FreeHRS: First off can you tell us how the last 3 to 4 months have been for you and your career?
Tito Lopez: The last few months have been 100 mph for me. Actually, more like the last year. I’ve been signed since last summer, and went straight to work on my album as soon as the ink dried. I was already a hard worker, dropping mixtapes and freestyles on the internet, but that was all from my crib in Mississippi. Now I’ve been traveling all over, working with all different types of talent, meeting new people, legends, etc. I’ve been everywhere from LA, to Vegas, to Atlanta, to New York making this album. And i guarantee it’ll be worth listening to. I just finished shooting my first video to my new joint (“Mama Proud”) back in my hometown (Gulfport, MS), and it was the greatest couple days of my life. Brought out my whole hood and showed where I come from like real niggas used to do. To give y’all that experience. We had a blast. Left that shoot, and went straight to Cali to shoot my video for “Conversation with TITO”. Studio sessions, business meetings, after parties, flights, video shoots, etc. It can all be overwhelming, but I love it, so it’s not work. We just leaving a trail of truth behind us everywhere we go.
FreeHRS: What’s like being under the wings of Dr. Dre and Organized Noize? Getting the production from them?
TO: It’s great. Especially Organized Noize. Those dudes are incredible musically. They’re really forward thinking, and it shows in their catalogue. They deserve a lot more respect than they get. Also, I have more of an emotional attachment to them. Being from the South, I grew up loving the Dungeon Family. So when I went down to ATL to work with them, and they saw I was the real deal, the ice broke almost immediately. It was really like a family atmosphere down there. We exchanged stories and experiences, ate BBQ, watched sports. Just chilled at the crib like homies. They had never seen somebody my age with such an appreciation for their music. So they looked at me like a little brother, and I looked at them like big brothers. Before I left, I was even made an honorary member of the DF, so that meant a lot to me. Me and Dre don’t really have a teacher/student relationship, it’s more of a mutual respect. He does his thing and he respects me for what I do. I really wouldn’t say I’m under anybody’s wings, or have a “mentor” in this game. I think they all recognize that I’m way more advanced than the average rapper. And soon, the world will see it. I’m kind of like a veteran in a rookie’s body lol
FreeHRS: How does it feel to be called one of the freshest high risers from the South?
TO: It’s incredible, because I feel like I stand out. I’m a southerner until I die, make no mistake about it, but I make music for EVERYBODY to relate to. So when I speak, or rap about certain topics, it’s for EVERYBODY to feel me. No matter where you’re from. That’s why I think I have a bit of a reputation as the southern rapper with an “east-coast” flow. I’ve heard things like that. I’m not sure what an “east-coast” flow is, I just know it’s not intentional. This is who I am. And i represent being true to who you are. I think people fuck wit me off that principle alone. But it is a bit of icing on the cake being from the South, because I think muthafuckas forgot that we can actually spit down here. Lyrics, concepts, stories, whatever. I got it all. The south STILL got something to say!
FreeHRS: What was like being raised in Mississippi?
TO: Culture clash! Childhood was fairly normal, but culturally it’s crazy down there. I remember one time in like 3rd grade, a white kid asking me a racist joke. I totally didn’t understand the joke at the time. I went home and told my parents and they explained that it wasn’t funny. lol One time when I was 19, a gang of skin-heads jumped out on me ready to kill me. U ever seen “American History X”? Yea…like that! Somehow I made it out without a scratch, but it was insane! I even told a story of another crazy experience on one of my joints (“Story to Tell”). I don’t wanna make it sound like it’s a race war 24/7 down there. I mean these are all events spread out throughout my life. And my city, Gulfport, ain’t like that. There are just certain parts of the state that are still living in the 60’s. Certain parts of the south period are like that. Certain parts of the WORLD! But I don’t like to dwell on that in the music. Like we need a pity party or something. I think a common image of my state is White Rednecks and Black country ass people. And I’d rather just show a different light. There are intelligent, cultured, talented people in Mississippi. You’re talking to one of ’em. There’s idiots everywhere, racism everywhere, and great people everywhere. We ain’t no different.
Last year our site had you as a nominee for the 2012 XXL Freshman Cover, now this year we have you teetering between as high as number 2 on our cover. What do you think you have to do to make the cover in 2013?
I don’t think I have to do shit except continue to be me. I’m glad you asked me this, because I personally don’t give a fuck about making anybody’s list or cover. In fact, I just recorded a joint about it. I understand the people who make lists don’t mean any harm, but everybody who IS or IS NOT included must understand that it’s all opinion, not fact. The MTV list is not the “MTV” list it’s the “10 people sitting at that table” list. Same goes for XXL and anybody else. It’s all about the people. I do music for the PEOPLE. The UNDERDOGS. So me not being on any list is perfect. I’ve personally had fans of my music tell me I’m their favorite rapper, and my words really get them through hard times. I must be doing something right. So although I appreciate anybody thinking I deserve to be on a list, or a cover, or anything like that, I’m not out here chasing that.
FreeHRS: What can we expect from you to come out in 2012?
TO: You can definitely expect my new song “Mama Proud” to hit the radio very soon. Expect that to really give you that classic feeling you been waiting for. I’m dropping new songs to the internet like every week so keep searching my name. Check out my new mixtape “The Lost Files: RELOADED”. Plenty of new shit on there. I’m performing at SXSW this year, so expect me to make the most of all my time on stage. Expect me to hit the road right after and touch every town. And expect my album “The King’s Speech” to drop this Summer, and everyone to love it. The Underdog has arrived!