New York City hip-hop is in a much different position now than 20 years ago. Back then, there was a limited number of artists rising up through the ranks at the same time. Now, the increase in rappers coming up simultaneously while utilizing different styles is apparent. Brooklyn rapper ABG Neal is part of this new crop of New York talent. Picking up hip-hop at 18 as a route away from the streets, ABG Neal, now 22, has been around for a little longer than some of the other names out of the city, but patience is a virtue. What made Neal stick out from the rest is his off-kilter sense of humor while still embracing everything that comes with modern street rap.
Last January was the turning point in Neal's rap career. In 2019, he saw success with his collab "Forrest Gump" alongside his close friend and fellow rapper Krimelife Ca$$—the video is at nearly 10 million views as of today. Neal, CEO of Bix8Baby record label, started to drum up serious label interest, leading to a deal with Cinematic Music Group that same year. Now in 2020, the rhymer has dropped his second project, Trapstar 2 Rapstar, in March, a follow-up to last November's Cocaine Cowboy. It's clear Neal is heading in the right direction. The success of his songs "Really Rich" and "Cuban Link" show promise for the future, too. Catch up with ABG Neal in this week's edition of The Break.
Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
I grew up listening to: "50 Cent, he had the most effect and inspiration on my music. Max B, Dipset, Meek Mill."
My style’s been compared to: "I mean, everybody says I look like Trey Songz, but that's different. I don't really get too much comparison, sound-wise. I don't think I sound like anybody either. I never want to sound like anybody."
I’m going to blow up because: "There's really no… there's too many people dependent on me, honestly. I already moved my family out of my neighborhood and everything. I'm too far in now. There's no going back. It's kind of really just cut and dry like that. There is no going back. It has to work."
What’s your most slept-on song, and why? I mean I didn't give it much time to marinate yet, but there's a song called 'Blessings' on [my recent project] Trapstar to Rap Star and I don't feel like it's getting the attention that it should. And I was really talking on it. I was really talking facts on it and I feel like it didn't get the attention it deserves yet. I think people are just used to me rapping mad ignorantly. I'm trying to transition into where like I could do different stuff. I mean, it's not even that different, but it's just people just want me to say outrageous stuff on a beat and it's like, I don't want to do that all the time."
My standout records to date have been: "I would say obviously 'Forrest Gump,' 'Who's That' and impact-wise, 'Really Rich,' too. That was actually one of the first videos I had put up on my own YouTube page that only had 13,000 subscribers on and it did like a million in a month. That's how I could tell my fan base was becoming more genuine rather than people just clicking a video, you know what I'm saying?"
My standout moments to date have been: "I think Rolling Loud in New York. That was just a great experience. I actually wish I could relive that sometimes. That was an eye-opener for me as an artist. I knew I was doing good, but that just made me realize I was bigger than I thought. Seeing so many people yelling my name, that blew my mind.
Most people don’t know: "That I despise my music and my voice. Everybody around me knows, everybody in my camp knows that. But a lot of people don't know that I hate the music I make. I don't listen to myself when people play my music in front of me, I turn it off. I don't like it. But that's OK though, ’cause I don't make music for myself. I make music for other people. I'm the rapper, not the fan. The music I listen to, it doesn't sound like anything that I make. And it's weird because artists usually make music that matches the sound that they like to listen to and I'm the complete opposite."
I’m going to be the next: "Nobody because I don't want to be like nobody else."
Follow ABG Neal on SoundCloud and Instagram.
Krimelife Ca$$ and ABG Neal's "Forrest Gump"
Trapstar 2 Rapstar
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