TOPIC (September 2008) | Interview By:
Dubcnn recently sat down with Topic aka The Coast Guard. In addition to
telling us about his new free mixtape ďAmerican HustlerĒ, Topic talked about
some of his philosophies and what he feels the West Coast needs to do to get
that shine back. Find out why ĎLess is Moreí and having integrity is so
important to Topic. And yes, Topic talks at length about the ďCoast GuardĒ
issue with Young Maylay. If you catch him in the streets make sure to hit him
up for that mixtape and if you are lucky enough Topic will sit down politic
with you. Until then, take a few minutes to find out why Topic is quickly
becoming the talk of the West Coast.
As ever, you can read this exclusive interview below and we urge you to leave
feedback on our forums or email them to
Interview was done in August 2008
Topic Interview Audio:
Topic Gave Dubcnn A Shoutout:
Dubcnn: Topic and Dubcnn, itís beautiful thing. How are you doing man?
Iím doing lovely man. Iím just lounginí.
Dubcnn: In an interview that I came across you mentioned that one of your
influences is Ice Cube and that Ice Cube taught you that ĎLess is Moreí. How
do you apply that ĎLess is Moreí approach to your career?
The power in a statement a lot of times is not to be gaudy. You look at a lot
of Ice Cubeís first album covers, magazine articles and things of that nature
that is where I get the less is more approach. Subliminal marketing is a big
thing. If you look at a statement likeÖI tell people time and time again that
if you look at the advertising campaign for ďGot Milk?Ē it is just a plain
background with the words Ďgot milkí and a question mark. That sh*t is
powerful though. I use it the same way and that is what I gather from Ice
Cube. You donít have to have too much in order to make your statement. So I
try to do that with my career.
If you look at when I dropped ďThe
Coast GuardĒ and you look at my album cover and that was the first
time that peopleÖbecause I had a street album out before that called ďStart of
a LegacyĒ that didnít have my face on the cover. It was just a green CD and I
did it with my own money so I did everything really minimal. I put everything
that represents me and the West Coast on the front cover. But if you look at
ďThe Coast GuardĒ that was when I knew we were going to put a little bread
behind it and I knew people would get a good look at it and I would be able to
be in a lot of peopleís faces. If you look at that cover itís just me in a
white t-shirt with an L.A. hat on with a regular black background. Thereís not
a lot of art. If you look at the ďAmerican HustlerĒ and you see the regular
mixtape thing or street cover album with the graphics and the art. So I try to
apply that in my life or in my career.
Dubcnn: You touched on it a little bit but you bio describes you as being a
natural leader. Define what being a natural leader means to you.
It means being able to first and foremost be a good listener. If youíre going
to be a good General you have to be a good soldier as well. In order to know
the sweetness of victory you have to understand what it is to lose also. It
has to be balance. In order to be a good leader you have to understand balance
and understand different people. If you are leader than you are leading people
or youíre leading something and nothing runs the same because all people
arenít the same. Its like if you have more than one child you have to
understand that each child has their own characteristics and you canít just
set rules and expect everybody to be governed by those same rules in the same
manor. Everybody is different and as a leader you have to be able to
understand that you have these people following me or listening to me or
buying into me or becoming fans and you want to be able to set a standard and
have morals and principles behind your actions. Not just doing something
because itís hot right now and everybody else is doing it. Thatís what a good
leader is to me.
Dubcnn: You mentioned how having strong ethics and morals is important but
youíre signed to SRC Records if Iím not mistaken. Do you ever find that with a
major label having a little bit of pressure to do things that you wouldnít
normally want to do otherwise?
With me, my situation is pretty much open. Iím signed to Steve Rifkind and
dude is a legend in the music industry, especially in hip hop. And the
flexibility you have being signed to him is unparalleled because he is not the
type of exec that wants to structure you this way or that way. He wants to
follow in the tradition of what you are doing. He wants to buy into who you
are and what you see and he signs artists based on that.
You have to foresee a future for yourself and if he feels he can help you
along the way and he can get you to a place where youíre comfortable, where
you are both comfortable then that is what heís going to do. So I donít really
have A&Rís sitting over me saying Ďyou gotta do thisí or Ďyou gotta do that.
You gotta sound this way, you gotta look this way. You gotta act this wayí.
Ainít none of that going on in my situation.
Dubcnn: Gotcha. So how are things progressing with the album? I think itís
called ďIf Not Me, Then Who?Ē
The album is pretty much done. I did my work and did everything I was supposed
to do. But at the same time I donít want to be one of those artists thatís
just sitting on the shelf and no one has a recollection of who I am and nobody
knows that its there. Thereís plenty albums out right now that if we go to the
music store and you canít name or the majority of the records in there you
wonít know who they are. I donít want to be one of those artists.
What weíre trying to do is get the marketing and awareness up. Iím trying to
get my internet presence up and at the same time Iím pushing my single with
Trey Songz and just waiting to get my add date for that. Then I can hit radio
but at the same time Iím on a constant grind that allows me to do things once
again with morals and principles. I donít wanna have a radio record that makes
me into a radio artist. I want to be the type of artist that you can buy the
album and really enjoy the album for what it is. Drive to it, listen to it and
not just listen to it in the clubs but something to bang when youíre in the
car. You know what Iím sayiní, as far as the radio.
Dubcnn: I read where you made mention of the tribulations that you have to
go through. Can you give some insight into some of the things that youíve had
to persevere through as an artist and maybe even personally as you try to
leave your mark in the music industry.
Man, for me personally I know everybody goes through certain things but Iíve
been through a lot. Simply based on the fact that I am a leader and I donít
just do sh*t to just do it. Iím not one those artists thatís out here making
moves, trying to get something poppiníÖand I know plenty of people out here
that have a vision and have a goal. They set a goal for themselves and after
the road gets too hardÖbecause the music industry is fu*ked up and itís
frivolous out here right now. The music you hear and the sh*t that weíre
digesting on a daily basis through the music industry especially in hip hop
and rap is fu*ked up because thereís really no content or substance. Thereís
no food for thought. No good food. So a lot of times artists say, ĎWell fu*k
it man I had a plan to do it this way but itís taking too long and Iím getting
tired. Itís stressing me out.í Then they just go do anything and sometimes you
find less resistance doing that bullsh*t because thatís what everybody is
Iíve never thought like that because Iíve always had an agenda and I always
was raised on the good music of the West Coast. Because everybody right now,
well not everybody, but a lot of people are trying to tell you how much of a
hustler or a street ni**a they are. So people are kinda like nervous and donít
tell you the facts like, ďYouíre a rapper homie!Ē Youíre not just a hustler. I
mean I hustle through my music but Iím a rapper and I do music. I love this sh*t!
With that being said, you go through a lot of tribulations and trials because
sometimes when you stand for somethingÖitís much easier to go do that bullsh*t
that everybody is doing. And youíre one person over here saying, ĎNah, we need
to keep it original with a nice texture and integrity in the music.í Thatís
how I think and by me thinking that way it makes it hard on your road trying
to get to where youíre going because a lot of people are scared to touch that
sh*t sometimes until it works. If it works then they gravitate towards it at
Dubcnn: Now Iím not one to fan the flames of beef but I wanted to ask about
what seems to be tension between you and Young Maylay over the title ďCoast
GuardĒ. Maylay just dropped his project, ďThe Real Coast GuardĒ. Do you take
that as a shot at you? Whatís your take on it?
watch everything and I follow everything. I listened to the interview to
see if there was any tension or beef or whatever. He didnít really say
anything that was derogatory towards me or say anything that would make me
want to react in a beef manner. Iím mashing for the West Coast just like he
said everybody is mashing for the West Coast. The only difference isÖitís
petty to be honest with you because when I dropped ďThe
Coast GuardĒ I dropped it last year before the summer in í07. This is
í08 and heís dropping his Coast Guard. Itís not about what I personally feel
as far as an individual because Iím not even on it like that. I donít give a
f*ck about the name ĎThe Coast Guardí as much as he probably does or appears
that he does. The thing is thisÖanybody in their right mind can tell that if I
dropped ďThe Coast GuardĒ and then you come with a project and name your sh*t
ďThe Real Coast GuardĒ what are you really saying?
Even if I say that there ainít no beefÖIíve seen Maylay on a personal level.
Iíve seen him in the streets many a times. He knows where Iím at so it ainít
no beef like that but how am I supposed to take it? Just sitting back looking
like, ĎWell, I dropped The Coast Guard in 07 and he dropped The Real Coast
Guard in 08.í That would be like me saying, well Iím the First Coast Guard how
about that? *laughs* You know what Iím sayiní? Iím the Coast Guard that had
the sh*t in the streets and poppiní before The Real Coast Guard, you feel me?
Itís petty and it doesnít really matter to me and there isnít any beef. But
motherfu*kers just try to do sh*t and throw certain stones sometimes but that
sh*t is small to a giant. To be honest with you, Maylay doesnít really have
issues with Topic. And Topic doesnít have any issues with Maylay to be honest
It kinda stems from something a little bit deeper and you have to understand
affiliation has a lot to do with it too. The people youíre affiliated withÖif
I have certain problems or certain issues or misunderstandings with people
youíre directly affiliated with that kinda automaticallyÖany little thing that
I do or any little thing that you see that you can shoot at youíre gonna do
that sh*t. And I understand. Some of the people that Maylay is affiliated with
Iíve had issues with in the past and when he heard the Coast Guard sh*t that
was just one more thing that he could use. Man, that sh*t was the title for a
street album that I never dropped and an AKA that I use on the West Coast. It
doesnít mean anything to me dog, Iím Topic. Thatís my name. Now if a ni**a had
problems with that then it would be a whole Ďnother issue because thatís the
name I go by. Thatís what I represent and thatís what I stand for.
As far as The Coast Guard, The Real Coast Guard, The First Coast Guard or
Second Coast Guard that sh*t donítÖI donít give a f*ck about that sh*t. To be
honest with you I donít even care so there ainít really no beef. Beef is when
youíre around a person and you canít be there because some sh*t is gonna
happen and you really canít be there because somebodyís going to end up
leaving different than the way they came. Thatís when you know that you really
have a problem and it isnít like that between me and dude. So the sh*t donít
matter to me man.
Dubcnn: Gotcha. Switching up to something a little lighter, when Topic has
a hard day and you are out there grinding in the studio, promoting and doing
all of those things to make yourself a successful artist and you need to
releaseÖwhat does Topic do to relax your mind? Do you jump on the XBOX 360?
What do you do?
Iíll jump on a plane and go travel. Go to a different state and go relax. Iím
real good in Atlanta. I got peoples down there and I like going out there. I
like going to New York sometimes. I donít really play video games or any of
that stuff. Iím a real simple dude as far as thatís concerned. I like to go to
the movies. I enjoyÖI tell people all the time that I really enjoy
conversation. I can sit back and talk to one of my ni**as or somebody that I
find interesting. Somebody that can shed some information or knowledge to me.
We can just sit and chop it up, you know what I mean. Iím an old soul in that
manner. I just chill my n*gga. I donít really get into that extra stuff and
plus I donít really chill with a lot of n*ggas either. So, based on that I
have certain issues because sometimes youíre cool with a person but because
youíre not that close to them they might feel a certain way about it. You
might feel like, ĎIím cool with Top but he donít really f*ck around.í
Sometimes people get salty but I feel like the road to the righteous is narrow
and I canít get with a lot these peoples programs out here. I donít understand
it. Itís not that it has to be right or wrong to me but I just donít
understand what a lot of these dudes out here are doing. I know I grew up
around or maybe a little bit before a lot of these dudes and when you look at
Ice Cube or Pac or the Death Row era you look at WC and Tha Madd Circle and
the way they mashed in the gameÖI know itís a new West Coast and a new energy
and all that but you still have to take some of those qualities and those
traits. Especially the integrity of what our Forefathers were doing you have
to take and apply. A lot of times I donít get. Maybe Iím in a different age
bracket or something, I donít know but a lot the sh*t these cats are doing is
bullsh*t. Iím not speaking on nobodyís life, Iím speaking on musically.
Musically is the way the West Coast and our whole culture will get back on
Brothers say, ĎWell, the South.í. Has anybody paid attention to figure out why
the South is running the game? In my opinion if you have Ludicris and heís
moving units, Jeezyís moving units, T.I. and Outkast are moving units and
theyíre all from Atlanta. Rick Ross is moving units. Lilí Wayne and Cash Money
is moving units. DJ Khaled and them ni**as are making it happen. Thatís why
theyíre on top. Unless we get back to the integrity of the music and make good
music that other people besides the back yard of the West Coast can adapt to
then we arenít doing sh*t. Thereís got to be a Topic out here, a Glasses
Malone a Bishop a Jay Rock a Roccet and whoever. All these people and after
awhile people can start saying, ĎTheyíre doing their thing.í Artists like
Crooked I and whoever else out here that is trying to mash and make a way for
themselves we have to mash musically as well. Not just in the streets because
we can go to every West Coast party out here and be on dubcnn and this and
thatÖthatís an outlet and itís a good thing but at the same time we have to
get back to the integrity of the music. Thatís why Death Row was so powerful
in my opinion. It wasnít the fact that the were all together but you canít
tell me that when Death Row came out that the Dogg Pound wasnít banging. Rage
and Dreís sh*t was banging. Snoopís sh*t was banging. Because all of their sh*t
was banging people were saying that the West Coast is killing it. Ice Cube
comes from left field and his sh*t is banging. E-40 and them is holding the
Bay down and his sh*t is banging. We gotta get back to that sh*t.
Dubcnn: Speaking of new stuff that is top notch, your new mixtape is called
Dubcnn: Let folks know where they can cop that. The floor is yours. Any
last words for dubcnn?
You can always get with me on the
I have two pages. They can download the
mixtape. We basically titled it a pre-album because itís the album before the
album. You can download that on
dubcnn or go
to my myspace page to download it. Itís on numerous sites that I canít even
name because my label put it everywhere too. All you have to do is search the
net and you can download it for free. If you catch me in the streets I always
keep a box of work on me, those CD's. Check out
Thereís a whole bunch of stuff going on and Iím just trying to get the website
and internet awareness up. We just mashing
Topic Interview Audio:
Topic Gave Dubcnn A Shoutout: