Casey Veggies is what you’d call a young O.G. The 28-year-old emcee has already built a 13-year career that includes the formation of Odd Future, studio sessions with Watch The Throne-era JAY-Z, and collaborations with everyone from teenage Mac Miller to the late Nipsey Hussle. And he’s learned from all of them.

I’ve been around JAY-Z while he’s explained what ‘No Church in the Wild’ is about. He explained to me how the song is about ancient kings being beheaded and things of that nature. A kid my age at the time, 15 or 16, wouldn’t even know that’s what he’s trying to expound on,” Veggies told REVOLT.

In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” Veggies remembers the humble origins of Tyler, the Creator and skipping school to work with the late Mac Miller. He also talks setting up his future with his upcoming Crypto Veggies project.

What were those early Odd Future studio sessions like?

There was The Odd Future Tape. That was the start of Odd Future. When Tyler came up with the idea to do the Odd Future compilation tape with the gold frame around it, that was the start of the whole movement. Tyler and his mom were living in Sacramento and when Tyler moved to L.A., he was my neighbor. When I was 13 years old, Tyler, the Creator lived with his grandmother three blocks from me. Long live his grandma. We used to record at Tyler’s grandma’s house on Tyler’s MacBook into either the Apple headphones or straight into the MacBook microphone. About 75 percent of that tape was recorded on the MacBook microphone; I kid you not. Tyler’s so genius; he knew how to manipulate the sounds. If you listen to that tape, you’ll hear how the vocals sound computerized on a bulk of it. You’ll especially hear that on this song we did called ‘The Life Like.’ We made that beat on the spot, recorded it at his grandma’s house, and all we had was GarageBand.

What was your creative chemistry with Tyler, the Creator back then?

It was amazing. Bro brought a lot of creativity out of me at a young age. I didn’t even realize it. He went to production school, and he was always super creative. Every time we got in the lab, it was magic. We made a lot of classics together, especially ‘Odd Toddlers.’ That was one of our top classics where we used the MF Doom flip and ran with it. That’s a classic sample flip. A lot of artists used it after the fact. I think even Wiz Khalifa used it on his album. I love to see artists use that because we were one of the first artists to hop on that MF Doom joint. Back then, we were inspired by MF Doom, 9th Wonder, Q-Tip, Nas, Pharrell, Kanye [West] and Madlib. We were young niggas, but our music taste was different.

Were there any fun competitions in the studio?

Yeah, we definitely used to go back and forth. Shout out to my dawg Damien, my sister’s ex-boyfriend. Me, Tyler, Hodgy Beats, and sometimes Domo [Genesis] used to pull up to his studio. That’s where we recorded a lot of songs like ‘Bubble Gum’ off The Odd Future Tape. Damien started letting us come to his studio. He saw our vision and used to let us record for free. We didn’t have a budget to record. I always want to shout out my dawg Damien Ill Plus for letting us record. Hodgy and I used to go back and forth lyrically. He was a big part of Odd Future. He was the anchor of Odd Future. There wasn’t any real competition, just friendly competition.

How have you evolved as a recording artist since those early days?

Back then, I was just raw. I had a raw energy and raw spirit. I was vulnerable on the tracks. When I came into the game at 13, my pen game was different. Now, I’m more evolved as an artist, kind of like Steph Curry right now. When he won the championship, he killed them. But, now you can see his game is more developed. He might not be going three-pointer crazy, but you can see he’s more strategic. I learned how to go with the first thing I feel.

I read that the first time you and Mac Miller made music was when you were in the 11th grade.

Yeah, we went on a West Coast tour when I was in the 11th grade. We did a song called ‘Can I Live.’ It still has millions of streams, and we dropped it independently. He backed me and got behind me. I’ll forever appreciate him for that. He showed me a lot of love. We recorded the song in a hotel. He had an engineer with him, and he set up the room in the hotel. I left school for two weeks to go on tour with Mac Miller. It was my first real tour. We did eight shows on the West Coast, and Mac Miller brought me to each show. When we got to the Bay Area, we did a show in San Francisco in 2011. Before the show, we recorded the song. It was either before the show or the morning after. It didn’t take too long to make. I had this beat that I had in mind that my boy C.P. Dub made. From there, I took it to Mac, and he was feeling it. Mac brought me on another tour after that, and we performed it.

I know you and Mac were close. Are there any other studio sessions with him that you remember?

On tour, we did the song ‘America’ in a big studio in New York City. We went on tour for three months. After the West Coast run, I graduated high school and Mac told me, ‘I want to bring you on another tour.’ So on Mac Miller’s first worldwide tour — ‘The Blue Slide Park Tour’ — I went on that tour. That’s when we recorded ‘America.’ We really only have two or three songs out. ‘America’ was our biggest and most special moment. It was me, him and Joey Bada$$ on that song. I believe we all recorded that together in New York.

How did you and Mac mesh together?

Mac was so creative, bro. He already had the skeleton of the song and the hook [for ‘America’] done. I heard his verse and thought it sounded crazy. It was some real hip hop, creepy-sounding shit. I had never heard anything like that before. I got on the beat and splashed on it. I performed it at the Smokers Club Festival and paid tribute to Mac.

Artists are creatures of habit. So what do you need in the studio to make your best music?

Sometimes I like people around, and sometimes space gives me the opportunity to really vibe out and take it to a whole other level. I definitely like some good exotic tree. It helps me vibe out. I might like some [1942 tequila]. Sometimes I like some beautiful women around me when I record. But, sometimes, I like being on my own.

You’ve recorded in some interesting places. Didn’t you record in Cape Town, South Africa?

Yeah, I went to South Africa for a week. Puma sponsored me for three years. I was one of the first artists with an endorsement deal with Puma. This was in 2014. So, right before I dropped my first album around 2015, I went to Cape Town for a trip to talk to the kids in Africa with Puma. I did a show in Cape Town and in the midst of being out there for ten days, I was so inspired that I hit the studio with my ex-manager Anwar Carrots. This small studio was in the back of this mansion in South Africa. There is a lot of great architecture out there. We recorded this freestyle called ‘3AM in Cape Town.’ It’s one of my most classic freestyles. I shot a video for it in Cape Town. That was one of the most important trips of my career. That song was a special moment for me. I always go back to that song, listen to it and vibe out. It always brings out special memories. I also did a song with one of the biggest artists in South Africa, my dawg Cassper Nyovest. It’s called ‘428 to LA.’ We were in Johannesburg when we made it. Cassper sold out one of the biggest arenas in South Africa. He has shit with DJ Drama and a few artists from the states.

Your mom and dad were a part of making your first album, Live & Grow. How did they influence you in the studio?

It was a lot of back and forth working on that album. There was a lot of pressure. The label was on my ass. I was signed to Sylvia Rhone, one of the top executives in music history. Being signed to her put a lot of pressure on me to make hits and deliver. I was 19 years old working on an album. I definitely got a lot of feedback from my parents. I used to be stressed out. That shit stressed me out and took the fun away from making music. When you sign a million-dollar deal, it comes with a lot of pressure. Sometimes you have to let the pressure be nonexistent, but I was young and not used to it. I used to get in arguments with my dad about the music. My mom let me do my own thing. I had a studio at my dad’s house in Inglewood. I had it for five years. I was finishing a lot of my stuff for my album there. My dad would come in the studio, and that’s how he ended up talking on the intro. We recorded that at his house.

I’ve seen you around major artists like Kanye West, Travis Scott, Rihanna and many others. Are there any songs you’ve contributed to that are still unreleased?

I have this song in the tuck that Travis and I were supposed to do. I got a song with Nipsey and Bino Rideaux that was just about to come out right before he passed. I’m so hurt about that. I got unreleased music with a few people. I’ve been in the ring with the best of them.

How did you and Nipsey Hussle connect?

When I was 16, I saw him riding through L.A. We linked up. He told me, ‘Casey Veggies? Yeah, I heard about you on the ‘net.’ He was already taking off and heard about me. From there, we connected. He was a genius. He was a natural in that booth. He’s strategic like an NBA coach in the studio.

What’s your most memorable studio session?

I was in the studio with JAY-Z and Mike Dean at the Mercer Hotel while they were working on Watch The Throne. It was right before I signed with Roc Nation. I also cannot forget that I went to Q-Tip’s house in the Hamptons and had a session with him. Honestly, we didn’t finalize a song, but the session alone was golden.

What lessons have you learned in the studio that are stuck with you?

I’ve been around artists who truly take their craft seriously. I’ve been around JAY-Z while he’s explained what ‘No Church in the Wild’ is about. He explained to me how the song is about ancient kings being beheaded and things of that nature. A kid my age at the time, 15 or 16, wouldn’t even know that’s what he’s trying to expound on. He’s trying to shed light on things and make it sound cool. He could take the easy route and talk about chains, Rolls-Royces, and money. But he’s teaching the youth about ancient kings.

You also have a new project coming out called Crypto Veggies. How was it putting that album together?

My boy Kai, who’s 19 years old, executive produced it. We were in the lab vibing, and he produced ten songs for me. We did ten songs at the crib in The Valley. I recorded every song by myself at Kai and Grand Manner’s house. I know how to engineer. I didn’t want to go to a studio. I just wanted a natural at the crib vibe. So I went to my producer’s house and did this entire project. I think people are going to fuck with this project. It’s real raw Casey Veggies. My boy Ghost and 2 Fly mixed the whole project.

What do you have coming for the rest of the year?

I got Crypto Veggies coming. I got an album with Mike & Keys, the greatest producers in the world. But then, I’m dropping the new collection for my clothing line, Peas & Carrots. So that’s really what I’m focused on right now.