Rob49 has only been rapping seriously for around three years, but he’s already on the verge of his big breakout. In the past year, the New Orleans native has fielded a steady stream of impressive opportunities and made the most of them. He joined the recent spate of rappers doing hype videos for their hometown sports teams — in his case, the Saints — and landed a string of high-profile feature placements, performing alongside the likes of G Herbo, Lil Baby, Lil Durk, Trippie Redd, and most recently, Travis Scott.
That last one, “Topia Twins” from Travis’ long-awaited album Utopia is certainly the one that puts Rob on the launching pad. His fuel? A charismatic, languid flow peppered with smart wordplay and cold-eyed remembrances of life in the trenches. His stabilizers (i.e. the thing that’ll keep him at the forefront of street rap for a while): His hard-won business savvy and a gift for code-switching bestowed by his time in the National Guard after high school, an experience he says saved his life.
And the spark that’ll likely ignite his ascent into the stratosphere is 4GODII and its newly released deluxe edition. Adding ten new songs to an already hard-hitting tracklist containing features from G Herbo, Icewear Vezzo, NoCap, and Trippie Redd, Rob showcases more of his seemingly unstoppable drive and bottomless well of sharp observations and eyebrow-raising wordplay. Already something of a fixture around Uproxx — check out his New Orleans food guide and UPROXX Sessions performance — Rob linked with us via Zoom to break down the theme of 4GODII, his new favorite restaurants, and how Travis Scott surprised him with his collaboration request.
This year has been an incredible breakout for you. What would you count as the biggest difference between 2023 and 2022?
Just the amount of music I’m ready to drop. Last year, I wasn’t comfortable dropping no music, but this year I understand: “They like you, so it’s whatever you come out with, they’re going to like it, so just go.” I think that was one of my biggest things that I should have did in 2022 that I didn’t do. But this year, it’s just I feel like I could drop anything.
It’s interesting to hear you say that because some of the profiles I’ve read, you were described as kind of a cool kid, and you have such confidence in your delivery. Why do you think you felt that sense of, I don’t know, reluctance or shyness or self-consciousness about putting your music out?
I just like being a perfectionist, and I had to realize everything not going to be perfect. I just was trying to perfect everything, just trying to jump from zero to 100 when instead I could have jumped from 0 to 20, 20 to 40, 40 to 60, 80 to 100. But now I understand that so that’s what we’re doing.
What’s been your favorite opportunity that’s come along as a result of your big step-up in the past year?
I think my favorite opportunity was probably being on Billboard, making a Billboard debut because yesterday my song debuted at No. 17. I just was sitting back like, “Damn, you going to look at this 10 years from now and be like, ‘This the time for you.'” So that’s probably one of my things that I was looking forward to.
I was listening to the tape, and it is just so hard hitting that it feels to me like the car tape, where you just put that in the car and just cruise. Is that the vibe that you were going for with that?
That’s really the vibe I went for because I’m like, “Man, I don’t make car music. I need to make some car music.” I told you I was trying to perfect everything. I’m trying to make music that people like. Now I’m like, “Man, this hard right here. This what we going with. We going uptempo, we going crazy.”
What was your childhood like growing up in New Orleans? What were you like as a kid?
Honestly, I think I got ADHD because in school… I look back at it, bro, I could never chill. I was always in trouble. I remember thinking to myself, “Alright, when I go to school today… I get put out every day. I’m going to be good and not get put out.” I ain’t never want to be extra bad. I wanted to be the smart kid, but I just was bad in school for some reason.
I don’t think any of us was ever really bad. I think some of us were just funny. I think a lot of teachers just couldn’t handle funny kids.
Nah, I ain’t going to lie. I used to be doing a lot of bad shit.
Was that when you decided to start rapping? Or what was the song that you heard? You said that it was something like a Future song.
It was all his music. I used to listen to it and just rap at the end. You know they got a little beat left? I used to just put my own lyrics there and be like, man, I go crazy on here. That’s why a lot of my ad libs turn the way they do in the middle of my shit. Just doing that.
Do you remember who the first person was that got you in a studio and really started making it real for you?
Probably my partner. He was the first person got me in the studio ever. He was making music, and he went and got some food. I told him the song was trash. He like, “You make one.” I wound up making one, and it was just that. He’s like, “Man, this what we doing now.”
I read that you spent some time in the National Guard. What can you tell me about your time in the National Guard?
I’ll tell you everything about it. I ain’t going to lie. It was one of the funnest times in my life, but sometimes I wish I never did it, though. Coming straight out of high school, I went straight there just because I wanted free college. I went and I came home. And I was looking at all my peers and shit, and I was just a different person.
I had missed so much. I had stopped doing stuff for so long, I just was a different person. But I ain’t going to lie, I feel like it saved my life though because the stuff I was doing before I went there, if I would’ve went into that summer or that next year, keep doing what I was doing, I probably wouldn’t have been here today, period.
What are the biggest lessons or takeaways from your time in the National Guard that you apply to your musical approach today?
Just being aware and being able cater to all crowds. In the National Guard they got different races, they got different ages, and you able to fit in everywhere. Right now, I’m able to fit in everywhere because I done been in all different type of rooms. Before I even went to the National Guard, I was in the trap room so I learned that room already. Now you go to this and you got to change everything. I go rapping, I know them rooms, and I got a whole collage of things I can always bring to life. They got a lot of n****s in the hood who can’t even express that shit.
That definitely is something I catch through the music because you do have a clever way with words that shows that you really put thought into it. I can see you probably ending up on tour by the end of this year. Is there something that you’re looking forward to the most going on tour?
I just want to go on tour with Travis Scott. That’s about it.
Speaking of Travis Scott, what can you tell me about how that song came together and how its reception has impacted you?
I ain’t going to lie. It just impacted me so much. We go pull up, and the first day, we was just talking. He bring me to the club, we went crazy in the club. Then sometime I wind up coming back down there, and we about to go pull up on Travis. I’m going over there to chill just like we did last time. We go straight to the studio. He like, “You ready to make a song?” I’m like, “What the fuck, nigga? Yeah. What the fuck is you talking about?”
He played me this shit with him and Pharrell. He played me this shit with him and The Weeknd. And he telling me I can get on any of this, I can play with any of this. And then he played “Topia Twins,” but it was structured so different. It was just a mellow song, how his mellow songs be, and he say, “Twin bitches, twin bitches jumping off jet ski.” I said, “Give me this right here and put this up here. Cut the beat right here. This the song we’re going to start it from right here.” And that’s what we did. We really made that motherfucker.
I haven’t seen anybody ask you, well, at least not in any of the print interviews I’ve read, about Vulture Island. What is the concept of Vulture Island?
It was just me and my partners just looking for a name. We liked vulture. That’s what we came up with. We wasn’t thinking too hard about it or nothing. We liked vultures. And then we was in the studio. We were just banging it for two years straight. And we was in the studio making “Vulture Island.” We had beaucoup people in there and I remember just saying real trap stuff about Vulture Island. I was like, that’s crazy because to us, this is like an island. This is my 10 partners, and we ain’t going outside this island.
So it’s been a crazy year for you. If and/or when we get on another call, we get on Zoom again and we’re talking and catching up and you just say, “Hey Aaron, the craziest thing happened over this past year,” what do you want to be able to tell me next year?
I just want to stay consistent. That’s it. I don’t want to have no expectations for myself because that’s when I thought to myself, “Am I doing it right?” I just want to keep going, keep dropping music that you like. If they do wind up liking you, at least they’re going to like you for you.
4GODII (Deluxe) is out now via Rebel/Geffen Records. Get it here.