What's up Leafers? Welcome to the latest edition of On the Rise where we interview upcoming hip hop talent. Today's guest is rapper, Delusional. Delusional is a Florida born MC with gritty bars characteristic of his peers such as Rick Ross, Trick Daddy, and other southern greats. Delusional's style is also barsy which sets him apart from his peers in the south. Delusional's been in the game for a while and his success is steadily rising. We can definitely see him performing on major stages such as Coachella or Rolling Loud. The Florida rapper has been on our radar for a while so we had to tap in with him! Check out the interview below.
Westleaf Staff: What's up, Delusional? Your sound is dope. When did you start making music?
Delusional: I recorded songs on a cassette tape deck in 1998 when I was 11 so technically, summer 1998 but I didn't start to take it seriously til 2001 when me and my music partner started recording at high quality studios. Due to having connections at Insane Clown posse's Psychopathic Records, I was working their street team in the year 2000 at 14 while still making music of my own. I caught the attention of Jumpsteady (Robert Bruce) who is the older brother of Violent J of insane clown posse. Since I knew the lyrics to his 2002 debut EP Chaos Theory, he hired me on as his hype man and I performed at their huge annual festival with Jumpsteady starting in 2003 at 17. After the release of my debut album in 2004 when I was 18, Jumpsteady decided he wanted to collaborate with me on my album so I sent him the song and he liked it so much, he actually put it on his debut album Master of the Flying Guillotine which came out in 2005. It sold 50k copies the 1st week AND I had made the beat for the song, as well as came up with concepts for his album. So in essence, between my 1st album The Platinum Punk in 2004 and 2nd album The Preparation, I had gained national attention by being a part of Jumpsteady's project as well as being his hype man on tour. So although I started making music technically in 1998 and then professionally releasing my 1st album in 2004, it wasnt til late 2004/early 05 that I took making music my main profession serious. Icp's fans, called "Juggalos" literally couldn't get enough of me and they loved my music. I sold 10k copies of my 2nd album The Preparation (which also featured a 2nd feature with Jumpsteady on that album).
Westleaf Staff: That's dope! What city do you represent?
Delusional: I lived in central Florida most of my life. Although I was born in Peoria, Illinois. I moved to central Florida at a very young age and was basically raised in Polk County, Florida, a county located right in between Orlando and Tampa. I migrated between Haines City, Winter Haven, and Lakeland while living there (which are all in polk county). In august 2022, I moved to Richmond, VA for a change of scenery. I still find myself representing Florida to the utmost though.
Westleaf Staff: Shout out to Miami. So how did you create your stage name?
Delusional: So I began with a crazy ass stage name which was Toxic Phreak back in the late 90s and when i started taking music seriously as a profession, I thought hard about a new stage name. The reason I came up with Delusional was because I wanted something that'd stick out and make ppl be like "wtf, why"? lmao but the idea behind it came about when someone told me I was delusional for wanting to make music and think it could actually go anywhere. So I took that and ran with it.... The name Delusional was literally made by the haters and doubters and I've had plenty over the years (and still do). So it's a nice thank you and fuck you for them because I've done big things in this music industry, been places, and seen things that some people will never see or do. Despite drugs and prison slowing down my progression, to myself I'm still a success story. Maybe I really am delusional??
There's been times over the years where I considered changing it and making it mean something less negative. Tbh I was even gonna change it before I re-launched my new campaign but I was like fuck that, even if delusional is a negative word, my whole thing in the first place was to turn it around and make it something positive, atleast in my own life. I also kept it because I've been doing music for so long under that name, It'd be like I'd have to start all over if I changed my name. So here I am, still Delusional lmao.
Westleaf Staff: I love that. I think it's dope that you stay true to yourself. So how did your early life shape your interest in music?
Delusional: I was the only punk rock kid in my squad that loved hip hop just as much if not more. I also considered myself a hip hop head but I just happened to hang with the punk rockers. Since I started making music at such a young age, my experiences and life stories and lesson were captured in time with my music. Tbh I had a great childhood with parents who loved me and I realize how lucky I was to have that, as many people don't. But it wasn't til my late teens where I started to do drugs and sell drugs that I really got into that street life. Especially after my mom died in 2005.
Westleaf Staff: Wow. You've been doing it a while. So who is your biggest Musical influence?
Delusional: My biggest musical influences of ALL time are without a doubt a tie between Three 6 Mafia and Bone Thugs N Harmony. E-40 was also one of my favorites, as well as early gangsta rap like Eazy E and Dr. Dre. You can definitely hear the influences of Bone Thugs, Three 6, and E-40 in all my music, even the new stuff im working on.
Westleaf Staff: Dope! Those are some legends! What's been the defining moment in your music career thus far?
Delusional: I'd say my defining moments were being blessed with the opportunity to tour with Lil Flip on MTV and Maxim Magazine's spring break tour in 2006. Every show had 5000+ people in the crowd. And of course all the other music festivals and shows opening for huge names was great. The larger festivals had at least 3-5k people in attendance. Working with Jumpsteady and Twiztid was a fun time as well but to be honest, I feel like my defining moment is in the future, not the past.
Westleaf Staff: Very interesting. So we read in your bio you used to be signed to major labels and in a group called Durty White Boyz. Tell us about that?
Delusional: Durty White Boyz was a rap group, which, exactly like it sounds, was full of 4 dirty ass white boyz representing the south. It was me, Lil Keno, Durty Spott, and a guy named Prophet who I actually released a solo EP through my own label Anti-Authority Records in 2005. We started the group in 2005 when we were managed by Jamaica Johnson, who used to be a big name behind the scenes in the 90s and early 2000's at Atlantic Records. He was the one who locked in our MTV Spring Break tour in 2006 and got us signed to 75 Records who was distributed through Bungalo and Universal. We did our first mixtape in 05 with Prophet but we really didnt start doing it big til we did that Spring Break tour with Lil Flip in 06. Right before that tour though, Prophet left the group and we brought Stitchy C with us for the spring break tour. Unforunately, we were all in FL and Stitchy C is from North Carolina so we found another guy named Nalls, who was originally from Rhode Island but lived in our area in Florida. We was grinding hard so we dropped a mixtape called Grindin', Vol. 1 in 2007. That tape consisted of myself, Keno, Spott, and Nalls.
Westleaf Staff: So what happened with Universal?
Long story short, the fact we couldn't keep the group and voices consistent with the image made them think we weren't stable enough. I caught some drug charges and couldn't leave the state, much less the country. Nalls had left the group at that time and we brought in a dude named Profit (not the same guy as Prophet). Profit now goes by JayTee863... Anyway, even though we were working on our album, we got shelved, like most artists on majors do. More internal issues came about and JayTee863 left, Nalls came back. Keno's lil brother Lil X came in. Spott left. It was a whole fucked up scenario. Anyway, so Jamaica actually got us a deal later on with Asylum Records who was distributed through Warner Music Group. We released another mixtape called "Unoriginal & Lyrically Offensive" in 2008 and we even had Monoxide from Twiztid hosting it. Shit looked great.
Westleaf Staff: So you guys weren't just with Universal, you were with Warner too?
Delusional: Yup and to be honest the whole experience was bullshit with both situations. I understand the labels' not wanting to fuck with us 'cause I kept going to jail and our members kept switching out but still, we coulda done something. It made us all look like liars cuz we kept promoting the fact we were with them. The album never dropped. Finally, we ended up just being a trio... Me, Keno, and Durty Spott. There was another major interested so we took all the best songs we had and added new stuff to the album, and THAT one fell through too. Needless to say, fuck the major labels. We coulda been releasing shit independently that whole time and gettin money cause our name was getting huge at the time. We ended up releasing the album after DWB broke up in 2013 just to have it out there. We held back so much dope music for major releases and honestly, it all sounded dated by the time we actually released it. I'll never hold back music again thats for sure. Now I'm just focused on me and the future.
Westleaf Staff: So cool! Salute for looking to the future. So what makes you a unique artist?
Delusional: For lack of better words, Im just unapologetically me. Figuratively speaking, nobody else looks like me. Nobody else sounds like me. Nobody else has lived my life. I am me and that alone makes me unique. But to answer your question in a better way, now that i've found myself and gotten clean off drugs and started taking care of myself by losing 100lbs and going to the gym to feel better in general. Tbh, I didn't even really know who I was for most of my life. It wasn't until the last 5 years that I really started to discover myself and figure out who I actually am and I think that as a human, that's an ongoing process. But as an artist, my experiences and vibes of the day make my music unique. Nobody else but me has to believe that.'
Westleaf Staff: Dope! Self discovery is such a unique experience. So what does art mean to you?
Delusional: As you know, art is subjective to the viewer/listener so its up to the audience taking the art in to find what they see or hear in it. Art is expression. Art is taking bits and pieces of your life and painting a picture (literally and figuratively) for the consumer. Art, of course, is not only for the consumer tho. It's FOR the artist. It can be happy, sad, relatable, abstract, etc. If it wasn't for art, life would be a horribly boring place. Think about music in a movie. Without that music, the message you're trying to convey wouldn't hit as hard. The same goes for visuals in a movie and the metaphors in it. Art is the embodiment of creativity in the human subconscious. It's a beautiful thing.
Westleaf Staff: That's deep! Where do you see your music career going over the next few years?
Delusional: Honestly I see my future as being brighter than my past so I know for a fact that whatever happens, Ima be still be happy with the result. Now that I'm clean, sober, and more focused than I ever have been in my life, I see great things in my immediate future. Not to mention, being in the game for almost 20 years has taught me hella life lessons, both personally and musically. I know more about the business side of the music business than I ever did before. Im on my game right now big time. It feels good to have an actual plan this time and not release something and hope it does well. You literally have to have a plan to make this shit pop off right and I been in preparation of this plan since I got out of prison. I didn't wanna launch immediately because I had to get my money right and all my ducks in a row but it's finally that time. I'm so fuckin' excited for the future homie you have nooo idea.
Westleaf Staff: I wish you much success! Before we go, describe music in three words.
Delusional: Fun. Relatable. Confident.
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