Photo: Albert Pham
When it comes to the world of hip-hop, making a name for yourself as a rapper or producer is certainly no easy feat. Then there are people like Childish Major who make it look easy, as the Grammy-nominated artist is quickly making a name for himself as both a rapper and producer. The Atlanta native originally gained notoriety for producing for some of today's hottest artists, including Future, Rocko, SZA, 6LACK, and most notably J. Cole. In 2017, Childish shifted gears to release his impeccable debut as a solo artist, WOO$AH.
Featuring appearances from SZA, Isaiah Rashad, DRAM, 6LACK, and even production from J. Cole, the debut was an applauded introduction to one of hip-hop's newest rising stars. Now, as Childish steps into the limelight as both a producer and artist, he has his eyes set on every facet of the creative industry. Whether it be art, fashion, cooking, or acting, there's not a realm the artist isn't poised to tackle. We caught up with the renaissance man, producing extraordinaire, and now artist Childish Major to explore his past, present, and bright future.
OTW: You're a pretty well-respected producer outside of your own solo music career. You've produced for Future, Rick Ross, Rome Fortune, and Arin Ray among others. How has the transition from producing to rapping been?
Childish Major: It happened kind of naturally. Producing wasn't fulfilling enough as far as my passion went. I just started writing for myself and it became therapy. It became another level of creativity that I was enjoying. As far as making people see that, it was a little bit more difficult but we made it happen.
OTW: You used to rap when you were younger in Atlanta. What made you change your mind and pursue it full-time at this point in your career?
Childish Major: I mean it was something that I've always been doing, but I wasn't always pressing play on people like, "check my record out." Over time, I built the confidence when I saw people's reaction to the music.
OTW: How'd you get the name for your debut solo project, WOO$AH? What does it mean to you?
Childish Major: Woosah is what you do to calm down, chill out, and relax yourself. It's a peace thing. But for me, the project is just talking about the things that I went through: being a young producer in the industry and the mindset of what I thought it would be. I thought, "Okay, you got a hit record; that automatically means you're a millionaire," but that's not the case. Thinking about the stuff that you go through and trying to hold relationships in the industry. It's just me telling myself to calm down.
OTW: What was it like taking a step back and having others produce your tracks instead of being in the driver's seat?
Childish Major: I'm such a fan of people so it wasn't that difficult. I think I'm doing it myself now a lot more because I'm getting better at producing for myself. I have to learn how to produce for both others and myself so it's just a part of the process.
OTW: Are you one to stay away from hip-hop while you're working on these projects, so as not to get distracted from your own particular sound?
Childish Major: I definitely study. I try not to study new stuff though. When I was working on my first project, I would study the greats and their first projects. I would study the type of information and level of information that they were giving. The production is subjective to me – content is more important.
OTW: Now that you're both a producer and artist, do you have any thought on how hard it is a producer to receive the due credit they deserve?
Childish Major: Yeah, I think a lot of them don't get the credit they deserve just because of their approach. I feel like my approach is different. I go in with the mindset that I'm going to make hit records, and I honestly feel like I'm making hit records.
OTW: If you could produce for anyone who would it be? If you could jump on anyone's production who would it be?
Childish Major: I would produce for Frank Ocean and jump on The Neptunes' production.
OTW: Speaking of being fans of people, you're a big fan of Pharrell?
Childish Major: Yeah, Pharrell's been an inspiration since as long as I can remember. I was listening to his music and figured out that he was one of the masterminds behind The Neptunes. I fell in love with the sound and I started doing research. Then I figured that he was into fashion, art, and all these other aspects of creativity and it's just inspiring man. He's a genius. So why not tap into that? Why do something if you don't want to be the greatest? In my eyes, he was the greatest.
OTW: Are there any other facets of the creative industry that you want to delve into one day?
Childish Major: I draw. I want to do fashion, acting, it's a lot. Soundtracks, I cook, I'm going to have a cooking show one day. I enjoy doing different things. I bike ride.
OTW: Didn't you do a soundtrack for something recently?
Childish Major: Oh yeah! A documentary on BET about the history of labels. I forgot about that. I need to write down everything that I do. My mindset is just head down working.
OTW: Speaking more on your soundtracking work, what was it like hearing your song on the season finale of the HBO show Insecure?
Childish Major: Crazy because I watched the first season and I was a fan. I told myself that I was going to get on there. I didn't know that it was going to be to that capacity where it'd be my vocals on the show and then having a minute spot with no dialogue. We was calling each other like, "Yo! Do you see this shit!?" Shit was crazy.
OTW: You were on tour with CyHi and Big KRIT, how was that whole experience?
Childish Major: It's been great. A great learning experience.
OTW: In a previous interview, you said that you feel like you bombed your first performance as a rapper. Do you feel like you've redeemed yourself?
Childish Major: Oh yeah, most definitely. That wasn't my very first show, but it was one of my early shows and I bombed it. I was actually opening for Big KRIT in Atlanta. It was just a moment where I had a conversation with my manager, Jeff. "Alright, this is it. You either want it or you don't. You're going to fight for it this point on or you're going to take the L and lose." I was up for the challenge, so I used the little garage area where we keep all the sodas and water bottles and practiced in front of a mirror. It helped me get to the point we're at right now.
OTW: I hear that you have a relationship with J.Cole and the Dreamville guys?
Childish Major: It started off with my relationship with EarthGang and J.I.D and they introduced me to Cole. From meeting Cole, I met the rest of the team and they just took me in. So I'm just like the adopted Dreamville kid. Those are all the homies though. They show nothing but love and I do the same.
OTW: J.Cole also produced "Supply Luh" right?
Childish Major: Yeahhh.
OTW: Speaking more on WOO$AH, you've got some great artists with you on there. SZA and Isaiah Rashad for starters. Can you speak on how that came together?
Childish Major: When I was first produced "U.O.E.N.O," it was around the same time that Isaiah Rashad had announced his signing to TDE. I reached out based on that, and then he would pull up on me whenever he was in Atlanta. We built this friendship that eventually became this brotherhood. A lot of times when we were talking, it wasn't even about music. When I was making a transition from producer to artist, I would test out records on him and get his opinion. "Happy Birthday" was one of the joints that stuck out to him enough to point where he wanted to get on the record but he also wanted to use it for his own project. I've known SZA from the "Green Mile" (Z) project. He got her on it and then I hit her up to clear it.
OTW: I feel like Hip-Hop's one of the few genres where collaborations are expected and applauded. You don't really see that in other typical genres. Why do you think that is?
Childish Major: There are two sides to it. I love collaboration because that's how you get new sounds. That's how you get new vibes and new feels. It's that aspect but then you also got the clout aspect. I really love it when it's something organic and it has a story behind it.
OTW: Speaking further on the collaborations, there's "I Like You" with 6LACK and DRAM. Major fan of that track.
Childish Major: Yeaaaah. "I Like You" is the joint! I appreciate that man. 6LACK, I've known him from being in Atlanta. He used to always pull up before he had anything going on. He'd just always pull up to the studio, same thing as Isaiah. Sometimes we might not even work but when we did work it was always dope. DRAM hopped on the record first because he came through the studio and we were feeling each other out. We played him "I Like You", I muted all my vocals, and he did a take through the whole record. From there, I just took his bits and pieces and did what a producer does and move it in the places that I felt needed it. Got 6LACK to do a verse and that was it.
OTW: What can we expect after WOO$AH?
Childish Major: More personal records. You're going to get to know me more but at the same time you're going to have fun.
OTW: With Kendrick Lamar winning the Pulitzer, do you think hip-hop is getting more recognition? What do you think of hip-hop's place in the world today?
Childish Major: Everything takes bits and pieces from hip-hop. It's everything. It literally is the culture. Whether it's the way people talk, carry themselves, dress, and all these high fashion brands. They're taking graffiti art and putting it on their clothes. It's literally everything.
OTW: What are your hopes for yourself as an artist in the future? What are your hopes for hip-hop?
Childish Major: For hip-hop, for it to just be continued to become the biggest thing that the world has seen. It's going to keep evolving and changing. I just want to make sure that I'm a part of that. I want to be a staple in music itself and hip-hop for sure. It's not just about being a household name, but I want kids that come after me and the people that came before me to know that he changed things.
OTW: Who are your Ones to Watch?
Childish Major: There's this kid from Atlanta named Talib Matin. He's dope. I'm listening to a lot of alternative. Jakob Ogawa, Clairo, Still Woozy.