Skinny gives us the scoop on his journey plus gives some much-needed insight to indie artists on the rise.

Surrounded by smoke, covered in tattoos, and rocking three-foot dreads, the Saudi Arabia-born and Los Angeles-based rapper, producer, and visual artist is one to be reckoned with. His mixture of airy instrumentation, lush production, and hazy rhymes has already earned him millions of plays across YouTube and Soundcloud.
We were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of his latest album 1999 Parachutes which was released this past Friday and it’s unlike anything we’ve heard before.
We caught up with Skinny last week to get the latest scoop and learn about his journey from recording in his closet to getting a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell. Check it out:
#TasteCreators: Do you consider yourself a Taste Creator? What is a #TasteCreator to you?
Skinny: Definitely. A Taste Creator would be somebody that’s making fresh music and being in his own lane, not really throwing whats out there.
#TasteCreators: Tell us about when you were first introduced to the music world.
Skinny: I used to come to LA every summer – my uncle and family lives out here – and they were really into rock. I used to listen to all these different rock bands; Madonna, Duran Duran, all these different types of bands and all of a sudden I stumbled upon some hip hop and it was really refreshing ya know. I was already born listening to another sound of music so it’s cool that I get to mesh them together.
#TasteCreators: When did you record your first song?
Skinny: It was 2005 I believe, I was at my cousins house. he was going to a music school out here in LA and he was like ‘hey man we should record a song’ and I was like…. ‘okay’ (laughs). So he kinda just put a keyboard on my lap and I started making beats, and then we recorded a song in his closet. I was so young and I loved it so much that I wanted to come back and record again, and I guess he got busy and wouldn’t want to record anymore, so I stopped talking to him for about a year (laughs). We got into a big fight, But that was my first song I’ve ever created.
#TasteCreators: Yeah some of the best songs were recorded in closets and bathrooms lol
Skinny: Oh yea half of the project I recorded in my closet, like literally, without even a pop filter, so there’s no excuse. Whatever circumstance you’re in, I feel like, you can get it done. Especially thanks to technology these days.

“Half of the project I recorded in my closet, like literally, without even a pop filter, so there’s no excuse. Whatever circumstance you’re in, I feel like, you can get it done. Especially thanks to technology these days.”

#TasteCreators: So you were born in Saudi Arabia then moved to LA, and you were supposed to be going to school but you weren’t and you would send your father fake report cards? 
Skinny: Yeah, it was pretty much the only way, like it was tough. My dad was very active in my life when I was growing up, he was my homie, he wanted me to stay there.
#TasteCreators: Yeah all parents want their kids to do the school thing. What were you originally in school for? Was it for music related?
Skinny: Oh no I don’t know (laughs). I just picked anything and I just kept changing and picked anything I could, to pick easier classes or whatever, but I needed an opportunity to just leave (his hometown). So I was like ‘yo I’ma go to school and get an education and I’ma be smart like you and I’ma come back’ (laughs). Then I just came out here and I said fuck it I’ma just keep sending them report cards like I was doing amazing in school.
#TasteCreators: Did you send them with all A’s and B’s? 
Skinny: Oh definitely not because then they wouldn’t believe that. I haven’t gotten A’s since first grade (laughs) I’m pretty terrible at school.
#TasteCreators: Yeah it’s not for everyone. Some of the most successful people in the world didn’t finish school (not at first anyway). You teach yourself what you wanna learn about. But how did that all pan out? You told him now right?
Skinny: After years, soon as I signed my Warner/Chappell deal, I got a publishing deal and I told him that I graduated and I got a job. I never finished school unfortunately but I’m gonna try, maybe one day. Stay in school though. I want people to stay in school and not say ‘fuck that he didn’t go to school I can do it too.’ nah…fuck that, go to school.

“Stay in school though. I want people to stay in school and not say ‘fuck that he didn’t go to school I can do it too.’ nah…fuck that, go to school.”

#TasteCreators: What was your dad’s reaction when he found out you weren’t going to school and you were instead focusing on your music career? 
Skinny: See, he knew I always loved music. I picked up the guitar at a young age – I think I was 11 or 12 – so he would always hear an electric guitar really loud in my room. So he always knew that I was gonna do something and probably not something that he wants me to do. But he’s been cool, so far so good. I haven’t seen him in a really long time though. He’s back home just chillin.
#TasteCreators: How do you like it in the US?
Skinny: I love it! I’ve been coming here ever since I was a kid and I have family here, but it’s a whole new world, literally, like Aladdin (laughs).
#TasteCreators: How is it different?
Skinny: It’s different because I come out here and everybody has tattoos and everybody’s free and you go over there it’s like damn – schools are segregated, the (restaurants) are segregated: family section and men only. Everything’s segregated (males and females). We don’t even have movie theaters. And music over there it’s like a joke. If you tell somebody you wanna do music it’s a joke over there it’s like ‘c’mon, you got 5 jobs to choose from’.

“It’s different because I come out here and everybody has tattoos and everybody’s free and you go over there it’s like damn – schools are segregated, the (restaurants) are segregated: family section and men only. Everything’s segregated (males and females). We don’t even have movie theaters. And music over there it’s like a joke. If you tell somebody you wanna do music it’s a joke over there.”

We talked about the perception of the entertainment world and how most people are just used to being consumers of music and entertainment, they don’t know the process. That’s part of the reason why artists have so much trouble, because they’re used to music and artists just magically appearing “out of nowhere” and they don’t usually see the hard work that goes into it.
Which lead us to this question:
#TasteCreators: Did you ever have trouble getting support from your friends?
Skinny: Yeah but you know, I was mainly always in my room just tryna get better. It’s hard for friends to support but I had a couple of friends that really stuck by me and said go for it if that’s what you want.
#TasteCreators: We’re all about giving knowledge to indie artists. A lot of artists want to get out there (in the industry) but don’t really know much about it. When we talk to artists like yourself who are making serious moves, we like to get your perspective. Can you tell us about how you went from recording in your closet to getting publishing deals? And what was your strategy for your growing fan base?
Skinny: You gotta just be yourself. And you gotta work, that’s all it is. There’s a point when an artist is gonna probably suck so you have to work past that point to make a name for yourself.

“You gotta just be yourself. And you gotta work, that’s all it is. There’s a point when an artist is gonna probably suck so you have to work past that point to make a name for yourself.”

#TasteCreators: How did you get the initial crowd to catch on? Did you do a lot of networking? 
Skinny: I think it was just the music. I’m not very social so it’s hard for me to go into an event and network. I got used to being isolated when doing my music, producing and everything, so it takes me three times longer to finish a song. I don’t go into the studio with a beat ready to write verses on. I relied on the music. They take it as a joke here because there are SO many artists out like ‘HEY, I’m a producer’ or ‘I’m an artist’, so you really have to rely on the music. You gotta have something to bring to the plate, and I produce. Any time I went into any studio, I played my beats like ‘I’ve got something for YOU’ and it started working out.

“I don’t go into the studio with a beat ready to write verses on. I relied on the music. They take it as a joke here because there are SO many artists out like “HEY, I’m a producer” “I’m an artist”, so you really have to rely on the music. You gotta have something to bring to the plate and I produce. Any time I went into any studio, I play my beats like “I’ve got something for YOU”and it started working out.”

#TasteCreators: So you produce on your own and direct your videos as well?
Skinny: Yeah, I do all of it. I couldn’t wait for anybody anymore (laughs)
#TasteCreators: Do you suggest that indie artists learn as much as they can on their own?
Skinny: ABSOLUTELY! Because why would you EVER rely on someone else? Obviously, while you’re getting good at something, still TRY to reach out for what you’re trying to get cause you gotta learn the process. But now I never have to rely on anyone else. I edit my own. That takes sacrifice, for sure.

“Why would you EVER rely on someone else? Obviously, while you’re getting good at something, still TRY to reach out for what you’re trying to get cause you gotta learn the process. But now I never have to rely on anyone else. I edit my own. That takes sacrifice, for sure.”

#TasteCreators: You put a lot of time into it!
Skinny: You sacrifice your time and maybe you’re not as good as the professional editor or professional director, but what is a “professional director” these days? If you’re passionate about something, go do it!
#TasteCreators: Exactly. You’re gonna learn it if you’re passionate about it.
Skinny: EXACTLY!
#TasteCreators: There’s a lot of videographers who are fresh out of college, picked up a camera and decided that they love it and they’re killing it!
Skinny: I would have never known that directing would take me this far. I was like ‘I can’t waste money or pay somebody who is not gonna get my vision.‘ I’d much rather do it myself. So now I can blame myself. If it’s whack, it’s like, I did it. I didn’t go spend $500 on some whack shit.

“I was like ‘I can’t waste money or pay somebody who is not gonna get my vision.’ I’d much rather do it myself. So now I can blame myself. If it’s wack, it’s like, I did it. I didn’t go spend $500 on some whack shit.”

#TasteCreators: So you take the blame lol?
Skinny: Yeah, man I do it all myself. Even my website. Every cover you’ve seen, I did. All my graphics. With YouTube, there’s no excuse. You can learn.

“Yeah, man I do it all myself. Even my website. Every cover you’ve seen, I did. All my graphics. With YouTube, there’s no excuse. You can learn.”

#TasteCreators: Yeah, there are so many learning materials online and there are people in the industry that will help you.
Skinny: And the money you save is amazing.
#TasteCreators: What do you feel was your defining moment? The moment when you started to see some traction from all of your work?
Skinny: Two days after I dropped my first video, Interscope hit me up. TWO or three days. I was making noise after my first video and it just never stopped. I think it was a little overwhelming for people (laughs) I don’t know what happened… but two days afterwards, I had labels reaching out.
#TasteCreators: So what did you do? You just stuck the video on YouTube or what did you do as far as promo?
Skinny: Yeah, I did nothing. I just shot a video and put it out.
#TasteCreators: So it had that replay value? People loved it and it caught on. That really happens. People will watch your video, love it, play it over and over again, and share it. Artists should understand that the music IS for yourself, but if you want to make a career out of it, it’s for your fans. You have to create things that they will gravitate towards.
Skinny: Exactly. And industry people see it differently too. It wasn’t like “Oh my God, I blew up when I posted the video”. That’s not what I mean. Interscope saw what I could do. An A&R is not going to just listen to a song, they’re gonna inquire about who made that beat. Who wrote the song? Who wrote the hook? So when they found that (my song) was a one stop deal, they weren’t really used to that. The attitude has to be right too. Your shit has to also has to be executed right.

“And industry people see it differently too. It wasn’t like “Oh my God, I blew up when I posted the video”. That’s not what I mean. Interscope saw what I could do. An A&R is not going to just listen to a song, they’re gonna inquire about who made that beat. Who wrote the song? Who wrote the hook? So when they found that (my song) was a one stop deal…they weren’t really used to that. The attitude has to be right too. Your shit has to also has to be executed right.”

#TasteCreators: How did you come up with the concept for the Eight Dollars video? Cause that was cool.
Skinny: I really sacrificed a lot for those visuals. It was gonna be SO crazy, but we had to dumb it down as much as possible. We were working with nothing, trying to make something out of it. But, the concept was me wanting to make people feel uncomfortable, a little bit. The subject of being gay, for some reason, offends a lot of people. And I wanted to show real, true love. I wanted to show people that (love) is beyond (loving) a girl, it’s true friendship. I wanted people to experience true love in the visuals, aside from the song. To zone out and feel a little bit.
#TasteCreators: Yeah, we really really dig the video. We was looking at the XXL write up on the Eight Dollars video and they mentioned a project called “Flights to the Moon” but we got a sneak peak of 1999 Parachutes so is that the same project with a name change? Or did “Flights to the Moon” release?
Skinny: No, that didn’t drop. We made some last minute changes and went with a different sound. (Flights to the Moon) is another project that’s probably gonna come out.
#TasteCreators:  So you still have that project?
Skinny: Oh, I am loaded. We’ve been working, man. Just wanna put out some good music and hopefully go on tour.
 
#TasteCreators: How would you describe the sound of 1999 Parachutes? What are the concepts of the songs?
Skinny: Every song is different with a different mood. It’s very personal and it’s music that you and your friends will enjoy. Something to blaze to or to just chill to. I’ve got some stuff that’s more energetic, like a dancehall record.
#TasteCreators: We really like that one!
Skinny: yeah, it’s one of my favorites. 100xs is more like a “rock and roll” feel, like an old school rock feel. It’s just all different! And of course I have rugged rap. Like the Rich record I just dropped is kinda straightforward… big 808s. It’s different vibes.
#TasteCreators: Have you chosen your next single and when is the video coming out?
Skinny: I”m actually trying to shoot a lot of the songs, but I still don’t know yet. I’m gonna let the project drop and then see what the fans wanna watch.
#TasteCreators: Good strategy, good strategy. Before we go, is you’ve experienced? Like at a show or in the studio? What kind of situations do you encounter as an artist?
Skinny: I have a couple of crazy stories, but I was keeping them for Conan (laughs) Just kidding. I don’t have any, but I’m prepared for anything. The industry is crazy out here so I’m sure a lot of weird shit goes on.
To stay in touch with Skinny make sure you follow him on Twitter, and check out his 1999Parachutes album below.
 

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