Photo courtesy of Starlito
Starlito’s works are the memoirs of a life that blurs the line between lawless social outcast, and prophetic cultural hero. His lyrics are replete with tales of time spent getting money illegally, dodging death, and generally living in the moment in gargantuan proportions that are foreign to many people in the United States today. One of the principle wonders of Lito’s art is that he is always inviting you in, always ensuring that there is a comfortable place for the listener. Starlito maintains a skilled balance between being a great artist, and being fully invested in living the life in front of him. You’ll hear talk about the spoils of drug trafficking and brutal strength, but you won’t hear the glorification of trapping or violence. You’ll hear about the heartbreak and pitfalls that come with drug trafficking and brutal strength, but you won’t hear these things belittled. Through the interplay of his distinction in life, and his distinction as an artist Lito creates a matrix of transcendence where the price of entry is very low.
Starlito is a rapper from Nashville, Tennessee who originally rose to prominence in the late 2000s. His affiliation with Yo Gotti, and later with Lil Wayne and Young Money contributed to his acclaim, but his skill and charisma as an artist are what gave him an enduring presence in a time when hip hop is always looking for something new. More recently his series of releases with Don Trip as Step Brothers have gained considerable critical praise, as well as his solo works such as Cold Turkey, and Black Sheep Don’t Grin. As an artist Starlito strives to capture his unique experiences, encapsulate them in his art, and transform the myriad fleeting moments that compose a life into the tangible matter of songs, videos, short films, performances, clothing, and so on. In a time when gold fronts can be found in the mouths of more and more of America’s youth, and the fantasy of “trapping” has become standard material in young American aspiration artists like Starlito inherit a special place in the canon of American art.
Starlito is a great American novelist whose memoirs are happening in near-real time. The amount of time that passes between the events that constitute his written works, their depiction in song, and that art’s arrival to the audience is almost non-existent. In an age when the internet is changing art, culture, and music every day Lito holds a unique position as he continues to develop a practice that not only works in these times, but also shapes them. As a truly independent and self-realized artist with ties to an outlaw life, Starlito has created a visceral portal between the listener and the streets. Using art and technology Lito bends circumstance and reality to tell stories from an engaging life, and tell them almost as quickly as they happen. He’s always recording and is able to fast track the release of his material via his own label, which makes for very little distance between the audience and the events of Starlito’s life that inspire the art. And through this platform that Lito has developed one young man’s unique American story is made accessible and relatable to nearly everyone by way of a profound artistic capacity.
Noisey: What was the recording process like for Introversion?
Starlito: On Introversion I was recording as a means to detach from everything else or give me something else to focus on. I kinda went in without a plan or a clear cut agenda. So with that I was jackin' beats like I used to earlier in my career a lot more frequently, and at the same time still writing songs and making records. So this felt like a return to an older format which was just recording music and putting the best of it out. I think it has a theme in there that kind of keeps to the title, but aside from that I was trying to let my life pace the music.
Are there any producers you normally work with?
Yeah, I got a few. Some of the guys I work with I been working with for years and years. I just actually met Celsizzle; he’s a producer I work with quite a bit. He just had a child like two days ago. I work with Street Symphony. We talk every other day. He’s helped me out with some networking things and a lot of my business. I’ve actually known him since I was about sixteen or seventeen years old... thirteen years or something like that.
I work with a producer named Trakksounds. We’ve done a lot of quality work in the last few years. He’s out of Houston. I’ve gone down there and got in the lab with him a few times. I think before the last SXSW I stayed in Houston for a week, and we got it in every day. Until sunrise we were in the studio.
And you just run all your own stuff, right?
Yeah, it’s very much self-contained.
I don’t see you working with a ton of rappers, but it seems like you have a pretty good relationship with some folks right, like Don Trip?
We work really closely. There’s artists I work with a lot, where they’re almost part of my situation, if you will. We push each other. That’s the thing about Trip and I. A few other artists I really like to work with, like Kevin Gates and Young Dolph, they pop up on a lot of my projects. So they’ve been on pretty much all of my straight to iTunes releases. I think I’ve done three. I like to work with people who inspire me or there’s something that I can appreciate out of what they’re doing. It’s always that much better when we put it together.
Are you on Tripp’s next record?
Yeah I figure so. He’s in the 25th hour recording right now cause it’s supposed to come out next month. I’m not sure if he’s actually turned it in. We’ll be together in a couple days, and I don’t see him putting out that record without me being a part of it. I don’t know if he’s actually started to weed it out and make a playlist but I’m pretty sure I’ll be involved. And he’s on about five or six songs on my tape.
Is there another Step Brothers coming?
Yeah, we’re working on Step Brothers 3. We’re supposed to have it out this calendar year.
Do you make any other kind of art, draw pictures or anything?
I write. I enjoy writing. Maybe that was partially how I got here. Even my last project, Black Sheep Don’t Grin, its intent was to be a memoir. That’s why a lot of the records are first person — lot of rap is, but it was to bring you into an actual experience. I was speaking from experience. There’s a couple songs that don’t even have a chorus, and that plays more into it being a memoir. Some of it is bringing flaws to the surface but just done in an almost poetic manner. Actually the last part of the outro is a poem. I mean I rapped it, but I wrote it to no beat, and eventually I wrapped the words around the beat and made it fit.
I wanna write other things besides music, or lyrics at some point. I wanna write children’s books, and figure out what children want or need to hear about. I think I have an interesting enough story between my adult life and my career for it to be some sort of book at some point. And I guess literature is art.
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