Atlanta native Childish Major rose to prominence in 2013 producing Rocko's hit single "U.O.E.N.O" before going on to produce for hip hop heavyweights such as J. Cole, Rick Ross, and Young Jeezy. He's also contributed to songs from ascendant rappers like J.I.D and 6LACK.
After having a successful career as a producer, but wanting to do more creatively, Major began creating his own music. Picking up early buzz, his song "Supply Luh" (produced by J. Cole) ended up on the finale the HBO hit series Insecure. Late last year, he released his debut album, Woo$Ah.
Today, Childish Major premieres the video the album's title single. In the video, Major raps about big ambitions, delivering lyrics like, "Swear I wanna ball, I wanna boss, I wanna stunt/ Put the penny pigeon, dollar grip and get just what I want." The mid-tempo beat and artful video paints a calm and collected artist steadily striving for greatness.
Billboard hopped on the phone with Major recently to discuss what made him transition into a rapper, his goals for this year year, and the best advice he received.
How did you get into production?
My father wasn't in my life like that, but I knew he was a rapper and a producer, so that was always a big interest. I got a program when I was in middle school called FL studios. Somebody told me producers make all the money, so I just started making beats. At school, out school, on the weekends I was making beats. I ended up going to college, and the first year was cool. The second year I stopped going to class and was just making beats.
I hit my mom and said I wanted to move to Atlanta and try this music out. I had a friend who was producing a lot the Travis Porter stuff and he was a well known DJ, DJ Spinz. He already had placements so he formed a production group and signed me to that, Hood Rich. They placed my first record, "U.O.E.N.O.," which took my career to another level.
At what point did you realize you wanted to do more than produce?
My grandfather had a church, and my mother used to always sing. Music is heavy in my family. But after two years producing for people, it wasn't fulfilling to make beats and give them to people. I wanted to do more. So I started writing for people and eventually started writing for myself, and then I just tested it out to see what people thought. Once I figured out from people's reactions that something was there, I started taking it more seriously.
Who was one the first people that heard you and encouraged you to take rapping seriously?
I went to an Usher and Pharrell session one time, and I played Pharrell some the early ideas I was doing. And afterwards, he was telling me I could be better than him. I thought he was just being nice to me, because he's a positive person and brings good energy. But he told me that, and said I have to take it seriously, and that] I should learn music theory and really put the work in. Over time, I figured out that maybe he was right and I could do this for real.
How did it feel to have your song "Supply Luh" placed on Insecure?
Crazy moment for me, because I was a fan the prior season. I told myself I was going to get something on the next season, and I didn't think it would be my song. I just thought I would produce something and it would be on there. But it ended up being my song, produced by J. Cole.
How did you come up with the concept "Woo$Ah", both the song and the video?
Every song I dropped prior to "Woo$Ah" were freestyles, but they were always about what I was going through at the time. So it was how I was feeling at that time period. As an artist, I wanted to connect with the people. I'm pretty much talking to other producers, and up-and-coming artists going through what I'm going through, and trying to make a dream happen. And that was the mindset I had when I made "Woo$Ah". It's me stating the struggles I go through.
And what would you say is one the obstacles you faced as a producer and an artist?
I think any dream comes down to -- am I going to buckle and stick with the job, and work my way up, or am I going to put that same time and energy into myself, and make that work? I think that's the biggest battle artists have to deal with. We have to figure out if we are going to just be sure, or are we going to be happy?
What are you excited about this coming year as an artist?
I'm excited to get on the road and meet more people that are trying to do the same thing I'm doing, help them out and give them advice. Just putting more music out and letting people get to know me more.