An Annotated Interview with Hopsin
We got Kitty Pryde to interview her least favorite rapper, and he ended up being...really nice.
I pride myself on my eternal optimism. The only condition to my permanently positive attitude is the need for a scapegoat; I can turn basically any frown upside-down as long as I have one solitary being to blame all the frowns on. I'm not sure why I chose Hopsin to play Rap Game Satan for the past year, but ever since I hit like 10,000 followers on Twitter I've been trying to cultivate a very public rap beef between us, and he's been infuriatingly unresponsive to every dis. Not a single tweet, never a head-nod; when I saw him live in Orlando (a show where he was booed, dropped by a crowd of bros during a crowdsurfing attempt, and eventually arrested) he didn't even glance a corny anime-club eyeball my way. On my birthday, I had the opportunity to interview him over the phone. I knew it could go one of two ways—either he would call me out for being needlessly bitchy online, or he would have no idea who I was and give me the opportunity to trick him into saying something really stupid. I read and researched. I knew exactly what he'd say. I anticipated feeling really good about myself after the entire ordeal. I was gonna go out for dumplings afterward. Instead, I was forced to do what my Sunday school teacher called "soul-searching." Because it turns out that Hopsin is actually really nice.
[Thought Commentary in Italics]
Noisey: Hi Hopsin, it's Kitty Pryde from Noisey. [I got all clammy at the prospect of actually saying his name out loud.]
What's up Katie, how you doing?
[I smiled. He had no idea who I am.]
I just have a few questions to ask you. I think you're really really interesting. [Diss. I tried.]
First of all, where did you get your rap name? How did you think of it?[I prayed he would give me the same answer he'd given so many hip hop magazines- "I am the hip-"HOP" "SIN"-ister -- That's where my name came from." In reality, Hopson is his actual last name, and he made up that corny line. This was my first call-out plan.]
It's my last name; my rap name is my last name. Keeping it simple, I just figured cause it has the word hop in it, and hip-hop…so it has a nice little ring to it, so I just stuck with Hopsin.
Th….that's cool….it reminds me of….bunnies….do you ever think about that? [Obviously, I wasn't prepared to hear the truth. In a state of confusion and panic, my mind went straight to bunnies. Not surprising.]
Bunnies. [laughs] I hop around a lot as well so it works to my benefit…sorry if you can't hear me; theres a lot of wind over here.
No it's ok, I do this a lot. I also just wanted to ask you how you started rapping? [No, I've never done this, ever. I also don't care how you started rapping, but I didn't know what to ask next and this is the question that every dumb blog interviewer asks me right off the bat. I hoped for a long boring story that would leave me time to plan.]
It was back in 2000, 2001, I was just making a lot of parody songs, parodies of songs that were already out on the radio and stuff. I would watch MAD TV and Saturday Night Live and just do what they did. I actually developed lyrical skill over time, and I just started writing originals, and it was a lot of fun so I just decided it was something I wanted to do with my life and I just started doing it, back in high school.
[That's when it hit me- he was trolling me. He knew exactly who I was, and he was going to give answers mirroring my own from every interview I'd ever done. He was plotting something more evil than I could have ever dreamt up on my own, and I had no idea what it was. My heart sank…my hate-magnet was beating me at my own game.]
How old were you? How old are you now, actually? [If he answered "13," "15," or, "Don't worry about it"….that's how I would know for sure.]
I'm 27. When I started it was 13 years ago; I was 14.
So you've devoted half your life to the game?
Yeah I have.
That's admirable. [It was. I was half impressed, half ashamed for being impressed. I thought about punching myself in the face, but I was surrounded by VICE writers, so I knew it would show up online somewhere. You have to think about these things.]
I love it though, it's fun.
Do you ever get in arguments? I know you had that whole Odd Future thing but I'm not talking about that, I'm just talking about anybody else that you have beef with? [I plucked petals from an imaginary daisy. He hates me….he hates me not….he hates me…]
Nah, not really. I don't have any beef with any rapper.
Do you use the Internet a lot? How would you say the Internet plays into your career? [I masked my desperation with a cliché "Relevant 2013 Question"]
It plays a huge role, like 90%…probably everything, the Internet is everything I do at all…If it wasn't for the Internet, I wouldn't be here. I'd probably be rapping but I wouldn't be well known if it wasn't for the Internet.
Yea that's true, I think for the whole industry that's how it is right now.
Yeah, it's changed a lot… **KRRRRRRTSHHHHHHH WIND BLOWING SOUNDS**…Yeah, I'm at a skate park and it's windy, so I apologize.
No that's fine…you're really into skateboarding? [He was clearly dying for me to ask. I threw him a bone.]
Yeah, I've been skateboarding for like 16 years.
Can you pop an ollie?
I've been skateboarding for sixteen years I can do way more than pop an ollie.
Can you make a video of you popping an ollie? [I decided against a Trinidad James joke. He wouldn't have understood.]
That's like asking a singer to sing "Row Row Row Your Boat"…it's like come on, I can sing way better than that…You want me to make a video for you? I mean, I already have a lot of videos on YouTube of me doing a lot of stuff.
There's already videos of you popping ollies? [Okay, I was pushing it, but only for a total lack of anything to fucking say.]
Ollies are so simple, I don't do ollies. I do other stuff… I mean I can pop an ollie but...
I also want to talk to you about, what is your biggest medium? Do you use twitter the most…or do you blog? [Naturally, these are the only two things I suggest. I feel like a loser.]
I use Facebook, that's what I use the most. But recently I've been using Instagram a lot. I'm on Twitter, I'm on everything. Facebook is number-one though. I generate all my traffic through that.
[Oh my God. It's not an act. He really doesn't have a clue who I am. He doesn't have a clue who anyone is. I saw visions of the future—a year from now, Hopsin watches his first Harlem Shake video. He dismisses it as "fuckin wack" and pops an ollie with ease.] How much would you say you check your Facebook? Do you check your Facebook more than you read your Twitter mentions?
Yeah, Twitter is kind of a wreck to me...I like Facebook a lot more. People message me and I can reply. It's more legit.
[The deal was sealed. He'd never seen any of the hilarious gifs I made of him scaring popular children's characters.]Okay so remember your Machine Gun Kelly tour? I went to a show you did in Orlando, we took a picture there together….or we almost did but then a bunch of girls with bigger butts got in my way and they wouldn't let me through so I didn't get to take a picture. I took it anyway, though. Just standing near you. It's really blurry. [SHUT UP, KITTY. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?]
Oh, I can't even remember.
[It stung. Was this admission some kind of coping mechanism? Was I using my hatred for Hopsin to bury the pain of his rejection? I scrambled to change the subject.] It's okay, I'm not that memorable…how did you feel after the show, though, can you tell me what happened?
Fucking horrible. My back was hurting like crazy. I just wanted to go to my hotel and lay down. That shit hurt so bad when I fell down.
Yeah, that was mean. Everybody was so mean.
They didn't catch me. That was fucked up.
But you played it the right way. You kinda made everybody at that show look really stupid. [What happened was that he tried to jump into a crowd that clearly wasn't feeling him. They all jumped back and made a little Hopsin-shaped space for him to hit the floor, and when he did, he stayed down. The music stopped, lights went on, and everyone felt at least a little bit bad for letting this angry dude jump to his death. Just when we were all either dialing 911 or trying to figure out whether he'd done it on purpose, he popped up and kept on rapping. The music started at just the right time, and everyone who dropped him had to stare him in the big blank scary eyes. It was awful.]
Yeah I did. I got them back. I'm so glad that I did that.
[I was glad, too. What if that happened to me? I pictured myself on the floor of the designated "ratchet" club in Orlando and almost started crying. I had to get a sly dig in, or all would be lost.] Where do you get your contacts, and also are they safe? I kinda want some that give me anime eyes.
People say they're not safe, but they haven't done anything to my eyes and I've been wearing them since 2005. There are places in LA that sell them, little corner stores. I know in other states they don't really sell them; you have to order them online which sucks, but in LA they have them everywhere. I've never had a problem getting them or finding them, and they don't do anything to my eyes. At least not yet.
[He was giving me advice. He wanted me to have the stupid eyes I wanted. He wasn't Satan…was he?] How do you feel about like white girls in rap? Do you feel like that's something that's not…
White girls, white girls in rap?
Do you want to see that emerge more? Or do you think that's kind of...shitty?
Well, it depends. Usually I can't picture it cause it seems like in order for…well, hip-hop is like…for the successful people….it's more of a street type thing, and the way the accent is done in hip-hop, the way everybody is used to it being done is in a grimy, street form. It's really aggressive, and you have to flow really natural for it to be believable, and white girls, to try to pull that off to me, while I've seen that done, It doesn't really look too good, it looks kinda corny….
But I guess if a white girl stayed true to herself…? No, but then you got Ke$ha, which I don't really like, and I don't know….the only way I can picture it is, if there's a white girl who just grew up in the hood, and she just has the natural hood way of speaking, so when she speaks it doesn't sound generic, it sounds good.
What if a girl just rapped about white girl stuff?
(Laughs hysterically) NO. NO. Ke$ha, Ka$ha, that's what she do, that's what that is, and I don't like Ke$ha.
Yeah, me neither. [I didn't feel angry. I felt ashamed.]
Do you rap?
No, no, no..I'm just wondering…I've just been asking everybody …..uh, do you have anything that you wanna add?
Kids, don't do drugs and pay your taxes. That's about it.
Thank you so much for talking to me.
It's my pleasure, I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to interview me.
[A knife in my chest.] Well, I hope I see you again soon. I guess that's it, bye! [I tried to break it off as fast as I could. I couldn't handle the sincerity of his kindness- too much guilt.]
Have a good rest of your day, ok?
[Suddenly all the evil Hopsin propaganda in my brain was torn up by Tina Fey's character in "Mean Girls". Little did he know, I'd never be able to have a good rest of my day. I'd be busy trying to accept that he was not the only terrible human on Earth. In fact, he may be one of the least terrible. It was disorienting. I had to make it stop.] You too, bye.
Kitty Pryde has learned a very important lesson because of this interview. She's on Twitter - @kittaveli