Problem is here to represent for Compton in all facets of his life. The West Coast rapper exploded onto the scene with his viral single “Like Whaaat,” which hit functions and radio airwaves all around the country. Pushing his Diamond Lane imprint with each release, Problem, real name Jason Martin hasn’t let his foot off the gas pedal in the slightest.
Most recently, Problem released his first project in 2 years titled Coffee & Kush Vol. 1, two things that are sentimental to him and who he is in today’s climate. Switching his former old habits which included late nights in the studio and reckless partying, he now shifts his focus to the morning time — creating new tunes as a byproduct of both coffee and marijuana.
Additionally, he released his short film “A Compton Story,” which he wrote, directed, and produced. Guest appearances include everyone from Snoop Dogg to Mike Epps to Jackie Long, with behind-the-scenes collaborations with Xzibit, DJ Pooh, Terrace Martin, and TDE’s Punch Henderson.
AllHopHop caught up with Problem to discuss his recent sentiments to the protests happening around the world, the meaning behind Coffee & Kush, his new Green Hour Coffee business, what he plans to do for “Compton,” his short film, and more!
AllHopHop: Thoughts on the current state of the world?
Problem: I hate that it took something so heinous for all of us to get the recognition we’ve been getting as a people. I’m glad the younger generation is seeing a more proactive version of minorities. I’m glad it’s not just us outside protesting, it’s everybody outside. It’s not black people tired of injustice, the world is tired of it. I’m more for the beauty of all of it than anything. I’m seeing we’re taking something so dark, now a lot more positive things are happening because of it.
AllHopHop: Just you having kids, the general concern for them and their future.
Problem: Yeah, I talk to them in a different manner anyway. I’m really truth-oriented with them because with social media, you can Google anything. There’s no point in lying to children, you might as well keep it as 100 as possible. Tell them the truth because they can go find out the information so fast. Being as 100 as possible with my feelings and what I feel constantly, we have our own group chat where I send them things I need them to see. It’s actually gotten us closer because everybody’s minds aren’t moving on what they’re on.
AllHopHop: How old are they now?
Problem: S##t my youngest is 4, and my oldest is 20. I started kind of young.
AllHopHop: Congrats on the release of Coffee & Kush! How’s the fan reception been?
Problem: It’s dope, I love it. I love all the calls I’ve been getting. I know I’m beginning a new direction. I’m building something up, I’m excited. I’m really excited about the first steps in a new direction, meaning doing something that I want to do. Not being worried about any rules, any past history or performances. Moving forward in a whole other direction, this feels a lot better.
AllHopHop: Being independent, you’ve had the luxury to be able to drop and do what you want creatively?
Problem: This is different because even with that, it’s such a numbers-based business. With us seeing a lot more of the profit than labels, we don’t have to really sell as much but we still want to be competitive with what you do and what you’ve done. This project was totally different, there’s an end goal to this that people will see towards the end. We’re at the very beginning of the Coffee & Kush situation.
AllHopHop: What was your decision to call it Coffee & Kush?
Problem: It created a balance. The fact that coffee is the extreme energy, and kush is more of the calming, it creates this balance I was looking for musically, physically, personally, religiously, everything. When I was recording music for the project, I’d get up and walk to a coffee shop every morning. At 8:30am, I’d have my coffee and my weed. What am I going to call it? What am I doing? s##t, let’s call it what it is: a byproduct of coffee and kush.
AllHopHop: Every morning, 8:30am?
Problem: I changed my whole process. You know me, I was in the studio: a lot of late night sessions till the morning. I did the complete opposite. I didn’t record it in an actual studio, I recorded it on a balcony outside. If you listen, you’ll hear birds and windchimes. It’s on purpose. I had a ritual, for 3 months I’d do this every morning from 8:30am to 12pm. These are more my morning thoughts, that’s why you get a more introspective look and view on how I see things. My nighttime views are “aight we on. We made it through the day, feeling good.” In the morning, everything is “okay check on this, make sure this is okay. My feelings, my lady, my body, my mind,” that’s why you get a different type of music.
AllHopHop: Do you still record at night, or do you only do mornings now?
Problem: I do them all day. Right now, I’m doing some voiceover stuff for Vol. 2. I’m liking the daytime recording now, I like my evenings to be for me. It’s dope. It’s crazy how I didn’t even notice that my pattern was this late night thing until I stopped. You wake up at 2pm, 12pm, 3pm, damn I’m getting started at 5pm or 6pm. The whole world’s shutting down, I’m missing out on a lot of information. Being up that early, waking up at 6am and walking, it changed everything. It helped me focus a lot, my business is a lot better. Everything’s a lot sharper. Hopefully the music hits people.
AllHopHop: On the intro track, you say “the streets will quickly show you love but they don’t f##king love you.” Can you expand on that?
Problem: When you wake up in the morning and you’re going through the Gram, you see and notice different things. Me thinking back on my career; everybody’s quick to show you love when things are going well. But when things are in that tricky middle part, it’s really tough for people. Not artists, not me, but for people. You have to understand what it is. When you’re poppin’, everybody’s going to show you love. That doesn’t mean they love you, so don’t put that much into it. Don’t make that part of your process on if you’ll keep going or not.
AllHopHop: “Where I Come From” touches on how people can have a perception of you given your past. What were you going through when you recorded this?
Problem: I know it’s tough for people to see past my wins. Diamond Lane, we’ve had a great run of turning people up and having real Platinum records that had the parties going crazy. Have us in the most ratchet situations ever. It’ll be tough for you to forget that. I don’t want you to forget that, but understand there’s growth happening as well. That’s with the good and the bad. I used to do my thing out there with the women, dabbled with a lot of drugs. When you see somebody doing the complete opposite, it’s not that they don’t believe you, it’s not what they’re accustomed to. Because I did that before, doesn’t mean I want to do that again.
AllHopHop: First album in 2 years, why is that?
Problem: I spent last year working on everything. I didn’t know COVID was coming, but I had a plan to work a lot smarter in 2020. I wanted to be far more prepared than I’ve ever been. I took a lot of time in getting the music right, finding the right place business-wise, shooting my short film, getting the coffee situation. I did a whole lot of rebuilding and restructuring to be ready for this year right here. I didn’t want to rush it because I ended up going on tour. Shout out to Xzibit, I went to go see the world. We did 31 dates, amazing. My first time performing overseas in my entire career.
AllHopHop: Really, in your entire career?
Problem: I have a whole other perspective on a lot of things, a lot of people in this business. I know not to dwell on nothing, I don’t like to get on people. I know I’ve helped a lot of people get into good situations music-wise, in their business. The fact that Xzibit’s the first person to ever take me on tour, it said more about him than me speaking on what that was about. I appreciate the f##k out of him for that. I did Coffee & Kush before I went. When I played it for people, they’re looking at me like I was crazy. “What is this s##t? What’re you talking about, coffee and kush don’t even go together.” I hadn’t even been to the Netherlands or Amsterdam yet. When I got there, it’s confirmation like “man I knew I wasn’t crazy. This s##t sounds like this out here.” I was born in Germany, but I hadn’t been back. I got to Germany like “whoa, this is where I did my first year and a half living. This is why I am different than everybody else.” It was dope to see.
AllHopHop: I’m surprised the Like What days didn’t bring you overseas?
Problem: Yeah, it’s crazy. I got my passport a little after that. We were a victim of looking like we didn’t need help. Diamond Lane perception is we’re going to do it ourselves, do it our way with our cash. In some ways, that may have scared people away like “well they got it.” We were young new n##gas in the business, figuring how to do it. That’s all over now. Right now, I’ve never had this many fans overseas ever. I’m seeing my spikes, my streams shoot up crazy.
AllHopHop: Talk about your coffee brand Green Hour Coffee.
Problem: I’m partnering with my boy Brandon, real special black kid from LA. I said “man we need to do a coffee delivery business.” I wanted to take similarities from the Mollywood days and put it in this Coffee & Kush thing. The molly went crazy in the city, everybody’s buying molly and was part of that wave. Well the good thing about that is having a product, let’s have a product for this one. If I’m creating what this Coffee & Kush world is in America, why not have my own coffee to grab? Why not have my kush? My hope is to make it the Ciroc in the coffee world, that fly urban coffee where we could give other artists their own flavors and make it really big.
AllHopHop: What was the highlight in shooting The Compton Story? He produced, wrote, directed and starred.
Problem: Shout out to JoshyGonz, he directed and edited it with me. Incredible kid. That’s my guy, he’s done most of the visuals I’ve been dropping. He’s that eye I wouldn’t see things at. Started a film company, 50Million Media. Went through the whole process of trying to write scripts, trying to figure out how to invade the business because I didn’t know anything about it. I woke up one day like “f##k that, I’m finna shoot something.” I’d been working on music, so let’s take 7 or 8 of these and write a story around them. We could put it together and come up with something dope. I watched Purple Rain and I watched Friday, 2 movies I was trying to combine. Nobody would expect me to drop a comedy anyway, that’s totally out the box. Especially in a Compton story, you think it’s about to be this shooting like bang bang thing, you actually get a real family story actually. These are all my friends, this is what happens in a day with Problem. We’re about to shoot episode 2.
AllHopHop: You got Snoop Dogg, Mike Epps, Jackie Long ,talk about the people who come through for you.
Problem: That’s a blessing man. It started off really small and as it kept going, it got bigger each day. A lot of different reasons why. Mike Epps was in it because one of my other partners couldn’t make it that day, it was weird. Jackie Long was in it because somebody else couldn’t — it was a lot. Once we tell this backstory of how I put this together and how we did it, it shows we’ve been sticking together for a long time. I appreciate all of them for taking time to help me.
AllHopHop: What’s your greatest memory from shooting?
Problem: My lady crashing the Lamborghini was the funniest part. [laughs] She backed it into a pole. At the time, I’m the irresponsible one in the relationship. While I’m shooting, she wanted to help me through it and be supportive. She’s like “I’ll move it to where you need it to go while you’re doing what you’re doing.” She said “I’ma bring it around,” I guess she doesn’t see that she’s backing into a pole. I’m like “AHH AHH,” but the engine’s so loud, she can’t hear. She felt so bad, she’s like “I’m sorry, I know it cost.” I said “don’t even worry, as long as you’re alright.” She does so much good for me, I can’t even be mad over accidents. It was dope, that’s the funniest s##t ever.
AllHopHop: What does having a “Lamborghini” mean to you?
Problem: To me the “Lamborghini” was a title to get people to come check it out. The story’s really about how us men, we can’t keep getting into it over small things. The Lamborghini represents fame and popularity. That s##t will blind you sometimes, your morals and ethics would be lost. This a story of “hey bro, chill out. Let’s talk everything out.” Let’s not let that get in between what’s really real because you have to talk. You have to communicate. “b##ch I need a motherf##king Lamborghini” makes anybody want to come see what’s going on, then I sneak some messages in there.
AllHopHop: Was there a time in your career where you fell victim to buying material things?
Problem: Hell yeah, definitely. I was the guy popping the most bottles, the ring, the watch, the whole thing. s##t I won’t stop anybody from going through that phase, it’s beautiful. It’s a point to go through. For me now, I want to minimize my spending. I want to do other things with whatever capital I bring in off of what we’re doing, so many other things I want to do that would maybe later equate to me buying a private jet or something. We’re going to get on a Green Hour PJs, it’ll be lit. [laughs]
AllHopHop: What does it mean to give back to your city through the arts?
Problem: I’ve been figuring out a way to invade that humanitarian space without being corny, without doing something that doesn’t seem true to my heart. Not doing something because it’s a fad. I thought about what I wish I had that would’ve sped up my creative process, which is opportunity in arts. I had a studio around the corner but at school, we didn’t have a music program to teach digital software, to teach engineering, to teach music business etiquette, to teach deejaying. Instrumentation was really for band members, it wasn’t for anybody to learn how to play.
I talked with Terrance like “man let’s bring on some companies and see if we could do drive bys on some students, see what we could offer.” We put together ideas in the beginning stages. I talked to Ms. Aja Brown, mayor of Compton, about the Compton Walk of Fame we’re trying to put together. Add more positive spaces instead of “let’s fight gangs and poverty.” Let me attack the spirit, let’s put some flowers in this motherf##ker. Let’s add some music instruments into the city. Let’s show that people came from here and have done positive things in the world.
AllHopHop: What’s new with Diamond Lane?
Problem: We’re on our second decade, which is crazy. I’m ready to be done as far as the artist stuff. Not putting out music, but the albums. The whole process. I got two more I’ma let loose before this year’s over, but I plan on passing the baton to Airplane James. He’s the one, he’s going take this into where it’s supposed to be. His story’s different. His skill level is really high, his work ethic’s higher than that. We’re ready. Bad Lucc is about to tamper into some whole other lane of things, so we’re still moving.
AllHopHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
Problem: Go get Coffee & Kush, enjoy it. Go to GreenHourCoffee.com , check out our CBD options. Check out the regular options. Tune in for more on what we’re doing. Shoutout to Rostrum Records too.