Listening to the otherworldly sounds of 17-year-old rapper/producer Issue, you probably wouldn't guess that he's the youngest son of Vallejo legend E-40. While his big brother Droop-E seems destined to carry on his father's legacy by churning out Bay Area slappers, Issue is the rare apple that fell from the tree and rolled off into another dimension. His extensive mixtape catalog is characterized by loose, stream-of-consciousness meditations bathed in bizarre soundscapes that hit somewhere between the great B's of our time (Lil B and Max B). Though he's eager and outgoing on Twitter, the introspective high schooler hides his face behind a Doom-esque mask--see if you can spot him in his dad’s “Function (Coast to Coast Remix)” video. Thanks more to his prolific web presence than his famous lineage, he's got a wide-reaching circle of fans and collaborators from Ryan Hemsworth to Haleek Maul, both of whom appear on his latest project, Waves Of Italy. I talked to Issue about girls, family, and why he's trying to move to Europe when he gets older.
NOISEY: How old were you when you started making music?
ISSUE: Around 11. I started making beats first. I'd made 500 by age 12, but I knew I could make more. Between making beats I would rap strictly for fun. I loved hearing myself on a track, so I kept doing it and now here I am.
When do you feel most creative?
Usually when I'm full or satisfied. I hate making music on an empty stomach. My music itself is full.
What is “One Day (Overseas)” about?
"One Day" is mainly about me trying to move out of America. I sense dark times are coming and God told me to go over there. It's been calling my name for months now. The music scene is more based over there for some reason. My music is too different to be stuck here. "One Day" is about me going and having a ball out there in Europe. I just want my isolation from fake people. I grew up with fake people all my life; I can tell straight up if a person is real or not. The American dream is cool and all, but I want my life to be in Europe.
What was your childhood like?
Bliss. I always had a good time. Music is huge in our family and I hear speakers blaring almost everyday. Whether it's a beat or a song, it's always good hearing music being made.
What does your dad think about your music?
He supports it heavy; he lets me do what I do. He bought me Logic, Pro Tools, and a Mac one Christmas. I wasn't forced into music like some people think. I truly love making music. He thinks my move to Europe will be good because of how different I am.
What kind of girls do you like?
I'm very picky. I have a list of things I like: Loyal, funny, cute, rare, confident, dope, respectful to my parents, loves me for me, knows her music, knows how to cook (even though I know how to cook) and some knowledge of cars would be a plus. As far as the body goes, average size is always cool. To be honest, though, I love booty. I've made a few booty-related songs like "I'm a Pirate" and "Wedding Cake."
Are you shy?
I'm a very shy person. Music helps a lot with that because I can explain how I feel. The mask helps too.
What's up with the mask? Why do you wear it?
I wear the mask because I'm a huge fan of comic books and superheroes. The story behind it is actually pretty funny. I'm a WWE fan and Kane is one of my favorite wrestlers. I asked my brother to buy [Kane's mask] for me on Ebay and it came pretty fast. As I kept rapping and producing, Southern Hospitality asked me to send a picture of myself. I sent a picture of me with the mask on and it's stuck with me ever since. Now I have a red and black one, a black satin one, and I recently purchased one that's all leather.
I heard you don't drink or do drugs
I've been around it all my life and never had a desire to actually do it. I'm trying to show kids that you don't have to do drugs to be creative. It comes from you if you believe in it.
What does drinking tea do for you?
I try to think of tea as wisdom. The more I drink, the wiser I will be. Tea is the second most [consumed] beverage in the world and I want to support it by making songs about it.
What can people expect from you in 2013?
Too many projects! Dropping a tape with the UK's AO-AO Blog and producer Big War from Generic Greeting, World’s Finest with Akira The Don, EZ with Vice Cooler, Hot Liquid Wisdom via Southern Hospitality. I think by March I will start Moonroof Part 3.
What's your spirit animal?
A unicorn. Once you are a unicorn, it means you are a legend.