Waka Flocka Flame doesn’t give a fuck about what you think. The riotous rapper, who penned hits like “O Let’s Do It” and “No Hands,” has undergone an artistic transformation since his 2010 bombastic debut “Flockaveli.” He’s experimented with his sound but always with the focus on growing as a rapper.
The Queens-bred, Atlanta-based MC is always thinking outside of the box on wax. When you hear Waka’s scratchy voice over electro beats by Neon Dreams or Steve Aoki, it’s his way of showing that trap music isn’t his only trick. “I’m trying to open people’s brains up,” Waka says. “You don’t have to be stuck in a fucking bubble. You don’t have to do this kind of music because people say you are this kind of artist. I do electronic music just to get out the bubble.”
Born Juaquin James Malphurs, the 28-year-old rapper rose to prominence as Gucci Mane’s protégé and his flagship artist of 1017 Brick Squad. In 2009, Waka put trap back on the map, dropping the first volume of his street classic “Salute Me or Shoot Me” that caught fire with songs, “We On The Way, “Dreads N Gold” and his breakout single “O Let’s Do it.” The mixtape’s buzz allowed Waka to release his proper debut “Flockaveli” in October, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 100. Here, Waka’s authenticity was a major selling point. None of Waka’s stories about his struggle were fabricated. “When I was making ‘Flockaveli,’ I just didn’t give a fuck,” he says. “I didn’t give a fuck about the awards. I didn’t give a fuck about how people felt. I just didn’t give a fuck ’cause I didn’t know. I never knew the outcome of these words.”
Together with Southside and Lex Luger’s thunderous production, Waka helped revive street raps and his sound began to blow up. Following his sudden popularity, hip-hop’s mainstream elite like T.I., Drake and B.o.B wanted to collaborate with him while he spread his influence to a host of new rappers like Wooh Da Kid and Frenchie. On Waka and Gucci’s 2011 collaborative effort “Ferrari Boyz” and 2012′s “Triple F Life: Fans, Friends & Family,” Waka’s high energy is the sole reason why he’s earned the nickname “Turn Up God.” That style translates into the EDM world Waka calls home now, where he fell in the love with the genre during a tour in Europe two years ago. “Music is like anger management,” he says. “It’s fun. You get to express yourself.”
On June 1, Waka Flocka is ready to express a new musical direction in his Atlantic Records debut “Flockaveli II.” Set to feature production from Southside, Rico Love, Jim Jonsin, and more, Waka wants this album to return to the basics that made him a rap star. For “Flockaveli II,” he’s approaching his third studio album the same way as his previous projects: trap banger after trap banger. His laid-back demeanor makes him a fan favorite, and he’s hoping that his straightforward creative process will please his core fans. “I’m cocky when it comes to my fans and my music ’cause I know my fans talk to me,” he says, noting that 31 tracks are already laid down for the LP. “I want my fans to look at they haters like, ‘Told y’all my boy was gonna go hard. Fuck y’all.’ I want my fans to hear ‘Flockaveli II,’ and I want them to put a dread wig on and shake their head and rock with me.”
While Waka Flocka has flooded the streets with mixtapes, including March’s recent release, “The Turn Up Godz Tour,” he doesn’t want to place high expectations on “Flockaveli II.” But, it holds a lot of sentimental value because the LP is also releasing on the birthday of his late brother Kayo Redd. Kayo was a firm supporter of Waka’s music from the beginning, encouraging him to always put out his music to satisfy his fans. “That’s like a birthday gift to my brother ’cause he’s a diehard,” he says.
With 1.3 million followers on Twitter (@WakaFlockaBSM) and a million followers on Instagram, he’s become the second most active celebrity on social media platforms, as well as the second most searched name on Google. Waka Flocka Flame is also cultivating a steady EDM presence thanks to touring with Steve Aoki and appearing on songs by DJ-producer Borgore and Flosstradamus. While fans have to wait for his EDM album “Turn Up God” releasing sometime this year, they can anticipate that “Flockaveli II” will have his no-fucks-given attitude on full display.
“‘Flockaveli II’ is for the streets. It’s for the people,” Waka says. “‘Flockaveli II’ is just the savior of the party.”