Capitalizing on the momentum spurred by the recent successes of his close friend and creative collaborator ALLBLACK, Oakland’s Offset Jim is planning to deliver his debut studio project, No Pressure. Featuring appearances by ALLBLACK, Rexx Life Raj and more, the DTB-produced No Pressure is billed as honest portrayal of the 26-year-old’s street-seasoned East Oakland narrative. Adding to the growing Play Runners Association movement, Offset Jim’s upcoming release aims to continue the climb he originally began with the release of singles like “Add Me Up.” Formally introducing No Pressure, a new track dubbed “Same Shit” surfaces.
“I’m just telling my life story, that’s basically what I do; I talk about shit I seen, shit I did,” Offset Jim tells us. “With the rap shit, I’m an artist, I’m a painter. I want to paint a vivid picture in your head and you can picture everything that I’m saying, word-for-word. It’s all real shit, all facts. This shit ain’t playing with me.”
You can check the video for “Same Shit,” the lead single in support of Offset Jim’s No Pressure debut, above, while the project itself is scheduled to drop on February 1.
How was it growing up in Oakland?
Offset Jim: It’s bittersweet; it’s got its good parts and got its bad parts. In my area, it was pretty good for the most part — it was pretty regular. It was different though; we grew up in the streets.
It ain’t nothing like Oakland. The things that you see out here; the language; the culture; the violence; there’s nothing like it really. No matter where you’re at, there’s nothing like Oakland. The shit that you go through out here and the shit that you can learn out here, you probably can’t have anywhere else. It prepares you for life and the real world, it can make you or break you.
This is where a lot of people get their game from. Bay Area n***as — Oakland n***as in particular — can go anywhere and thrive.
You seem to look at your upbringing pretty positively.
Offset Jim: Overall, I had a good childhood. I was exposed to shit real early on. I was about 5 or 6 when I knew about a lot that a lot of other kids didn’t know about, just because that was that was the type of shit I was exposed to early on. It didn’t effect me really, I was still able to be a regular kid. I just had more game to myself than a lot of my friends.
Do you feel like all of that forced you to grow up fast?
Offset Jim: Hell yeah; I grew up way faster than I think I should have. I was 12 years old, feeling like I knew everything, and actually outside doing shit too. I wasn’t just saying I was grown, I was actually outside being grown and doing shit. I was running around with older people when I was a little kid. I don’t know what it is out here, but if you’re in that life, you’re going to grow up real fast because that’s all you see. You go to school and have a regular day at school, but then you come home and see 20 n***as outside — hustling. That fast money is intriguing to kids; you have a regular life as a kid at school, then come home at 3:15 and see some sick shit. Kids pay attention to that.
That element of danger can be exciting as a kid too.
Offset Jim: Yeah I know! And I can’t even explain why. It will excite you, but for all the wrong reasons though. You don’t really get shit out of it in the end. There’s only two ways out of this street shit for real.
With music, did you always want to make it?
Offset Jim: I had always liked music — even as a baby. I never seen myself doing it, but I always had a passion for music. I was like two years old … f*cking with the radio and shit. I never seen myself doing it though, I just liked it a lot. I never knew I was really gonna start f*cking around with it — it just happened.
What were some your earliest memories with music?
Offset Jim: My love for music grew because of my mom, she would play all the good music — Hot Boys to old-school music like Mary J. Blige. I just always loved the shit. We used to play “Hot Boys” in the neighborhood, and I was like infatuated with them. When I got old enough, I saved up enough money and bought myself a little Hot Boys chain.
My favorite member was B.G. I was a real big B.G. fan. Most people liked Wayne, Juvenile or Turk — I f*cked with them — but I f*cked with B.G. tough.
I grew up in East Oakland, and my whole block … all we did was play and talk about music and shit. We were always on the same page with music. We would all play together and rap and just f*ck around.
What was it about Hot Boys in particular that you could relate to?
Offset Jim: I don’t know. I was so young, I thought they was from Oakland. That’s why I really f*cked with them, and they really looked like people I saw coming home from school. And they was flashing money and jewelry … I just took a liking to that shit. I never wanted to be nothing else. I always just took a liking to that shit. Fireman, police officer, lawyer — none of that ever caught my interest. My parents were still young too, and they were still in the streets, so I was probably seeing a lot of shit I probably shouldn’t have for real.
My mom and step-dad raised me to the best of their abilities. We didn’t have it all, but they always made sure we had enough. They kept a roof over my head, kept me in some decent clothes and shit. They made sure I was straight.
With this project, No Pressure, how did it come together?
Offset Jim: Shout out DTB, shout out Benji and the whole Perfect Your Craft camp. It came to life because of them. I was sitting around thinking that I should work on a project, and I didn’t know which way to go with it really. Then, Benji, who is DTB’s manager, hit me about doing a project with DTB. I mean hell yeah, who wouldn’t? I went to LA and we got to it. He took a lot of time with me with the project. That was my first time really, really working on something.
I was listening to the project, and the whole thing is just a concise summary of your story.
Offset Jim: I try to touch on every base. Everybody ain’t out here having money — I try to talk about all that shit, the good and the bad. Everyone trying to make it seem like everyone been had money and never been broke — shit, I been down bad, I been balling. I been through all this shit.
No Pressure is something you can play front to back. Really listening to everything that I’m saying, cause I’m not just talking that bullshit like other n***as be talking.
Do you think that authenticity is an issue in rap?
Offset Jim: Hell yeah. There’s so many people out here that’s saying all sorts of crazy shit, and ain’t did half of it. They got these kids and people believing all this shit, man, but they never even did half of this shit they talking about. If you a rapper, and you outside, motherf*ckers will run into you. Somebody’s gonna see you, and some of these encounters ain’t gonna be good. A lot of motherf*ckers ain’t passing these tests out here. The best thing to do is just be yourself.
Anything I’m talking about, I really been through it or seen it. I ain’t telling nobody else’s story, I’m telling my story. A lot of these n***as ain’t even got a real story to tell, I got a real story to tell.