A high school dropout, LA rapper Hopsin has since crafted himself a healthy niche among the city’s independent scene. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing.
“When I was growing up nobody was really supporting me, especially in LA,” Hopsin recounts.
“I did sign to Ruthless Records, but they didn't really support me. There's just a lot of hate in that neighbourhood. A lot of people knew I rapped, but they didn't really care until they saw me on TV.”
Now everybody is certainly taking notice of Hopsin, who’ll be visiting Australia this month to tour his new album, ‘Knock Madness’. “I was a rapper who was 13 or 14 years old at one point and it was a dream. I used to see videos of other rappers around the world and I used to hope that I could be like that one day. And now I'm doing it. It's crazy that I'm doing it, but I never gave it up.”
Hopsin may have been disenchanted with the scene as a young rap artist, but instead of throwing in the towel after struggling with his first major record deal with Ruthless Records, Hopsin started his own record label, Funk Volume. “Once I signed to Ruthless I saw things were going downhill and I saw that early. So I went and got a business partner, his name was Damien Ritter and his homie Swizz from high school. It was the three of us and we were just putting out little mixtapes here and there to try and build a buzz.
“We were doing online promotion and we started doing little showcases around Los Angeles. Then I guess we got off the label Ruthless Records and went full throttle with Funk Volume and I dropped my album ‘Raw’, which kind of put me on the map and took the whole label to another level.”
Even though Hopsin has found success by his own means and on his own terms, it doesn’t make managing the alienation of fame any easier.
“I focus so much on music and whatever that when I come back from touring I have nothing to come home to, so it kind of rubs me the wrong way. Being the king of hip hop is not really on my priority list.”
With his continued popularity, Hopsin says there are always people looking for a slice of his pie. “A lot of people gave it up back in high school. They got into other things that they shouldn't have been into and it just took its toll. They're not really living a life that they're happy with. And then they come to me and they want a piece of the pie, but I can't hand it over to them because they gave up and I didn't. And it's not my job to help them.”
Witnessing many of his friend’s lives destroyed by drug and alcohol abuse has led Hopsin to lead a “straight edge” lifestyle. “The [values] that I think are important that I have been expressing is the message to be straight edge and to use [your] natural body and energy and mind to accomplish things and not look for a boost or easy way out of situations; to tackle your problems directly without running from them. Just to be positive overall and accomplish your goals. It might be hard, but it has worked out for me.
“I just want people to know the reality and I want people to see the world as it really is – the world is our playground and we can do anything we want to do on it. Everyone else needs to see it that way – there are no real rules.”
Although music will always be Hopsin’s primary form of self-expression — a “personal diary” as he calls it — he’s not planning to limit himself to the lifestyle of a rap artist. “As far as me trying to take it somewhere – it used to be my goal, but at this moment I'm kind of lost with myself, I don't really know what I want to do with my life. I kind of just want to work on my personal life over anything else.”
Hopsin plays The Tempo December 13 as well as the Gold Coast Beergarden December 16.