The area code 562 covers much of Southeastern Los Angeles County, including the cities of Downey, Paramount, Norwalk, and Bellflower. Commonly referred to as the Southeast, it has largely been overlooked as Los Angeles rap has reasserted its depth on a national level. Big $wift aims to change that with his latest project, Still Servin, which snuck in at the end of April. Between smoking Fronto in Downey with the fro out or rapping on Beverly Hills’ rooftops with the braids done, he’s a walking example of the unique presence of the Southeast. He started rapping at fifteen years old and is a testament to the power Specifically, $wift is from Downey, a historically a working-class city whether as a hub for orange groves or post-World War II aerospace manufacturing. He continues this tradition on Still Servin by giving his grounded impressions of moving through the Southeast (“Southeast nigga had to get it out that curb”). It doesn’t pretend to be the faux glitzy, post-Young Thug that you hear in Hollywood or the almost mechanical violence of South Central’s anthems. This is Big $wift. He’s irreverent, funny, usually high and indifferent to trends or waves.
STILL SERVIN ALBUM
He makes his music for his people and, recently, reached his hand into service by holding a clothing drive in the same cities you hear in his music. Still Servin’s opening title track is a nod to this outreach and other ways he provides assistance to the community. It starts by fooling you with strings that fade behind a viral clip of a guy close to getting knocked out. Before that has time to settle, $wift is dropping lines about coupes and liters over bass slaps that match his characteristic warble. If you listen back through his music you can see this attention to vocal effects develop within the last year and a half, specifically on last summer’s “Stacks in the Whip”, aided by his collaboration with producer Saltreze, a dynamic talent in the city who has also produced for Rucci, 2Eleven, and 1TakeJay. “Really though, P, I got the idea to start using autotune when I took mushrooms, you feel me?” he says while chuckling just genuinely enough you know he’s serious. “It changed my life,” he follows, ‘But never again.”
$wift’s had a year to play with the software and see how it pairs with his voice and, most important to his work, how to slide it for whatever purpose. For “Still Servin”, he’s harmonizing but delivers it with a force that says, “I’ll smack someone ten minutes after I step off the plane.” By contrast, “Come Thru” near the end of the project he wears a softer coat—still one with “P from the Southeast” emblazoned on the back that would make Ric Flair start using cocaine again—and enlists frequent ballad collaborator AzBenzz and Connecticut’s Craigy F. We caught up with Big $wift at the studio to ask him about the project, his love of “good cooks in the wood” and what to expect from him next:
So, we’re here at the studio, you’re rolling a blunt right now. What would you say are your top 3 favorite weed strains?
It’s all gotta be exotic. So I’m smoking good exotics, maybe some Wedding Cake. If I’m out of state maybe some Runtz. I can put O.G. in the top three too because it’s classic, that was the first weed that got me really high other than the Chronic strains that were around as kids you feel me?
Talk about Still Servin, the project you just released.
You know man, I’m still selling weed. (laughs) Naw man I’m kidding. It means alotta shit. I serve up the community, my block, I serve up everybody I know, my music, all “still servin” shit. Niggas know me so that’s why I’m still here.
You recently did a clothing drive for the Southeast right?
Yeah man, we had a clothing drive last week and I’m doing some other work with this group called Gangs Out of Downey (GOOD). They do a lot of good work counseling kids so I wanna get involved with that.
Do you remember the first time you got high?
Yeah, it was with my cousin. Free my cousin Lil Popeye. This was like when I was ten years old. We smoked out of a dollar bill at my uncle’s house during a family party. I was so high but everybody in my family was so drunk and high themselves that I blended in at ten years old. My family’s changed a lot, you know, it’s almost 2020 but back then that’s how things were.
What are your favorite tracks from Still Servin?
The first and last tracks, but not the “Rosecrans Vic Outro”. That’s my dawg but listen to “Come Thru” and “Still Servin” and if you don’t like either one of them you don’t like me and we can leave it at that.