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One of Guapdad 4000’s press pics is a photo of him and his grandma, whom he lovingly calls “Naynay.” That’s his spelling for “nanay,” a Tagalog term of endearment meaning “mom”; the way he uses it reflects the relationship he has with his Filipino grandmother as a result of his rough-and-tumble upbringing in West Oakland. Throughout his newly-released album, 1176, he highlights those aspects of his Filipino heritage as he shares some of his most vulnerable and personal material yet.
That cultural honor comes through in the titles of songs like “Chicken Adobo,” in which he compares a partner’s love to the heartwarming flavor of the Philippines’ most recognizable dish. The autobiographical vulnerability comes through in songs like “Uncle Ricky,” where he details his run-ins with a reckless relative, and “Stoop Kid,” where the porch of the house from the album’s cover becomes the center of the mise en scene for dice games, shootouts, and family drama to play out over the course of Guapdad’s life.
It’s only right, then, that his prime partner in this endeavor is someone who can relate to some of those aspects of his upbringing. Enter Illmind, a near-20-year veteran producer who has worked with some of hip-hop’s biggest hitmakers and well-respected underground legends from Drake (“You & The 6“) and J. Cole (“Love Yourz“) to Little Brother (“Good Clothes“) and Skyzoo (“Luxury” with Westside Gunn) — and he just happens to be Filipino, as well. Guapdad and Illmind met at a mutual friend’s session and instantly formed a personal and creative bond that resonates throughout 1176, from the unexpected Alice Deejay flip on lead single “How Many” to the ghostly, deconstructed Miami bass R&B of “Catching Bodies,” that brings out some of Guapdad’s most cutting recollections and observations.
Uproxx connected with the “Cartier Kuyas” over the phone to break down the new album, but unfortunately, the conversation had to once again swing to address the sharp rise in anti-Asian hate crimes over the past year in the wake of the recent spa shooting spree in Atlanta. While that conversation helped to highlight a sense of solidarity between the two seemingly disparate groups that actually form Guapdad’s genetic makeup, the rest of our discussion illuminated the intriguing creative process behind bringing 1176 to life.
I have to ask: how are you feeling? How are you responding to the tough news?
Illmind: It’s coming as a surprise to me, just as much as everyone else. It’s really unfortunate. I’m saddened by it. I’m praying for the people who have been affected and the families of all the people that lost their lives so far in these hate crimes. 2020 was an intense year for obvious reasons and now it’s almost like we’re shifting to each culture every year.
It’s rooted in hate. So I pray that we can do what we can to start shifting the narrative and, this might sound whimsical and like I’m in fantasy land, but I am a real true believer in love conquering hate at the end of the day, but getting there is going to be the challenge.
Guapdad: That was a powerful statement, Illmind. I’m over here completely resonating with that. I’m trying to take my time and come up with my more diplomatic response, because right now I’m just on some Oakland n**** sh*t because it’s infuriating. If somebody touched my grandma, I’m going to kill him.
I feel you. I remember you said that the last time we talked about this. So, as far as the album goes: What was the seed? How did this get started? Where did the idea come from and how did you water it and make it grow?
Guapdad: Essentially, the seed came from us. I only talk in this with this type of diction because we homies and I like to give you a bit more deeper scoop than most of the shit we’ve been doing: Honestly, I feel like innately, me and Ill, have been preparing our whole lives to meet each other and work.
Everything that he liked, everything that I liked, everything that we had done up until this point kind of snowballed into us f*cking clash-of-the-Titans meeting each other and just feeling like we was already friends. We both have those similar life experiences throughout our whole lives that led us to there, to where we got this crazy synergy. I don’t give a f*ck what Ill play. As soon as I hear it, the song’s done.
Illmind: I mean Guap said it all. That’s exactly how it started. It’s crazy because we come from two different coasts. Guap is from the West, I’m from the East. We came up on a lot of the same things even with that distance, from fashion to just music taste to just this aesthetic, visual audio aesthetic, everything. And we both take our crafts very seriously and we’re deeply passionate.
When you put two guys like us together, on top of the fact that we both share a similar culture being Filipino, it’s like what Guap said, we were almost sort of destined to do this. The first time I had a session with Guap was in LA, and it was almost like a deja vu moment, where it was like either I saw this happening or it was kind of like written in the stars and it was like, “Oh yeah, whatever you’ve been doing up to this point led to this point right now.”
An Album by me & @illmindproducer
This is the house I grew up in. It was hella hard for me to go back and look at this demon in the face as we began to make art with it. A bitter sweet return birthed one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever released Ty @paulxmiddleton pic.twitter.com/ZMnW0GGo7g
— GUAPDAD 4000 (@guapdad4000) March 16, 2021
Guap, how do you tap into this vulnerable mode and why was it so important to do it on this project coming straight off Dior Deposits?
Guapdad: Honestly bro, that was just one big venting session. I’ve been doing a lot of running from a lot of demons, especially throughout just quarantine and all of these things going wrong. And all of these things popping up in my life that trouble me, that take sleep away from me, that add to the pressures of my career. I run away from these things by just working more. I distract myself with work because I’m a f*cking work machine.
I hadn’t processed losing my house because I never slowed down. Had a going away last party at the crib, and I went and I got my tears out. I cried harder than I ever cried in my life at this sayonara event to my old residence. But I feel emotionally, hadn’t really dealt with that devil face-to-face. And the music, these beats, my heart, my spirit was forcing me to talk about it. It was forcing me to talk about that because creatively, I’d probably always reference it and never get over it if I didn’t.
I don’t want to always talk about how much it hurt to lose the house. I don’t want to always look at white people in my neighborhood and get mad at them for gentrification. I don’t want to harbor hate. So it was necessary that I made a song like “Stoop Kid” so that I can still exist in a normal space.
Illmind: It was crazy because at the point in the album creation, when Guap was like, “All right, let’s do some shit. I want to tell some stories, man. I need to pull some emotions.” And a light bulb came off for me because those are, personally for me, those are some of my favorite types of records to make with people. And when he said that, I pulled out the bag.
On “You & The 6,” that was [Drake’s] first time he’s talking about his relationship with his mother and father. “Love Yourz,” a song about Cole talking about the importance of self love and valuing the right things, became the muse for Forest Hills Drive. I feel like when I make music, there’s this emotion that I put into it. And when an artist feels that same, resonates with that vibration and is able to pull something deep inside of them and write something incredible with it, that’s my North star where I feel like I did my job.
What does Naynay think about the wild stuff you sometimes say on these records?
Guapdad: She don’t give a f*ck. [All laughing.] I’m paying bills, and she know my heart is good. One thing that’s tight about my grandma is she sees my blackness and my extrovertedness, she’s always nurtured it. There is a side of me that is very blunt. And there is a side of me that’s non-filtered. And she always accepts that because she accepts me expressing myself. And this is how I choose to do it. So she f*cks with it.
All parents everywhere are just winging it. But as a kid or a person without kids, especially, who never thought on that level, you don’t realize that. Because that’s who you look to when you hungry. That’s who you look to when you need money. That’s what you look to when everything fails and you got to restart. Some people don’t get that privilege. It should be every human’s fail-safe. And that’s how I look at my grandma. She like God to me in that way because her forgiveness is indefinite, and I’m appreciative of that. There’s something tangible that I can hold onto. Even though it’s emotion, that shit is so thick with presence, I feel like it’s physical.
I know you guys have to sit through a lot of press days and have to answer a lot of the same questions over and over and over again. I want to know: What’s a question that you guys wished somebody would have asked you that nobody’s ever asked you?
Guapdad: I never get to talk about cinema, and I have a real love for movies. If you ask me who’s my favorite sound designer, I would say Hans Zimmer.
Illmind: I’m going to copy Guap. Can I do some movie talk too?
Go for it!
Illmind: I guess a lot of people don’t know this about me, but I love John Woo, the director. Hard Boiled, The Killer, all the OG sh*t. Bullet In The Head, The Replacement Killers are fire. But in general, I’ve been really getting into Korean cinema from the ’90s and early 2000s. Korean cinema is something that I was pretty obsessed with for a long time. But I just think their sh*t is super fly. The soundtracks, the visuals, the type of cameras they use, the goriness, the storylines are so bizarre, but so fire to me. Old Boy is the most insane script to put a green light on. I’m talking about the OG one.
Guapdad: One of the greatest movies of all time.
1176 is out now via Paradise Rising / 88rising Records / 12Tone Music. Get it here.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.