Originally published at Passionweiss
100s (pronounced “hunnids”)
was born in the wrong era. The
20 year old has been fascinated by the ‘70s since being exposed to American
Pimp, Iceberg Slim’s autobiography and nuclear levels of hair spray. His
parents moved him to the Ivory Coast due to failing grades and his last two
years of high school were spent in a three-bedroom house with 15 others. During
this time, 100s heard Mac Dre’s “Gumbo
” and decided to make music for pimps,
pushers and paper-chasers.
Three years after returning home to Berkeley in 2010, debut
album Ice Cold Perm
was released. With the same stony-eyed stare and a cover
inspired by Snoop Dogg’s Tha Doggfather, 100s embraced his influences with
rhymes about running game, retro cell phones, Cali beaches and floor length
He quickly gained a fan-base and Fools Gold records picked
him up after noticing the music industry was missing immaculate hair. Earlier
this year, 100s followed his debut with the purple-tinted IVRY. The eight track
EP focuses on retro R&B crooning and synth-heavy production, but still
packs the essential freaky raps.
I spoke to the half Black/half Jewish rapper about whether
he prefers The Mack or Superfly, his musical heroes and why he’s open about
never actually being a pimp. Despite being quite reserved during our
conversation, 100s mentioned his time in the Ivory Coast was one of his
favourite things to discuss so we also covered topics including culture shock,
catching Malaria, and realizing how lucky Americans were with their living
What made you decide
to go a little more melodic with IVRY?
I guess, it’s just growth. I’ve always liked more melodic
music than traditional rap so I guess it was just a matter of time. The more
you do something, the better you get at it. There’s just different kind of
songs that you learn how to do as you get better at what you do. I aimed to
kind of do that [make more melodic music.] I have this whole concept behind
IVRY. It was actually a concept album. I never really explained the concept.
Can you tell us a
little about the concept now?
It’s kind of abstract of course, but it chronicles this
person in this other dimension in the future or in a different time or
whatever. It was meant to be almost like a story. If you really listen to it
all the way through and you change the tracklist around it would have been a
different story with different events in life. It just takes you to a place, to
You were talking
about a project named Sex Symbol, before IVRY dropped. Are they the same thing?
Nah, Sex Symbol, I need to chase down everybody I said that
to. That’s no more, that’s not happening. That was just a phase. I was kind of
hot off some shit, but that’s not happening. I guess, what it would have been
is now IVRY.
You often collaborate
with Joe Wax. Can you tell us about him?
He’s been producing for maybe five or six years. We went to
the same middle school and we both got sent away at the same time. He got sent
to some boarding school in the middle of nowhere and I got sent to Africa, so
we bonded over that. Then we came back and started making music.
Even if he’s not necessarily producing the song or whatever,
he helps me create. He’s my guide and my homie. He’s always involved in what
I’m doing. He has really good taste.
You like to be
heavily involved in the creative process?
Yeah, IVRY was the first time I’ve co-produced.
We’ve talked about
some of your rap influences, but what about other artists that had an impact on
Yeah, I love Prince. Hell yeah. Prince, Rick James, all of
Rick James had quite
a flamboyant style as well.
Exactly, he was a genius you know. If you really listen to
his catalogue, the stuff that not everybody knows. If you really dig, he’s a
genius. He probably played bass and fucking electric guitar and whatever, super
What do you love so
much about the 70s-80s? What exactly drew you to that era?
I don’t know, I don’t really think it was a conscious
decision. Ever since I was younger, I was fascinated with that era and identified
Do you prefer The
Mack or Superfly?
Honestly, I would pick another one. I would choose Willie
Dynamite. I really like Willie Dynamite. I guess after that film, I like The
Mack better than Superfly. I’m a movie guy.
You’re influenced by
people like Too $hort, Mac Dre, Snoop Dogg etc. But can you also tell us about
I’m big fans of them. Dre Dog, who is now known as Andre
Nickatina, he’s a Bay Area legend you know. I mean he’s a legend period. It’s
hard to describe what he is and what he sounds like, you’ve just got to listen.
He’s super different.
Have you met any of
your musical heroes?
I met Andre Nickatina. I brought him out in San Francisco.
That was some dream come true shit, know what I’m saying? [laughs.] I’ve been a
fan of his since I was about 13 year’s old. I opened for Snoop one time but
I’ve never met him, this was like a while ago.
You’re a comedy fan
as well, who’s your favourite comedian?
Eddie Murphy. Well Eddie Murphy now, ahh you know… but Raw
or Delirious Eddie Murphy, that Eddie Murphy.
Do you think your
interest in comedy also effects the music? A lot of people said the video for
“1999” was pretty tongue in cheek.
I guess since the music is a reflection of me. I enjoy
comedy and that’s part of me, so maybe it does bleed into it, but I wouldn’t
say I purposely do that. I take what do seriously, you know. It’s about
perception, some people get the music and some people don’t.
As a 16 year old,
were you scared when you landed in the Ivory Coast? That’s quite the culture
Yeah, now that I think about it, it’s kind of surreal. It’s
like, did everything happen? But it did. It was hard to adjust because it’s
like night and day. When you’re over there and you think there’s this whole
other world, it’s like another planet exists.
You had Malaria five
times? What’s that like?
I probably had it more. When you’re from America or
whatever, you’re fragile. You’re not conditioned for those types of diseases.
Back there people are conditioned, but when you didn’t grow up with it, your
body doesn’t know what to do. How I would describe is like you’re cold and
you’re hot, your body aches, you have nausea, no appetite. It’s just like…
shit. [Laughs] It feels like “this is the end.” It’s horrible. I feel like as
you get it more you get over it faster though.
Did the Ivory Coast
change your perception of the world? I bet you came back with an idea of how
lucky you are with the living conditions in America.
Yep, one hundred percent. One hundred percent. I tell my
friends that all the time and I always try to get that across. The same way
that Jewish people have a birth-right to go back to Israel. I think African
people should have that too. It gives you a wider understanding of what’s going
on and makes you realise that all the petty shit that you worry about or deem
important really isn’t.
I’ve heard there’s a
lot of internalized racism over there and white people get special treatment
over their own culture.
Definitely, of course. That’s just part of it. I don’t
really know what it stems from, but you always see that. It’s maybe because
they were colonized by white people or whatever. Some African people think that
white people are better. It’s really insane.
How long did it take
you start making music after you returned from the Ivory Coast?
When I came back, I wasn’t really fucking around you know. I
had so much time to think and visualise what I wanted to do when I was there,
that when I came back I didn’t waste my time.
Have you been back?
Nah, I want to go back. I want to go back soon. Hopefully I
go back soon. I think there’s a festival over there next year so I’m going to
try go to that.
You’re proud of your
African heritage, are you equally proud of your Jewish side?
Yeah. I would say that I’m not as in touch with my Jewish heritage
as my African, but I am proud of it.
Ice Cold Perm was a
reasonably polished project. Were you working with labels behind the scenes at
Hell no! [laughs] It was me, my friend Joe and our friend
Oliver, who is Joe’s big cousin. He has a website called dreamcollabo.com,
which initially put it out. Me and Joe just recorded it in his bedroom. We
would all talk about what would make it and what wouldn’t ya know, and then we
just dropped it.
What made you decide
to sign specifically to Fools Gold? I’m sure there were also other labels that
I just liked what they had going on. I knew that I was
moving towards that kind of melodic sound, at least at that time. It felt like
a good fit.
Were you nervous
about performing on some of your earlier tours? You gained an audience quite
Not really. I recall I was nervous the first show I ever
did. After that, once you kind of realise that this is your passion, everything
comes out on stage. As soon as you touch the stage and you realise that this is
your time, you forget about everything.
I know you’ve toured
Australia before, how was that?
It was amazing. It was weird for me to just see that I had
reached people out there and they embraced me. It was super cool, I loved it
and would love to go back.
Where do you see your
sound going next? Maybe into Funk?
Ah… no. I guess that will all be revealed in time, but I am
working on new things. I’m working on a lot of stuff. I’m not going to talk
about specifics, but it is coming and you’ll see.
Have you collaborated
with Danny Brown?
No, it hasn’t happened yet.
You’re in an iPhone
5C commercial. How did you get involved with that?
My friend the same guy who put out my mixtape, Oliver, he
was doing the casting. I wasn’t going to do the ad. I was trying to help him
find people to do it. I think it was last minute and he was like: “Dude, I
can’t find anybody. Just send me a picture of you or some shit. “ So I sent him
a picture and they liked me, so I did it. It was fun.
When did you start
growing your hair?
Shit, I would have been 10 years old or something. It was
I don’t really know. A lot of the people I was fans of had
long hair. Whether it was from rock music or whatever. I used to really like
wrestling when I was younger and all these old wrestlers had long hair, so
that’s what I wanted to do.
How would you rate
your hair in comparison to DJ Quik’s on Rhythmalism?
Ah, I don’t know if I’ve seen it on that particular album
cover. He’s got a hell of a perm or whatever it is [laughs.] I mean it’s nice
or whatever, but I like mine more.
I watched some of the
Hollywood Shuffle film you sample on “My Activator.” What’s your favourite type
[Laughs] I don’t even know any different types. I don’t know
shit about them. I just love that movie.
You obviously like
the 70s look and you’ve got the hair, did people ever call you gay?
Of course [laughs]. Of course. Yeah. I’m not an insecure
man. I’m chilled. I don’t get caught up in that shit. If you want to call me
gay or whatever you think, that’s your opinion. I can just be me. I keep it
moving. I don’t think anybody necessarily is meant to be understood.
I heard a rumour that
some classmates of yours claimed you were pimping girls at 16 years old at
Ohhh no. No, what the fuck! [laughs] See I didn’t even go to
Sorry I’m asking some
No, it’s all good. I like these questions. I get tired of
the weak-ass ones.
You’ve also said
previously when you’re talking about “hoes,” or whatever, that doesn’t
necessarily translate to real life and real people. Can you tell us about that?
To me it’s clear, but I’ll explain it. Not every record is
necessarily about a pimp and a hoe or whatever people think it is. It could be
anything. It could be a metaphor, it could be taken however. That’s why I said
it’s not meant to be taken literally. If I’m talking about that, it could be
something else. It could be what’s going on in my life or whatever. It’s just
abstract as it comes. When I’m writing I’m not always thinking about that type
You’re pretty open
about admitting you have never been a pimp and you’ve never claimed to be one.
What do you think about people who criticise your authenticity?
It’s only an issue of authenticity, if you view it as one.
If you view it as expression and it’s not meant to be taken literally, there’s
no issue of authenticity. When it comes down to people judging it as if it’s
meant to be taken literally, then yeah the issue comes into play. If it’s
pretty much any genre other than rap, then people know not to take it
literally. It’s just an expression, you don’t know what the fuck they [the
performer] are talking about. On some level, I would compare it to that. Of
course I’m open about it [not being an actual pimp], because I don’t want you
to take it literally.
You see yourself as a
performer and musician first?
Yeah, one hundred percent. Honestly, I have two projects out
and I’m always growing and doing stuff, so people will see what everything