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Who is 03 Greedo? The Watts rapper with the wildest style in the game

03 Greedo, whose bizarre, urgent, energetic delivery has captivated rap listeners, landed in hot water last night when an interview with Billboard revealed Greedo’s rather uncomplimentary thoughts on Tupac, calling him a “bitch ass n***a.”

Greedo told Billboard he wasn’t really messing with Pac:

“Do they need a n***a who can really rap to tell you? Tupac sucks, n***a. Any type of East Coast, West Coast beef, n***a’s from the East Coast. He’s delusional. He’s a great actor. Part of his music shit was acting. But n***a, I got to go to court on Friday, I got a whole metal leg, I’m really from the projects. I really got my ‘hood on my face. My first major project is called The Wolf of Grape Street, the gang I’m from. He didn’t even say nothing wrong. Tupac was a bitch ass ni***a. I’m a gangsta n***a. What I say goes. I don’t give a fuck if I’m wrong.”

I don’t necessarily agree with Greedo, but I know I’m not about to pick a with the self-proclaimed Wolf of Grape Street… and he has a point.

It’s becoming incredibly tiring for rap blogs to keep asking the new generation of rappers what they think of Tupac.

It’s the easiest, cheapest headline possible, and Greedo’s name was all over Twitter last night, which might have actually been the point.

But I have no interest in talking about 03 Greedo’s, or anyone’s really, opinions on Tupac. We’re here because 03 Greedo is one of the most unique and just plain old intriguing artists in hip-hop right now.

After a nomadic childhood following his father’s death brought him to Texas, rural Kansas, and St. Louis, Greedo settled in the Grape Street section of Watts, home to the Grape Street Crips, one of the most infamous gangs in the country.

This is the environment that shapes Greedo’s music, a mix of violent, unapologetic, hilarious, fun bars and sounds with zero regard for form or technicality.

Greedo told Noisey that his musical skills are purely natural, he can’t read music or play an instrument and that’s why he’s such an intriguing talent:

“I would never ruin the music in my mind–I don’t know how to read music, I don’t know how to play an instrument. Structure doesn’t belong with music; people who are doing that are not musicians…This is an untamed talent. This is how a n***a can dunk at 14 [years old]. You don’t lesson me.”

Greedo, who has a cochlear implant as a result of chronic ear infections as a kid, also attributes his nasally voice to the fact that he’s half deaf.

A half-deaf dude from the Jordan Downs projects in Watts with no musical skills who doesn’t fuck with Tupac isn’t exactly the profile label executives search for, but here we are (Greedo signed to Todd Moscowitz’s Alamo Records for a reported $1 million).

Greedo’s run began in 2016, when personal loss drove him to push harder than ever with his music. After losing his friend Mafia Ray to gang violence, Greedo recorded the tribute “Mafia Business.”

The video, shot in Greedo’s native Jordan Downs projects, with friends and family holding a cutout of Mafia Ray, is downright beautiful.

In 2016, Greedo would drop a 33-track mixtape Money Changes Everything, dedicated to another fallen friend Lil Money, as well as a 37-track mixtape Purple Summer 03: Purple Hearted Soldier, and a more R&B-inflected 13-track collection First Night Out.

Greedo, who describes his sound as “emo music for gangbangers,” is one of the artists leading a West Coast renaissance, along with Drakeo The Ruler, Mozzy, OMB Peezy, and SOB X RBE, West Coast rap’s underground is as exciting a music scene as there is in the country.

But Greedo doesn’t sound like a typical LA rapper, he’s much closer to a Lil Boosie, Kevin Gates, or Gucci Mane, even the mid-2000s auto-tuned R&B rap of T-Pain.

Greedo told Billboard that his upbringing in Watts, and the geographic history of Black migrants from the South, specifically Louisiana, informed his taste and sound:

“Watts is the most spiritual place. People from Watts are people who relocated from Louisiana. I don’t listen to West Coast music. We grew up on Cash Money, No Limit and southern music. We don’t even jam to what people jam to in Cali.”

In Watts, a completely isolated neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles, Greedo grew up in a world apart from the rest of his city.

Despite this, some of Greedo’s most compelling work has come alongside LA native Drakeo The Ruler, like on the harrowing “Out The Slums” off Drakeo’s Cold Devil from last December.

The contrast between Drakeo’s unbothered, LA-accented monotone flow and Greedo’s erratic, screechy delivery makes the partnership wildly compelling and a collaboration project is reportedly in the works.

But Greedo is pretty damn good on his own, he dropped The Wolf of Grape Street last Friday, a 21-track project displaying the entire scope of Greedo’s skills.

“If I Wasn’t Rappin'” is a bopping, jumping number with Greedo flowing in a quick-fire delivery about what the hell his life would be like without his art.

Dude isn’t lying. After giving his mother headaches by getting kicked out of multiple schools and brushes with the law, she kicked him out of the house and Greedo found himself homeless. He told Noisey:

“I was straight up homeless. Like, eat out the trash can homeless, like sleep on a park bench homeless. But then I’d get to stay at my patna’s house for a while, then overstayed my welcome–I did that with seven families–or stay with my [girlfriend]. I was just drifting around. There was a few times I would try to move back in with my mom, but we would still keep getting into it–I was a gangsta and she was a woman. We only became cool once I became an adult.”

These experiences have obviously hardened Greedo, but his music still has a certain tenderness. On the drug ballad “Substance”, Greedo wails about the need for a substances of all kinds in his life.

Greedo trades bars with Yhung T.O. of SOB X RBE on “Bacc to Bacc”, it’s a wild track with both emcees rapping rapidly over nightmarish production sans hook.

Greedo’s past has shaped an artist with little regard for tradition, be it musical or geographical.

He drifted around the country as a kid, fell in with the Grape Street Crips, almost lost his leg in a shooting, and seen his friends murdered. Dude could give less of a shit about Tupac.

You may not agree with his feelings towards Tupac, or skeptical about his seeming scatterbrained style, but 03 Greedo demands your attention, and your ears.