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Back in January, Waka Flocka and Tammy Rivera celebrated six years of marriage. While commemorating the moment in an Instagram caption, Waka managed to make an intriguing revelation.
“Ya first album dropping this year and my last album dropping this year,” the Atlanta-bred rapper penned before immediately reversing a declaration of retirement.
In March, he seemingly echoed the same bait and switch after referring to himself as a “wack rapper,” a sentiment met with massive opposition from the scores of listeners who can recall memories soundtracked by a Waka Flocka banger, before admitting that the statement was an exercise in reverse psychology.
Tammy has been deservingly sharing the spotlight, too, as the songstress continues to craft her debut album alongside heavyweights such as Sean Garrett, while matching the same forward-thinking vision of her husband. Together, the pair complements each other, and shares like-minded principles of prioritizing their family, while remain hungrily focused on opportunities both within and outside of music.
For Waka, that has meant diversifying his portfolio with a number of business ventures such as his Dro streetwear brand and Premise alcoholic beverage line. As for Tammy, she’s enjoyed the fruits of her successful T-Rivera swimwear brand.
In a recent conversation with REVOLT, the themes at hand were balance and exploring the ways they can continue to map out their successes while remaining grounded and focused, as Waka reveals the impetus that sparked his decision to put out another album this year, Tammy describes the creative process of taking her time, and they both offer golden nuggets of advice for a rising generation of creators. Read below.
Waka, this year marks the 10-year anniversary of Flockaveli. Has its impact hit you yet?
Waka: It wasn’t something I was thinking about, planning, or nothing. It happened in February of this year... I realized it’s the tenth year anniversary like officially... I was so over music, but it started making me think like, “Damn this s**t like a birthday.” Now, I’m getting my feet back into the music. I’ve been so busy with my wife. My wife’s music is so popping to me. I haven’t really been focusing on myself. On Oct. 5, I’m definitely putting out an album.
What can listeners expect out of that album? You’ve been experimenting and moving away from the original sound—
Waka: I got to correct you.
Waka: I always hear people say Waka switched to EDM. I have an EDM record on my first album with “Hard In The Paint” on it — “F**k The Club Up.” My second album was Friends, Fans and Family where I’m doing hella EDM s**t on there. I can’t say I’m going back to the sound, I’m just being me. I don’t want to upset it. Just know that s**t gon’ be fire. You gon’ wanna f**k something up. You gon’ release stress. Another good workout playlist. You know what I mean? I ain’t on this b**ch tryna preach; tryna sing. I’m just being myself.
Aside from the moment that you had in February, is there anything else that sparked your decision to reverse your original retirement declaration?
Waka: It’s an artist I signed, LA4ss. I’m telling you when I watch this man go in the booth, it reminds me so much of how I was — how I put so much emotion in music. I see how he loves this s**t so much. He knocked like 70 records out in 40 days. So, to see somebody work with the kind of ethic, it’s just like, “God damn.” And it just sounds, so good to me, like, “Damn, you put the love of music back in me.” Literally. I’m like why don’t I have the same love for something that I started? What happened? And I found myself back tracking and figuring it out.
Tammy, how have you been honing into and focusing on your own artistry?
Tammy: Just putting in the time. Putting in the grind, the hours making sure that I perfect my craft. I’m not trying to take no shortcuts. I’m trying to go through it the way every artist starts off going through their artistry; understanding what my sound is and who my audience is.
How have you adopted a balance in your music and other ventures?
Tammy: It’s kind of hard to balance them. I remember having a conversation with Sean Garrett in the studio where he’s like, “You have to want this more than anything else. Some things just have to be on pause.” For me, it’s kind of hard to do that because I take being a wife, a mother, and my family very serious. But, I love music and it’s always been a passion. Before I could talk, I was singing. I’m going to always put my family first. I’m aware that there’s artists that love the music so much that they pick the music first. For me, it’s just a struggle.
What aspects from these experiences have you been actively translating into your sound?
Tammy: Rawness. A lot of people see me as a wife, as [a] mom. A lot of people know me from past reality shows, but they don’t know the real me. The music is going to reflect the real me and who I am as a person. I have a song called “Gentle,” which is pretty much about arguments, and it’s about how no matter how slick my mouth is, just handle me gently. That’s real life. I remember having the conversation with Sean Garrett and he said [that] what he was expecting [was to] come in here (the studio) and write and produce, [but it] is left field because “you aren’t anything like I thought you were.” With the music, it’s about realness; rawness. I’m still trying to understand my voice and I don’t sound like anybody else.
With the COVID-19 situation, musicians and business owners alike have been heavily affected. How have you been dealing with the new normal?
Tammy: We try to keep business moving as usual. For the most part, I have figured out ways to keep my team with some revenue coming in. Much hasn’t changed business-wise, we just haven’t been outside.
When it comes to the number of businesses that you have stepped into, what prompted you to diversify your portfolio?
Waka: Honestly, it’s the discombobulation of music. Music is just so unorganized. You don’t know what the f**k is going on. Music can’t be one outlet. God forbid something happens and my music career hits the wall, Imma be f**ked. So, I was that kind [of] person. I have a wife and a daughter, so it’s not just about me. On top of that, I have a mother [and] brothers. I’m a Gemini on top of all that. I just get bored fast.
Sometimes, making money is f**king boring. It’s crazy for me to say that, but sometimes, it just be boring. You want to have fun doing it. I think what’s fun for me is doing different businesses. Now, due to Corona[virus], I lost a lot of f**king money. So thats not cool. My wife’s s**t is booming. My businesses — that motherf**ker got punched in the gut. We just want to be successful, though. That’s why we work so hard.
What kind of advice can you give to younger artists who aspire to this same kind of balance?
Waka: I would tell them if you did it once, you can do it twice. Don’t trip off the mistakes. We never tripped off mistakes. We know if we do it once, we could do it twice. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to lose or take a loss because it’ll end up being a lesson. Losses only graduate to lessons if you duke it out, stick it out, and understand where you f**ked up at.
As you expand BrickSquad Monopoly, how has your vantage point of the music industry shifted?
Waka: It’s sad to say I never had the career that all other artists had. I never had the luxury. I always played the CEO and artist my whole career. Even though it was people in the picture that looked the part, it was always me playing CEO and the artist. So, I don’t know how it feels to just be the artist. But, I know what artists need. I know what artists gonna want, what walls they’ll hit. You got to make sure an artist manages their time and you got to make sure an artist manages their money. A lot of fall outs with artists happen when the artist spends too much money and they turn around, and act like this person takes too much money or this person’s not doing their job.
Now, a lot of younger artists are waking up to the benefits of diversification outside of music. What’s the best way for them to adopt that mindset of success?
Tammy: Invest. One thing that I learned from watching my husband’s career is that you have to make smart investments. Times change, music changes, artists change. One minute you can be hot. The next minute you’re not. You don’t know where your next hit is going to come from. You don’t know if you’re going to make a hit. If you take the money that you’ve made from the music that you’ve already been successful with — the touring and all that stuff — and you take it and invest into things outside of music, it’ll compensate you in the future. My husband said he took a punch in the gut during Corona[virus] because he can’t do shows, but we’re able to sustain because he has made investments into other businesses outside of music. Of course he took a hit, but it could be way worse if he didn’t have the investments.