A black-owned label that was both creative and groundbreaking, Motown Records was founded decades ago in Detroit, Michigan. After its emergence in the Motor City, the establishment went on to play a seminal role in producing some of the music industry’s most talented and innovative artists.
The countless hits released by labels such as Motown in the past continue to have an impact on today’s musical climate. From hip-hop to R&B to pop, myriad artists still sample and recreate tracks they heard played by elders at family functions and neighborhood gatherings.
A Detroit native and Doughboyz Cashout representative, Doughboy Freddy K was heavily influenced by classic soul and R&B as a youngster. He incorporates both of the genres into his debut album Rich Nigga Paradise.
Essentially, Rich Nigga Paradise is a musical depiction of a Detroit hustler on the come up. Sonically, it’s one of the dopest projects I’ve heard this year.
Freddy K took some time out to talk with me about creating his debut effort, appreciation for old school music, and upbringing on Detroit’s West Side. Some other things Freddy K touched on were Detroit sports, who he’s listening to right now, champagne and upcoming music.
Check out the interview below.
You represent the West Side of Detroit. Tell me a little bit about your upbringing.
It was the typical, middle-class upbringing. It wasn’t too fucked up, but it wasn’t the best either. My people had a couple dollars, so I wasn’t deprived of shit. But it was days that it was rough, nights that it was rough. I really can’t complain. I took the good with the bad growing up.
Did you come up in a household with both parents?
Naw. My mom was locked up, growing up. I really grew up with my ol’ dude, but he really wasn’t in the house. I was raised by my grandmother, his mom. My ol’ dude was in and out the crib. My mom was locked up until, like, my teenage years.
You really don’t hear about the mom being incarcerated. Typically, when it comes to single-parent households and incarceration, especially in the black community, it’s the father who is locked.
Yeah. My mom did a long ass bid. I think my momma left me when I was around four. I didn’t end up seeing her again until I was, like, 12 or 13. My momma was an OG. RIP to my momma.
Do you mind disclosing what she was incarcerated for?
She got caught selling to an undercover.
Coming up, how were you as a student? Would you say your head was on your shoulders?
I wasn’t no Einstein, but my grades were straight. I really couldn’t go to the crib with no piss-poor grades. My ol’ dude wasn’t even goin’ for that. I had to keep my head in them books somewhat, even if it was just the get-by grades — 2.5 [GPA], I was straight. That’s how I was really, on the school tip. But I did drift into the streets early. That’s just what I was around. That’s what I saw. On the West Side, you don’t really got doctors and lawyers, just gangsters and drug dealers and player ass niggas that’s gettin’ money. That’s what I saw everyday. That’s what I was raised around. That shit really affected me early, so I wanted to drift into that.
How early are you talking?
Probably about 14, 15, I started fuckin’ around. Maybe 13. The shit is so in front of your face. It’s so easy to get into. It’s crazy, in Detroit you can score a bag from damn near anybody, if you got the connections, at any age.
When did you initially start developing an interest in music?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been loving music. My ol’ dude, he was heavily into rap. My old dude, he’s a street nigga. He raised me on a lot of street music. I just remember listening to the MC Eihts and the Spice 1s and the E-40s and Big Mikes, just niggas like that. I remember listening to that in the backseat at the tender ages, not knowing what the fuck they was talking about until later, but just knowing that shit sounded good. I just loved music. But it wasn’t only that. It was the classic [soul], just the old school music. That shit affected me, too. Anything with a good rhythm, I was feeling. I didn’t care who made it or what year it came out.
Speaking of old school music, with your debut project you use several soul & R&B samples.
Yeah, I grew up on it. Detroit is like a really soul-based city. This is the Mo-Town. We’ve got a lot of soul in the city. The shit is just timeless music. You just grow up on a lot of that old school shit, being raised on it. And the black parties, block parties and basement parties, you just get accustomed to hearing that shit, just as much as you hear the rap shit. I don’t know how it is for the young generation now, but I know my generation, coming up you had to know about the Isley Brothers, your Luthers and all that other kind of shit. If you aint know that, you really ain’t have no soul. You really wasn’t hip.
Who are some of the rap artists from your area of Detroit that had an influence on you?
Blade [Icewood]. RIP Blade. The Street Lordz. They whole lil’ movement really influenced me a lot. I had some influence from Rock Bottom. They were a rival group of the Street Lordz at the time, from the West Side. They had some influence on me. But mainly the Chedda Boyz, Street Lordz, Blade Icewood. Other than that, it really wasn’t no movement like that representing the streets of Detroit. The Street Lordz were really the first, and then we came after that and just put our spin on it.
Around what age did you start making music?
I made little bullshit in high school, and then I got into the street shit and stopped making music completely. Then I started back after my nigga Big Quis put me on his debut CD My Turn. He had let me get a guest verse on a song on there called “Sit Back and Watch.” It was me, Quis, Doughboy Dre and Scooch. The streets was like, ‘Yeah, Freddy K, you going crazy on that motherfucker.’ That was my first time rapping in years. Then, like a couple months later, Doughboy Dre CD came around. I got on a song on there with him and Scooch called “Under the Influence.” Once that shit came out, niggas started talking, like, ‘Oh, yeah, Freddy K. Cut the bullshit. Get in that motherfucker. We need something from you.’ Right after that, I started fuckin’ around, reaching out to producers, getting little beats here and there. I wasn’t tellin’ my niggas I was working on it. I didn’t tell none of the crew. And ain’t none of my bitches know. I was really just buying beats, bumping into producers, emailing shit, and just writing until I had a good idea of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. That’s when I started letting my niggas know, ‘I’m ‘bout to put this play down and give this a shot.’
Let’s get into your project. Why did you decide to title it Rich Nigga Paradise?
You know, it ain’t no big millionaire shit, ‘cause I ain’t no millionaire. I’m barely scratching thousands. It’s really like a mindframe and a spirit. If you’ve got a full tank of gas in your car, that’s rich nigga paradise. If it’s your pay day, and you can go to Red Lobster and get you a steak and crab legs, you living rich nigga paradise. It be little shit to the bigger shit. If you’ve got a mansion with a Bentley outside, that’s rich nigga paradise. Just making the best out whatever situation, that’s rich nigga paradise, and that’s what I wanted motherfuckers to get from it.
How long did it take you to record the album?
From the first song I did up to the last one, it took me seven or eight months.
Oh, ok. You took your time with it. It wasn’t like a rushed product.
Naw, I didn’t feel no need to rush. I wasn’t panicking to put it out, because I didn’t have no expectations. I had never put no shit out. Secondly, nobody knew the shit was coming out. And thirdly, I ain’t stressing for no rap money. I was straight doing what the fuck I was doing. I wasn’t pressed. I really did it because the streets wanted me to, my niggas wanted me to, and I liked it. That’s why I jumped into this shit.
You said it took you around seven or eight months to create the album. Stating that, does it take you a long time to write rhymes?
Yeah. I wish it didn’t. I ain’t like one of them motherfuckers that just wanna say anything that rhyme in raps, and it just be make-believe. My shit gotta come from a true place. It gotta be either some shit I done seen, I done been through, or some shit I’m striving for. That shit be based on facts, so it comes to me a little bit slower than motherfuckers that come up with bullshit.
The production on Rich Nigga Paradise is A1. It has the type of sound I can workout to, ride to, and vibe to. How did you go about selecting beats for the project?
That’s crazy. I went into it just knowing I wanted this sound, this pattern and this kind of flow. When I got the beats, it was just clicking. I went through a shitload of beats. For me to only have 16 on my first CD, I went through, maybe, 200 beats. I came out with, like, 20, and I rolled with 16 for the CD. I just knew going in what I wanted to rap on, what I wanted the streets to hear from me.
What made you incorporate voicemails into some of the songs on the album? You don’t typically hear that on projects nowadays.
Because I wanted it to be a real CD. Like I said, I’m a music head. I grew up on hip-hop heavy. I love this rap shit. I ain’t gone say all my favorite CDs had skits and voicemails, but the majority of them had that mix in ‘em that made ‘em cinematic. That movie vibe. I just wanted to put my lil’ spin on it, and I didn’t want niggas to just be bored. I didn’t want it to be just song, song, song, song. I wanted niggas to ride, and put ‘em in that Rich Nigga Paradise vibe, and see how I was feeling. That’s why I really put them on there. And then the shit was sitting on my phone, and most of the shit was just crazy shit. I was like, ‘Maybe motherfuckers will like hearing this shit.’
When I think of Detroit rap/street culture, a few things that come to mind are Rolexes, Remy, Champagne and Cartiers. Why are those things so big in Detroit?
When you’ve got your head on straight, that’s damn sho the Detroit starter kit. If you from Detroit and you don’t know shit, you know that. You know those lil’ things, you’re gonna win around here. You gone get you some money in your pocket, you’re gone have some hoes on you, and you gone be riding clean if you got that mix together. That’s just the Detroit lifestyle, really. Those are just trophies for street niggas and hustlers that come from the city. If you gettin’ you a couple dollars, you’re gonna go grab you some Buffs, some Cartier shades. They represent success where I’m from. You ain’t shit without them. And when you’re getting money, that comes with the good cognac, the good Remy. It ain’t nothin’ wrong with Hennessy, but sometimes you want to spend a couple extra dollars and sip Remy and drink Champagne. I’m a Champagne drinker. When I was seeing my OGs poppin’ bottles, I wanted to have them sips. When I saw Jay-Z on the speedboat poppin’ gold bottles, I knew right there I wanted to be one of the next niggas poppin’ gold bottles. Those are all trophies, respected where I come from.
You mentioned how Cartiers represent success in the streets. How much would you estimate you’ve spent on Cartiers over the years?
My whole life, I’ve spent close to $10,000 on Cardis.
I’ve heard one pair of Cartiers can run around $2,500.
Shit, one pair can run you $7,000 if you’ve got the right diamonds in them. The ones I wear on a daily basis are white buffalo Cartiers. You can get them in the store for $2,500, $2,600 out the door. Maybe on the street, you can get them for a stack cheaper, about $1,700, resale $2,000. No less than that. If you ain’t got them on your face, you really losing. That’s what you gonna be spending to get in the Cartier game in Detroit.
Dig that. Let’s get back to your album. One song that stands out to me is “Paradise.” Tell me how that track came about.
That’s one of the last songs I did for the project. I got that beat from a Detroit producer called DJ Squeak. He also used to work with the Street Lordz. I got the beat, and right off the rip I could recognize the sample. It was a ‘90s sample from a female group, and I just remember liking the original. When I heard it, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I gotta go off this one.’ I got the beat, and I just laced that motherfucker.
Another song I really feel off the project is “B.T.F.U.” It’s different, and I like how you have the sample playing all the way through while you rhyme.
It’s crazy that you’re picking these songs. I didn’t make the beat, but I produced that motherfucker. I ain’t gonna lie to you. When you say the sample was cut up and rearranged, I rearranged it like that. I wanted the [woman] singing at the end with the heavy bridge, the heavy sax. I wanted that format for the song. That’s crazy you brought that up. I knew I wanted to go off that Loose Ends sample. That’s another song you listened to growing up around Detroit. If you growing up on the West Side, you’re gonna hear that shit. Period. I just knew I wanted to lace it and put my spin on it.
I’ma give you a crazy story about that. I’ma let you know the truth. That motherfucker took so long to give me that verse for that song. And Scooch is one of my real close partners out the group. I mean, like, one of my everyday niggas. I talk to him, damn near, every morning. He’s like really my cousin. I’ve been growing up with him my whole life. And you would think he would be one of the first motherfuckers to give me their verse for my CD. That motherfucker bullshitted around. I mean to the point where he wasn’t gonna make the CD. You wasn’t gonna hear it, or you would’ve heard it, but it would’ve just been me by myself. In crunch time, he came through and gave me the verse. And that motherfucker grew to be a fan favorite. The streets really fuck with that song.
What’s up with the “Show Out” track with Cashout Calhoun?
That was one of the first songs I did for the CD, actually the first single I put out for the CD to let motherfuckers know I was coming with something. Shout out to Cashout Calhoun. He ran with Blade Icewood. The Street Lordz circle. He’s been real supportive with me and this music shit. He knows me from the streets, so when I decided to do the music shit, he was one of the first niggas was like, ‘Whatever you need, I got you.’ It came out being a dope ass song. The titty bars really fuck with it and the streets really fuck with it.
Tell me how the album’s group track “Rich Nigga Cartel” came about.
That’s another beat I got from D-Nice, the dude who made “Racks.” I got that early on in the process of doing the album. It’s another lil’ crazy story. I’m riding around in the ‘hood, gettin’ high. I call him, and he meet me at this real hole in the wall food joint on the West Side. He hands me a CD with three beats on them. The last beat on there was that beat, and for some reason, I knew the second I heard it, ‘This is the one I’ma have the whole crew on.’ And it came out just like that. I’ll give you a lil’ backstory. The first motherfucker to lay their verse on that after me was Dre. Once niggas heard how me and Dre was coming on it, that put the battery in niggas back to be like, ‘I want to get on this. I wanna go crazy.’
Were you pleased with how the album came out and its reception?
I’m really happy how it came out. The streets embraced me. My niggas embraced me. I really wanted to see the reaction from my niggas. My niggas been in this shit going on a 10-ball, almost 10 years. I had my own expectations, and I had the group expectations, and our brand expectations. When I recorded the first couple of songs, I knew I had my niggas support. That gave me more confidence. Yeah, I’m happy how the shit came out, and the lil rep or what-not I’ve been making from it. I’ve been able to keep a couple dollars in my pocket, pay some bills with it, so that don’t hurt.
Do you plan on dropping a follow-up project?
Most definitely. I got back in the studio, maybe, two weeks after I put out the CD. I’m a couple songs in right now. I might have a little surprise up my sleeve coming real soon, so be looking out.
What sports are we talking about?
Man, I done played basketball, football and baseball. But I leaned toward basketball. I grew up with Doughboy Quis. I remember me and Quis was playing on a football team when we was lil’ niggas. After the first day of practice, I quit. I was like, ‘I can’t do this shit.’ It was too hot. You know, that football shit, you’ve got to practice in the summertime. I’m like, ‘Man, I can’t do this shit. Take me back to the neighborhood, and we can do whatever, but I’m not doing this.’ I remember my old dude picked me up from practice and I was like, ‘Man, I ain’t coming back to this.’ He was like, ‘Man, you’re good at it.’ ‘It’s too hot out here. I’m not doing it.’
I got cut from my damn basketball team in high school, and that’s when I stopped and got full fledge in the streets. I was like, ‘They don’t want me to hoop. They hatin’ on me. I’m straight. I’m gone go see what the streets talkin’ bout.’ But then again, with basketball my life would’ve probably turned out a whole different way.
Speaking of sports, you live in a city that has a professional team for each major sport. Are you a fan of any of them?
Yeah. I’m a Detroiter, so I’m riding with my teams ’til the end-all, be-all. My Lions, my Pistons, my Redwings and my Tigers. I’m riding with them regardless of who they go against. The Redwings, they been kicking ass for a long time. We gone need the Pistons to get they shit back together, and the Lions can finally do something.
When you’re not making music, what are some things you enjoy doing?
Just chillin’. Chillin’ with the crew. Chillin’ with my family. Like I said, I’m really black and white. I’m laid-back, so I be doing basic shit. Comedy shows, bowling, shit like that.
Who are some of your go-to artists when you’re riding around and vibing out?
Right now, I’ve been heavy off that 21 Savage. I like what he’s doing. Of course, the [Rick] Ross’, the Futures. I like the more so underground. I’m feelin’ [YFN] Lucci. And just our shit, really. Our crew shit.
I appreciate your time. Anything else you wanna share with the readers?
Just shout out to you for reaching out. At the same time, be looking out for my next solo project. I’m gambling with a couple names right now, but like I said earlier, I might be dropping something for the fans quicker than you expect, so be looking out for me and keeping up with the campaign.