Just when you thought that people were sick of explaining appropriation in rap—hell, even T.I.’s throwing his former protegé Iggy Azalea under the bus—here comes Slim Jesus.
The 18-year-old from small-town Hamilton, Ohio, made a big splash online last week with his song "Drill Time." The track borrows heavily from the sonics and themes of drill music, a variant of trap rap grown out of the most violent and parts of Chicago and popularized by Chief Keef and his affiliates. Drill is not for everybody, but in an age where much of hip-hop and rap culture has been absorbed into the mainstream, drill is one of a few sub-genres that has largely retained its identity and afilliation with the hardship that black youth in places like Chicago endure.
Anyway, since Slim Jesus was cosigned by drill artist Lil Bibby and featured in a Complex profile, he’s become a viral sensation, being heralded as the new Eminem (though we suspect that has more to do with his appearance than his musical skills). Expectedly, he’s also inspired tremendous ire, including comparisons to a "Malcolm in the Middle" character and two diss tracks (at least one of which contains unfortunate threats of sexual violence). With this, Slim Jesus is becoming the new lightning rod for debates about cultural appropriation, style-biting and general wackness.
Now, Slim has completed a rite of passage for many rappers—an exclusive feature interview on VLAD TV. In the interview, which you can see in full above, he addresses his "fame" (including endorsements by Bibby, Amber Rose and Meek Mill) and criticism against him. He also admits that he doesn’t live the lifestyle of drug-dealing and gang affiliation that is a hallmark for many drill artists:
I’m not out here catching bodies and s***, obviously. Like, I’m f***ing smart…I realize that if you got an opportunity to get out of a spot, you shouldn’t, you know, be f***ing around and catching bodies and s***.
But he’s also quick to note that he’ll come at anybody if need be:
Don’t get it twisted, however—Slim Jesus will not get "caught lackin’." "For the most part on the street s***, like, I got homies that are in that s***, and I know people who are and people around me," he states.
Not sure if he’s talking about the black "savages" (Slim’s word, not ours) surrounding him in the "Drill Time" video, a clip that comes with a disclaimer about how the guns he and his "crew" are waving around are fake.
(H/t VLAD TV, Rolling Stone, Mic, Complex)