Compton’s Future Billionaire – An Interview with Billionaire Buck
Compton, the urban metropolitan, is the birthplace of some of the most gifted and revered gangster rap and hip hop artists of the 20th and 21st century. Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, DJ Quik, MC Eiht, MC Ren, The Game, Kendrick Lamar, and his TDE team all hail from the current west coast hot spot.
While Los Angeles is more prominently known for its beaches, Hollywood, and In-N-Out, the inner cities like Compton, also historically known as Hub City (Compton sits almost directly in the middle of Los Angeles, California) Is widely known for its avid gang life, poverty stricken neighborhoods, and steady stream of musical artists. However, in the midst of the ferocity and scarceness, myriads of cultural icons were born and a crop of new musicians was raised. And amongst these new artists, a fresh MC by the name of Billionaire Buck is attempting to position himself amongst these legends and declare his stake as the artist to watch.
Earthell Buck, better known as Billionaire Buck – formally known as Compton’s Buck – was born in Compton and bred by its streets after losing both parents by misfortune and abandonment. His lyrical style and sound, which he denotes draws influence from more than just the west coast, is an assortment of energetic flows coupled with flashy lyrics designed just for the streets.
His upcoming EP, Eclipse 2, the follow-up to his previous mixtape, Apollo, is dropping this spring. I had the opportunity to speak to the 30-year-old rapper on his changing his name, what he’s learned while being in the industry, his fans, collaborating with big name artists, Eclipse 2, and his hustle.
CHM: Before you became Billionaire Buck, you rapped under the alias Compton Buck. What prompted the name change?
Buck: For the first six months in the game I was rapping under Compton Buck – a combination of where I’m from and my last name. For the last six years I’ve been Billionaire Buck. At the beginning of my career, there were a lot of problems with promoters and people like who were afraid to book me because they got the wrong idea with my name. They were expecting some street shit and didn’t want to pay for insurance and liabilities. I’m not about that, but I changed it to not have to deal with it.
CHM: What are some of the other politics in the industry that you were not prepared to deal with?
Buck: I’ve’ve been taking my career very seriously over the last two years and some of the biggest obstacles for me have been getting my records on mainstream radio without a major co-sign and dealing with people that aren’t reliable.
Where I’m from, when you say you’re going to do something – that’s it, you’re going to do it. We live by our word, that’s our code. In this industry, people make promises to you just to get you out of their face, they ain’t have zero intention of following through. This industry isn’t for everybody, honestly. A lot of these men ain’t men of their word and I had to learn that along the way – the hard way.
CHM: How has growing up on the west coast, specifically Compton, influenced your sound?
Buck: I have a universal sound, I really do. My first big record was [“Pistol Poppin”] with Waka Flocka, who is real big in the south. I’m not really sure how it happened but a lot of my core fan base is in the Midwest and the south. They show me love in places like Atlanta, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Indiana.
CHM: Have you received a lot of hometown support?
Buck: I get a lot of love in Compton and around where I grew up. The problem is, a lot of people around here want the VIP treatment when I have shows or appearances or just when shit is going well. I appreciate the support always though.
CHM: There have been quite a few artists coming out of Los Angeles lately. Have you worked with any of them or are any of them a friend of yours?
Buck: A lot of those guys I grew up around, it’s pretty close knit over here. Me and Kendrick are from the same ‘hood. We’ve talked about doing records together but even though I would eat off the record, it wouldn’t be beneficial for him or TDE. We’re cool always; we just keep building together and separately.
CHM: On your previous mixtape, Apollo, you have features from Ty Dolla $ign, Guerilla Black, Young Jeezy, and Bobby V. – which are well established names in the music industry. What was it like working with seasoned vets?
Buck: It was a blessing, of course. But I’ve’ve put myself in the position where if we do records together, it’s good for everybody. It doesn’t hurt them to do a record with me even though they’re established; it’s a 50/50 situation.
I like working with them because I can take the advice they give me, take it back to my circle, and see what works well for me.
CHM: What kind of advice did they give you?
Buck: Work hard always, keep an eye on your team, and take care of business.
CHM: The lead single off your upcoming EP, Eclipse 2 is “Streets Raised Me” featuring Lil Wayne. How did that collaboration come about?
Buck: Back in 2008 and 2009 I would kick it with [The] Game and his crew, Black Wallstreet a lot. They’re from the same ‘hood and he was on at the time. I could never keep my mouth shut, you know [laughs] and he had connections I didn’t have at the time. We had arranged for some studio time and a possible feature but me and my team couldn’t come up with the money at the time to release the finished record. But, as you can see we eventually got it out [laughs].
CHM: So when can we expect, Eclipse 2?
Buck: The records are all mixed, mastered – it’s completely ready to go. We’re looking at March or April. Timing is everything.
CHM: As an independent recording artist, how do you define the term hustle in today’s fast paced music industry?
Buck: If you ain’t got the hustle you will never survive in this game. Absolutely everything is a hustle to me and I have no problem going the extra mile for mine.
CHM: How has the hustle defined you as an artist and affected your workflow?
“The hustle is a gift and a curse. You begin to feel like a hustler and your mindset changes. You start to think you need certain material things. The hustle could shorten your career or it could have you there 200% quicker. Of course, that’s just how I feel; I can’t speak for everybody in similar situations. If you come into a lifestyle like mine, you can either keep hustling in the street or take the same strategy and apply it to hustling this music game. You know what I chose.”Billionare Buck
CHM would like to thank Billionaire Buck and those who made this interview possible. Keep up with Billionaire Buck as he continues to make strides in the music industry.
Interviewed & Written By: Jordhan Briggs