We took Slim Thug to one of New York's top vegan restaurants to discuss his humanitarian work, his new diet, and his new album, 'American King.'
Slim Thug at By Chloe / Photo by DJ Young Samm
Slim Thug has never been one to shy away from his accomplishments. Since his 2003 mixtape Having Thangs, he has repeatedly invited his contemporaries to compare their achievements to his—simply so he can point out that he’s far superior. In 2005, before his deal with Interscope Records, he had already rolled a Bentley off the lot and dated LeToya Luckett of Destiny’s Child. The ensuing album, naturally, was called Already Platinum. He has recorded with countless Houston artists, including legends like E.S.G. and a little-known singer named Beyoncé, as well as mainstream notables like Pharrell and Gwen Stefani. If that’s not enough, Slim stands 6’6” tall and rocks an assortment of gold chains, which are highlighted by the monochrome tattoos covering his body.
Basically, Slim Thug has always made being a boss look effortless.
In 2004, during his brief but impactful stint with indie label Swishahouse, Slim rose to distinction out of the North Side of Houston. Along with a Swishahouse frontline that included Paul Wall, Mike Jones, and Chamillionaire, Slim Thug carved an undisputed tenure for Houston rappers on a global platform. During that period of ascent, most of Slim’s lyrical content was unabashedly about his rise to financial success. In his song “Errrbody,” he reasons, “I came from the bottom of the streets of the North / grinded my way to this big ass house / hell yeah that’s all I’mma talk about.” He has emphasized over and over again in his songs that he refuses to change, expressing his contentment with all that he’s attained. But now, Slim is in pursuit of a different level of success.
I had lunch with Slim Thug in New York earlier this month while he was promoting his new album, American King. Slim was accompanied by his DJ, DJ Young Samm, his manager and bodyguard, Hev, and his friend Rico. We decided to eat at By Chloe, a plant based restaurant in Flatiron because eating healthy is now a priority for Slim. By Chloe was started by award-winning vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli and restaurateur Samantha Wasser. Chloe herself kindly agreed to chaperone our meal along with the By Chloe team.
Slim and I discussed his new healthy lifestyle, philanthropic endeavors outside of rap, and the motivation for the altruistic shift underscored in American King, all three of which serve as an awesome assertion that Slim is continuing to develop his creative skills while honing in on his virtues.
Noisey: The reason I wanted to do this interview here is because I know you started working out due to your blood pressure. I thought this would be cool since vegan food is all cholesterol-free.
Slim Thug: Exactly. I’m digging everything I am seeing so far, but I want Chloe to tell me what to eat.
Rico: Is the guac burger only bread with guacamole?
By Chloe team: It has a veggie patty.
Executive Chef Chloe: I think the guac burger is a very good choice. A side of mac n’ cheese is really good, and you could also get a salad.
Slim Thug: I am down with all of that. I want to try all of it.
Chloe: Do you want us to just bring some goodies out?
Slim Thug: That sounds real good.
Rico: I am going to be safe. Just get me some mac n’ cheese and French fries.
Slim Thug: [Disappointed] Mac and cheese and French fries?
Rico: That’s what I like. I can’t go wrong with either.
Hev: One time I ordered a veggie burger at Houston’s, but it was gross.
Slim Thug: You ain’t like it?
Hev: It didn’t even have real veggies. It would just fall apart when I ate it.
Slim Thug: It was probably just rice.
DJ Young Samm: I want to try the guac burger, but I don’t like beans.
Chloe: There aren’t that many beans. I think you’ll like it.
Slim Thug and the By Chloe team / Photo by Rachel Wormser of Esquared Hospitality
How about the pesto meatball?
DJ Young Samm: Talkin’ about trying stuff? How about trying not breathing for ten minutes and see how that works [laughs].
Slim Thug: That’s why I don’t take y’all nowhere. Y’all don’t know nothing.
Hev: I’m going to get the guac burger. Not spicy though!
Slim Thug: Is everybody on the guac burger? Where do you see meatball? They got a pesto meatball po’ boy. I want to try different stuff. You’re going to turn me vegan now.
So, getting to the interview, what is Hustle Fit?
Hustle Fit is a movement, run by one of my best friends from high school, Milton Harris. He started personal training and called it the Hustle Fit Crew. He got me into working out, and ever since then I have been in good shape and getting better. The slogan is “Get Better or Get Worse,” and that branched out into the Get Better Gang, which is me, Bun B, his wife, Kirko Bangz, and a lot of local rappers such as Propain and Killa Kyleon.
What is your daily routine with Hustle Fit?
Five days a week I do a full body workout in the gym. And I also run three miles at Memorial Park. I usually do that five days a week, but because I am getting slimmer, I do that every other day now. I don’t want to get too skinny.
In a previous interview, you mentioned that you were working out a lot but not really watching your diet. Now you are also watching what you eat. What brought that about?
I wanted to see more results and challenge myself also. [Waiter delivers The Giving Tree, a fresh pressed juice composed of kale, spinach, wheatgrass, apple, and lemon, to our table]. Damn that juice look good.
Hev: [Slides his juice over to Slim Thug].
Slim Thug: I challenged myself recently on the fifth of July and did a fast where I didn’t smoke, drink, or cheat on my meals. I get prepped meals from Be Fit Foods. I stuck to that this whole month and I am seeing great results; following the diet to a T and not messing up.
What does your new diet consist of?
Basically, plain chicken, no sauces or none of that extra stuff. Rice, broccoli, and everything plain without much flavor—a little bit but not a lot.
What types of food do you try to avoid?
Fried foods, anything fattening, or with steroids, or processed foods, and all that.
Do you intend to influence fans?
Man! I definitely get a lot of feedback from fans when they see the results and pictures of how far I came. Lately, I have been taking my shirt off on Instagram and I get a lot of comments saying stuff like, “hey man I see you getting better and this inspired me to get back in the gym and get right” and “I feel like if you can do it I can do it.” I am definitely enjoying that.
Your new album serves as a manifesto for a more virtuous Slim.
I told myself, “I am 35 years old. I want to be an OG of the music game and give out game.” What motivated it the most was a song I did a few months ago on the second volume of the Hogg Life series, Still Surviving, called “Chuuch” featuring Joel Osteen; I sampled one of his sermons. I didn’t think it would take off, but I was promoting the album at 97.9 The Box in Houston, and they were like, “do you have any radio songs?” And I was like, “no, I don’t have no radio songs, but I did do a song with Joel Osteen with no cursing.” And they were like, “What? You did a song with Joel Osteen?”
We played it in the studio, and after that they played it on the radio one time, and the phone lines lit up, and everybody was talking about it. Eventually they put it on full rotation. Next thing you know the news picked it up, and all the news stations in Houston were like, “Oh my God, Joel Osteen teams up with Slim Thug!” I got scared because I definitely did not get it cleared.
So you weren’t in the studio with Joel?
I definitely was not in the studio with Joel [laughs]. I go to his church, Lakewood. I have been going to his church since he was on the North Side of Houston. Before he was in the big church, his dad was there, and I was going to his church. When I went to church, I felt touched by everything he was saying; I was like, “this really relates to me.” So I thought some samples of Joel Osteen would give me a good direction to go in. It was one of the biggest songs in Houston when it came out. It inspired so many people, and I got so much feedback from that song, more than any other song. From old to young, so many people came up to me and were like, “we can relate to that,” and “thank you for that song.” It really inspired a lot of people, so that inspired me to make American King in that type of direction.
Did Joel ever give you any feedback on this song?
I never talked to Joel personally, but I did talk to different people at Lakewood, and they were like, “he liked the song.” So that was cool.
You’ve recently engaged in some humanitarian efforts outside of rap.
We went and sat with the mayor of Houston a couple of weeks ago. And we were sitting down with him on being pro-active. There hasn’t been no police killing black men in Houston as far as I know. There was one incident, but he assured us that the dude had a weapon and he was in the wrong. The mayor personally told us that. So we can’t be mad so much at that in Houston, and we also can’t control what is happening outside of Houston. We were focusing on what was going on in our city.
One idea was that maybe we should send more police to their own communities. That way they don’t feel uncomfortable and are more familiar with the people walking around, and it will give them a better idea of where they are at versus someone who has never been there and is a little paranoid and jumpy about stuff they are not used to.
Photo by Greg Noire, courtesy of Slim Thug
We were also talking about black on black crime because that is what really does affect us in Houston. We were coming up with different ideas about things we could put in the hood to make people feel like they have hope. We feel like the guys who are out here robbing, killing, and stealing don’t really have any value for their life and have nothing to live for, but they still want to feed their family and be successful just like the next man—so what can we do to help them?
A lot of guys might not want to go to college or might not be smart enough to go to college. Maybe we could put some type of trade school in the hood, and they could go straight to having a good job and be able to feed their family and not have to work at McDonald’s but have other options. We also came up with an entrepreneur course, and if they were to pass it maybe the city could give them a grant to start their own business or something like that.
So we were trying to gather up different ideas for people who feel hopeless in order to give them hope. Because if people were going to graduate from high school and were moving in the direction of opening their own business or having their own trade, I think a lot of people would have more value for living and would have something to live for and they’d take that opportunity.
Are these ideas going to be implemented?
We are definitely going to make it happen. Like I said, it was two weeks ago. We are building on this and following up on it and have another meeting set up with the people at City Hall in order to see what all we can and can’t do.
Tell me about Boss Life Construction.
It’s me, my homeboy Troy Green, and Cory Crawford. The city gave me my own day a couple of years ago. We sat down with the councilman and asked what else can we do to make sure we are taking full advantage of this and doing stuff in the community. He told us he could give us L.A.R.A. (Land Assemblage Redevelopment Authority) Lots; basically lots people did not want. So we began to clean those lots off and build new affordable homes in the community and give them to people with a certain income or credit. And if they qualify then the city would pay the down payment for the house, so they don’t have to worry about scraping up the down payment. We are just trying to figure out different programs we can use and help the community benefit from it.
I want to talk to you about your new album, American King. A lyric in the song titled “IDKY” that I found loaded is, “Lord they are giving my people life for a conspiracy charge / but they give a killer less than that / they hate to see you rich and black.” Tell me about this line.
I got a friend in jail doing ten years. No bond. None of that. And I see people who have killed be home that same week off of a bond. That is crazy. A drug case is not as dangerous as a murderer. To see murderers come home on bond, when they won’t even give somebody making money selling drugs a bond is crazy to me. And you’ll see these guys in jail doing longer times than people who actually committed aggravated crimes, and they’ll be in there only by word of mouth. I just feel like that law is set up against black people and minorities who make money in the streets. Pass those sweet potato fries. That’s good! Man, that looks good.
There was a glimpse of you getting political on your song “I Run” featuring Yelawolf. You said, “Mr. Obama, we are so tired of selling crack.” That song dropped in 2009, which was the year of President Obama’s initial term. Has anything changes since President Obama took office?
I don’t think much has changed since Obama has been president. But I do not believe it is really in their control anymore. I don’t believe presidents control as much as we want them to. I think it is more up to local leaders since there are different laws all over the country and in different places, so I think it is more of a local thing.
Chloe: How was everything?
Slim Thug: Good! I like it! You are going to turn me into a vegan. I like what you are doing Chloe.
Rico: The check shouldn’t be that high, there ain’t no animals in this food [laughs].
Slim Thug: If there were more food options like this, I’d go vegan.
Douglas Doneson loves guacamole. Follow him on Twitter.