Compton Av is everything his name embodies: a rapper who grew up on Compton Ave. Exploding onto the West Coast with bangers “Run Me My Money” and “Money Dance,” songs guaranteed to turn the function all the way up, the Los Angeles spitter is the godfather of this ratchet hip-hop genre, which includes originating Blueface’s “Thothiana” dance.Read more…
Now, fans can look forward to a forthcoming single with the late Nipsey Hussle, someone who he always looked up to and a relationship he cherished deeply. The two Los Angeles MCs spent time together doing shows and exchanging words at the club.
For those who don’t know, who is Compton AV?
A product of my environment. I grew up on 124th and Compton Ave., decided to name myself Compton AV after the street I grew up on. A fan of hip-hop from the dirt. Mom was a big hip-hop head, sitting in the back seat bopping my head. Got into music and found therapy in it. I’m grateful. Took them a while, but they woke now. [laughs]
How would you describe your sound?
Myself, I have a distinctive voice. I hear that a lot. I’m real big in the club scene. When my music comes on, people know it’s me. That helped my buzz because of my tone, people know who it is. It’s pretty dope. Nobody grew up on that block like I grew up on that block. Nobody grew up in that city like I grew up in that city — from my standing. My point of view.
Why do you say that?
My hardships I went through. I hate to talk about them, but I got shot. I was one of the people going all in to college to play basketball, and something tragic happened.
Where did you get shot at?
My leg, which was another God’s gift because He told me “your calling is music.” I used to be so deep into it: the car rides with my mom, warming up for basketball practice, before games. I was in tune with music just as much as I was in tune with basketball. But at that point, music was so far out of reach. Basketball, sports, school. Once He sat me down, I said “hey, I’m gonna chase it. I see what you’re telling me to do.”
When did that happen?
When I was 17, right before I was about to go off.
When did you start making music?
I was making music secretly at 10 years old. I used to have a tape recorder. My brother actually used to take the recorder to school and let people hear my music. I’m like “damn stop doing that,” because I didn’t like my voice. Growing up, you think you’re supposed to sound and be like everyone else. I found myself within that because people were like “nah you sound tight, you sound good.” I started using myself and exercising my own voice. Getting on different microphones, playing with it. Found confidence in myself for sure.
At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
Right when I got up out the bed and started walking. I started throwing parties. Put together an entertainment group with myself, a bunch of my friends, and some females we had met — around the Myspace going to Facebook days. We used to all share the same name LMKR. I threw 2 or 3 big parties before I started performing, but I’d build my own shows. Promote my own music, that’s how I got big.
AV is your real name?
Nah, I can’t tell you my real name.
Why you against it?
I have a personal reason why I don’t like it. It was given to me by somebody I don’t like (my father), so I don’t like to say it.
“Money Dance” was my shit! Did you think it’d blow up to what it was?
I knew it’d do something. I got a crazy story with that. I actually had some DJs come out — you know, DJ meetups. A real influential DJ said “this not the record,” ‘cause he had just heard “Run Me My Money” as well. They got in the car, called back 15 min later and said “I’m trippin’. I was buggin’, that’s the record.” I think because I dropped “Run Me My Money,” that song was so big, they couldn’t get over it. But in a different realm with these kids coming and dancing, “Money Dance” fit real well.
Bring us back to the studio session for “Run Me My Money.”
That’s when it was like “you need a single!” Before it was called ratchet music, I was doing the sound. We were the first entertainment group to do the sound, that’s why my city stands behind me so much. They actually gave it the title, we started it. Those weren’t the songs that were going to hit radio, so my manager had been down my neck. Right on my back…
No different, but same management team. “You need a single” (x4). At the time I was so young, I didn’t know what that meant. I was just rapping. They took me down the steps: “this is when an artist puts one song behind their career and push themselves to the next level.” So I sat in my room and made an introduction record. If I was going to showcase myself to the world, I’d say “let me tell you one thing about me, I’m young and I’m straight up out the CPT.” That’s how I came up with “Run Me My Money.”
At the time, I was so big, showing up at all the parties with 300, 400 people. You can make a lot of money from me ‘cause I’d just walk up to the door. I wanted to perform so much back then and stop throwing my own shows, because now they’re making me a party promoter. I’m bigger than a party promoter. Laid off doing shows. I’d come to your party, just so you’ll let me on stage.
How often were you throwing money in the club?
All the time. Well “Money Dance” came, “Run Me My Money” was already successful. I started getting a check and realized I make these money records, the strippers tend to dance to my music. I don’t throw money at strippers ‘cause I like them or ‘cause they’re attractive, I actually mess with the ones who support my music and my sound. They take my songs to Denver, to Miami, everywhere. When strippers travel, they take your music with them. Why not support them? I got a different couple faces in there. I see it. I tell ‘em to get on stage and I throw my check. It works for them, it works for me.
You recently unleashed Kept It 2 Real. How’s the fan reception been?
Good. I took a year off music last year so to come back and they’re still waiting for me… I was doing shows all last year with no music out. It’s crazy. God is good.
Why’d you take a year off music?
Got into a situation. It was time for growth and I knew it. I knew I wasn’t able to go to the magnitude I was again. A lot of artists slip up ‘cause they feel they’re always gonna be somebody — and that’s not true. Sit back, reflect on your good moments, your bad moments, and fix them. That’s what I did. Took a year off to watch and pay attention to the new coming up. When you listen to it, you hear the young dudes like Kalan.FrFr. Shoutout to Kalan, Rucci, etc. Tapping in with the youth. It’s their turn. I had my turn before. I wanna have my time again but right now, them dudes is booming. They always looked up to me, I look up to them now. Why can’t we do a record? Bringing this whole W thing back together with the Bay and LA. Us all crossing paths and doing records with each other, that’s good for the whole West in general.
Talk about linking with O.T. Genasis on “Let Em Hate.”
That’s my guy. I been knowing O.T. before the fame. When we were nobody’s, both of us. OT, I’m like “aye bro wanna perform? Come to the show.” He’s like “I’ma perform today.” He was always good with LMKR. One day we were chilling around the hotel, I went to go visit while he’s getting a haircut. He leaned over like “aye bro if you need anything, don’t be afraid to hit me and ask me.”
I met a lot of people in this industry, everyone’s not as humble as OT. People talk shit behind your back. He hit me up and asked me for this, off ten. Me personally, I don’t normally ask people for nothing. We can work together and find common ground, but to ask you for anything, I won’t. It’s dope to hear someone with his success wanna work with me still. I already had “Let Em Hate,” been sitting on it. Kind of dropped the ball with it before, I didn’t want to drop it again.
How’d you drop the ball on it?
I put it on the album, then took off for a year. I’m like “I’m not gonna promote this record because I know this is the one” — if I could get the right person or the right thing. Even right now, everyone’s calling to do the remix. The record’s going to be big. Let me focus on O.T. first, then I’ll get back at ya’ll.
What was your reaction when you heard Nipsey passed?
I was heartbroken. It was me and OT at the “Let Em Hate” video. OT came and told me inside my ear when I was doing a scene. “Nipsey just got hit bro.” I’m like “you can’t listen to that.” He’s like “nah bro, my people’s with Lauren right now.” I did everything not to believe anything people said. Even when they said he was dead, I still didn’t believe it until the next day. I was on the phone with a hundred people, still telling them no. I couldn’t accept it, you don’t want to accept nothing like that.
Talk about your forthcoming single with Nipsey, “In The Air.”
It wasn’t an actual studio session with me and him, but we have footage on it. For the most part, his spirit is involved in the record a whole lot. My spirit because I knew what it was going to be. It’s Nipsey Hussle even before he died. I knew something was coming from it. Shout out to my boy Luigi who’s doing the hook. It’s putting it up in the air for your lost ones. Everybody thinks it costs something to be real, and it doesn’t. All you gotta do is be a real person. People gon’ perceive, take it and give it back to you.
Nip was talking like he always talks, teaching jewels. I felt it was my time to come through and teach something as well, from a different perspective. He from LA, I’m from Compton. No matter where we’re from, we all on this marathon with you. He created something we all understand, we gonna cherish until the end of time. I wanted that to be in the record no matter what. What happened to me, what happened with him, I wanted that to fit for both of us.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
That any young kid who comes out of the ghetto in America can make it. Anybody, I don’t care if you’re at your worst. I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I walked outside that house to see my blood on the pavement everyday after they shot me. I had to leave. I didn’t want them to shoot me again. I had to find a better way, a better path. That’s the hardest thing to come from. Everything else is easy in life because I made a decision. You gotta make a decision on what you wanna become. You can’t be 1, 2, or 3 things. You gotta find that calling God gave you, and answer the phone.
Getting shot is traumatic, did you have PTSD or have to go to therapy?
No ‘cause we tend to say stuff out of the norm. 3 of my boys were shot that year. It’s like “oh you got shot?” It’s more a stupid celebration type thing — we lived. It’s hard to explain because you can’t understand unless you went through it. If I was talking to them, we’d be laughing like “where you get hit at? Right here, right here…”
Have you seen John Wick 3? The fact that death is so…
It sells. It’s very sad. I can laugh because I didn’t die. But for those who died, it’s a different feeling. Even Nipsey said in a record, he’s laughing like “now you’re gonna finally be respected.” But that’s what he needed to tell his homie in the backseat, so his homie would wanna live. It’s different for us.
What are some goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
Just to help others. I was deprived of help my whole career. Nobody wanted to help. Everybody came when it’s successful, that’s not help. That’s an opportunist, people are looking for opportunities from me. When I see help, I genuinely love it. Say thank you more than I should. If rap only takes me so far, I wanna build a label. I know what real talent looks like, what it needs to become exposed and bigger than they are. I don’t care what city you’re from, it’s not no West Coast, East Coast thing. It’s about pure talent. I want to find it all over the world. At the end of the story, I want to create and build stars.
What’s your relationship with Unc (Snoop Dogg)?
That’s my boy. Another crazy story. My brother’s passing around my CDs, Snoop took it. When he took it home, his son and wife knew my music like “this the new one!” I woke up one day, everyone was tweeting “Snoop put your song on his album!” I’m like “damn, I gotta get a hold of Snoop.” Thank you for putting it on your album, but you should have gotten on it. Shoutout to DJ Battlecat, I’m like “yo I gotta holla at Snoop.” He’s like “do it yourself, hit him yourself.” I’m like “man he ain’t gon’ see that.”
But this is my naive part of my career, I’m thinking nothing is achievable. I’m doing it all on my own. I hit him, “bro you should have got on it.” He’s like “send me an open verse, I’ll do it today.” Actually I met up with Kurupt before I met up with him. Me and Kurupt clashed with each other, because I had a record called “Hit em Up.” Kurupt’s a hard character, that’s why I love him to death. He heard it, understood what the record could have caused: trouble in the city. He got on it fast. [snaps] “You don’t create records like this, records like this got my homeboy Tupac killed.” He got on me bad.
I got back at him like the young dude I am. “What you mean? This is what we going through in our city, you can’t tell me the rap ain’t real.” He’s like “I’m not telling you to do that, just find a more strategic way. People like to party and dance, create fun. Make sure people listen to you forever. People never going to indulge in violent moment.” He’s like “I’m not getting on this song, but play me something else. If i’m having some fun, I’ma get on it.” Played the record, he’s like “now this is fun!” He started dancing, did it. He’s like “I’m sending this to Snoop,” so now I got songs with Snoop. Snoop’s down for whatever. Whenever I need something, I could hit him up. He did the video for me. Shout out to big Snoop.
Talk about doing the Blueface dance before on “Saggin.”
You got all the goods. Shout out Blueface, some things don’t work for everybody. This is me showing once again that I love my coast. I love where I come from. I love this side, I love the W. I love the Westside. Win young homie, win. I’m happy I influenced, it’s all good with me. I don’t need no harm, not trying to little homie big dog you. None of that. Get your money.
What happened though?
I had a dance that blew up in the city couple years back. It did better for him, that’s all I gotta say. I wanna work with Blueface, so I’m not gonna damage or harm anything. I had a show with him. He said “wassup bro,” I said “what’s happening.”
Does he know?
I’m sure he does. He said in an interview “you made it a hot dance, and I made it hot to the world.” That’s the truth, but it’s all good. I don’t want to be known for a dance, I’m bigger than a dance. I’m known for what I rap on my albums and mixtapes. When it’s all said and done, if you can crack the code on what I’m saying, you’ll be a light. A real problem.
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
Me and the homies fighting every day to get heard and become better. I go out, I be buying shoes. I’m still amazed people want to take pictures with me. I just took pictures with 20 people across the street, that’s why I had to run and get some posters out my car.
3 things you need in the studio?
Me, laptop, and a beat. That’s how I do all my stuff. Now what’s on my mind, where I’m trying to go, is different question.
What’s on your mind and where you trying to go?
Happiness for my daughter. She’s 10. She grown too. [laughs] My daughter, my mom, mostly family. An energy I’m putting into this record. Where am I pulling this energy from? In the studio, I need a topic, motivation, and strength.
What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
A song I wouldn’t expect a person to know from way back then, he came up rapping it word for word. Him and his girl were spitting back and forth to each other word for word. Another one was at the movies, one of my most reckless songs I ever wrote in my career. When I walked into the movie theater, they stood up and started singing my song. Damn bro, ya’ll chose that song out of all the songs? Ya’ll coulda rapped “Run Me My Money,” why y’all rap the most ratchet song ever?
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
I’d be manager or a record label owner. Something to try to build my community. I wouldn’t wanna go for the mayor because I don’t fit there. Underneath: feed people, put some money into schools, try to build, try to get some good money and sponsorships for schools. I’ma still do that stuff in my rap career, that’s another thing. To see them kids, they be rapping to me. They all hit me on IG, it’s crazy.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Right now, Kalan.FrFr. I’m playing Kalan music right now. And Rucci. I’m playing them when I get into the car. When I’m at home chilling or playing video games, Mozzy, Kalan, Rucci. Me and Mozzy have a song called “Gang Gang.” We gonna do the video if you hear this.
Meek Mill. Meek is the realest. My city always compares you to people. “You’re the Meek of Compton” or “the Tupac of this day and age.” The biggest thing is I’m the only spitting the real besides Nipsey Hussle. If I could get a sample with Nipsey speaking or a verse that didn’t really blow — I’d love to get a Nipsey sample. Put it on there, me and Meek talk some real stuff.
Anything else you want to let us know?
I want to say thank you. I can tell who’s real and who’s fake, I don’t sit down with jusr anybody. When Joe hit me to sit down with you, I looked at your IG because I wanted to know. Even the questions, you asked good questions. You’re a good person. It’s tight you care how I felt when this happened. Even though you doing it, the world’s gonna hear it. It’s personal questions you wanna know.