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An Interview With Lil Mouse, the 14-Year-Old Drill Rapper

At 14, he just released an album and is carrying his whole team on his back.

All photos by Jasmine Sanchez

Think back and try to remember what were you doing at 14 years old. If you grew up in the city, you were probably standing outside of a convenience store begging randoms to buy you cigarettes or hanging around the neighborhood with your friends. At 14, rapper Lil Mouse is carrying his team on his back (his manager made mention that he’s stopped selling drugs because of the teen rapper). It’s easy to have polarizing thoughts on a kid like Mouse. His Mousetrap mixtape came out before he even turned 13 and detailed Chicago's burgeoning drill scene. When Mouse first arrived, Chicago was named the most dangerous city in the nation and his music reflected that. It’s hard to wrap your head around a kid talking about those things, but then you meet him and you realize he’s not only a product of his environment, but a mouthpiece for it. Let’s not forget that Lil Mouse is starting out in music at the same age that Lil Wayne did, which speaking of, the two linked on Mouse's "Get Smoked" remix in 2012.


Before our interview at Houndstooth in Midtown, Lil Mouse pulled out my bar stool for me like a gentleman, even as he struggled to hop on his own. His BMF chain blinded me while he talked. Apparently he’s “real close” with Big Meech’s mother, which is why he proudly dons the Black Mafia Family jewels around his neck. While his Michael Mouse Myers deluxe album just dropped last week on iTunes, Lil Mouse is back in the studio working on his Mousetrap 2 mixtape, slated for a summer release.

As a teenager, how do you describe life in Chicago?
My life in Chicago is crazy ‘cause we safe in like a dangerous environment. I guess it’s hard like, growing up this way. Basically what I’m rapping about – the stuff I see that goes on in my neighborhood – is what I witnessed that day. Trapping, people out there grinding, like really getting money out there living life. The violence. Like, it’s over here [points] then it’s over there [points]. It’s crazy. It’s just, crazy.

People say you’re growing up too fast…
To me that’s just people’s opinions, you know? Like really it don’t bother me too much, ‘cause you know, it just comes with the fame.

Right, but so much of what you talk about—the violence that’s going on, drug use, things that you see everyday…are you speaking from the experience of it or are you just trying to let people understand what’s going on?
Both. I’m speaking from the experience, like stuff I witness to let people know what’s going on. This ain’t no joke out here. This stuff I’m rapping about really goes on where I’m from.


Tell me a little bit about your childhood and growing up.
It was decent. Where I was growing up at, it was decent ‘cause then again I was looking up to the older people in my neighborhood like my brother and then my cousin and all that. They were really there in it, and I was like basically looking up to them.

So you told me you were home schooled. When did you leave school?
It was like the beginning of this year that I had started home schooling.

What made you decide to leave? Your career?
Yeah, ‘cause like in school it’s crazy. It was affecting a lot of students and their learning. It was affecting my learning too.

You were like a celebrity in the hallways.
Yeah people would come out they class room just to peek in my classroom.

You dropped your first video when you were 12. When did you decide you wanted to make a career out of rap?
When I was like, 5, I’ll say. I’ve been rapping and writing, well trying to rap since like I was 5. My brother— he’s incarcerated right now—he had got me into this rapping stuff. I was just like freestyling and writing and stuff. We used to just be going off other rappers’ instrumentals.

What’s your approach to writing rhymes now?
Basically when I’m in the studio, I hear the beat and like after a couple minutes of hearing the beat, that’s when I go in. First I make the hook and once I make the hook, that’s when I go into the verses.

Are you afraid that people are going to think that what you’re talking about is too violent for being so young?
No not really, ‘cause like I said this is stuff I grew up on; stuff that I see in my neighborhood.


Maybe it’s because pop artists who are your age don’t talk about this stuff.
Really it ain’t no comparison to where I came up or where I grew up. It ain’t the same place from where they came up and they grew up at.

What’s your next project that you’re working on now that Michael Mouse Myers is out?
I’m working on my mixtape Mousetrap 2 next. It’s dropping over the summer though. I wanted to let them know I’m taking over this year. I ain’t playing. Like, I’m really trying to succeed in this.

How many hours do you clock in the studio?
The most I’ll stay is probably like ten hours. We’ve been in L.A., we was just in the studio in the house so there was like no sleep. We was just in the studio all day.

So you don’t have a real sleep schedule or work schedule or school schedule?
Nah, I’ll just be working right all day through my day, like once I get up to do my work and stuff. They send me books for the homeschool to do my work, then when I write when I ain’t in the studio, I’m just in my neighborhood chillin’.

Is it hard to be in your neighborhood nowadays?
For me it ain’t hard at all, but like I’ll say for other people if you ain’t from over here you can’t go over there. Like if you ain’t from over there then you can’t go over there. Me? I can go wherever I want to.

How are you able to move through all different neighborhoods though?
‘Cause of who I am basically. Like I’m the man, like I’m a young nigga doing it. I’m out here like I don’t really think there’s no young nigga doing it like me out here. I’m the youngest doing it out here, and everybody fuck with me in Chicago. Everybody fuck with me.


Do you feel like you get more respect or jealousy from people around you?
Respect, yeah. Them jealous people they don’t bother me ‘cause when it comes to fame, they hate.

Do you work with any other artists in the drill scene like Chief Keef or his crew?
Like I ain’t did no stuff with Keef, but yeah I talk to him over the phone and a couple of Chicago artists that I’m looking forward to working with like [King] Louie. Then it’s a couple of them that I have been working with.

What about someone like Lil Bibby who separates himself from that scene?
I mess with Bibby’s music. I did something with Herb too, though it’s old, but he was saying that he wanted to do some more new stuff with me. I rock with him, and I listen to his music. Yeah I rock with him.

What about some of the female artists out there like Dreezy and like Sasha Go Hard and Katie Got Bandz?
I don’t even really be like listening to the females in Chicago, but their names come up in conversations and stuff.

Who are some of the artists outside of Chicago that you like?
Outside of Chicago? Like who I’m looking to work with? Big rappers like Jay Z, Kanye. People like that who I’m looking to do a track with for my mixtape or my album or something.

Have you been getting cosigns by guys like that outside of Chicago?
Yeah it’s rappers like in L.A. I just met some rappers in New York that like what I’m doing and tell me to stay successful and tell me keep going and don’t stop. Like don’t let nobody tell you what you can’t do and stuff.


What do you do for fun when you’re not making music?
I’ll just be like in the hood just chillin’ like I’ll play some basketball. We got a little park around our neighborhood. We’ll go up there and play some ball. Before I started rapping, I used to play baseball. I think if I wasn’t rapping, I think I’d just be playing sports.

Do you plan on moving out of your neighborhood?
Yeah! Like that’s why I’m trying to do what I’m doing. I’m trying to get my family out of the hood.

Finally, what are some of your long term career goals?
Where I see myself after this? Somewhere with my family. All my family out the hood in a big house somewhere. I’m trying to get my parents a house by themselves somewhere so they won’t have no worries. I want my family to sleep good at night and ain’t gotta worry about this happening and that happening.

Kathy Iandoli is on Twitter - @kath3000.

For more on the Chicago music scene, watch our Noisey Chiraq doc series here.