WYE Interviews Rapper/Artist Drift

Do you think you’re the most talented person in Essex county? 

No, I don’t

Why? You are an artist, rapper, actor, and word around the campfire is you used to be a barber.

I think the mayor is more talented than me.

Where are you from? 

East Orange 

Growing up what came first music or painting? Well, it was actually drawing. Drawing came first. I was drawing superman and Spiderman. Then I started to rap when I was about 9 years old. I saw the instant gratification from the audience. I got more attention from rapping then drawing. 

So, you put all the artwork to the side. When did it come back up?That’s a good question. The art came back when the music failed. At that time, I had to get a job. I was working with autistic people. Coloring books is what got their attention. When we ran out of coloring books, I drew something and put it in the copy machine. The managers said “this is phenomenal artwork”. That woke me up and I started to practice. I put one of my pieces on Facebook to show people that I can draw. Then somebody brought it and I said “what, I can make money off of this?” I started doing it more on a regular basis.

What do you mean the “music failed?”I signed a bad contract. They promised multiple things like radio play and television and none of it came to fruition. If you’re not on the radio or on television you’re not making any money. So, I essentially went broke. From there I had to humble myself and join the workforce again. My dream is to be a musician so it was a major setback for me. 

What age did you sign this bad contract?

This was three years ago. 

How was this set up? Did you know the guy well? Did you suspect something fishy? I don’t want to say his name and throw him under the bus because he’s a good person at heart he just doesn’t keep his word. I was signed to eOne. I signed with them twice, one in 2014 and they dropped the ball so I was signed again in 2017. They came back and told me all these promises for me to be a success in the music industry. They pretty much bamboozled me to come back.

I understand you do not want to say his name but you don’t have any animosity towards this guy? He pretty much crushed your music career. I have animosity towards him. I am very angry with him. I can’t look him in the face. I’m livid but there’s nothing I can do about it. Some people just don’t keep their word.   

Did you have any connections with the Flavor Unit? I did I was signed to the flavor unit through Apache. He had a label through the Flavor Unit called Blacked Out Entertainment. We were moving along then he decided to give his life to Christ. Therefore, my deal went up in smoke.

Tell me more about your relationship with Apache. He was like a father figure, a big brother. He went to my father to ask him if I can go with him to record and he’ll protect me. This was when I was a teenager and my father agreed with it. It was me and him every day. 

Take me back to high school. Were you performing?

I was performing in high school, I was ghostwriting for legendary people in high school. 

What do you mean by legendary people? 

I can’t disclose who I wrote for because the song still plays on the radio. 

Do you get a percentage out of that? 

I do not. I was a kid so I wasn’t thinking forward. I was thinking about getting all the Jordan’s and gold chains. Essentially, I’m a ghost, ghostwriter. I wrote for a ghostwriter. He gave me a lump sum of cash at the time. I was excited about who I was writing for so I didn’t care about residuals. 

Is that person still relevant? Do they live on the east coast or west coast?

This person is extremely relevant. Live on the east coast, Grammy winner, Oscar-nominated. 

Give us the setting of where you performed. 

Absolutely. I was at talent shows, car shows. Car shows were big after I got my first deal. I was battling people to show my dominance. That actually led to me being on Freestyle Friday on 106 & Park. 

Were you undefeated on 106 & Park? 

I was phenomenal. I actually defeated myself. 

What do you mean by that? 

I almost cursed on stage. I made up my material on stage so I caught myself then I stumbled with my words. The crowd said “OHHH”. That swayed the judges to give the victory to my opponent.

Where does the name drift come from? I think it means you’re drifting away from negative energy. 

I stole it from Treach from Naughty by Nature. Treach was my hero at the time anything apart of him I want to be a part of it. In the beginning of the song Ghetto Bastard, he said this is a story about a drifter. Right when I heard that I said “That’s me right there.” 

Who else did you listen to growing up? 

Redman, Nas, Wu-Tang, Bigge Smalls

Did you ever want to emulate your rapping style to people that you listen to or you wanted to do your own thing? 

I sounded a lot like Treach on accident. Growing up if you copy somebody’s style it was worthy of an ass-whooping. After a while, I cultivated my own style and it was beneficial towards the end. 

Did you ever make your own beats? 

Nah, I defiantly sought out the most melodic instrumentation.

Tell me about performing at the Lincoln Park Music Festival.

Lincoln Park was cool. It’s surprising how many people are not aware of me in my area. It’s shocking because some people are extremely excited and I see some people like “how’s that?”

Does that bother you people do not know who you are? Or is it motivation? 

It feels like I’m not doing my job. If people are unaware of my presence I’m not doing my job.

Have you ever incorporated your art with rapping on stage? Would you portray your paintings on the side? 

I incorporated it in two music videos. Y’all wives on me I painted in the middle of the street. For my latest music video, I painted Nipsey Hussle. I’ve been thinking of ways to incorporate my art on stage.

I want to transition into painting. I want to show you some of my favorite paintings. This is my favorite one. Muhammad Ali, I love the background. Talk to me about this one. 

It was a commission for someone. They ask me if I do abstract art. I was like “what’s abstract?” So I had to do my due diligence and figure out what abstract was. That was my interpretation and it came out better than I imagine.

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This is another painting I like. This is Ric Flair, and I must say you have him to a Tee. What’s the story behind this?

Ric Flair was my first idol in my life. Before I found out about gangsters, drugs, cars, and women; he was my idol. He was confident. 

Ric Flair.jpg

Was that painting for someone else or for you? 

It was for me. 

I forgot to ask, how much did you sell the Muhammad Ali painting for? 

200 dollars. That’s a normal price and I’m selling myself short. I will raise the price exponentially because it’s not like you can go next door and find someone with my capability. 


How mad do you get that other pieces sell for thousands of dollars and your work is better? It doesn’t get me mad. I’m thinking when it’s time for me to make that sum of money I’ll make it. The art is the biggest blessing of my life because it gives me peace of mind.

This was is funny. I remember exactly where I was when Wilder got knocked out. What’s the story behind that? I’m just an asshole. I thought that shit was hilarious. I did it the second it happens. Everybody that knows me knows I’m the goofiest person they ever meet.

Did you sell it?

Nah, I wouldn’t do that. I didn’t want to make light of his set back. I just did it for a laugh and got more than I anticipated.

How long does it take to do a picture like this? 30 minutes

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I know you admire Bob Ross. Would you have a show similar to his or is it a secret?  

I’ve painted live on Facebook about four times because people would ask what “computer app I used for my paintings” and I got so offended. 

I have a couple more pictures. I have R Kelly. Tell me about this. R Kelly is one of the most prolific and gifted artists but he’s not a good person. I hear the horror stories about women and I’m like “bro your 50 years old, why are you out here with young women.” I don’t respect pedophiles, I don’t respect informants if you’re in the street life. Did you make that when the documentary aired? It was before that. I saw something online with a girl’s parents were pleading with him to release their daughter and this was before the documentary. So, I always thought he was a real piece of shit.  

R Kelly.jpg

My last picture. What’s going on, is it you and your wife or did you draw it for someone? 

No that would be too explicit for me to put me and my wife. That was on valentine’s day. I drew it for myself. I want to draw everything that came to my mind put it’s so much going on. 

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Has anyone came out to you and asked “can you draw my wife or my partner naked?”No, guys generally try to keep me away from their wives.

What’s the most abstract thing you’ve painted? I drew women naked, that was cool. I never anticipated in a million years I would draw on a women’s body naked. I thought to myself, “this art shit is dope.”

Have you been getting a lot of requests for painting with everything going on?

Yes, it’s overwhelming.

Since you said it takes you 30 minutes to do one painting have you ever dedicated a full day of paintings?

I wake up and paint. I can do 5 to 6 paintings.

What’s the environment when you paint? Do you put on music or is it silent?

It depends, if I have a difficult day it would be completely silent. Usually, I put on music and different artists. I find myself studying artists.

Do you ever put your music on while you paint and study your lyrics? I rarely listen to my music. It kind of stresses me out. I hear how good it is, then I hear other people’s music and I’m like how come it’s not like that? I listen to my music for an hour then I get depressed. 

Why do you have a passion for music if it makes you depressed? 

I don’t want to leave my job incomplete. If I start it I want to finish it.

You don’t think you’ll be happier if you stop? For instance, the pressure of making music would be off. 

See the killer is I stopped about four or five times. I stopped the whole 2019 and one of my friends “Do it all” called me saying “I need you to perform tonight in the city.” I go to the city and Damon Dash is there. I get on stage and the love was general. Nobody didn’t know who I am and I received loved. That’s why I started making music was for the love and the audience. 

Can I ask you a personal question? Did you receive a lot of love growing up?

That’s the dopest question I’ve ever been asked in my whole rapping life. I did not receive any love growing up except for my mother. My parents are immigrants from Ghana. All they cared about is food in the stomach and roof over your head, clothes were third or fourth. I would get torn limb from limb at school. They would call me “African booty scratcher”. The only time I would receive love is from rapping. 

You would get bullied in school and the way you got out of it was rapping? 

Yeah, music kept people off of me. 

Did you play any sports in school or was it strictly rapping and painting?

I was never really athletic. I took boxing classes but I never did any team sports. 


I know you like boxing due to the Wilder picture and the shirt you’re wearing now. You also make clothes as well. Tell me more about that. 

Making clothes is lucrative actually. I wake up with money in my account. Everything I needed in life was there I was just looking the other way. Everything I need to sustain myself is within.   

Would you make any masks? Say if I want a mask of a painting you made, can you do it? 

I could do it, the whole thing with the mask thing is it depresses me. I’ve stayed away from it because I still can’t believe this is our reality. 

How have you adjusted through this whole pandemic? I pray a lot. It’s a downer seeing how mortified people are and how uninformed people are. I didn’t take it seriously at first. I was saying every four years another pandemic happens. First Zika virus then ebola but this is the real deal.

Are you religious? I pray every day.

Would you incorporate religion into your music?   I wouldn’t because religion separates the people and music is supposed to bring people together. So, what my beliefs are I keep it to myself. I won’t force it. I know people who practice what I practice and they are the evilest people alive. Some religious people think they’re better than everyone.

We tackled rapping, painting next is being a barber. How long were you a barber? 

Over 20 years. It was always my side hustle. I thought cutting hair was easy but it’s the most difficult. You have to please people and guys are very particular of their barber. 

Tell me a little bit more about acting. You were on a web series called The Spot. How was that whole ordeal? 

I love acting. I love being something other than myself for a minute. I got into acting from DJ Khaled video Never Surrender and the director of that video said “yo I think you’ll be good for this role.” Then I got another role in Yo Gotti’s video. Then I was getting roles, back to back. 

When you were a kid did you want to be an artist, rapper, actor, and barber? 

No, I actually wanted to be a mailman. This one mailman in my neighborhood was so happy and polite and that’s what I wanted to be. My house was turbulent so he was the epitome of happiness for me. 

You never received any positivity from any stranger, so you must have really looked up to him? 

Yup him and Bob Ross. Bob Ross was happy every day.

Would you say Bob Ross is your biggest inspiration out of everybody? 

It’s three people. It’s Treach from Naughty by Nature, Bob Ross, and Ric Flair. 

I love the video “Why you Mad”. What’s the inspiration behind it? 

I noticed my friends were unhappy about where I was. I was always the person without money. Now I’m the one with the money. They liked it better when I was broke. Now I’m the happiest guy, the silliest guy and I think that freedom offends them. 

Would you make an animated music video from your art? 

That’s on the horizon but I just need a minute to breathe. I’m working on a comic book myself. This is a passion project of mine. 

Is that something you always wanted to do; make a comic book? 

Yeah, I always wanted to do it but the music took control of me. 

What’s the comic book about?

It’s very violent. It starts off at a brothel in Mexico. You know how they kidnap the women and keep them as sex slaves. He is going to come and set them free and it’s going to progress from there. 

So, it’s taking place in R Kelly’s mansion?

It should be in R Kelly’s mansion. That’s dope I gotta give you credit. 

If you’re interested in artwork from Drift go to his Instagram @therealdrift

Listen to Drift’s EP “Y’all Wives on Me” and his single “I’m Special” on all streaming platforms.