Joshua Luellen might not be a name you're familiar with but his discography of produced tracks, on the other hand, is something you most definitely are. Artists include Waka Flocka, Future, Drake, Travis Scott, French Montana, Jeezy, G-Eazy, Young Thug, Meek Mill, Pusha T, 2 Chainz, Birdman, Big Sean, Kanye– and the list goes on. The 27 year-old, Atlanta-based artist, that goes by Southside or Sizzle is the founder of 808 Mafia and he continues to push boundaries, both in terms of the beats he produces and the rap career he's began to forge for himself. The release of his third mixtape, Free Agent 3 is slated for imminent release (keep your eyes peeled).
This weekend, Southside and 12th Planet will host the Game Day Tour (which is said to be the best tailgate party of the season) before the USC Trojans N UCLA Bruins game, in Los Angeles. We asked Southside what we can expect from his performance and he left us with the simple yet profound, "it's going to be some real wild shit"– we'd expect nothing less. See our interview below, with Southside, about the first big break in his career and how he continues to motivate today's ATL youth.
OC Weekly (Taylor Morgan): You impressively have your hands dipped in a lot of different projects– what do you dig the most?
JL: I just love the lifestyle of music. The lifestyle is not about how many records we sell, it's never been, it's about how we can make the best possible record for the world. That's more important to me than anything. I love the vibe of music. And as long as music has that great vibe, you can say the dumbest shit ever and it can still feel right. I love that music can make a crowd of people do something completely different from what they were just doing too. I thank God for that every-morning I get up; for that burning inside of me and [for the ability] to remember to be myself.
When did you fall in love with music?
JL: It's in my blood. I didn't know my dad growing up, but he used to make beats for Outkast and shit back in the day. I [eventually] met all [the artists he was connected with]– Dre, Rico [Wade, Outkast producer and cousin of Future]. I was hanging around them when I was two and three. Then he went missing for a good part of my life. By the time we did see each-other again, I was so into music that it fucked him up. It's my dream to become a big producer and he's so excited for me [about that].
So your relationship has really forged over making music then?
JL: Yeah, he's my biggest fan. He'll say "Man your music makes me feel like Tupac." My dad is a really up front person, he wouldn't even lie, and he isn't the first person to tell me that. It means a lot.
Did you grow up with your mom being pretty into music?
JL: Now she is but when I first started, around 14, she didn't think I could make beats. She'd come into my room and say you need to get a job…I don't know what you're doing with yourself following this music dream. I was going to jail too. She told me I couldn't continue to mess my life up. A few months later I had a check come to the house for $105,000. She didn't think it was real!
You said you were in and out of jail. This music lifestyle propelled you out of that?
JL: Yeah, I was a very troubled kid. I'm just as wild as I was when I was a kid but I'm not doing criminal stuff. I'm just having fun and I'm always doing it with music. Every time I have the urge to do some wrong shit, I come here and start making music. That's why my beats sound so evil sometimes, or Armageddon, because that's the lifestyle I grew up in. I still have the same friends and they're still doing the same dumb shit. I can tell them over and over, that shit ain't it and look at me.
Do you think you serve as an example then for your friends, that you can still enjoy life and be successful?
JL: Of course. I probably had 46 text messages this morning saying help me out, I'm trying to get out of this life; but I can't help everyone. I rap about how we're really living and how I got here coming from nothing.
What other artists inspire you?
JL: Waka [Flocka Flame]. I look up to him so much; I love how he took over the game and he's my best friend. I also look up to Kanye a lot. He's a very real person and he's very strong.
You don't just look up to them, they're your friends right?
JL: I don't follow rappers careers really for me it's more about feeling your vibe. If I'm hooked on your vibe– I'm going to fuck with you. If I decide to look up to you, then I look up to you. I met Waka doing neighborhood shit. We just met and never stopped hanging with each-other. He's always encouraged me to rap too.
When did you get your first break in the industry?
JL: I was probably 21. I produced Waka's first album Flockaveli and [in 2011] Kanye N Jay Z's "Illest Motherfuckers Alive," which sold over two million copies. Producing isn't new to me, this started when I was young [with tracks like] "Wild Boy" on Machine Gun Kelly [and "Fuck The Club Up" for Waka Flocka]. I was actually rapping before I started producing. I taught myself how to make beats [for my own tracks].
What are you the most proud of after producing so many different things?
JL: I'm gong to say this– I'm the most proud of Waka's career. I'm very proud of Future and what he did, because the stuff we're doing is next level shit. People fade away quick.
How do you not fade away?
JL: You just don't let them drown you out. People get greedy and try to make all the money at once but it may take 10 years.
Tell us about your new album?
JL: I just went back and remade all of my beats. I did 30 songs in five days. I made the entire mixtape Free Agent 3. [Within] a couple of days, in the morning, it will be on the internet. I can't really give you a time or date because we go out with a surprise vibe.
In spirit of the recent holiday, what are you most thankful for?
JL: My kids and my family. More than anything.
What does the future look like for you?
JL: The sky is the limit. I don't really care about having songs on the radio. My interest is to have people be so excited to come to my shows and have the best time possible. I'm not with the Fugees shit, people can't touch me, and none of that. Come back stage and fuck with me.