Everyone wants something from Waka Flocka Flame, including me. There’s his handler, who throughout the day will make him go to places he doesn’t want to go to, at times he doesn’t want to be at those places, and do things that he doesn’t want to do while at those places. She’s officially a publicist from his label, but she acts more like his mom. This is weird because his mom is one of his managers, and though she is not with us I can only assume that she does not tell him what to do nearly as much as this other person does. French Montana, a rapper from the Bronx who is signed to P. Diddy’s Bad Boy records, and appears to be a functioning alcoholic, will eventually call Waka from a strip club asking to drink with him. Wooh Da Kid, who is Flocka’s older brother, and Frenchie, who is a totally different person from French Montana, want Waka to help them get more famous, because they are both rappers in his 1017 Brick Squad crew. I was tasked by the wonderful people at VICE with spending the day with Sir Flame, and want him to answer the dumb questions that I have prepared for him and generally put up with my presence. After all is said and done, Waka Flocka and I spend a total of fifteen hours together. Here’s what happened.
At 10:45 in the morning, I walk into the conference room of a well-known rap magazine to find Waka Flocka in the process of giving an interview. “Who are you?” he says to me.
“My name is Drew. I’m supposed to hang out with you today.”
“Who you with?” he says.
“VICE. It’s a magazine for hipsters, sort of.”
Waka pauses. He then says, “I don’t like that one. You gotta leave.” As this statement hangs in the air, I am the most mortified I have been since I was twelve and my parents told me that my grandmother had just died from complications due to emphysema. Waka can see my horror on my face, and starts cackling. He tells me that he’s just kidding, but he’d like me to wait in the lobby with his bodyguards while he gives this interview because it’s an exclusive. He smiles. Throughout the day I learn he’s a really smiley guy.
Back in the lobby, I introduce myself to said bodyguards. Their names are Chello and Steve. Chello is like eight feet tall and really funny. You pronounce his name “Cello,” like the musical instrument. Steve is shorter, but likes to talk about everything. You pronounce his name “Steve,” like the name Steve. The three of us spend a lot of time talking about Waka’s music, and how a rapper generates street cred. Here’s more or less how it works: You send your mixtapes to dudes locked up in jail. They play your stuff for their Jail Friends on their headphones, which can be turned into a pair of makeshift speakers by gutting them and turning the cup into an echo chamber. If the guys in jail think your music knocks, when they get back on the streets they’ll tell their friends about you. It’s kind of like when your big brother went to college and came back on Fall Break with a Replacements CD, only way more awesome. This happened for Waka right around the time that he put Salute Me Or Shoot Me, his first mixtape out. It was the first time he’d ever tried rapping. This means throughout his rapping career, Waka Flocka has always been popular.
Waka emerges from his interview smiling. He’s a massive human, probably six foot six and two hundred and fifty pounds. He’s wearing pink designer pants and a white t-shirt that says “420” on it in the colors of the Jamaican flag. He’s built like a linebacker. Chello tells him, “This dude’s in Brick Squad for the day.” That’s all he needs. He puts his arm around me and takes me into the stairs. It’s oddly comforting. “Brick Squad for a day, son! You gonna hit a blunt, get some rooster…”
“You know, rooster!” He moves his head back and forth like a rooster pecking at something. I realize he’s talking about blowjobs. We then spend approximately three minutes arguing about whether or not I’m allowed to get rooster if I’ve got a girlfriend. He tells me I’m totally allowed; I tell him I don’t want to even go there. He seems disappointed, but tells me he respects me for not giving into pressure. “You know who you are,” he says. It’s manly to stand your ground. Waka Flocka is very concerned with manhood. He, Chello and I get into the chauffeured SUV that someone from his label rented for him, and they explain Man Code to me.
MAN CODE, ACCORDING TO WAKA FLOCKA AND CHELLO
- DO NOT POP ANOTHER MAN’S PIMPLE, ESPECIALLY ON HIS FACE.
- DO NOT PICK SOMETHING OUT OF ANOTHER MAN’S HAIR. YOU CAN BRUSH IT OUT, BUT YOU CAN’T PICK.
- IF YOU DO SOMETHING WEIRD, YOU HAVE TO SAY “NO JELLY” IN ORDER TO NEGATE SAID WEIRD THING.
Man Code seems important to Waka, because it’s the type of inside joke amongst friends that normal, non-famous people get to have. Fame is a weird concept, one that Waka seems to simultaneously embrace and be deeply distrustful of. On our way to MTV’s office in Times Square, where he’s previewing tracks from his new album Triple F Life: Friends, Fans and Family, he shows me pictures of girls on his phone and asks if he should sleep with them or not. They are uniformly beautiful, so I say “yes” to every girl, except for one I pick at random in order to seem like I have more discerning taste in women (no jelly). I ask him if he’s ever slept with anyone famous. He says yeah, six or seven times, and it’s always better than fucking a non-famous person. As he scrolls through his photos, I end up seeing a lot of pictures of himself that he’s taken, the type of shots that used to show up on people’s MySpace pages. His phone rings. His ringtone is his own song. He lets it play for a few seconds, and then presses “Ignore.”