With the hit single "Like Whaaat" still in rotation and his Understand Me EP now in stores, L.A. rapper Problem is focused on completing his independent debut album Diamond Lane America for release in 2014. And as he pushes forward, the 28-year-old is keeping some pivotal advice from Snoop Dogg in mind.
Problem has released eight solo mixtapes to date, including The Separation, which debuted in June, but he got his start as a producer and he was also lucky enough to score some writing credits on big releases like Snoop Dogg's Ego Trippin'. During that period of his career, he got some advice that won't be forgotten.
"Snoop does not need me or anybody to write for him — he gave me and a few others an opportunity to make a lot of money and put us in the game," Problem told MTV News right off the bat. "He does not need any writers, but it was something that happened because he was on the road a lot, and I learned more [from him] when I wasn't writing."
And observing Snoop seemed to be one of the more enlightening experiences in his career.
"[I was] just watching how he interviewed and how he was with the fans — even when he was tired, he would still talk to everybody and give hugs, and his vibe musically had to set the temperament," Prob explained, recalling one particular moment when Snoop pulled him aside, to ask why he wasn't smoking or having fun, but simply grinding away.
So, what was Snoop's advice?
" 'I f--- with you for that, but you wouldn't be here if you wasn't supposed to be there, so you'll have to let it out a little bit. If you need to light candles in this mother----er, take your shirt off, one of your shoes, kick some n----s out, do what the f---k you have to do to make sure you get this feeling like yourself. I wanna see you. I don't wanna see me. I don't want you to treat this like you're working. The day it feels like that is the day you'll lose' —And I will never forget that," he remembered.
Problem has held the advice close, and as he moves forward with Diamond Lane Music Group — which was launched in 2010 with CEO Bryant "Brody" Lawson — he's confident that his crew will offer something refreshing and innovative from the West Coast.
"We've only been around for [a few years] but I really think we represent a whole other thing. And that's no disrespect to other [West Coast] artists. We're not Dom Kennedy, we're not Nipsey Hussle, we're not TDE," he said. "I'm fans of those people but we're Diamond Lane, we're what Los Angeles is, we're the new now."
"We're tryna bring back great music and great business. Let's get it back to where you don't have to drop a song every week to be noticed. If you put more into the music all the other sh-- just comes together."
This new chapter continues with his upcoming debut album, which he says is almost complete but might be subject to change since it's self-produced.
"I can say 90 percent of it is done, but I'm such a perfectionist," he said. "That's the bad part of being a producer too, I'm constantly listening to try to enhance the music, so we've got the direction but its more so sonically what I wanna give out.
"I put a whole lot into my projects — whether it's a mixtape or EP. [The album] is just gonna be presented on a different scale, but it's all gonna be me and it's gonna be evolution.
"Welcome to Mollywood, Welcome to Mollywood 2, The Separation, those are all growth for me. And now the Understand Me EP is the next level up," he added. "As long as I'm growing ... they're all albums to me."