brought around a lot by Trent and met a lot of people. I’d seen a lot, but with Wayne, it was different. I felt that on another level, like dang…this the man my mama’s always talking about.”
On working with the other Young Money artists, he says, “I used to be in the studio by myself. I really didn’t know how to hop on the song with anybody like that, so I adapted…I learned a lot. It was a great experience.”
Right now he’s putting an album together and says the most exciting part of what he’s doing is “just being able.” His city is his main source of inspiration and having signed with Young Money, he feels a level of “notoriety” about town. “I’ll go places…and not just kids, I’ve had some grown people get shocked by seeing me. It’s not bad, you just start moving and thinking a little differently. I’m taking it all in.”
LulBrudda’s demeanor is pleasantly lowkey. The diamond necklace around his neck is a nod to Trent Williams (a large S, for Trent’s company SBG) and the way he smiles when he talks about his Granny, assures you that love is alive in the world. How can you not love a guy who sits on kitchen counters? His hand touched his heart and he told me to put Petie in here too. LulBrudda’s not one to talk much about himself, but still waters run deep and in the music is where it all comes out.
“It’s a process. It’s a lot of work, but I made it a point in my life, so it feels natural. I don’t know how far I’ll go, I just know I’m gonna go somewhere with it. I love the crowd. I write about everyone’s struggles and I hope it all works out.”
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A version of this article first appeared in Honeysuckle's 420 print edition, featuring Lil Wayne and Young Money. Get your advance copy!