To begin this with some honesty, I was extremely nervous to reconnect with Fat Trel for this interview. Considered one of the best emcees both from his city — and in the country as a whole — many (including myself) haven’t heard much from him during his years-long prison stint, and I wasn’t sure he’d even remember who I was. Naturally, those qualms were immediately removed the moment I greeted him and his crew.

Trel has always been a welcoming individual, always looking to make sure that his team and everyone around him is as comfortable as humanly possible. During our meet-up, I even listened to him further confirm this by way of his morning activities, which includes connecting with his family before focusing on business. “I wake up, I talk to my kids, and then I work 16-18 hours a day,” he said.

Also striking is his status as a tried and true celebrity, whether he cares to be or not. In the few minutes that we were on the street, many would even yell at him from passing cars just to show their support. Yes, he’s an immediately noticeable figure, given the looming size and many tattoos, but he’s been a hometown hero since his beginnings some decade or so ago, and the city’s residents have little problem letting him know that they are rooting for his permanent success.

Jamoris Vincent

Trel met up with REVOLT during his whirlwind schedule to rap about his forthcoming album, relationship with some of the biggest artists in the game, lessons learned from his time behind bars, and much more. Peep the chat below!

What’s immediately noticeable is your chain of Boosa Da Shoota. Did the jeweler already have that ready prior to your release?

Yea, they already made it before I was released.

When did you know that you would be released? Was it sudden?

It was basically like a sudden break in the case, like honestly it wasn’t… I ain’t have no release date. So, me getting out, that was a surprise. A pleasant surprise.

Did you head to the studio once you got out?

We went to Legends first, the shoe store. Got right, a couple outfits, a couple pair of kicks, shook hands and kissed babies. After that, we went to the jeweler, and then we went to the studio.

The first big thing that’s notable since you’ve been released was seeing all of the love you’ve received from your peers. Icewear Vezzo, Lil Durk, Wale, even EST Gee who we saw reciting your rhymes during a performance. How does it feel to be receiving all of this support?

That’s a beautiful feeling… Shout out to everybody that showed me love too. It’s what you do it for, you know what I’m saying? You work hard to reap every single benefit in this game, and to have the real niggas and the top tier artists in the industry show you love and accept you with open arms. I appreciate everything.

I hear there’s a remix of Lil Durk and Only The Family’s “Hellcats and Trackhawks” with you on it.

Yea, yea, yea, naw, we definitely did it. I remixed it, you know, I had to fuck it up, show ‘em that I still am what I am. One of the best in this D.C. rap shit, and it is what it is.

I first became hip to you back in 2009 when you began making waves with Noska Musik, Youngest Runnin’ The City and the iconic No Secrets. What made you really start putting out music?

I really got into music by my old manager just kidnapping me basically and taking me to the studio. Taking me to the studio and letting me perfect my craft. Just working hard. I always wanted to be a rapper, man, like I love music. I love hip hop, R&B, I love all genres of music. I had just dropped out of Job Corps, ain’t having nothing else to do. Was really selling coke and robbin’, for real. I figured why not try the music thing, I ain’t got shit else left.

Not to compare at all, but, when Rowdy Rebel got out, he immediately hit the ground running with songs and collaborations. Meanwhile, Bobby Shmurda was more measured since we welcomed him back in February. Which route are you looking to take as far as your next drop? Are you looking to get back to it or take your time?

To be honest man, if it was up to me, I would’ve been dropped a whole project and three videos by now, you know what I’m saying? But, with Fat Trel, it’s a team, and we’re all strategic and we all work together. We definitely got a lot of shit on the way. Boosa’s Keeper, the new album, I would say, 68 to 73 percent completed. We definitely ready to drop for the streets.

Any features we can expect on that in particular?

I’ma hold that one close to my chest. I’ma surprise the streets, surprise the industry, surprise the world.

Jamoris Vincent

Many probably recognize you as a Maybach Music artist. Your most recent solo body of work, Big Homie, was released in partnership with DTLA Records. Where do you currently stand from a label standpoint? Are you independent?

I’m just moving independent right now. I actually just met up with [Rick Ross]. That’s my big homie, that’s my dog, forever. I look at Ross like a father figure. We’re actually supposed to be having some talks about some new situations, but it’s a lot of deals on the table. It’s a lot of opportunities for me right now, and I’m just taking my time since I’m just now back … to see what’s the best situation for Fat Trel.

I would be remiss not to mention the Slutty Boyz movement. Any new group efforts or individual drops we can expect from anyone else within the collective?

They got a lot of shit in the works, but I’d rather save the exclusive for them to speak on that themselves.

As one of the few artists who have remained relevant over the past decade plus, how do you feel about the current rap scene in D.C.?

I like where it’s at. I think the DMV rap scene is in a beautiful place right now. I love everything that everybody’s doing from the 3ohBlacks to the Rico Nastys to the No Savages to the Ballas to the Tall Slimes… everybody, bro. Xanman, YungManny, my nigga MoneyMarr. It’s lookin’ real good.

You gave your take on a DMV Mt. Rushmore where you chose yourself alongside Wale, Shy Glizzy, and — to the surprise of many — Raheem DeVaughn. How do you feel about the response to that question?

As far as the question, I didn’t like the question. But, to be honest, that’s just my personal opinion. I mean no disrespect, I’m not sneak dissing nobody, I’m not talking down on nobody. I love all the artists in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. I’m a real nigga, I ain’t apologizing for nothing and I stand on everything I say. But, that was just my personal Mt. Rushmore, you know what I’m saying? Like I told him, I wish it could’ve been longer, but he asked me! It’s Mt. Rushmore, it’s only four faces on it. The biggest artist that I first was aware of from the [DMV] music scene was Raheem DeVaughn. Before I knew who Wale was, I knew who Raheem DeVaughn was, bro. On a fan tip and on a personal level, I heard of Raheem DeVaughn first. Everybody say I got a[n] old soul, I was really playing Raheem DeVaughn when I was 15, 16 years old. I was really fucking multiple bitches to his music. Like, that’s what I put it on for, you know what I’m saying? So, I stand on that. I feel like Wale is the biggest artist to ever come from the area. Somebody asked me about that the other night. “What about Marvin Gaye?” Wale is the biggest artist to ever come from this area! If you wanna say most influential, then everybody have they own opinion. I love Marvin Gaye, I really do. I put Shy [Glizzy] on there because of his impact to the streets and the kids. And the females, females love Shy’s music. You can’t deny what he’s done, musically, for the city. Again, this my last time saying this. I ain’t mean no disrespect, I ain’t trying to slight nobody or nothing. That’s just one hundred.

We’ve seen what Meek Mill has been doing with REFORM Alliance. Given everything that you’ve been through in regards to the so-called justice system, do you have any immediate plans to create a similar movement?

Absolutely, yea. I definitely want to dive into prison reform. I definitely want to do whatever I can to advocate and help for the men behind the wall. There’s a lot of men who’s locked up right now who don’t deserve to be. It’s a lot of things going on as far as with the mayor, and the Jimmie Jenkins of the world, and the Trayon Whites of the world, and stuff like that. Am I actually into prison reform as of right now, at this moment? No I’m not. But, I look forward to it and helping any way I can, and that’s one of the first big sidesteps outside of music that I want to tap into.

Jamoris Vincent

You previously spoke about writing a book on your life in a past interview. Is that — or maybe even turning that idea into a script for a film or documentary — something that you’ve been working on as well?

That would be really dope… I really look forward to something like that. If somebody thought of me special enough to write a script about my life, or even a book — ‘cause I know I’ma write a book myself, one day, down the line — but, if somebody thought I was special enough to write a script, write a movie about my life, that’ll really be super dope. That is something I’m very interested in, so, you know… we definitely want to get that done.

Given what you’ve been through and how you’ve persevered in your career, what advice would you give others who may be in a similar position?

I would tell them to stay positive, stay focused. Focus on the music side of things more. I think that’s where I made a mistake at. [I] was tryna be in the streets and in the industry at the same time, and not taking my job or my career [as] serious as I was supposed to. I made a lot of… mistakes along the way. If I can give any advice to any upcoming artist? Take the craft more serious, and focus on the music and the [music] business versus the street shit and where you come from. You gotta leave that [street shit] behind.