Texas Rapper, Av The Great, has been on the grind in more ways than you can imagine.
As a youth he had dreams of being a basketball player, but his plans were dashed due to injury, which left him with no choice but to make his money on the streets. One day he decided to drop all that and go legit to support his family, moving towards a career in radio. However, his passion has always been music and he has used all the things he had learn from his previous vocations and applied them to his music. Not just in his lyrics, which talk about all these previous experiences, but with the can-do attitude, commitment and strong work ethic that is required from all these trades.
He has used these skills to make himself one of the most sought after independent artists in Texas right now. His breakthrough album was Live from the Struggle, which was released back in 2014, but since then, he has continued to make movements and has caught some serious recognition locally and nationwide. He has released several albums over the last few years and has been nominated for numerous awards for his music. All this, as well as becoming a father to two.
At one point, he was seeking a deal, but no longer. After proving himself to be more than capable to achieve the unthinkable already, he is now going it alone. With a motto of “Hustlers never quit”, combined with all his talent and skills, mixed with the fact he has consistently proven himself to possess the ability to always rise against the odds, he looks to be an unstoppable force and is truly living up to his name.
Here at Underground Sound, we got to speak to him about all aspects of his previous life, where he is now and where he is going. Read all about it here!
How it’s going man? Thanks for speaking to us.
Peace and thank you for hitting me up. #nofakehandshakes
First, let’s get to know you a bit more about your past. You are form Dallas, Texas. What was it like growing up there?
I’m actually from Denton, Texas. South East Denton to be exact. It’s 30 minutes north of Dallas and It’s not a suburb of Dallas. The City of Denton is in Denton county and adds its own flavor to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metropolitan. I love my city man, we Bunkin.
Who were you raised by? Was it tough?
I was raised by my grandmother with a lot of assistance from my Uncle. No one has it easy in this world. Absolutely no one. My grandmother gave me a lot of love and wisdom so tough things I deal with easy.
When did you first start making music? Why?
I first starting writing music in elementary. I didn’t know what I was doing but I liked to rhyme words and hit melodies. It was something about the feeling and emotion that can music could bring out of people with a certain pitch of a voice or production of a beat.
Who inspired who? Who were your musical influences?
Not to be generic as F but the life is the main influence. But, artist wise, 2pac, Jay Z, Prince, Al Green, Luther Vandross, Lil Wayne, UGK, Led Zeppelin, Scarface, plus pretty much anything out of Texas and Atlanta in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
You were once a basketball player, right? What happened there?
Basketball is my favorite sport. I was once ranked as a player. I was dunking in 6th grade.
Man, I broke my ankle pretty bad and things were never the same. It was always a secondary thing to me tho’, Music has and always will be first.
What does that and music have in common?
Discipline, concentration, focus and rhythm! Rhythm in hoops is so important. Zoning in on the court when Lebron goes off consistently is no different from zoning in on music. When you get in that space, everything becomes easier and things move slower, so you know how to anticipate your next move. Creating the perfect harmony, being one with the mind.
Has anything passed over between the two? What?
Yeah, all the above and learning how to deal with different people. Teamwork makes dream work.
We heard you went to broadcasting school and were looking for a job in radio. Why radio if not rap? What do you think of Dallas/US Radio now?
I needed a job because the streets is the streets. I knew I could do the streets, it’ll always be there if needed, but ain’t no 401k and shit like that in the streets. I need to be able to provide for my family in a safer environment and if I’m going to get a job, I’m going to get one in the career field that I want to be in, Music! So, I went for it.
Radio has its moments, I’m thankful that K104 took a chance on me and I’ve been able to treat it like enrolling in to a University, soaking up as much game from some of the most talented hard-working people in the entire industry.
What was your overall goal before rap?
Make a lot of money and make sure my loved ones don’t want or need shit from anybody else. Never sell out, do me, Love Live Life! Goals never changed.
What were you doing before you blew up?
Reporting live from the struggle.
You talk about selling drugs and living the street life on your tracks. How long was that going on for?
Long enough. I gotta be brief on this question haha.
So, you went legit…
“Need a Raise” Talk to me about that track? How close was this to your situation?
I like that you really went through my catalogue. Thank you! It was 100% my situation and inspired by everyone else’s situation around me. Instead of just talking about selling this and that, I like to tackle the issues of why we do what we do. The dialog needs to happen.
How tough was it for you coming up to not go back to your old ways?
Real hustlers never quit, they just waiting on the right lick for the right reasons.
Is this the same for loads of other musicians in the same situation as you were in Texas?
I can’t speak on other people’s situations, but mine for sure.
What advice would you give to them?
Each situation is different and deserves its own attention to give proper advice. The basics will always be, believe in yourself, believe in yourself, don’t be stuck up and think you know it all, but believe in yourself. Also, stay out of drama, it’s a waste of energy.
On Man N Da City 2, you talk about your life a lot. What did making this album mean to you?
It meant everything to me. I had lost hundreds of songs that I still can’t get back making that project, so only a few of the original sessions for the M2 made it on the project. Just to put it out and let people know about my life instead of hearing it from someone else.
Where would you be without music?
Jail or dead.
What tracks personifies your life best?
We are complex human beings man, so I’ll be cheating myself If I limit it to a number. It depends on the emotion I’m feeling at the moment.
You have been nominated for several awards, is this right? What did that mean to you?
I was nominated for “Best Artists” in Dallas in 2014. I won ‘Best Underground Southern Rapper’ at the Underground Music Awards. I won Best Mixtape and Best Hip Hop Artists at the DAM awards and I’ve been nominated for other award shows too. When people take out the time to vote for you, it means the world to you, seriously!
Talk to me about Texas Rap music. Has it got a big following?
Tremendous following. There is no Drake without Texas Rap Music. Majority of the music industry is a rip-off of Drake so…… TEXAS FOREVER BABY.
How’s the scene in Texas getting on over there now?
The Texas scene is the best it’s been in a long time. It’s a gold mine and I suggest any investor or label to start recruiting.
Who’s making movements?
There is a lot of movements but to be honest, I never hear them saying my name, so we just gonna stick with AV The Great & Gas House Smitty “Bunkin101” movement. But, there is a lot of dope talent out here.
Bun B is obviously the biggest rapper to come from there so far, have you met/worked together? What was his influence on the Texas scene like?
Bun B and Pimp C are my favorite rap group of all-time. UGK for life. I always said if you can combine Bun’s lyrical skills with Pimp C’s flavor then you got the best rap style ever invented in my opinion, so that’s what I usually pattern my style from. I’ve opened for Bun and shook his hand once and thanked him for his music.
What’s your biggest accomplishment so far?
Being a father.
You made “Texas” in 2012, what are your emotions looking back at that now?
I wish I knew how to market and strategize with money back then like I do now. I wish I could’ve got rid of the unnecessary people and drama in life at that time. I love that project tho’, “Live from The Struggle” put me on the map regionally.
How have you changed since then? How has your music changed?
I’ve changed a lot, but my music hasn’t. The recipe is the same, Turn the fuck up and get soulful with a truthful message. But I probably won’t make another project that socially or politically charged again. It was a concept project that I spent years making focusing on that moment in time. We were going through the Great Recession and I just wanted to have dialogue from the streets point of view because they never ask us for thoughts but a vote.
You talk about being a small thing to giants, do you feel the same way about this?
I feel like the Giants are about to get knocked over, or will have to see me eye to eye soon. I warned them in that song.
What would no longer being underground, with a following mainly in Dallas, and gaining a global fan base mean to you?
It would mean the world to me!!! See what I did there?!?!
What means more to you, being popular or staying true to your sound?
Staying true to my sound will help me gain more popularity. Trick question, you got me haha.
What defines success in America?
Only a person can define their own success.
Describe what you would consider success for yourself?
Success to me is being in a supreme wealthy position to ensure my family tree will be financially stable for generations after generations to come. Mentally able, spiritually in tuned, and physically ready for whatever.
Check out AV The Great & GasHouse Smitty’s -Bunkin
What role do you think you play in the US scene?
I make hits and I break hits. I make money and help others make money. I don’t conform, I inspire.
You’ve done well already, but what is the eventual goal?
Right now, it’s 5 million in 5 years. Ask me again in 5 years.
You have kids. What do they make of your music?
They love my music, it’s cool, deep down inside I always want their approval.
As they get older, will you more concerned when they understand the lyrics about your past more?
No, I won’t be more concerned, if anything I’ll be happy that we can have those type of conversations.
Your different to many around now, a few people have few commented in our magazine already about this “mumbling rap” that is coming out of the US, what’s your opinion on it?
I say if you don’t have a problem with Bone Thugs and Twista, then you shouldn’t have a problem with mumble rap. You can’t make everybody happy and it’s always going to be good and bad music.
What’s next for the scene?
BUNKIN BUNKIN BUNKIN BUNKIN BUNKIN.
What next for you?
Me and my dawg Gas House Smitty about to take this Bunkin movement worldwide. Please support and thank you, because it’s some real street, everyday 9-5, student, motivation right here.
Are you still L.O.D?
I will always be living out my dreams and pushing my family and loved ones to do the same.
Anything you want to add?
Yes, I love my Kids! Shout out to everyone who believes and helps me. #NoFakeHandShakes
Awesome, thanks for joining us AV and good luck with everything man!
Listen to his music on Apple Music, Spotify or on Soundcloud here!