Doughboy Freddy K Talks “Hood Rich,” Doughboy Roc’s Passing and Payroll Giovanni

A couple weeks ago, I got a chance to chop it up with Detroit artist Doughboy Freddy K about his sophomore effort Hood Rich. The project follows his 2016 debut Rich Nigga Paradise, a solid body of work filled with soulful samples, entertaining voicemails and retarded production.

This time around, Freddy K took a slightly different approach, connecting with new producers and opening up more about his past hardships. “OVL Talk,” “Champagne Thoughts,” “Neva Seen,” “Priceless” and “Wanna Be Us” are some of the tracks to check for off his latest effort.

A representative of Doughboyz Cashout/BYLUG, arguably Detroit’s most impactful independent rap collective, Freddy K spoke with me about switching up his chemistry for Hood Rich, and reflected on the struggles he overcame coming up on the Motor City’s West Side. He also touched on the impact that Doughboyz Cashout has had on Detroit, the fatal shooting of Doughboy Roc and the paperwork controversy involving Payroll Giovanni. Check out the interview below.

You recently dropped your sophomore project Hood Rich. What made you go with that title?

Really, just the mind frame I was in. I had the title for a long time, and it was really like the part two of Rich Nigga Paradise. That’s why ‘rich’ was in both of the titles. I’m probably going to end it with a trilogy. I’m playing with a couple titles right now.

For those unfamiliar with the term, how would you define hood rich?

Hood rich is just being successful in the urban community, or living the life they say minorities aren’t supposed to live. That’s what I would say hood rich is. They say have-nots aren’t supposed to live a certain way, so when they do, we call that hood rich.

Did you take a different approach creating this album?

Really, I wanted to get a little bit more personal. I didn’t want to take them too far, but I wanted to dive in a little bit more, and I wanted the sound to be a little more aggressive as opposed to Rich Nigga Paradise. I think I proved a point with it.

During our conversation last year, you mentioned you had a project on the way. What caused the hold up?Honestly, when I was referring to that, many people don’t know, me and Brightmo Maine was going to do a joint album. At the time, we were working on the CD. We might get back to it. Some shit went down that kind of sidetracked me from the music shit, so we put that project to the side. When I got back to the studio, I was just focused on my solo album.​

Let’s get into your project Hood Rich. I don’t think you could’ve started it off with a better song than “Priceless.” How’d that track come about?

When I got the beat, I knew it was going to be the intro. I got it over the summer. MitchCookinUp, shout out to him. I pulled up on him. I actually had got another beat from him that I didn’t use on Hood Rich. I’ma put it on the next one. When I circled back on him, he had that. I was like, ‘Aw, man, this is what I need.’ At the time, I was a couple songs in on the CD, but I didn’t have an intro beat. When he played it, I got to feeling it, and it told me off rip, ‘This needs to be the intro.’

Did you put the track together pretty quickly?

Lyrically, yeah, but the recording process was kind of hard for that song. It took me a couple sessions to get the whole song done. I wanted it done a certain way. You can’t play with them intros. By it being the first song mu’fuckas was gonna listen to since the last CD, I wanted to make sure it was right. That’s one of my favorites, too.

It looked like y’all had fun in the video.

Aw, yeah, we took it too far. We had about five or six bottles of champagne. That was actually the day of my CD listening party, so I was feeling good going to shoot the video. Shout out to Omega Coney Island. That’s on the West Side, Fenkell and Southfield.

I noticed you grabbed some beats from Michigan Meech for this project.

Yeah, I’m actually the first one from the BYLUG camp to get a Michigan Meech beat.

Yeah, I know he normally produces for a lot of artists from the East Side of Detroit. 

Yeah, exactly. Just liking his sound and just knowing what I wanted to do with this next project, I reached out. He was on my short list of producers that I wanted to work with for this project. He sent me two beats. Actually, I wasn’t going to use the one with Scooch. With Scooch’s untimely incarceration, I had just threw that together. I’m kind of pissed I wasn’t able to get the video with him before he went to jail. But shout out to Michigan Meech. He’s 1,000, and I’ma keep rocking with him.

There’s a track on the project called “Wanna Be Us” that pretty much questions why people show hate when they truly admire you. With that in mind, do you feel like Doughboyz Cashout/BYLUG are trendsetters when it comes to the Detroit rap scene?

Yeah, fasho. That was the case before rap. Niggas wanted to be us, wanted to see what we was doing, what we was wearing. If it wasn’t what we was wearing, it was what we were driving, where we was going, what bitches we was fuckin’ with. We always been trendsetters.​

When it comes to setting trends, being popular and so on, that can breed jealousy and hatred. How do you deal with those challenges day-to-day? Do they bother you?

Man, I’d be lying if I told you I don’t see it, or if it don’t bother me. The shit is definitely stressful. I think people just confuse this rap shit with this street shit. In all honesty, we were never made to be a rap group. We were never made to be rappers. We street niggas. All of our families are from the streets, so when shit happen in the music space, it’s kind of hard to treat certain shit how you would in the streets. It’s hard to balance the two. Sometimes, you wanna react a certain way, but you know you can’t do that when you in the public eye.

On this album, you open up more about your struggle.

Yeah, I wanted to get more into it. I didn’t want to be on my first CD complaining and all down. I wanted to dive a little bit deeper on this second one.

​​Outside of the jewelry, champagne, money and cars, who is Freddy K? Tell me a little about your struggle.

Man, the shit been rough. I’m from the West Side of Detroit. Shit ain’t been the best, but you know we making the best out of it. This shit don’t come with no instruction manual — how to be a rapper slash street nigga or no street nigga-turned rapper. I’m taking it really one day at a time. I’ve seen the lows and highs of this shit since my first CD came out. I done seen niggas turn on me, bitches turn on me, new faces turn on me, old faces turn on me. You really gotta have a heavy heart and a heavy head to deal with this shit. You can’t be soft coming from the city I come from. You gotta be thorough. You gotta stand on your own 10. Niggas a run over you, and you’ll quickly be exposed. You gotta be sharp around here.​

“Champagne Thoughts” is one of my favorite tracks off the project. When I first heard it, a line stood out to me: ‘Popping bottles in the club, you might think I’m the man/you don’t know about the nights I had to sleep in my van.’

Yeah, a lot of my personal family and friends caught onto that line as soon as they heard it. Yeah, that shit was facts. I had to sleep in my van. It wasn’t always good whips to ride around in. In the midst of my come-up, I had to buy me a lil’ hooptie to get from A to B in to go pick up some more money to get out here and hustle. That was one of my lil’ pitstops on the road to rich nigga paradise. You know, sleeping in hotels, sleeping in vans, not knowing where your next meal is going to come from. It ain’t always sparkling lights.

Observing the production credits on your projects, I noticed that you do a lot of work with Shawn Azzarelli. You gotta real good chemistry with him. How’d that connection come about?

He’s really did, like, a bulk of all my material. He’s a cat from the East Side, and we really connected on the music side. Shout out to him. I didn’t know him until we started doing music.

How does it work when y’all link to create?

It’s a lil bit of a mix. Sometimes, he’ll send me a bulk of beats that’s just retarded, like, “Never Seen.” That was the last song that I actually did. Sometimes, he’ll just throw beats to me, and I’ll skim through them and pick the ones that fit my flavor. And he’s real cold with the samples. If it’s something that I really want to sample, I’ll hit him.

Just curious, do you feel underrated?

I be hearing those whispers, that I’m underrated, but that’s for the people to rate me. If I could rate myself, I would be number one every day. But I think, eventually, mu’fuckas will catch on and if they don’t, t
he people that are rocking with me, it’ll be they lil’ secret or whatever, you know? I do it for them, really. I didn’t do this just to, you know, make everybody happy, or make a certain amount of mu’fuckas happy. I did this because I wanted to in the beginning and for the people that do support me. It is what it is.

Earlier, you mentioned the incarceration of Scooch, but the BYLUG camp recently suffered another blow with the passing of Doughboy Roc. That shook the whole city up. RIP Roc. I still ain’t got over it. I ain’t never seeing no shit like it. This shit is crazy. I really can’t explain it. I’m kind of lost for words. I still can’t believe he’s gone, but it’s something we gonna have to deal with as a family, as a group, as a squad, as a team. Just like I said earlier, it’s no instruction manual on this shit. It’s no playbook, so we just deal with it a day at a time, but he’s missed, and he will be missed forever. It ain’t gonna be no replacement. Long live Roc.

Yeah, RIP Roc. His death really touched me. On a lighter note, what’s your plans moving forward?

Just putting out my music and making sure mu’fuckas that’s looking for it is getting it, and gaining new fans on the way. I’m trying to get a lil’ cult following, and still continue the process of  dropping projects every year. That’s my plan.​

Man, it’s one more thing I wanted to ask you. I ran across something online where a Detroit artist put up some alleged paperwork of Payroll Giovanni snitching. What’s your thoughts on the situation? 

Any nigga in the street know what that paperwork was about and know what that paperwork is. That’s the fuckin’ document you give your insurance people when you’re trying to get some money from them, and that’s just as simple as that, man. That’s not what he’s making it out to seem. And we’re gonna handle that when the time come. It ain’t no fuckery. We don’t play them type of games. We never been known to play them kind of games. And that man done fucked with Payroll and did songs with Payroll since then, so if he thought that was any flaw in Payroll character, he should’ve addressed it then. I think it’s more so a publicity stunt, attention-seeking. Mu’fuckas in a rush to get rap fame and don’t know what to do, so they’re calling all kinds of crazy-ass plays out the playbook to get ahead.

I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the situation. Anything you wanna say to readers before we close?

Shout out to my whole city. Shout out to my hood, West Side, 7 mile. Shout out to my team, BYLUG, the undefeated. And you can look forward to another project. I’m sitting on a couple titles right now. I ain’t gonna disappoint. Just keep rocking with me.

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