Every artist has an origin story. And Strick's—let's just say it's a bit different from the rest. After attending college, he entered the United States Air Force, which allowed him to pursue his MBA. After nabbing his second degree, he dove into a career in health administration. But, he always dreamed of being an artist. And as fate would have it, he took the risk and is currently reaping the rewards. We sat down with Strick to learn how his career came to be, how he signed with YSL Records and what went into creating his debut album, "Strick Land."
How did you get started making music?
I started making music professionally in 2016 when I moved out to LA. I ended up getting a couple writing placements with Kanye, Travis Scott and a bunch of other people. I used that to my advantage and taking the industry by storm.
Songwriting was something that I kind of fell into because I'm a recording artist at heart and I always wanted to be an artist. The opportunity arose for me to be able to collaborate with other artists who were working on bigger projects and it just naturally kind of happened.
Prior to 2016, what were you doing?
I was actually doing healthcare administration. I had my own primary care center with a couple of physicians and medical assistants working for me. I went to college and got my bachelor’s in English literature. Then I joined the Air Force after graduation and they paid for me to get my MBA.
Was there a turning point where you decided to switch to music?
I started believing in myself a lot more. A lot of my friends were already making names for themselves in the industry, so I wanted to give it a chance. I had a pretty good backup plan and I realized there was no time like the present to give it a shot.
Do you think your background has benefited your career in music?
For sure. I think I was prepared for being able to work with different individuals, experience different personalities and to see different parts of the world. It’s definitely helped me to become an eclectic and well rounded artist.
Was music something you’d always aspired to do?
I always wanted to be a recording artist and I always loved music. Growing up at my grandmother’s house, she always played a lot of music at cookouts and parties. I would always be one of the form of entertainment, coming out to sing and dance.
How did you come to sign with YSL Records?
I’ve known Thug for over 10 years now and we met in Atlanta.
I had a good amount of success as a songwriter and with Thug being the genuine person that he is, he was like “Hey, why don’t you start putting out your own music?” He and my brother Southside of 808 Mafia were both encouraging me like “No one knows you’re a really talented artist because you don’t release anything. Why don’t you start putting out some music?” So with their blessing and support, I just started releasing music.
Do you have any matching tattoos with the artists at YSL Records?
Now that I think about it, all the artists have “SLATT” tattooed on our index figure. It stands for "Slime Love All the Time" and it’s about everybody showing love for each other.
Do you have any other music related tattoos?
I have a music staff on my arm. I have tattoos for my songs “WokStar” and “Moon Man” that were off the first number one album I was a part of. I have those symbolically tattooed on me. Shout out my tattoo artist @dennis.wristwork. I also have my company Foundation 86 tattooed on me as well.
What was your process for transitioning from a writer to a performer?
I think it was just about getting more comfortable with myself and my voice. It took a lot of practicing and liking what I was saying, et cetera et cetera.
Take us through your debut single “100 Degrees.”
That was the first record I did with Young Thug. He’s like my brother, he and I have a very close relationship. This record came about from us hanging out in the studio here in LA and he came in the room when the energy was very high. He was like “Hey man, where do I come in at?” and I was like “Right here, you’ve got the next verse.” “100 Degrees” came out very organically and it was the first single I ever did.
What advice have you received from the other artists you’ve worked with?
I’ve gotten so much good advice from Kid Cudi to Future to Thug to Kanye—everyone gives me lots of great advice. Rocky and I are always having conversations about staying consistent and staying focused. When I released my album, James Blake reached out and gave me some really great advice about taking it one album at a time and not letting it be a defining moment. As long as I’m comfortable with what I put out and I feel good about it, that’s the key part, because obviously fans and everyone else are going to have their opinions on it.
Tell us about the new music you’re working on right now.
I just came off of releasing my debut album, it’s called “Strick Land.” It features A$AP Rocky, Young Thug, Ty Dolla $ign, Gunna, Kid Cudi—a lot of names. We’re still pushing that right now, but I’m also working on some new music for my upcoming mixtape called “Machine Vol. 3.”
The energy with this one is a little more uptempo and has a very mixtape vibe with back to back bangers. I’ve been out here in LA working on it, I’ve got a couple of cool features and surprises for my fans. I’ve been in the studio with the usual suspects—Young Thug, Future, Gunna, etc. I’m not sure who’s going to be featured yet but I’ve been in the studio a lot with my people lately.
What was your process for making “Strick Land?”
I was living out in Malibu and the vibes were always right. I was right by the beach with the good water and was always making new sounds. Swae Lee came over to my house and did his verse there, Kaash Paige did her song there.
Is there a particular narrative this album tells?
It’s the story of being versatile. It’s an artist’s project because I have an Afro beat record, an R&B record and a heartfelt song. I think it tells the story of an artist and the range of emotions we can go through.
We know it changes all the time, but what’s your favorite song on the album right now?
It’s tough because one minute I might want to hear “No Rush,” but then I might want to hear “Classy N Shit.” Then you know the intro song, “House of Blues,” is incredible. So it definitely varies.
What was your favorite part about making this album?
I think completing it was my favorite part. I was like “Man, heck yeah. This is my baby, this is my body of work." I was really just stoked to have it completed and get it out.
What separates this album from the mixtapes and the EP you’ve released in the past?
I think the totality of everything. It felt like my debut album. Like you said, I’d made EPs and mixtapes before, but this right here had that debut album feel. It was what I’d worked for and what I got signed for.
How have you grown since you started making music in 2016?
From song structure to my melodies to the content in the records, a lot of it has grown over the years.