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“Bro, I do not know when I’m gonna make a full rap album where I’m just rapping on every song again,” Pink Siifu declared earlier this year, following the release of his punk-noise album NEGRO, where he traded the idyllic vignettes found on 2018’s ensley to rage against the racist police state and imagine a world where he could fire back at his oppressors. Fast-forward six months and the Cincinnati and Birmingham-raised artist decided to return to rap, his vocal chords freshly healed after roaring through one of the year’s best albums. On his latest effort, the musician born Livingston Matthews teamed up with Richmond, Virginia rapper and Mutant Academy co-founder Fly Anakin for FlySiifu’s, a project that takes a deep dive into a fictitious record store.

Offering up 46 straight minutes of respite, it daydreams about the possibility of venturing outside of your personal prison disguised as an apartment to spend an afternoon digging through vinyl, while occasionally calling out to an inattentive staff too busy smoking blunts in backstock to help you find what you’re looking for. 

Siifu and Anakin (government name: Frank Walton) concur that COVID fucked up everyone’s plans. Siifu fled Los Angeles with his girlfriend to an undisclosed location; Anakin stayed holed up at home in Richmond. NEGRO would go without a live performance. Anakin’s At the End of the Day wouldn’t get that long-awaited release party. But the pandemic created an atmosphere where artists could maneuver through this year’s limitations and still create something meaningful, cutting through the isolation by doing more with less. That’s where FlySiifu’s shines. 

Siifu and Anakin trade styles, stories and jokes. Above all else, an undeniable joy rings through with authenticity — for getting high, readily sharing musical influences and watching 90’s comedies. Siifu and Anakin’s record shop characters aren’t too far from who they present themselves as over a Zoom call. “It was really just a conversation and some weed, bro. That’s what cultivated this whole album,” Anakin said while referring back to Next Friday’s Pinky’s Record Store and Outkast’s Aquemini as the main influences that sparked the overarching thematics. The LP drops you into an open world at the corner of E Colorado and N Vinedo where Pasadena’s Poo-Bah Record Shop is transformed into something entirely new. Joints are once again shareable with no fear of contracting COVID. The sun shines in perpetual late-afternoon. The rappers stock shelves with shout-outs to Knxwledge, SZA, Earl Sweatshirt, Ras G and Little Richard to name a few. 

The ease and levity showcased on the rooftops and public parks in the “Richard Pryor” music video, where the two wear vintage leather penny loafers and struggle to find something to toast to with miniature Hennessy bottles, mirrors the duo’s everyday back-and-forth banter. Throughout the interview, Siifu regularly quotes Anakin’s bars with the excitement of someone who decoded them for the first time. Anakin lauds Siifu for his arrangement and D.I.Y. can-do. There’s a reason why the first song title reads “Kin’tro”: they are friends first, collaborators second. The two were fans of each other’s music and connected back in 2016, but didn’t start working on what would become FlySiffu’s until over three years later. “Business is fine but this was way deeper than that,” Anakin said. “This was a calculated step that both of us had to take and we did that shit like a motherfucker.” When talking about creating the album, Siifu and Anakin are also deferential to the point of near-detriment; they spend enough time gassing the other up that it hardly leaves room to talk about anything else.

Siifu experiments with often shapeless melodies and abstract bars, sometimes leaving complete verses in an ellipsis as if to dip out for a smoke break or better let his partner handle the remainder of the song. “Time crazy, my mind take me places I can’t pin/ Then again, I know where I’m at/ Still trapped, doublin’ back, again…” he raps on “Shloww” before echoing, “Then again, then again” until his partner takes over.

Anakin contrasts, his nasally flow cutting through weed haze and East Coast smog; his antagonistic charisma culled from growing up with a brother’s refusal to pass the aux-cord while Reasonable Doubt, Iron Man and Guerrilla Warfare played. Lyrically, Anakin is a tactician, his voice in the chord of AZ. He ideates complete scenes and character struggles in only a line or two — “Early retirement is a fuck, play fighting broke her rotator cuff/ The radiator conked out at your baby mama spot, shit rough,” he raps on “Richard Pryor” before breaking down OnlyFans accounts, his tax bracket and a neighborhood watch response that would make Cam’ron proud.

Each song on FlySiifu’s creates subtle momentum to drive you through to the next. Siifu arranged the album and concocted the interludes with longtime collaborator Swarvy. No more than thirteen producers created instrumentals through 22 tracks, and yet the project retains a conscious level of cohesion. Lastnamedavid’s “Runthafade” sounds like it was pulled from the treasure trove of a YouTube algorithm based on lofi hip-hop radio searches, dusty vinyl effects included. Anomoss’s production on “Dollar Dr. Dream” hovers through a hazy Los Angeles at magic hour, piano keys aided by ceaseless cymbal hits. J. Dilla’s influence gets a nod during an interlude where a patron phones in about Welcome 2 Detroit. FlySiifu’s even sneaks in Madlib production from the turn of the 2010s in what they consider “the humble flex of the album.” “Time Up” champions bright electric guitar strings and crackling crowd noise fading in and out in the backdrop.

Anakin’s joy is palpable. “Bruh, that nigga Madlib love this nigga bro, that’s so fire,” Siifu said after Anakin confirmed that his full-length collaborative project with the legendary producer is on the way.

FlySiifu’s mostly skips out on traditional guest spots save for $ilkMoney’s calls to blow up the New York Stock Exchange, Liv.e’s airy spoken word and a soulful interlude from Fousheé, whose reprise of, “It don’t feel right” and “try to stay sane” resonates wholeheartedly given the climate. The communal aspect of the project is instead captured from its numerous skits and sketches, free-flowing voice messages from disgruntled customers of FlySiifu’s Record Store. The grainy tape-cassette recordings after the beep build a setting nostalgic for the monotony of dead-end jobs — one that harkens back to an era when hip-hop albums regularly meandered through comedic minute-long snippets bleeding into the next track. “We really living in a time when people don’t appreciate skits and that’s just crazy,” Pink Siifu said. “Everybody love Andre 3000 and he wouldn’t be shit without them skits. My nigga “Where Are My Panties?” How you watch a movie and not like the dialogue?”

You may not be able to waste a mundane weekend afternoon flipping through vintage LPs at your local record store in the same way you would pre-pandemic, but you can always schedule a socially distanced visit to FlySiifu’s. — Patrick Johnson

So Anakin, while we wait for Siifu to get on the line, you and Mutant Academy have been pivotal to representing Richmond, Virginia. How did that city, and even its lack of representation in the hip-hop world, influence you coming up?

Fly Anakin: Coming from Richmond bro, you don’t get no concerts. You get some shit but it’s never like — this is the thing, this is the gauge of how big a celebrity can be in Richmond: you remember when Kendrick dropped his first album, but that buffer right before he came out between Section.80 and [good kid, m.A.A.d city]? That’s when we got Kendrick. We’ll never get Kendrick again.

I remember. He went from doing rooms of like 500 people at S.O.B.’s in New York to Terminal 5 and then stadiums in the span of less than a year and a half.

Fly Anakin: Exactly. Not everyone expected that album to be as good [as Section.80] but once his stock went up, it was like damn we can’t even afford Kendrick no more. He ain’t ever come to Richmond again. Richmond don’t even have a nice venue for a Kendrick Lamar or a Jay-Z or some shit because it don’t even have like a place where it just has screens and shit and stuff in the background. The biggest venue that we have is falling apart.

So where did you see all of your live shows?

Fly Anakin: Either The Colosseum or The National. The National had the cool shows. I saw Wiz Khalifa when he was on Kush & Orange Juice. I’ve seen Curren$y a bunch of times, Method Man during The Smokers Club Tour. I done seen some dope shows but they’re far and between because of location. On top of that my city don’t let people smoke on stage. Sometimes you can get away with it but I remember there was this one time they locked Curren$y up. Petty shit bro, petty shit. But marijuana is decriminalized in Virginia now.

What you were saying about experiencing shows in Richmond definitely mirrors what I went through growing up in Cleveland. There was this one place that was usually this punk rock, shitty ska venue called The Grog Shop. I saw Wiz during that same Kush & Orange Juice era, Curren$y too, and then what really was the moment was Kid Cudi’s return to the city for the first time.

Fly Anakin: That’s so cool. I was the biggest — and kinda still is — Cudi fan. Cudi was my favorite rapper at one point.

Pink Siifu: Yo, I’m sorry. My bad bro, I was in the shower doing my thing. I had to wash my ass and all that shit. How you doing man?

I’m honored you’re getting clean for an interview.

Pink Siifu: Bro I have to. I can’t be on FaceTime ass stankin’. All ashy and shit.

So how you doing? Last time we talked was back in March, April.

Pink Siifu: That’s a fact, for NEGRO right?

Yeah and you straight up lied to my face. You said, “I don’t know when I’m gonna release another rap record.”

Pink Siifu: [laughs] I was talking about — for everybody that’s coming for me for that — I was talking about solo. And this ain’t a solo record. Even my girl be coming at me like you for trying to say that. But this was in motion for a minute bro. I’ve been good though. I’m out in Florida with my folks.

It seems like you’re always on the move.

Pink Siifu: Even in COVID nigga. I’m in Orlando renting out a little Airbnb. It’s like a little family get-together on my momma’s side. Niggas just quarantining, chilling bro. Me and my shorty moved out of L.A. too, just trying to be on some grown man shit. Set up long term shit.

So we’re on Thanksgiving eve, the record’s been out for about two weeks. You spent a minute with the creation of the project, so how are you guys feeling about it?

Fly Anakin: I love it. I appreciate what it’s done so far in such a short time span. It’s one of my favorites, I know that for a fact. It feel weird that it’s out. It’s been so long — we were sitting on that shit and it felt like it would never come out, and then when it did it was already old to me.

Pink Siifu: That’s the thing, but it’s really the COVID shit. We can’t be performing and be in niggas’ faces and see how they really reacting. Like that’s kinda why I feel like, damn what’s next?

I think what really helped make this an experience though is after you dropped “Dollar Dr. Dream,” you started to gradually roll out the interior of this record store that created this whole ambience of a physical space where I wanted to be transported there in-person, dap these dudes up and dive into some records. So even if we can’t see you guys perform, there’s very much a performative element to it.

Pink Siifu: It’s low-key up to us to keep y’all entertained. Niggas been trying to figure that out whether it be another [livestream] on Twitch. We’ll do that soon, but we also got hella songs that didn’t make the album so we’re tryna do something fire with that shit. It’s definitely a learning process for sure. Frank [Fly Anakin] was already talking to me about how we’ve already dropped albums during COVID earlier this year and we were thinking about how COVID would let up, but now we’re still tryna figure out how we manage to move through this shit.

Fly Anakin: You gotta speak for yourself bro. COVID happened like a week after my album [At the End of the Day] dropped.

Pink Siifu: Did you do a show though?

Fly Anakin: Nah, I did a video. I found out about [the shutdowns] during the video.

Pink Siifu: We both didn’t get to do no release party, nigga.

Fly Anakin: I ain’t ever get to do a release party, bro.

Pink Siifu: That’s fucking crazy.

Fly Anakin: There’s so many rap things that I didn’t get to do.

Pink Siifu: Y’all didn’t do a damn release party for Holly Water?

Fly Anakin: The closest thing I ever got to a release party was this house show I did for Backyard Boogie. We called that bitch “Living Room Boogie.”

Pink Siifu: When was you first introduced to Frank?

It was around 2017-2018 leading up to Backyard Boogie. That was definitely post being a Soundcloud warrior just spending hours going down the rabbit hole but I was actively listening to Ohbliv, Iman Omari, of course Knxwledge for years. But after that the subsequent dive into Panama Plus and everything that Mutant Academy was striving to do…

Fly Anakin: Damn, you were listening to Panama Plus.

Pink Siifu: On god, after this COVID shit, I’m gonna keep it a buck my nigga, that’s my plot for this nigga, I gotta get him a release party, bro.

Fly Anakin: [Laughs] I ain’t gonna hold you bro, but this nigga got make sure my next album solid before that bitch drop. He gotta make sure my arrangement Gucci and on top of that he gotta make sure that shit sound right. Because the first thing I noticed with Pink Siifu’s shit is — I still had to be hands on, but I didn’t have to do as much because all I had to do was make sure my verses were fire and bring a good beat in that motherfucker. That level of freedom let me be more into the music because on some solo shit you have to be worrying about all of that while you’re doing it.

Pink Siifu: Yeah, now that I’m working on this new solo shit, I’m back to thinking about how do I make all of it connect? With Frank, we got the concept together, he pulled up and recorded after we got the beats together and then low-key the rest was just me and Swarvy tryna figure out how to make the interludes. It’s so much easier to do that for a collab album than it is for myself bruh. I be over analyzing everything when it’s solo trying to make it hit crazy. But FlySiifu’s hit crazy and it was easy as shit because of all the parties involved. We had all the homies help us on the interludes, the videos. We didn’t even record none of them niggas, they just sent us their shit.

This has really been the year of artists doing more with less and getting in their bag with concepts, thematics and rollouts. You have Westside Gunn and the Griselda camp, Boldy James but the first that comes to mind is what Freddie Gibbs and the Alchemist did with Alfredo really world building with a group of like five people. Then you guys plotting FlySiifu’s with a handful of collaborators and keeping everything in house.

Pink Siifu: Yo that Grammy nod is so crazy. Lambo [Freddie Gibbs’ manager Ben Lambert] the homie. He showed me the Bandana album and he told me, “We gonna get a Grammy off this.” To see it a year later, that shit crazy. I was literally almost on that album, bruh. Not on some, “damn, I missed it,” but it’s crazy in terms of levels — we really getting up there bro — we getting in those spaces now. We just really gotta keep moving.

So what was the epicenter of brainstorming the record store concept for the album?

Fly Anakin: It’s a mutual appreciation for Friday and Outkast. Outkast’s Aquemini and Next Friday with Pinky’s Record Store.

Pink Siifu: When we first linked up, we wanted to make the artwork for the first songs we made like How High. We just love funny dumb shit and I feel like Aquemini skits and Friday is just how me and Frank is on the regular. I always fuck with niggas making something outta nothing — skit ideas but on some sitcom shit. Think Dave Chappelle thinking of one thing then all the ideas that come off of all that — I like how ideas form. It started with those two things and expanded from there.

Fly Anakin: It was really just a conversation and some weed, bro. That’s what cultivated this whole album.

So let’s get to the origin story. When did you guys first find each other’s work and how long after did you know that you wanted to make a full album together?

Fly Anakin: Like 2016 and then we started working on the album in 2019.

Pink Siifu: You could search on Twitter “Fly Siifu” and literally that’s when we started thinking about this shit back in 2016.

Fly Anakin: Niggas was like, “Do you want a Fly Siifu album, because I want a Fly Siifu album.” I knew where we was going with this shit and the proof was in that first song. That first song was hard. The funny thing about that first song is that was like the first time I ever got some controversy thrown towards me over lyrics. It was kinda fucked up but it also showed me that motherfuckers were paying attention to what I was saying. I rap, “Slap the life out a bitch like I’m Ray Rice.” I was just joking but this one girl took it personally. It gave me flashbacks of an abusive relationship I was in and in my head I was like, “I didn’t hurt you.” But what I typed was, “I’m sorry that you feel this way but I’m not taking the song down.”

Pink Siifu: Frank got this other shit — what you say on “Razberry” bro? How you come in — [“I’m tryna be deep in your prayers,] deep in your pussy, you fucked up when you gettin some pussy just like a cookie, she playin’ Lionel Richie, word, that sookie sookie…”] Frank and my girl made me realize the beauty in Frank’s raps and just rap music in general bro. Frank be saying shit that be raw, nigga. Same with Ankhlejohn…

Fly Anakin: That’s crazy you brought up Ank because that’s the main reasons we be so cool — we can bond on the fact that we still appreciate old vulgar raps. People got scared to do that bro. People started to shy away from that once everything got super political, everybody on their social justice shit…

Pink Siifu: And when niggas got a little emo.

Fly Anakin: Yeah bro, we all been in a place where we on thot time, on bullshit. I like to speak on that shit but not reflect on it too much because it was a part of my life at one point. I ain’t gonna act like a nigga was all goodie two shoes. And I know that I’m not abusive so on top of all that I don’t care how nobody feel about what I got to say. I know abuse, like literally my parents abused each other so I know what to speak on. It’s a part of my life. That’s the reason I’m so positive now because I done seen the bottom.

Pink Siifu: That’s another reason I wanted to do a project with this nigga. Because you don’t really get a lot of that in my music so it’s fire for me to collab with niggas like that. YUNGMORPHEUS too and Frank, they can be raunchy as shit bro.

Fly Anakin: Oh you want everyone to know that you the good one? You want niggas to know that you the angel?

Pink Siifu: [Laughs] Nah, I’m not though! That’s why I’m with y’all niggas. [“Razberry”] was some romantic shit. It’s like rap romantic, like when Biggie said, “You look so good, I’ll suck on your daddy’s dick…”

Fly Anakin: It’s ghetto romance. You can’t not respect it. I feel it was one of my hardest verses. That was a moment for me. I love that song. That shit’s just part of my nature.

Frank, you can tell that East Coast, 90’s flows and even a nostalgia for it is so deeply embedded in how you approach a song, so I’m interested in what albums stood out for you growing up.

Fly Anakin: I still listen to a lot of raw rap. DMX was one of my favorite rappers when I was a kid. My brother was the type of nigga to make me listen to albums like It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, Reasonable Doubt, Ironman, Hot Boys’ Guerrilla Warfare. There were so many different sounds in my upbringing but it was always some gangster, vulgar shit and I can’t escape that music. Virginians don’t really have an identity bro. We got Pharrell and Missy Elliott but they have their own section in music. Richmond’s got Nickelus F, Lonnie Liston Smith, D’Angelo. We got some cold shit, but nobody came up with some, “I got Richmond on my back,” type shit. It was never some, “This some Richmond rap.” Instead it’s some Afro-centric motherfucker that don’t even seem like they live there.

Pink Siifu: The thing about Nickelus F that’s so crazy is the first time I heard Drake was because of Nickelus F. That “AM 2 PM” was literally one of the first Drake songs I heard and I was like, “Who is this nigga?”

Fly Anakin: That’s one of those unsung Richmond stories, bro. He literally is responsible for one of the biggest artists in the world and people act like he don’t exist. I think it’s hilarious how that happened but it’s also why I go so hard for that nigga. Nickelus F is on every album that I release. Same with Ohbliv. They both Richmond heroes to me and I feel like they deserve more than a lot of these motherfuckers got.

What I love about FlySiifu’s is how it’s so apparent that you guys are legitimately fans of each other’s music. Siifu you’ve been quoting Frank’s bars this entire time. So what did you guys learn from each other during this recording process?

Pink Siifu: When I’m in Richmond around Mutant Academy, I learn a lot. Them niggas stay consistent. They stay in the studio and bring inspiration. I learned how to move more with that. They really treat this music shit like working out and I really respect that. It’s the same energy I get from being around and working with Akai [Solo].

Fly Anakin: On top of that, niggas don’t even have to rap to kick it — that’s the most real part. Sometimes there are relationships where you know you’re not about to kick it but you can stay in the studio. But you can’t do anything outside of the studio. Those relationships are the ones that I stay away from because it’s just business. And business is fine but this was way deeper than that. This was a calculated step that both of us had to take and we did that shit like a motherfucker. And one thing I can appreciate this nigga for is I’ll never in my life release some shit without doing a lot for it. This was the first time that I actually worked for a project, bro. Now the standard has been set. I can only go harder.

Pink Siifu: And that happened for me because of what I was on with NEGRO.

Fly Anakin: Nah, from what I’ve seen, that shit started with ensley. As far as having a moment, ensley was that first moment that I saw from you. You worked the fuck out that album and the thing is, underground niggas don’t have to do that — it’s optional. They can drop music and then just disappear if they choose to. But seeing how you worked that album was a changing of the guard because now it’s like, if we even want to compete you have to do something like that.

Pink Siifu: That’s the standard. You right, you right.

Fly Anakin: Now with Mutant Academy, once we did the FlySiifu’s shit, that’s what showed niggas we have a full example to get on the same page that we need to package [the album] up. You can make music all day, but if it’s not packaged correctly, niggas not gonna give a fuck.

Pink Siifu: We are still learning because we ain’t got what everybody else got. We doing this shit D.I.Y.

Fly Anakin: This the only album in my life that I had a budget on so a lot of those ideas that we had, we had no excuse to not bring them to life. We had the capital. I shit you not though, we could’ve did this on our own but I definitely appreciate Lex [Records] for what they did because anything we needed they were like, “We got y’all” from travel, all that. Them niggas is good money. The timing, the way we did it was kind of perfect and bro, we didn’t get COVID in the process [laughs].

Your collective ear for instrumentals — even though you worked with some 10-12 producers, the album ended up being a cohesive experience from front to back. How many beat packs were you guys going through over the past year? Was there any sound you were looking for in particular from the jump?

Fly Anakin: That shit was so scattered, dog. Some of the producers wasn’t there in the physical so we just got packs on packs. There were also beats that this nigga had since like 2016. It was a process. We had a couple of sessions in L.A. where we had a lot of producers pull up so we got a big chunk of the album done just by everyone going through their collections and playing shit until we found one that we fucked with. I never necessarily go for a certain sound but I fuck with what I like. If there were some intentions with it, that’s beyond me. It’s like some spiritual shit. It just so happened to be cohesive. We had other songs that I feel like could’ve worked and meshed good but the combination of us creates a certain feel that let’s me know when that’s the beat, I know when it’s not. When we heard “Mind Right” for the first time, the moment it hit, for whatever reason I knew that was gone be it. What made me excited about the album is when that beat came on.

Pink Siifu: I knew the beats gone slap regardless bro. This the Super Friends album. I was just tryna get all the homies that we fuck with. Me and Frank don’t fuck with the same production all the way but we fuck with the same niggas. I just knew it was gone slap off of that. It really was organic, but it was plotted out in that way because we already had a group of niggas that we wanted to work with. And there were some niggas that didn’t get on there too — we recorded two joints at Alchemist’s crib that didn’t get on. We was wrapping it up when we recorded at Chuck Strangers’ crib.

Fly Anakin: We got a hard ass song with Chuck that ain’t out yet. Every time we around Chuck we make a slapper. The first time the three of us was in a room we made a hard ass song.

The skits too — hip-hop-heads in general will revisit a project for that reason alone — for the nostalgia of earlier eras in rap. But then you have younger generations of listeners who are a little removed from that history. Did you make a conscious effort to want to put them on to deeper influences like decades old Outkast skits and even Friday?

Fly Anakin: Man I’ve seen mad people talking shit about the skits!

Pink Siifu: If you don’t fuck with the skits or the interludes, suck my dick.

I don’t really see how you can fuck with FlySiifu’s without fucking with the skits because that’s what makes it its own world.

Fly Anakin: It’s that package. I won’t take no credit for nothing [Siifu] spearheaded the skit thing. The only thing I did was get BbyMutha.

Pink Siifu: When it’s collab season bruh, I got so many ideas. Frank was just down to do hella shit and we was bouncing this shit off. Niggas was waiting on that [BbyMutha] skit for a minute. That was the last skit. I feel like the skits was more low-key features.

That’s exactly how I approached the album too. Not only do you have those 10+ producers, but you have the strong communal aspect of all your friends blessing the project not through guest verses but leaving voicemail messages for the record store while you guys are out in the parking lot or in backstock smoking weed. Did you find that was a more cohesive way to not force a feature on a track?

Pink Siifu: Exactly, exactly. It was a way to get niggas on the album without forcing a song. But they still a major part. My favorite skit is BbyMutha’s and “One Hit Moo.” It’s hilarious. So really if you don’t fuck with the skits, you don’t really fuck with the album. We really living in a time when people don’t appreciate skits and that’s just crazy. Everybody love Andre 3000 and he wouldn’t be shit without them skits. My nigga “Where Are My Panties?” How you watch a movie and not like the dialogue?

What other skits were you guys listening to growing up?

Fly Anakin: I keep going back to The Chronic and Ready to Die. More recently the Trouble and Mike WiLL album, Edgewood. good kid, m.A.A.d city. Busta Rhymes, all his intros is hard. Ghostface for sure had the hardest skits in Wu-Tang. There’s certain songs with skits before them that I have to listen to the skit first before I can let the song rock. It take a real music fan to care about the details so if you don’t care about those little details then you probably just listening because of hype.

Pink Siifu: The Fugees’ The Score. They had that skit with the Chinese nigga at the Chinese restaurant. DMX on “How’s It Goin’ Down” he like, “Whose dick you suckin?” That’s my shit! Goodie Mob, Dungeon Family, anytime Cee Lo talking shit. Big Rube. Kanye with Bernie Mac.

Fly Anakin: Hell nah, that was DeRay, bro.

Pink Siifu: That wasn’t Bernie Mac?

Fly Anakin: Nah, I been on my comedy shit for a long time. I was watching Def Comedy Jam like a motherfucker when I was a kid so I knew a lot of comedians for no reason. I used to watch ComicView, Yo Momma.

Pink Siifu: It’s like when we die, them skits is a part of us, nigga. It’s kinda like an interview — you really getting to know the personality of us through the skits so you cannot knock that shit, bruh.

I also feel like you guys got the COVID boost. I mentioned it before but Griselda, Gibbs, Roc Marciano, Boldy — these guys have been consistently releasing insular, hard-hitting music in a lane that’s contrary to how hip-hop is rolled out to audiences today. But since everyone is quarantining, turn-up, Billboard music isn’t necessarily the most fitting of the times. Do you guys feel like releasing this tape during a pandemic benefited from the world’s change of pace?

Fly Anakin: COVID did a lot of good in that it made niggas slow the fuck down and digest what’s really fucking happening. That could have something to do with the outcome of [the album] but if COVID wasn’t a thing the album could be bigger because we’d be able to travel and do shows. People would see exactly what the fuck we talking about. The virtual thing is cool but being in person and touching these people — I think it would’ve went crazier.

Pink Siifu: The tour, nigga. Stop it bruh. We still gonna run the tour. We just gonna do it different. The COVID boost, I feel you bro. Even off the last shit I had to realize that I can’t perform [NEGRO]. One thing I don’t fuck with too, just to bring this back to any blog saying negative shit — me and Jasper [Slauson Malone] were talking about this — the blogs can kinda run you away from it before you can even listen. Just by saying certain things — it make niggas already wanna skip the skits. Journalist niggas just gotta watch words because it already ruins the approach that the listeners should be taking.

Then there’s the journalist’s side to this too. Artists don’t necessarily even need to be talking to us anymore. There are times when I feel like an artist is looking at me like I’m the Feds or some shit and I’m expected to be their personal PR. They and the label want to get in and out just to get the Spotify and YouTube embeds. So do you feel like there’s still value in a writer-artist relationship at this point?

Pink Siifu: Yeah, that’s a fact. Niggas want authority but the real authority is me bashing y’all. I’m not gone do that, but the real authority is me being like, “Fuck y’all” publicly and letting y’all know that you actually disrespecting my work. But the COVID boost has definitely made niggas have to sit down and really listen. That’s what I appreciate. It’s crazy to judge shit if you ain’t listening. If you doing that then it’s a wrap for you [laughs].

I know you dropped a few bonus cuts on the vinyl version, but what’s next for you guys?

Pink Siifu: I’m tryna do a deluxe, we got slaps. Run that back. We gonna run some more shit together probably next year. Then B. Cool-Aid, that’s my next shit.

Fly Anakin: For all the trolls, all the people that comment on my Instagram, all the people that tweet me about this shit every day, I am working on the Madlib project. That’s my next ting-ting. Don’t ask me about the shit no more. Can you make sure that’s in the thing? Just know it’s happening but at one point people thought this was just some in the air shit but no that’s really happening and I don’t wanna talk about it until it’s done. I get it though, people anticipating the fuck outta that but gonna have to wait. It’s happening though. It’s not a myth at all.

Pink Siifu: Bruh, that nigga Madlib — love this nigga bro, that’s so fire.

Fly Anakin: That’s the thing, he love this album though. He keep talking to me about it. Madlib really a fan bro. Madlib give a fuck about what we do and he pays attention to the culture, the community of motherfuckers that I operate with — he know about all these motherfuckers. It’s fulfilling to know that somebody of his stature give a fuck but it’s also confirming to us to keep doing what we doing.

You guys presented the Madlib collaboration, “Time Up” in a way that wasn’t even promoted. You just snuck it in at track number 18. Was that the original plan, just to have the song be incognito?

Fly Anakin: Yeah, that was the humble flex of the album. We wanted to save some of the hardest shit ’til the end, like “Dollar Dr. Dream” one of the hardest songs. We weren’t even gonna put [“Time Up”] on the album.

Pink Siifu: Frank had to remind me of that shit and I honestly, I’m gonna keep it a buck. I was like, “Oh, nah, I’m gassin’. Put this on!” [Laughs]. I forgot all about that song because we recorded so much, we got so many beats. I’m still kinda in shock that this nigga even fuck with niggas like us, bruh. I’m sitting back like, damn, that’s beautiful.

Fly Anakin: The only issue was so many of those beats in that pack was already used so I didn’t even know if [the “Time Up” beat] was used. I had to run it through Egon [Madlib’s longtime manager] before I even rapped on it. It was like, “oh we caught one that nobody used, that’s crazy!” That shit was from 2009, bro. Niggas passed it. This was in the same batch that said like Piñata and Bandana on it. That was the process, man. It wasn’t even luck, I feel that it was just fate. It was supposed to happen that way. I wish we got Al — but either way, this ended up being in.

If anything, the Alchemist sessions can just set you guys up for any potential sequel.

Pink Siifu: Niggas always wanna sequel, bruh. But this like some Madvillain, Black Star — Niggas just gotta give shit time, but I’m down.

Fly Anakin: This the first time I even thought about a sequel. I was cool with this joint being the be-all-end-all. I’m down too. This shit was fun.

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