Born and raised in Greenville, Mississippi, Li 9 is a product of his environment. Through pain and hardships, the rising rap artist writes tear-stained diaries, using every song to rip open another wound. The 20-year-old started off wanting to go to the NBA, but music ultimately came as second nature. His singles “Feelin Like Stuckett” and “Palm Anges in Nirvana” exemplify why he is steadily rising to the top and building a formidable catalog in the process. If you haven’t heard of Li 9, there’s a great chance you will fairly soon.
As one of Motown Record’s latest rising stars, Li 9 is gearing up for the release of his label debut Hood Lover. It serves as a follow-up to 2020’s Heartless, which shot the rapper into viral popularity. Li 9 is by far one of the most promising talents to come out of Mississipi in a long time, using his melodic vocals to touch his audience in unimaginable ways.
For our latest interview, we got to chat with Li 9 in regards to signing to Motown, his newest single “Back In The Field,” and much more. Read the conversation below.
Walk me through your childhood, what was it like growing up for you?
It was kinda balanced, at some points I lived with my pops so it was easy, didn’t really want for much. On the other end staying with moms, shit got rough. Like to the point that at one period of time we ain’t have gas in the house for like two years. We just learned to live without it. I spent a lot of nights cold as hell crying and shit because I wanted to fix shit for us but I was too young to do anything bout it. But I won’t act like it was all bad, I had a lot of good moments too, so yea it was balanced.
How did you eventually gravitate to music and where would you be if it weren’t for rap?
Music was always an outlet for me, even before I started making music. It was numbing for me in a sense where it made me forget about what was going on in the real world. When I started to create music it just amplified that feeling because I’m telling my story and speaking my thoughts.
Who were some of the artists you grew up listening to and did any of them influence your music?
I always give everybody music a chance, any music that’s good music I’ll listen to it. My favorites have always been Drake, Future, Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, Lil Durk, and G Herbo. Those the ones I kinda always looked up to and sorta idolized. I think the ones that influenced my sound most probably are Future and Thug though. It’s not like I intentionally try to mimic their sound, it’s just the way I try to use my voice and certain cadences it’s kinda reminiscent of those two.
If you were to describe your sound in one sentence, what would it be?
Out of all the labels that reached out, what made you ultimately choose Motown Records over everyone else?
Motown just felt like the right way to go. They got some of the hottest artists under their umbrella. People that are in the positions that I’d like to be in. Even when I was in negotiations with other labels it just always felt like Motown was the one, it just was meant to be.
You just dropped your single “Back In The Field,” what was the inspiration behind that record?
“Back In The Field” was one of the first songs I recorded after the signing. I was starting to get confidence in my music. Most people who rapping biggest goal is to get signed like most people don’t get to where I am right now. So it kinda felt like I finally had accomplished something big. So I finally got to sorta pop shit for a change instead of always speaking on pain. I feel like that song was the first step into tapping into my actual sound.
With the whole world watching to see what’s next, what message do you want to leave for all your new fans and listeners?
Stay tuned, we just getting started.
In other music news, check out our interview with Lance Lorenzo!