NEW YORK — Curren$y is distinctly New Orleans. The name of his latest album, Canal Street Confidential, serves as an ode to a historic street in the renowned French Quarter. He signed to No Limit Records and Young Money Entertainment and maintains relationships with rappers from both labels.
But, in a rap career dating back to the early 2000s, Curren$y has displayed a Southern drawl that belies his big personality. SI.com sat down with Curren$y in the offices of Atlantic Records in New York City as he neared the end of a tour that started in October. The pulls of home, however, didn’t stop us from catching the rapper at his rambunctious best.
The conversation darted in several directions, finally settling on a Marques Colston conspiracy theory, Master P’s basketball chops, and the athlete whose career most mirrors his path to prominence.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
SI.com: Your album and its first single, "Bottom of the bottle," with Lil Wayne and August Alsina, are big on New Orleans pride. Does that passion extend to your city’s sports teams?
Curren$y: Even though we didn’t do well this season, the city is always going to ride with its team. When they don’t do good, it affects night life, because everybody is staying inside. We take an L, you could have had your birthday planned at the best nightclub and you’ll be in there with just balloons. The ones who really, really care about you, your moms and your girl gone be there, but you thought it was going to be some New Jack City situation and everybody inside because they lost.
SI.com: The Saints have had some ups and downs in recent years. Have you ever been burned by that?
Curren$y: I washed my car once in the fourth quarter because we were winning, and when I went inside to freshen up to go out, we had lost the game. That’s happened a few times. I’m talking about within minutes. I went outside to wash the car in the last quarter because I was used to them and their tricks. They had gotten to the fourth quarter, and I was like, "OK, y’all got this." And they gave it away. I still got love, though.
SI.com: I saw your tweets (Warning: strong language) about Saints receiver Marques Colston being a potential spy for other teams. What was behind that conspiracy theory?
Curren$y: I do think one of the wide receivers is a spy or he’s in mafia trouble. I think maybe someone is threatening him and making him play like a buffoon sometimes. I was trying to spare him; I was trying to cut him some slack. I don’t know what happened, something happened to him. Someone has an earpiece in his ear, telling him when to put the ball on the ground the last three years. When you start working for another team, people keep you in place. That’s like when dudes start working for the feds. Someone is pulling the strings and keeping him there.
SI.com: Switching gears to basketball, LeBron James signed a lifetime deal with Nike. If you could sign a lifetime deal with any brand, what would it be?
Curren$y: Chevron, the gas company. I’d just pull up all the time, never have to worry about gas. That’s like living in Grand Theft Auto. That’s the one thing you don’t have to worry about on that game, just drive around all over the place. I’ve been on a lot of missions and never once had to stop for gas. So I’d do that. And all of my cars would be straight.
SI.com: Did you ever play sports? Or were you grounded in music from an early age?
Curren$y: I played like park ball, but once everybody grew, once everybody hit like 12 or 13 and they started getting taller and I saw really what I was up against, I quit. Wasn’t worth it.
SI.com: We’ve established that you didn’t have hoop dreams, but what NBA player’s career path would you compare to your own?
Curren$y: Rod Strickland. Because I always said Rod Strickland was scoring quiet points. Rod Strickland was nice. If you got his basketball card, it was worth keeping. You didn’t see him in the dunk contest or do a group of things in the game, but at the end it’s like, "Damn, he had 24 points and four steals? Rod did that?" So that’s how it is with me. I’m doing interviews right now, promoting Canal Street Confidential and I’m in places where I haven’t been. Like when you came and told me you saw the Hot 97 stuff and the thing I did with Ebro. I had to tell him like, "I’ve been in this building a grip of times." He respected it as he realized what it was, but that’s what happens. You got to wait until it comes to the end of the game and look at my stats. It’s like, "This fool put out four tapes this month, and X, Y, Z. He put up some numbers."
SI.com: You were once signed to Master P’s No Limit Records. How often did you get to see him play, and do you think he was skilled enough to stick in the NBA long term?
Curren$y: I saw him playing with NBA players once at a gym in Los Angeles, and outside of Kevin Garnett slam-dunking the basketball once—but that was to be expected—I didn’t see too many other people make a fool of him. This was like 2002. But Garnett would have dunked on anybody. It was [Garnett] and Tyronn Lue and Paul Pierce was there, too.
SI.com: Do you ever dig in the crates and listen to the music you made back as a member of Master P’s label?
Curren$y: Nope. I don’t be doing that. When you first start making music you listen to your songs because you can’t believe that you’re on one, but that was when we were recording ourselves and it was the first rewriteable CD and it was unmixed.
SI.com: So you only listen to your own music during the recording process?
Curren$y: In the studio or if it’s immediately new; I’ll do a tape in a day, so if I’m not putting it out and it’s done, I’ll listen to it the next day and be like, Alright, let’s put it out. Or, Nah, it needs X, Y, Z, and then put a few more records with it and then put it out. But I don’t just be banging my songs. I guess there’s nothing wrong with it, because players watch their game tapes to see what’s going on, to see what you need to correct or what you’re having trouble pronouncing maybe. But all that is what make you you and makes it work and makes your stuff different from somebody else.
SI.com: The New Orleans Pelicans are off to a rough start this season. How much do you watch them and what were your expectations from them?
Curren$y: I expected us to be looking better due to some personnel we picked up, but I haven’t been watching many games. I’ve been on the road, but when I get home I want to start going and watching the games. But my friends do, the homeys do, and everyone is expressing that same sentiment that you are, that they aren’t having the season they were looking for them to have. But things take time, especially when you’re bringing people in. Regardless of how good they are, personalities got to gel and people have to get used to passing the ball to each other.
SI.com: I saw you joke about how out of character it was for you to share space on a party flyer with Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans. Is this new level of attention different for you?
Curren$y: I don’t like those bashes. Half the time the people who run the club are like, "Who’s this? You smell like weed, you can’t wear that hat." I just stand there like, "Somebody is going to come and tell you I can do all the things you’re trying to tell me that I can’t do, dog." That’s why I don’t even go. I guess maybe I am at that point now to where that’s the kind of thing that’s going on. I’m on flyers and less people are tripping.