Many fans came to know Bobby Shmurda in 2014 after his hit song “Hot N**ga” took over the internet, peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and simultaneously changed the way fans said “about a week ago”— not to mention the “shmoney dance” to go along with the record. His hitmaking prowess also led to the young star signing a contract with Epic Records.

Just months after the release of “Hot N**ga,” Shmurda had to step away from his rising career to serve a six-year prison sentence, according to Billboard. After spending time away from music, Shmurda came back onto the scene with “No Time For Sleep (Freestyle)” in 2021. He followed this with “Shmoney,” a collaboration with Quavo and Rowdy Rebel, later that year. In 2022, Shmurda severed ties with Epic Records and became an independent artist.

Two years later, the rapper is still in high demand. He released “On Something,” a collaboration with Eli, in May. In June, Shmurda also performed a set at Empowerment Music Group’s (EMG) Yung N Lit Music Fest at the historic Apollo Theater in New York City, along with other hot artists like Cash Cobain, Bay Swag, Rubi Rose, and more. The Brooklyn native is also expanding his brand with entrepreneurial endeavors and giving back to youth in juvenile detention systems.

In an exclusive conversation with REVOLT prior to the fest, Bobby Shmurda talked about performing at Yung N Lit Music Fest, the challenges he faces as an independent artist, his business ventures, philanthropy, and more. Check it out below.

Online, you’re considered a pioneer of drill music. When you hear that, how does it make you feel?

I have to change the SEO because this is crazy, man. I don't know why people keep calling me that. I'm like, I'm not a pioneer [for] drill because I do not do drill music. I never did drill music, and I won't ever do it. That's [their] genre. I feel like that's the young boys’ genre. I'm an OG, baby, I've been OG. I've been outside since ‘98. I [was] born in ‘94, do the math.

Yung N Lit Fest is being held at the Apollo. How does it feel to be headlining at such a historic venue?

I would say [performing] anywhere in New York, I love it, but the Apollo is legendary because we grew up on that – like, we used to watch that on TV back in the days. My grandmother liked that s**t, y'all. I'm gonna try to rub that [thing]... They still got the little thing I can rub?

What do you love about the New York crowd when you perform?

The energy. [The] New York crowd is always on 10. Always on lit, like, the energy is always different. It’s always a movie. Don't matter where you at in New York. You could just be walking down the street, motherf**kers having a party – 5:00 in the morning. That's how [the] city is.

What does being young and lit mean to you now compared to when you were younger?

It means young and lit energy. I feel like the title is self-explained. You know when you hear about it, [you’re] gonna have a lot of young, wild artists out. You know they're gonna be performing. They got the newest songs. Even from the old school songs, I'm coming out with the “Hot N**ga” and all that s**t, from the OG s** t to the youngest s**t [like] Cash Cobain. They’ll be out there spinning on the stage, they’ll be out there wildin’. It’s gonna be fun.

You’ve been independent since 2022. What would you say is the hardest part about being an independent artist?

The hardest thing about being independent is that you gotta be bored. You gotta be okay with being bored. You gotta be okay with not going out to all the parties. You got to be okay with sitting down and being on your [own] back.

I talked to an artist – I think it was two days ago. He's like he had one of the biggest songs of last year, [the] song [went] five-times platinum. I'm not gonna say his name, but he was telling me, ‘I never got paid off not one of my songs yet,’ s**t like that. Being independent, you gotta be the label with the artist. So, you ain't gonna be able to do everything the artist does, but you get to reap the benefits of being an artist.

Like the other artists, you'll be out performing more probably and you know you'll be on the commercial shows more, but you know the independent love is something different. Like you get the different step off because it’s like real, it's different. It’s like these motherf**kers love me. I'm supposed to be here. It's like it's a different love. When you hear them scream, it's not like a programmed energy. It's a natural energy you can’t imitate or copy. I love the feeling of it, traveling country to country, state to state, all over the world, just seeing independent love, like these motherf**kers love you for you not what people say you are.

You made some noise in the media when you talked about the lack of support from digital streaming platforms. How do you think streaming services can better support independent artists?

I think they need to make an editorial playlist and more for independent artists. It would be better because they will receive more money. They are making money already, but you could be making trillions. Tell Spotify come holler at me and [you're] gonna make some trillions.

You have incredible energy as a performer... You’re not afraid to dance and have a good time. What would you say is the key to a great live performance?

I feel like I’ve been a performer all my life, so I'm just gonna say be yourself. Nobody can imitate you when you're being yourself ‘cause you don't know what [you’re] gonna do next. You just know you're gonna do you.

You spent time visiting a juvenile detention center recently. Why is it important for you to advocate for youth?

My father got locked up when I was like 2 months old. So, he's been locked up ever since. He’s supposed to come home this year, God-willingly. I know how growing up without [a] father is, and I know how that could land you in certain troubles, or even the people that did grow up with fathers, it’s still the same thing. I grew up inside the juvenile system. I was in and out [of] the juvenile system from when I was like 11/12 ‘til I was 18, until I couldn't go back [anymore]. Then they started sending me to Rikers.

I went to junior high school and high school inside juvenile. [I’ve] never been to a high school or junior high school outside of juvenile. Growing up in that environment, I was very violent when I was young. So that's why I look for peace mostly all the time. I could relate to those kids, and I know what [they’re] thinking because I was in there. I was in there wildin’... I was one of the mans when I was in there.

When you see it, it’s like, ‘Is this [what we’re] raising our little bros to be?’ Because we’re 10 years, 15 years older than them; we could be their fathers.

I talked to a young n**ga the other day and he's a big... he's a big member of the gang. He's like, ‘Yo, I want to get out.’ But he's scared to tell his n**gas. I'm like, ‘Yo, if your n**gas love you...’ I told my n****s like, ‘Yo, bro, I'm handling business now. All the other s**t can't come around to business.’ You got to make decisions for your family and for your well-being. I'm saying if motherf**kers f**k with you and they love you like they say they love you, they gotta understand that.

So, it's just giving the kids that. They're not kids; they're young men of the future. Giving them that acknowledgement that we didn't really get, that's what I strive for.

You’ve been making business moves along with your work as an artist. What inspired you to branch off into venture capital and other entrepreneurial endeavors?

So, I own parts of tech companies and stuff like that. I learned how to raise the money, and venture capital is so important because I have so [many] friends that [are] billionaires and they started off bootstrap – for people who don't know bootstrap, that mean they started off their business ground up. I feel like it shows how important the mind and an idea can be. Like, if you think about Rome or you think about Egypt and the pyramids, right? [They] were built off of a mind.

It shows how important a brain is and it shows to look past more than just people -- like skin, culture, or whatever -- and look at the brain first.

I [have] a venture capital firm with my two partners. They're successful. They dropped out of NYU, raised over $30/40 million in investments, so we're working on a few projects right now and it’s just something else to do with my time, but I got ADHD. So, when I ain't rapping, I stay out the streets.

Let’s talk about your new style, venture rap. Can you define it?

Venture rap is something that's different. So, me and one of my partners just released a song recently, like two-to-three weeks ago. He's the owner of a company. The company’s like $30/40 million. He's like 23 years old. We started to make music together and I wanted to explain venture capital in rap. We're doing a few other projects right now to take it further for the future that we’ll talk about soon.

So, what's next for Bobby Shmurda? What should we look out for?

So, I got a book; I just finished my chapter outline. The book is called “Ready to Live.” Also, the debut album is called Ready to Live. We're still getting the financials ready for that. Once the financials are ready for the album, it will be released where it will have a proper marketing campaign and push behind it, so everybody can enjoy the music.

I want y'all to stay in tune for PBC. Prevention Before Cure is one of my nonprofit charities that we have, and we are building some beautiful things inside New York City and across the world.