Liife is here to put on for Compton in the best way possible. The West Coast lyricist grew up to the likes of Ice Cube, Tupac, Snoop Dogg, and Lil Wayne, the latter of which he has a fire feature in the vault. How they linked was actually on some street shit, helping Weezy get back his Young Money chain that was stolen. The rest is history. Read more…
The 30-year-old is currently signed to Rostrum Records, who will be putting out his forthcoming album titled What Yo Life Like Summer 2020. Til then, Liife has gifted fans with standout singles and videos including “Friends & Enemies” and “Lifestyle.” Regardless of what the industry is on, he makes it a point to stay true to himself and where he came from.
For those who don’t know, who is Liife?
Liife is an artist from Compton, a real lyricist. I’m a person that’s putting out real substance. I ain’t just the next rapper. No shot at nobody but I take pride in actually composing things that mean something. That will last forever. It’s real durable.
Do you feel like real hip-hop is hard to be seen nowadays?
Definitely, because there’s so much music that’s just for a turn up. All of the other music that’s food for the soul or like soul food is overlooked in a way. Now that you have other uprising artists such as different lyricists, whoever’s being nominated for Grammys like Nipsey, Cordae, artists like that, they’re shining a light on a part of the game that’s really been doing it for years. It’s a good look right now for people who really know how to rap.
Growing up in Compton, what were you seeing growing up?
Growing up in Compton, I seen a lot of people trying to make it. It was an ongoing struggle to do better every day. You get caught up in competing because you want to be better than the next man. It’s a crab in the bucket mentality because everybody is trying to outdo the next person. That’s what I really saw whether it was gangbanging, clothes, or basketball. Everybody was trying to get that inch.
Were you in the streets?
Yeah I was definitely in the streets. I was never able to be really shielded from the streets because my moms had two jobs. It was hard for her to watch over me and be at work to pay the rent.
Are you an only child?
No I have two brothers, but they’re actually younger than me. She thought that those would be her “they’re going to do better than you.” The way the city works, you’re a product of your environment. If you live here and you come outside, and you go to school here, then you’re part of the community. I had to be in the streets because when I went to school, everybody was trying to do better than the next person. If you didn’t have the newest J’s, you’re a bum. That was the mindset that us as kids, that’s what we had. That’s what we worried about: the newest clothes, the new two-way Sidekick, new J’s. Because at my school, we didn’t have uniforms.
At what point did you realize the music thing was forreal?
I always was interested in music. It’s just I was always distracted at the same time because it was more real things that were going on. I had to eat every day. I couldn’t wear cross colors, I couldn’t wear that because people would talk about me. I’m getting into fights and shit because of shit that I have on. I’m wearing the same jeans, I got holes in my pants. I had to take the initiative and go get my own, feel me? So I couldn’t really focus on music because I was always in jail or a camp for getting caught doing something to better myself.
What was the inspiration behind your name?
It’s two different meanings. I started off freestyling. My boy lived around the corner from The Game, so The Game was blowing up at the time. Everybody in the hood knew I could rap and that I was real good. One of the homies came from Game’s house with a camera and was just filming, I just started spitting. He took it back to Game, Game’s like “bring him over here.” I went over there and the first thing he put on was a CD with nothing but beats on it.
It’s 16 tracks, then he had another one with 15 tracks. All in all, it was 40 tracks. I spit on every track that came on. Game’s like “man this dude raps for a lifetime,” like going crazy. I took that and said “alright, my name Liife.” The acronym for Liife is “living in a foul environment.” Because where I grew up at, it was just foul. It was crazy, some of the shit that was happening.
Where do you live now?
I’m tucked off… undisclosed location. I had to because I had a son, so I had to make a decision whether I wanted to let him experience this lifestyle I was living. I’m not one of those artists that’s like “I seen it happen.” It’s a lot of people that rap from the perspective of their friends doing it, or they were in the house watching from the window pane. I had to really be immersed in it because I had no choice. My friends, this is how I’m living.
I had to make a decision, did I want my son to go through any of that? Me as a person, I’m not proud of nothing I did. But I don’t regret nothing that I did. I did it because I had to. Some n*ggas gangbang because it’s cool, it’s fun. I did it because I had to. This was a survival tactic. My son, I don’t want him to ever have to experience that or endure none of the pain. It’s sad enough that his favorite artist passed away every day. I never even want him to experience that, let alone seeing his closest friend die or go to jail and get life. So I moved and he’s tucked off. It is what it is.
Is that your real family in the “Friends & Enemies” video?
Oh yeah, that’s all of my family. It was dope, that’s probably one of the best videos that I’ve shot (except for this last one I’m about to drop). “Friends & Enemies” is one of the dopest ones out of everything that I released, because it was realistic. It was turning your life into an actual movie that people could see and experience. People who aren’t from Compton who’s never been to Compton or LA, they could look at that and just be there. They could experience that without ever touching the soil.
Talk about the vlog you made after losing your close friend. How has music been a form of therapy for you?
I’m dropping a song every 2 to 3 weeks, which includes a Docuseries. Each song will have a docuseries that intertwines or correlates with the message of the song. Basically I said “yo why don’t we go back to the places?” — because every song that I talk about is real situations. It’s all from the soul. It’s all from my experiences. I’m like “yo we gon’ go back to each place: each person, the old house I lived in, my mama, whoever wherever.” Just realistic things and we’re going to walk you through what I’m talking about in the song. Certain key points and keynotes, I’ma show you certain locations. I’ma take you to restaurants where I ate and this happened.
Whatever this song’s about, I’ma show you where me and this guy grew up. This is the school we went to, this is why this all went bad or why we aren’t friends anymore, whatever the situation maybe. On the flipside, I’ma go to people around my community whether they’re Mexican, black, Asian, Jamaican. Whatever they are, I’ma go to them and be like ”yo, what problems are you having? Tell your story on the flipside,” and they gon’ tell me. Then with my money and my budget, I’ma go try and fix the issue that they’re having. It won’t change their life but it’s a way to give back to the place where I was running around, where I grew up.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
From my story, it’s all about perseverance. Being driven and not letting anything detour you from your mission. Staying focused and just knowing that from a rose grew from concrete anything, you can do it. That’s my story, the underdog. It’s okay, real spillage.
How’d you land at Rostrum Records?
I landed at Rostrum because it was the perfect match. At the end of the day what I got to do, it’s not for no label to just come behind and be like “yo get in the studio, we’re going to put you with mf Drake. We’re going to put you with Metro Boomin, and we’re going to make a hit.” I had those opportunities but it wasn’t really promising because I’m a student of the game. I’m very seasoned. They treat me like I’m a rookie because I look like one, but I ain’t no rookie. I’m a veteran so I know that Rostrum, they’re ready to go the whole journey. They’re ready to build brick by brick. They’ve done it, they have artists that they’ve built from the ground up.
Also the staff there is hands-on and very personal. They have the resources. The key thing is they’re very adamant about sticking to your roots, sticking to where you come from and telling your story. It was a no-brainer. The one thing that really stood out was that they believed in my vision and my music. It wasn’t something like “you can rap good, we love it but let’s do this.” It was like “everything you’re doing, we love it. How can we help you?” We had to mess with Rostrum.
What did you do with your first advance?
[laughs] I bought a car. I bought some chains, that’s what I did. I took my son shopping.
How old is your son now?
He’s 10 so he’s going to school. He says words like “no cap.” It’s like alright, we have to go get you the latest stuff because it’s serious out here.
What’s his favorite Liife song?
His favorite song is definitely “Lifestyle” and “Friends & Enemies,” but he raps all of my songs.
Who’s in your Top 5?
My top five is real extensive Big L, Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Lil Wayne of course. The last slot is interchangeable. It’s somebody different. Right now, I’d say Nas is in there.
Best encounter you had with a fan?
I was in camp. I went to jail and I was even rapping in jail. They set up a competition “let’s see who can make it to the top slot, you’re all going to battle.” It was 100 people and the person who gets to the top gets the weekend off. They get to spend that weekend with their family, so everybody really battled. A fan ended up being in camp with me, he hit me like “I’ve been rocking with you since camp Cleopatra when you were doing the battles.” Damn, that’s surreal to know that you remember that. You see me right now, you’re still rocking with me. It was dope. A lot of people send me messages in my DMs like “yo man, your message is strong. I really love that song, I’m going through that right now.” That’s crazy to know it affects somebody’s life and reality.
Biggest lesson learned in jail?
Trust no one. If you don’t know them from the streets, don’t trust them. If they don’t be at the dinner table eating with your family, don’t trust them. If you don’t bring them to your house, don’t trust them.
Is there anything else you want to let us know?
Just log in. Call me Liife, with two i’s.
Why two ii’s?
Because I’m too fly [chuckles] No it’s two ii’s to separate myself from everybody else that has one i, and just a brain fart because everybody be like “what’s your name Lyfe or Life??” Nah, it’s Liife. And you can find me on iTunes like that.