Interview by Niki Jones Of Houston TREND
Photography Courtesy of Michael Artist
If you could take a moment and visually span across two decades of Houston rap music, what would you see? You would see artists come and go, bonds turn to beefs and beefs into bonds, music rise and fade, then rise again, legends made and legends pass. Legends such as DJ Screw and Pimp C. You will see the introduction of the Barre Baby, Big Moe and when Yungstar was “Knockin Pictures Off the Wall.” When it was “throwed” to pregame with Before the Kappa, before heading out to ride the seawall in Galveston for the Kappa beach parties every year. How about popping SwishaHouse music in the deck and riding through downtown with OG Ron C F-k Action music? Those visions vividly turn nostalgic.
You will also see a young kid from the Northside of Houston. A kid who’s been in the rap game since the age of 17. A tall slim kid with braids, a hustler’s mentality, and the persona of a thug. If you look closer, you will see that same kid become family to the legendary label, SwishaHouse. Create his own label, and later go on to sell over 500,000 copies of his debut solo album, Already Platinum, which debuts at #2 on the Billboard 200, selling 130,000 in its first week. You will see his continued success long after his departure from Geffen/Interscope Records and his journey to conquer the independent game.
Now at 33, Stayve Thomas may have ditched the braids, but his hustle has never staggered and he still remains the Boss of All Bosses. Slim Thug is deeply rooted and well connected, putting his city on his back, literally, earning everything that he’s been blessed with over the last 16 years and living nothing short of a Boss Life.
Slim talks about his longevity in the music industry, staying hungry, which new comers he feels will put Houston back on the map and his Boss Life brand. Oh yeah! And having his very own Beyoncé.
Slim Thug: It’s really a blessing to be shown that much love. It’s cool to me because I always measure where I come from. So coming from where I come from, to having my own day is a blessing. I’m proud and happy. It makes me want to become a more positive person in the community. It’s a good thing, and I want to give back. I feel a little pressure to get it together.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: In the CNN interview with Don Lemon, you say one of the reasons you had not been given a day was because of your name and it having “Thug” in it. Then once that interview came out, you soon got your day. At the time, were you really feeling that was the reason why?
Slim Thug: I definitely feel that was the reason of me not having my own day, and I guess they actually understood it. I really give 97.9 the Box credit. They were part of me having my own day. After they heard the interview, they rallied up to get me my own day. I give them and Jeff Davis all the credit for that.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND:This year your day came as a surprise, so what do you plan on doing with your day going forward?
I definitely want to do something for the community. We’ve been getting together every month trying to mash the plans out, and we’re still working everything out. We definitely want to do a lot of dope things. It’s going to be something fresh.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: Drake was recently granted a day too. There were some mixed emotions being that Drake isn’t from Houston. What did you think when you heard the news?
Slim Thug: I’m not mad at Drake having his own day. He has the most number one hits in the game, and I don’t think anyone says H Town more than Drake. I like how he shows love to the city that kind of broke him first. I don’t have a problem with that; Drake deserves his own day.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: Everyone, that follows your music, pretty much knows how your career started and with you hooking up with Michael 5000 Watts and SwishaHouse. But what was the departure like with Watts, after you realized you could do more on your own?
Slim Thug: We left on a good note, but it was more of a business decision, and this is just my point of view of it. After I learned the game of underground music and how to get paid off of wholesaling CDs and selling CDs, we went everywhere around Texas and bought our own stores and all of that. And I felt like my orders were coming to slow from Michael Watts. I’d order 500 CDs and I felt like it was taking too long for him to give them to me for whatever reasons. I don’t like waiting on anybody. We never had a deal to where I was his artist. I met him rapping at a local party, went to his crib and we ended up working together and doing a lot of things together, but at the same time we didn’t leave it on a bad note. I told Watts before I left that I decided to do my own thing, but whenever you need me call me. I got you. For him showing me the game and how to get to the money, I will always have love for Watts and support him in whatever he does. I’ll never forget that because that’s what really changed my life. I didn’t think I could make any money outside of the streets. I thought I would be selling dope or in jail like everybody else I knew. When I did “Still Tippin”, I felt like I’d paid my dues and I was happy that I could give him something back for him showing me how to get to the money.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: Now being on your own, what was your agenda starting your own label. What was the plan?
Slim Thug: I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t know how to DJ, but I knew I could rap, and I always had confidence in myself. I hated being held back, so I will always try. I’m never going to not believe in myself. I’m going to do what I need to do to get to the money. Me and brother got together and bought some BS DJ sets. We saw Watts do it, so we tried it. The first couple of tapes we dropped, quality wise, were garbage. At the same time, I was still talking enough to keep people on my team. And not only did I do that, when I started my own label, I opened a market up to sell CDs to everybody. So instead of being just another artist on SwishaHouse, the whole game was mine now and I could sell to any store. That’s how I learned to get to the money and that was the move.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: Who would you say was an influence at that time when you were pursuing music?
Slim Thug: Mainly Lil J (J Prince) . Lil J is from 5th Ward and I’m from the North side. I never really wanted to be the rapper. I knew I could rap enough to help us get to where we needed to go, but I always tried to get someone who could lead the way. Hold it down for me, so I could make moves like Lil J and lay back. But that wasn’t the case. I had to keep it going. I love Scarface and UGK; they definitely made me want to get into the rap game, but Lil J influenced me the most because I was trying to boss up like that.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: What was it like working with The Neptunes on your debut project, Already Platinum, and getting to share the studio with Pharrell?
Slim Thug: That was a hell of a time. Probably the most fun I’d ever had recording an album. I felt like I was a real artist at that point. We were in the studio with all the other top artists. I was in the studio working like a professional and everything was real. That was the best time I had. Pharrell is so cool and so cultured; he knows about everything. He had me in Japan with him, and he showed me another side of success. I loved the music we created.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: What was the issue with Interscope?
Slim Thug: I was on a label and the people who signed me, from my A&R to the president of that label, changed. Everything changed. At that point you’re dealing with people who didn’t sign you. You have to wait on them to move, and here we go again with this waiting thing that I don’t like doing. There were two Interscope labels; Geffen signed me. The people who were running Geffen, were all fired. The whole staff was fired at. So from there, I was dealing with different people. I was trying to communicate with them on my next moves and they didn’t really have any moves. I felt like they were holding me up, so I had to get off the label and go back independent where I could be in control.
Being independent then being a part of a major label, then going back to being independent.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: What side worked better for you having experience both worlds?
Slim Thug: I feel independent works better for me because my rap style is more for Texas, and that’s what I like to rap about. I need to be independent so I can make more off what I do in my region, versus being on a label. My two biggest records were “I Run” and “Thug” and that was after Interscope. That was on Koch. Just because you’re on a major label doesn’t mean that it works for you. I didn’t feel like it was working for me. There’s good and bad on both sides. Being on a major, you have the backing. The promotion from the label drives up your show money. But when you go from having the support of a major label to no support at all, it can make it look bad, making you look like you fell off. That’s why I rather do it with my own money and keep maintaining like I do it. I own all of my music, accept Already Platinum, but I eat off my own records when they sell too. I don’t have to wait on a label and I feel more comfortable like that.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: What are some keys that you could give to rising independent artists, on being independently successful, staying relevant, and still making a good living from it?
Slim Thug: Staying consistent and staying in people’s faces. If you really want to be a rapper you have to go out and make it happen. You can’t be home with baby all the time. You have to be out there in the public’s face and let them see you. You don’t want to be a ghost to people because they will follow the next. Just be real. If you’re real everybody is going to know that everywhere you go. Don’t get a big head like a lot of people do when they get a little fame and they don’t want to interact with certain people. I don’t feel like I’m better than anyone, and I don’t want to ever feel like that. I feel like everybody is blessed in whatever way they’re blessed in. That’s why I go out so much in Houston because I like for people to see me normal. When they see me its like “Oh that’s Slim; we see him all the time.” That’s how I want it to be because I’m at home. I don’t want to feel like a celebrity at home; that’s not cool. Not only me, but Z-Ro as well. We’ve never changed. We didn’t fall in love with the new fads. We always stayed who we were and kept it H-Town. Even when people didn’t want to hear that.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: Speaking of Z-Ro, what’s going on with the album that was supposed to have been out already?
Slim Thug: Man, the album is done. It was a situation where Z-Ro and Lil J had to get the paperwork together. Everybody is cool and it’s all good, but it just takes time. I know a lot of people are not going to understand it, but that’s what it is. So we are just waiting on all of that to settle over. The album has been finished. We keep adding more new music because it’s been so long. We have a lot of songs now. “Pokin Out” was like the last song we did, and we just threw it out there to keep it going. We have a lot of dope songs, but we’re still working to make sure it’s still fresh.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: Pimp C was one of the more influential voices between all the rappers out here because when he got out of jail he wanted everybody to come together and end all the beefing. When he put out “Knockin Doors Down”, he addressed a lot of the beefs going on at the time? Did Pimp C have conversations with all of you to start putting the beefs to rest?
Slim Thug: He had conversations we me and Z-Ro. I’m not sure about anyone else, but he talked to me and Z-Ro. And Pimp was real cool with me and Ro. He basically broke down to us that we were tripping over some bullshit, and that was it. We didn’t really have a real beef. It wasn’t anything to patch up, just put everything to the side and get to the money and do it for the city. Now Ro and I are cool. I don’t know how many hit songs we have together. Pimp made sense; he was right. I’m glad the Pimp did that.
There was a point when the Houston music scene was on a rise. The era when you, Chamillionaire, Paul Wall and Mike Jones were all hot artists and Houston was being recognized by everyone. Then it dropped. What would you say contributed to the halt that the music scene hit?
Slim Thug: You know what I was saying earlier about being on a major label and they give you all that support and then they take it away? That’s what happened to the Houston movement. Everybody was on major labels and had the support. They were blowing us up with promo. When they stop doing it, that’s what made it look like it was over. That’s why I had to go back independent.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: What do you think about some of the rappers that are out now, that may remind you of the Houston movement that you guys started years ago. Who do you personally feel are working to put Houston back on the map?
Slim Thug: It’s a lot of them that I feel have what it takes. I just got familiar with Dem South Boyz. I feel they have a lot of energy and a whole different type of movement going. South Twins, Moe Gang, and Boston George has what it takes. Of course, Kirko, Delo, Propain, and Doughbeezy. It’s so many names, that’s why I think the future of Houston music is going to be better. And not only that, it’s a different style now. There are a lot that I really believe have what it takes to be successful. Like a dude like Propain. He’s so lyrical. When you listen to his mixtape, it’s put together like an album. I get mad at them because they give away their music, but this is not my era. I think his mixtape Ridin Slab was dope enough to sell. A lot of the new artists need to start believing in their music and stop thinking they have to give it away for free. People need to support these local rappers. It’s like a team. You have to represent for your home town.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: For some time you had Le$ under your wing and then he signed with Curren$y. Was everything good with his decision to move a different way?
Slim Thug: Le$ and I have always been 100, and it just made more sense for him to go over there with Curren$y. Les$ and I are still cool and everything is good with Curren$y. Curren$y hit me up before any of it happened and I definitely said it makes sense and at the end of the day I didn’t really sign Le$. I can tell you, at first, it was me and my brother and we had artists like J Dawg and Killa Kyleon back in the day. Then later, I disconnected myself from having signed artists, but we were still the same crew. My brother was just in control of the artists. I let him do that. I didn’t really want to be in control of any artists anymore. I just got to a point where I didn’t want any artists because there was a lot that came with that. When you sign an artist, their problems become your problems. I wanted them to do their own thing. I’d rather not have any artists and do my own thing. I don’t want anybody blaming me for anything. I just wanted less stress, I was tired of all that. And Curren$y understood what I was saying. But at the same time it’s still the same crew. If you need a Slim Thug verse, or whatever he needs me to do, I’m going to do it because we’re still family. I just didn’t want any type of stress on me.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: Houston’s culture, has influenced a lot of music. From the screw movement to the southern culture, but as a musically cultured city, Houston doesn’t really benefit from it. Why would you say that is? I know you’ve noticed it?
Slim Thug: Its pretty messed up because we’re not benefiting from it, but it’s a lot different from back then. Those were the best days, and I’m not saying that because I was a part of those days. There was so much support in the city from everybody. The DJ’s played nothing but our music. We had DJ Screw and DJ Michael Watts getting our music in everybody hands. We had the city’s support; everybody loved Houston music. Out of town rappers couldn’t come out here and have a better show than us because people were just more supportive of us. I feel a lot has changed and it has shifted. People became more fans of out of town rappers and people started rapping and sounding like a lot of others. The identity became lost. But there’s still a lot of young cats representing for Houston and doing their own thing in a different way, and I respect that. I feel they have what it takes to get Houston back to where it was before.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: You wrote a book, How to Survive in a Recession. Are you going to be writing anymore books?
Slim Thug: *Laughs* I don’t know I might. I don’t think I’m the smartest, but I always say I have extraordinary sense. I know how to take the BS off of everything and see it for what it really is. I think I would write a book about that. A lot of people put too much on certain things. There are a lot of people who don’t believe in themselves. It’s a lot of people with messed up thinking and that’s the biggest part of being successful, believing in yourself. If you believe you can do it, you will do it. If you count yourself out, you’re out of there. I kind of get that from Joel Osteen.
Houston TREND: And you really live that life that you wrote about, because you have been able to still maintain your lifestyle and still have money when a lot of celebrities may fall off by now?
Slim Thug: I told them in the book a long time ago to quit popping bottles and making it rain. I learned from my girl not to do what you can’t keep up with. The minute you go to the club and you’re throwing a $1000 in V-Live every night and the minute you stop throwing that thousand, you’ve fallen off. So you have to keep doing that. Every night you hit V-Live, you have to keep throwing out a thousand to blow. I don’t need all that. It’s just simple math and not making dumb moves. I don’t try to live beyond my means.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: You mention your girl, and I’m sure everyone who follows you on Instagram, see that you have a new lady in your life. When did you settle down because Slim wasn’t ready to settle down, or at least that’s what you said last year on the radio?
Slim Thug: I grew up and everything gets old. People THINK I do a lot more than what I actually do because of Instagram. I’m not really that wild. And when I was single, I did have fun and I did my thing. Now at the same time when I see a woman or someone who I respect and it works out, then I’m cool. I’m not thirsty like that. I don’t have to have a thousand women. That’s old. I’ve been rapping since I was 17. You grow out of all that.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: Where did you meet?
Slim Thug: We met at a Rockets game.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: Slim, was it love at first sight?
Slim Thug: *Laughs* I saw her a while back. I asked my home girl about her, but she told me that she was in a relationship, so I didn’t pursue it. I saw her later on, found out she was single, and I took my shot. She was like “Hell no. I’m not fooling with you. I’ve heard about you.” But like I say, everybody doesn’t know me. They think they know me, and I don’t even stop people from thinking they do. But she actually gave me a chance to sit down and have a conversation with her, and began to see who I really am. People think I’m so wild, but I was in a relationship with Toya for the longest. And I had a girlfriend after Toya. But when I’m single, I have fun. Where I was at, when I made that comment on 97.9, was how I felt at that time because there was a lot against me. Girls were saying they had babies by me. I didn’t have any belief in women at that point.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: What type of woman makes you want to settle down? What was it about her to take you off the market?
Slim Thug: She’s just different. I don’t just make anyone my woman. As far as my girlfriend, I don’t want you out all the time. I want you to be a woman and be on the same level as me. It feels good talking to a woman for a change and not somebody who’s just out for whatever or down for whatever. I just respect that. We began to kick it and it got good.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: You had the Boss Life weekend and a lot of other things going on with the Boss Life brand right?
Slim Thug: We teamed up and got the Boss Life E-cigars and they’re dope. Everybody is on them and the company is growing every day. We have Boss Life clothing and hats. We plan on taking it to the next level. We have Italian made shoes that are being brought over from Italy for the Boss Life weekend. We’re going to be selling shoes and eventually making suits. We’re doing things we’re into and just having fun. We’re representing for the Bosses.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: You’re a rapper, author, entrepreneur, and now you have your own day. Would you ever cross over into politics because Bun B is like the unspoken mayor of Houston, people would love to see him run for mayor. Would you ever cross over into politics?
Slim Thug: That would be great. I would love to do something like that, but I don’t think its time. I still have a lot of getting right to do before I can do all that. I don’t think I’m ready to make those steps yet, but I do think Bun is right there. I think he’s a step away from being the mayor. He’s so politically correct and well connected. I think he would do well.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: Do you feel you’ve reached your level of success or is there more you want to do before you leave here?
Slim Thug: Honestly, I don’t think I will ever be satisfied. Every year I’m trying to get to another level, but I’m not trying to jump to the top. I’m just trying to take it one level at a time, keep getting better and continuing to grind.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND:What’s any encouragement that you can give to the younger kids growing up wanting to get where you are now?
Slim Thug: A lot of it has to do with believing. I didn’t think I would ever be where I’m at right now. My dream was to ride candy slab when I was in the hood. It wasn’t to ride in a Bentley because I didn’t see that. The most success I saw in the hood, was somebody coming around the corner in a candy car. That’s what we thought was the top. Until we got around other people who came around with the foreign cars. A lot of people do need that motivation. I just want to be able to tell them something that’s really going to work. That’s were success comes from, just believing in yourself. I definitely plan on talking to kids, but I want to be able to talk freely with them. I don’t want to have to go to the schools and have to sugar coat anything. I want to be able to talk to them how I’m talking now.
Niki Jones of Houston TREND: If we were to make the comparison that you are Houston’s Jay Z. Would we be wrong?
Slim Thug: Oh Man! That’s crazy. I’ll take that in a sense of holding it down and doing my thing for so long, but I’m no Jay Z. I have to touch that billionaire mark. I got me a Beyoncé though!