Find a Way
Now a solo artist following the success and disbandment of his former group Shoreline Mafia, OhGeesy is focused on his next step.
Interview: Robby Seabrook III
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
Hip-hop can lead to drastic life changes, and OhGeesy knows that well. Coming up as part of a California-based, four-man crew of friends—him, Fenix Flexin, Master Kato and Rob Vicious—they all did graffiti together, meeting in 2012, and becoming the rap group Shoreline Mafia four years later. In late 2017, the group released their debut project, ShorelineDoThatShit, showcasing Shoreline Mafia’s blend of vibe-focused rap with an edge of mischievous youth. The unit signed to Atlantic Records in 2018, and went on to rack up platinum plaques for songs like “Musty,” “Bands” and “Nun Major,” and gold certifications for “Whuss the Deal” and “Bottle Service.”
To fans’ surprise, Shoreline Mafia broke up in early 2020. They all went their separate ways due to creative differences, ahead of dropping their group debut album, Mafia Bidness, last July. OhGeesy, 28, stood out as the most popular member of Shoreline, laying claim to the crew’s biggest hooks. With the group now disbanded, he remained committed to music and pushed himself to drop his own songs, leading up to his debut solo album, GeezyWorld, released this past August.
OhGeesy started to record the project shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world last year. As quarantine life began to affect the process of making and releasing music, the Los Angeles-bred rhymer, born Alejandro Carranza, persevered. Being a new father to his 2-year-old-son, Sincere, trying to navigate life as a solo artist and working on his own sound was certainly a challenge. But, with a love for rap and Atlantic Records behind him, OhGeesy, who’s of Mexican descent, found traction, most notably with his DaBaby-assisted single “Get Fly,” which has 20 million Spotify streams and counting.
With the release of his solo debut effort behind him, OhGeesy speaks with XXL about the ups and downs of the last year, why he feels Shoreline Mafia broke up, having Kanye West-level goals and starting anew.
XXL: How did you start in graffiti and then become a rapper?
OhGeesy: I been doing graffiti since I was in elementary school, so I’ve always been like a bad-ass lil’ kid. When I was in elementary school, I remember, it crossed my mind, wanting to rap, but I never really did it. It was always a thought in my mind. There wasn’t really Hispanic rappers that was doin’ it how I wanted to do it. It was something that always crossed my mind, but I never got to do it, I kept doing graffiti. I did graffiti my whole life up until this point, really. The whole point of graffiti, it’s like an attention thing. It was like an ego thing, so rapping just went along with it. It just all came together. All my best friends, the whole Shoreline Mafia, OTX was a graffiti crew that I’m turn- ing into a label. That’s my brand, that’s everything. It all came from graffiti.
When did you think you could go far with a music career?
When I was like, 19 I think. I got my first mic and I was like, I’ma do it. One of the people that was fresh out when I was 18, 19 was [A$AP] Rocky. Rocky was doing that shit, and I just seen like, a young, fresh movement. He was fly as fuck. I felt like I was fly as fuck. I was like, Man, I wanna rap, too! I been doing it ever since.
How did you develop as an artist early on?
I think it was really just the traveling and opening my mind up, and then seeing how the culture is all around the world just made me wanna be a better artist. Throughout my whole Shoreline career, I think I did a little bit more partying than sitting down and really thinking about shit. Going from not ever traveling anywhere in my whole life to just going every day, different places, for like, a year straight. That shit was kinda too much. Being on my path right now, in my solo career, I feel like I’m better than ever before. I feel like I’m more polished, I’m cleaner ’cause I sit down and I think about shit. On top of that, I have my son, so, it made me really wanna take my craft seriously.
How has being a father changed your perspective on your life and career?
Man, it changed me a lot. It made me kinda stop caring about so many other people. I think before I was so consumed with making sure everyone I knew was OK, but once he was born, it was kinda like, this the only person I need to make sure that’s OK for the rest of my life. It made me care less about everything, which I think made me better.
What’s different now that you’re an actual solo artist rather than in a group?
You know, the crazy part about it is now that I’m doing my solo thing, I feel like I have more of a team now than ever before. I got a team of creatives. [For] my videos, my boy Austin [Simkins] has been coming up with all the treatments, doing everything with me. I almost feel like I’m doing less now, but it feels like I’m doing more at the same time. It feels like everyone on my team is really calculated and we’re doing everything perfect and on point.
How did you go right back to making music after Shoreline Mafia broke up?
I almost feel like that’s what it looks like from the outside, but it’s kinda like, this shit wasn’t overnight. It was kinda something that was leading up to, since almost the start, basically. The whole three, four years, whatever it was with Shoreline, it was almost waiting to end as soon as it started. This whole getting back into doing my shit, that’s like four years in the making. That’s what stopped my growth with the Shoreline shit. There was so much background shit going on that it was like, that’s why I didn’t get to focus on the music. My mind was in totally different places, but now I feel like my mind is in the healthiest mind state I’ve been in in a long time.
Did you want to strike out on your own?
It wasn’t that I wanted to be a solo act. It kinda was just like once we took off, the vibe wasn’t there no more. It’s nothing that the label did. It’s nothing that no one did. It just wasn’t there. It’s like tryna make a relationship work that’s just not working. The vibe wasn’t there, so, I kinda always imagined, OK, this shit not gon’ work forever. Something’s gotta give.
As a solo act, which artists do you feel have been supportive of you as you’ve taken this journey so far?
Everyone that ever fucked with me before, they still fuck with me.
Have your fans expected the old Shoreline Mafia sound from you?
People want that old sound, but I feel like, I mean, I got millions of listeners. I see a comment here and there, so, that shit don’t mean nothing to me. They want that old, 2016, ’17, Shoreline sound, but once this shit drop, I feel like, if you not growing with my music, then you just not growing as a person. You gotta grow with the artists that you fuck with, ’cause they really the people that inspire you and shit like that. I’m inspired by a lot of artists, and growth is everything.
What was the process of working on GeezyWorld?
I came up with the first draft of it like, pre-COVID, almost going into COVID, and then boom, COVID hit. The first three months I had bad writer’s block. I went from going out and traveling every day, going from city to city, state to state, to just doing nothing at all. So, it was a pretty confusing time. And then, I was like, I gotta figure out how I’ma take this whole experience. I’m either gonna kick it at home, eat bad and just fuck up or I’ma just sit down, focus up, kick it with my son and get healthy, and that’s exactly what I did. I started working out, eating healthy. Started going to the studio. I met my engineer, he’s part of my team, my guy Tez [Lamont], and I got super comfortable with him and I started finding myself, my sound. Everything.
How did you stay patient with that, when you had to start and stop working because of the pandemic?
It was disheartening. On top of that, I wasn’t in a good headspace. The whole group shit had just been announced, “Oh, we not a group no more,” all types of shit. I think that was announced like, the first week of COVID or something. It was kinda depressing. But I was like, I gotta turn all this shit around, and that’s when I started really focusing on my health, focusing on my son. I spent every day with my son. COVID ended up being a really good thing for me. I started focusing on my merch. That’s what kept me up throughout the whole thing.
You have a wide variety of merch. How are you coming up with that?
I got eyelashes for women ’cause I know women love me, so, go on my website, go cop that right now. We got thongs. We got women’s gear. My baby mama be coming up with all the girls’ line. Me and her came up with the idea to sell the lashes together. I got the guys’ line. Everything is OTX Boyz, Wavy Baby, HellaWave Girls, all that. And OTX Boyz just stems from a graffiti thing—the graffiti culture, skate culture. I just be tryna make my shit as I try to tend to all the street kids.
When did you realize you wanted to get into clothing and merch?
I think it’s something I always wanted to do, as well as music. Being a kid, and coming from nothing, you kinda almost feel like these things are impossible. Being an artist, it’s almost like—not to tell anyone to not do it—but being an artist is almost like a cheat code. I could put out merch, and it’s gon’ sell. It was kinda like I got into all these things, like, the music is like a gateway for me to do everything else I’ve always wanted to do.
You talked about knowing there were Hispanic rappers, but them not doing it the way you particularly were. How does your Mexican heritage inspire you to keep pushing and why do you think there aren’t more Hispanic rappers making noise?
It’s not that they not making noise, it’s that they wasn’t doing it like me, and now I feel like
I inspired a whole wave, a whole generation. I see everybody tryna rap like 2017, 2018 me, and that’s cool and I want them to listen to this new shit, and make them grow with it, too. Just like any other fan, just how I grow when I listen to how much Future’s grown. I listen to other artists elevate, and that shit just inspire you to be bigger and bigger. That’s what this project gon’ do for everyone. I know I’ma big, important piece to my culture, and they love me and I love them. And shit, I’m just gon’ keep growin’. They gon’ keep growin’ with me.
Is there a rapper whose trajectory you’d like to emulate?
I didn’t grow up listening to him, but I definitely wanna take my brand to a height like Kanye [West], how he did Yeezy. I wanna make my shit like that’s my brand. The music shit. I wanna be bigger than I ever imagined. I wanna be pop star shit. I wanna take my brand, my music, every one of my brands, my women’s brand, I got the weed brand, I wanna do that shit like Berner. It’s different people, and it’s levels to everything, and I wanna reach every height for every aspect of my career.
Check out more from XXL magazine's Fall 2021 issue when it hits newsstands in October 2021, including our cover story with Tyler, The Creator, Lil Nas X's battle for respect in hip-hop, Wale talks about his new album, Folarin 2, find out more about Maxo Kream in Doin' Lines, Bia reflects on how far she's come in her career after "Whole Lotta Money" success, BMF actor Da'Vinchi talks rap music in Hip-Hop Junkie, Isaiah Rashad keeps it real about his faith, SoFaygo discusses signing to Travis Scott's Cactus Jack label, CupcakKe's fresh outlook on life with new album on the way and more.