Two days before Christmas, on the typical sunny and warm Californian winter afternoon, Huey Briss stopped by our HQ to hang out. Briss is a musician hailing from Long Beach. We had shot a set of photos prior to the sit down in Long Beach, and now we were in West Adams talking shop.
Early in the chop session, my business partner Andrew interrupts the conversation to see if the music on the Sonos is too loud or not. “Hell na!” Briss replies, “he’s playing some Diana Ross.” I could hear the appreciation and enthusiasm he had for the classics. An appreciation that is reinforced by the fact that Briss feels like he’s the “only one still doing this for fun.” He tells us he’s the only one still rapping to rap. We get into a rather philosophical conversation about how social media (and more or less capitalism) has affected artistry.
See the full conversation below:
This interview took place on December 23, 2020.
Ryan Chang | Huey Briss
So Long Beach born and raised?
Yeah, east side at my granny house. Once she lost the house, we moved to the north side. I lived with my mom, grandma, and sister.
Did you grow up listening to music? Like this type (*reference to Diana Ross on the Sonos)?
Hell yeah. My mom and grandma listened to a lot of this. At the time it was kinda annoying how obsessed they were with it. Diana Ross, The Spinners, man, anything that started with “The” — they fucked with it, they loved it.
It’s the “The” and the “And”. Haha.
Oh you know it. The so and so’s and…
So good kid or bad kid?
Hella bad. I got my first whooping from my grandma for lying. I don’t even remember what the lie was. I was a social butterfly. I was that kid that they moved away for talking too much.
You got good grades though?
Hell yeah. I heard a lot of “look you’re too smart to be doing this stuff.”
When did you get exposed to music making?
Music’s been a weird journey for me. I was first exposed to it by my cousin who was a DJ. He was a DJ that couldn’t live up to his full potential. That’s when I first heard J. Dilla. I went underground pretty early on like Stones Throw, Madvillain, J. Dilla. It’s crazy because everything correlated to clothes. I would listen to Curren$y just to see what sneakers he was wearing.
I remember in the early days of Dunkxchange. That was everything: Wu Tang Clan, Illmatic, etc.
Yeah. The whole culture made me feel like I was part of something. That really helped me out. It felt different.
How did the music start?
Wow. I started making music on a program called Acid Pro. My grandma had a computer and my uncle had put the program on there. My grandma was playing Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune on that thing.
What did your grandma do?
She had a daycare for like years. I ran that place as a kid, haha.
We talk about the differences between Los Angeles and Long Beach even though they are so close to one another. Briss explains that there’s much more opportunity in Los Angeles which is why the gang culture in Long Beach is so much more pronounced. I ask him where he fit into all of this, and he said he was everywhere.
You were all over the place?
I had a weird thing because I was fucking bitches. A lot more than any one around me and that led me to physically be all over the city. I might have to go to the east side to see her. Or she might want to get food over here. And my dad was a heavy Crip, so I had to like move real efficiently.
Did you go out to LA a lot?
Hell yeah. You don’t get the same opportunity in Long Beach man. I love it out here. I loved World on Wheels. It felt bigger. It felt better. It had a big influence on me. It’s appointment only. I can’t just pop up to places.
What did your mom do?
She is still an operator at Verizon. She been doing that for like 15 years. She’s always had bread. She has no life. She’s a hard worker. She stacked up for hella long.
I feel like your mom and grandma are hustlers. Is that where you get it from?
Fosho. They never asked any dudes for nothing. I always wondered how they got them dudes that wanted to pay for everhything. Because how else can you keep a girl that don’t need you? That’s the key. If you work hard and are passionate about something, and you not chasing the money, then you attract things. You gotta hustle though. “Needing nothing attracts everything.”
Damn, I’ve never heard that one. That’s good.
Yep. “Needing nothing attracts everything.”
I remember you told me that you feel like you’re the only one that’s rapping just to rap. Speak on that.
You just don’t want to be doing things just for money any more. Especially not in this era. You gotta have fun with it. People can see through it so fast if you’re not having fun with it. It’s cool to have fun. Not everything has to be about the money. I rap just to rap. I rap because it’s fun. I went through some shit yesterday that I can’t wait to rap about.
In LA, there’s not a lot of transparency. I think you stand out because you’re honest.
I mean that’s it. That’s why I stand out. Everybody is trying to be cool and trying to out-cool each other. You have to be honest with yourself first. That’s why Dom and Nipsey got so many fans. They the most honest out the city. These niggas make me feel like I can do it too. Gotta be transparent.
Can you talk about World on Wheels?
I been going there since I was 14. They recently just closed. It’s a spot just off Venice. World on Wheels is famous because they got two floors of wood floors. It was just a party spot. All the most stylish people were going there. It was just one of those places. It’s crazy because, it was originally getting shut down in 2016/2017, but then Nipsey bought it to keep alive. Then he died, and COVID happened. And then we had, Skate Depot, in Cerritos.
That’s the one Channel Tres is talking about on his EP right?
That’s my boy. I’m on the album. There was bitches at Skate Depot. It was popping at Skate Depot. The line was so long sometimes that I would go to the Guitar Center nearby and fuck around until the line was shorter.
So you’re nice?
I’m nice. I was just in a DUCKWRTH music video skating. Buddy can skate. Seafood Sam was out there. Skate culture was big because that’s where all the bitches were.
Tell me about your dad.
My dad was a super gang member. I rarely saw him. He was in jail when I was born. I’m in gang culture by default but I’m not a gang banger. I’m not gonna put my life in danger — especially not in Long Beach. Your life means nothing in Long Beach. People will kill someone for a retweet. So my dad was kinda so known in the city, I was like “little Brian.” Not every kid from the north side could be on a the east side, but I kinda had the luxury of doing that. It was a blessing in disguise really.
How do you stay motivated?
I put my ego to the side and just put in the work. I been doing this since I was 19. I’m 28 now. I started when there were like 14 people on the website. I just make my music and hope that people like it. If they don’t, then that’s cool too. Technically, I made it already. I made it out of Long Beach. I’m winning. It’s the little wins. I’m still motivated to keep going though. The goal is to get to the point where I can create a blueprint for other people.
What can we look out for?
I’ve had 2021 planned out for a while. Every month, there should be something coming up.