How SleazyFlow Ditched a Job at Kohl’s For Hits With Lil Baby & Offset

How SleazyFlow Ditched a Job at Kohl’s For Hits With Lil Baby & Offset

Uprooting your life and moving to a new city is a scary proposition for any teenager. But for SleazyWorld Go — who initially hated the decision by his mom to pick up and move from Grand Rapids, Mich. to Kansas City, Mo. — it’s paying dividends a decade later.

After signing to Universal Music Group’s Island Records in April, and since relocating to the bright lights of Los Angeles, the 24-year-old with a mouth full of braces is acclimating to his new life of fame. Sleazy broke through with his stick anthem “Sleazy Flow” earlier in 2022, and thanks to social media apps including TikTok and Facebook, the menacing track went viral: he added Lil Baby to its remix in May, and it subsequently debuted at No. 47 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early June. It sits at No. 65 on this week’s chart (dated July 2), as he continues to push toward cracking hip-hop’s mainstream.

With co-signs both in private and public from the likes of Jeezy, 21 Savage and Cardi B, SleazyWorld Go knows the stakes have been raised as he prepares his major-label debut project, Comer [pronounced Come Here], which he says should arrive at some point in July.

Check out the rest of Sleazy’s interview, where he reflects on quitting his job at the Kohl’s factory to focus on rap, his love for Tupac, why he feels no pressure about being a one-hit wonder and more.

Was it hard moving from Michigan to Kansas City at 13 years old? That’s a tough age to pick up everything and find friends in a new environment.

SleazyWorld Go: It was horrible. I hated the decision to move. It was all my homies and everyone I knew was there. I had to go to this new city and I don’t know anyone and I’m leaving everyone behind. I had family in Missouri so that was a plus, but it took me a while to get used to it and actually like being there.

I read Tupac is someone you idolized growing up.

It’s not too many artists that I look up to because I’m big on creating my own path. There are artists I like, but I don’t idolize them. Tupac is one I look up to because of his artistry and how creative he was. The way he told stories was real deep. He paints pictures well. You could listen to one of his songs and you could feel like you’re in that same year going through what he’s talking about.

Music wasn’t really on your mind, as far as being an artist growing up, right?

It wasn’t a passion for me, but I always loved listening to music. I didn’t love making music for a long time. I’d rather go hoop than go make a song. My brother made music, but I’d play around with it. 

You’ve said that you couldn’t work a regular day job in the past.

Yeah, that sh-t sucked. Them hours felt too long. It felt like I was in jail or some sh-t. My last job was working two factory jobs. That’s when I first started taking music seriously. I was at a factory job, and I had wrote a song while I was working — it was just helping me get through my time when I was working a 12-hour shift. That was the first song I released to, [and it was] called “Sliding.” It’s actually what got me my first buzz. I was packing trucks with supplies and sh-t. It was the Kohl’s factory.

How did “Sleazy Flow” come together?

I was at a point like, “What’s the next move?” I was dropping songs [that were] getting views, but it was only getting about 100,000. I was at a standstill. I wasn’t going backwards, but it wasn’t going up. I remember thinking like, “What the f–k do I gotta do to get to that next level?” Yeah, I got fans and 100,000 views, but this sh-t ain’t enough. I’m tryna get into them doors. I never try to stick to the same sh-t. I’m always trying to make a new sound. 

I set up the studio session because that sh-t was in my head. I was like, “I gotta get this song done.” I just laid down me talking and I kept playing it back-to-back. Then I started rapping on that motherf–ker and it came out like that.

Tell me more about your cameraman going to jail with the video footage and you had to get it from him and edit it yourself?

I sent the song to my brother and told him to tell Icewear Vezzo to get on the song. They were f–king with it and I’m just hoping he’s gonna put a verse on it. He said he was [going to], but I’m impatient. I needed to drop this motherf–ker. I just end up shooting a video to it. 

It was my first time meeting the videographer I used to shoot it because my old one ended up having a baby and he stopped shooting videos. So I’m looking for a videographer (Dot Shot It Films) and I’m skeptical because I’m real picky. I ended up giving him a chance and that motherf–ker went crazy. He ended up getting locked up but I posted a 26-second snippet the same day we shot the video. It went viral — at least 30,000 shares on Facebook. Everyone was asking when it’s dropping. A month and a half later and the song still ain’t dropped and he’s locked up. I ended up getting in contact with his baby momma to get the footage and edit it myself so I could drop the song. People started finding out about it and that was my first million views with no promotion.

Right before that, my YouTube page had got taken. It was some sh-t with my cousin and I got into it with her baby daddy and she had access to my YouTube page and we fell out so she took the page from me. So I had to start completely over with zero subscribers with “Sleazy Flow.”

Was there a moment you felt it really took off and broke through on a mainstream level?

I was meeting with labels way before I dropped that song. They were paying attention to me, but they weren’t serious — they were just watching. That’s another reason why I thought I needed to figure it out and step my game up. I was meeting with Island Records in New York, and I woke up and it was viral. Everyone was tagging me and there were artists doing TikToks to it. That was a game-changer. 

What are your thoughts on TikTok boosting the record?

A lot of people try to discredit TikTok, but TikTok is a great social media app because you don’t need to have a big platform to be visible on there. I was an underground artist that everyone knew, but [in the] mainstream, nobody knew me. So when I got discovered on TikTok, all my fans were like, “No, don’t bring him on here. This is our artist.” Mainstream was kinda late to me, but at the same time, it was good because it brought my sound to more ears than I could do on my own. It would’ve taken me more time. It opened them doors. 

“Sleazy Flow” is sitting at No. 65 on the Billboard Hot 100. How much do you value chart success — is it something you’re checking on?

I don’t go look at the charts, but my team lets me know the progress. If it hit the top 50, they let me know. I make sure I let them know that’s sh-t I want to be aware of. I’ve been signed for about two-and-a-half months, so the growth of the music has been amazing.

Are you happy “Sleazy Flow” is the record that blew you up?

I’m happy with “Sleazy Flow.” That’s the sound and song I’ve been searching for the whole time I’ve been doing music. When you an artist, you got to find yourself. It just took me figuring out who I was and the story I wanted to paint. I feel like a lot of my fans love my music so much because they can relate. I’m not trying too hard. I’m just rapping about what I know and what I been through. “Sleazy Flow” is a perfect song and the name alone is like an opening statement to who I am. It’s more to Sleazy, though. 

How about getting Lil Baby on the “Sleazy Flow” remix, how did that happen?

I just felt like it was the perfect decision because he was one of the first hip-hop artists co-signing and showing support to [“Sleazy Flow”]. He would come out to his shows listening to “Sleazy Flow” and he did a TikTok to it. 

Have anyone else’s remixes stood out to you? Who would you want to see hop on it next?

One that stood out the most was Yungeen Ace. It’s kind of hard to do that beat. You gotta have a unique flow to do that beat. I would want to see what Drake can do on “Sleazy Flow.” That would be crazy to see.

Talk to me about your next project, Comer, arriving soon. 

My son changed my life and he gave me happiness. For a long time, I was just trying to find it and having him made me happy. I’ma go through the hard stuff so he won’t have to. That’s why the tape is dedicated to him. This is it. This is my introduction and I want to go hard for my son. It’s supposed to be dropping in July. 

What do you hope fans learn about you?

I want them to embrace this new sound with me being a new artist. It’s a lot of good storytelling on there. A lot of cultural songs on there. I want it to be in history like when you look back on this year, and you’re thinking about songs from this year, songs on this tape will be that. “Sleazy Flow” is going to be one of those when someone thinks about 2022. It’s in history now.

What was it like to link up with Offset for your new song together, “Step 1”?

I used to listen to him when I was younger and now that I’m in these moments, I don’t realize how crazy it is to be doing songs with artists I was listening to. A motherf–ker from where I’m from can’t just say, “I got a song with Offset, or I got a song with Lil Baby.” 

Offset actually reached out to me. He likes my music and believes in my sound. He thinks I’m next up and I f–k with whoever f–k with me. I f–k with Offset. It was my record at first, but he liked it and heard it from a TikTok I did. He wanted to hop on there.

Was there a bidding war before you signed with Island Records?

Yeah, there was a bidding war. I’m a picky person and I don’t just make decisions fast. I had to really meet with these labels and vibe with these people to figure it out. It was never about money. It was about who I felt I could trust and be in a partnership with. If we’re gonna do business, I want to have some sort of bond and trust there. I’d rather do business with someone I trust. Island understood me and believed that I’m the next sound and that I could be the next big thing.

Do you feel any pressure to beat the one-hit wonder allegations?

Nah, I don’t feel any pressure about one-hit wonder allegations. I got hits, but they just ain’t released yet. Motherf–kers won’t even give artists a chance to release more music. “Sleazy Flow” is a hit song, but I got songs that are going crazy just like “Sleazy Flow.” It’s almost at the same views in less time and no promotion. 

[People saying that I’m a one-hit wonder] are not even my real fans. If they were, they would know, so it’s obvious they only listening to this one song. Most people just want to have something to say. I’m not worried. I’m gonna continue to let my music speak for me.

A version of this story originally appeared in the June 25, 2022, issue of Billboard.

How SleazyFlow Ditched a Job at Kohl’s For Hits With Lil Baby & Offset Uprooting your life and moving to a new city is a scary proposition for any teenager. But for SleazyWorld Go — who initially hated the decision by his mom to pick up and move from Grand Rapids, Mich. to Kansas City, Mo.…