After his 2016 project Quebec Place, Maryland rapper Innanet James took his time to craft the perfect project before following up with August’s Keep It Clean and it was most definitely worth the wait.
Innanet presented a wide display of styles and topics on the project from hustling (“Bag“), relationship struggles, (“Better Without You”), nostalgia (“Memories”) and a lot more. Not to mention the Pusha T cosign on the project.
Stepping foot in the ever so small state of Rhode Island, serving as a special guest on Bas‘ Milky Way Tour alongside Correy C and Rexx Life Raj, I took a moment to sit down with Innanet to discuss Keep It Clean, touring, TV shows and movies & out-smoking practically everyone on Earth.
You guys been touring for about a two weeks or so, that’s six or seven shows right? Which stop surprised you the most?
Philly, was one, but, North Carolina was crazy. I should’ve expected that though cause that’s like a Dreamville home show. What else was crazy? New York was crazy, but that’s just New York, but North Carolina and Orlando, I was like “Damn! They get lit down there.”
When you’re on the road, what’s stuff that you need to have with you?
You need a good couple jackets, need a good couple hoodies, but you need some white cheddar popcorn, some chapstick, hand sanitizer. Just essential sh*t, portable chargers, sh*t like that, that’s the key sh*t to keep you going.
Are you picky about any of these things?
[With the popcorn,] I’m only picky if they have the blue bag, if they got the blue bag, it’s like an Utz joint, but if not I’ll just get the black bag. The blue bag is better than the black bag.
What was the difference in approach to your last two projects, Keep It Clean and Quebec Place?
I took longer, I really tried to figure out what it is that I was trying to say, for Keep It Clean what the purpose of the project was. I took two years off, so I was like “Alright, if I’m gonna take this time off I better come back with some sh*t that’s gonna do some sh*t.” So that was the biggest part of it, but I just wanted it to be something that everybody could find something [they liked]. There’s a song about my wild ass relationship, “Better Without You,” I got a joint telling n****s to get some money, “Bag.” I wanted to touch all sorts of things that I was going through in that time.
You mentioned taking your time, cause nowadays artists push out a project every year, you didn’t feel any pressure to drop something?
I mean you do feel some pressure, cause you got people hitting you, “Where’s the music? Where’s the music?” I was just looking it at like, that’s such a small percentage of people that like alright, if I just drop some sh*t for them, what about the people who don’t know about me? It’s a double edge sword, that you got to f**k around and figure out how to navigate. Do I drop some sh*t for people that’s already f**king with me or do I drop some sh*t to get more people f**king with me?
You plan to keep that mindset for future projects?
Yeah, I’m working on two unfortunately right now, one’s got a lot more of my attention but, I already know what I’m doing for the next one, so it’s like when I can do some sh*t for that, I’ll do it.
Lead track on Keep It Cool, “The Cool,” listening to it I kind of hear you moving back and forth from “being cool” while at the same time “keeping your cool.” As crazy as the music industry can be, how do you “stay cool” and at the same time, how do you “keep your cool” through everything?
Don’t take nothing personally, you try your best not to and people in the music industry, everybody got their own little quirks and egos, but if you know who you are and you stay real and don’t let nothing bother you, like little the industry sh*t, you gonna be good, you’ll be good. I just stay out the way, stay out of trouble, stay out of beefing with n***as and just straight. That’s how you navigate that little industry sh*t.
So you mentioned “Better Without You,” what’s the heartbreak story behind that? Cause there’s a little pain in your heart there.
I was messing with this joint and we were living together and she had f**ked with me cause of my music and sh*t and it was cool but, I hadn’t dropped sh*t so she was like, “F**k you doing?” So, she had her baby’s father in jail so, long story short, she had stopped f**king with me to f**k with that n***a while he was still in jail so I was like, “That’s weird… what’s this n***a gonna do for you in jail?” So I left and she was hitting me up after this n***a gets out talking bout, “Oh man, he’s f**king my sh*t up,” and I was like “Well, I’m not coming back, I’m doing better without you.” That’s literally the text I sent her, “ I’m better without you” and that’s how I got the song.
How’d Pusha come into play on the song?
My manager’s good friends with him, before the project came out, he sent him “Amazing” and Pusha was like “Damn, that sh*t’s hard, he got bars, I like his voice” so you know, I just waited around a while, sent him “Bag” and then “Better Without You,” and he ended up f**king with “Better Without You.” Sent me the back verse at like 3 in the morning, I woke everybody in the house up like, “I got a Pusha verse n***a! Everybody wake up.” I put that on the Bose, played that like 10 times in a row that night, just cause I couldn’t believe it. I used to get put out of class for beating “Grindin'” on the desk, so like this is some full circle sh*t.
On “Kept Clean,” you say a line, “Victorious really just my environment really just my reality,” connecting it to Dan Schneider [Nickelodeon’s Victorious]. With that, what’s your favorite shows and movies?
So now, right now I’m really f**king with Game of Thrones, I’ve always f**ked with Game of Thrones, been a fan since like second season, but the Game of Thrones is my sh*t, Rick and Morty is my sh*t, I like Narcos, I just started Narcos: Mexico. There’s honestly not a show that I haven’t at least started, like I even watch Black Sails on Showtime, I watch The Wire, anything on HBO I watch, anything FX, Walking Dead, American Horror Story, all that sh*t, I literally watch everything. As a kid, I used to just sneak and watch like Family Guy, Boondocks, I liked Jimmy Neutron a lot, there’s a lot of sh*t, I watched a lot of sh*t. My favorite [movies] would be Good Fellas, I honestly really f**k with the Harry Potter series, can’t even hold you, just cause it’s like a good story series, but good Fellas, Harry Potter & Saving Private Ryan are my favorite three.
You’re rather slick and clever with the wordplay. Are there any rappers that you admire that gave you those “oh snap” moments?
Yeah, Wayne, that’s my favorite rapper, then Jay-Z, like the line I always remember, he said “I can kingpin you a line, a dime at a time,” I used to say that sh*t my whole life and I ain’t get that sh*t until I was like 19 years old. Like that sh*t came out when I was 10 or 11 and I was rapping it for years and never understood it. “I can kingpin you a line, a dime at a time,” that’s hard as f**k, it’s just little sh*t like that that I appreciate that I do myself.
What song that’s not yours that dropped this year, do you wish you made? Like when it dropped you were like “Damn, I wish that was me on that.”
I don’t feel like that, cause I’m happy for whoever made that song, but the only song I wish I got a feature on is that “Roll Some Mo” joint by Lucky Daye. I wish I got a feature on that. I just heard that song probably like two or three days ago, I wish I was on that song. I just heard that song and I wish I was on that song.
I peeped the tweet to Action Bronson, he said he ain’t got nobody to smoke with, you said let’s pull up?
I’ll out-smoke that n***a! Any day of the week. Whoever you want to put up there on that weed list, Wiz, Snoop, I don’t give a f**k. You could put together a table full of indicas, I’ll out-smoke them. Let them n***as know!
I know you mentioned two projects, what should we expect from you post-tour?
Some merch, yeah some clean ass merch. I can’t say nothing about music right now, just cause we just dropped Keep It Clean and sh*t’s doing real well, so I ain’t in no super rush to drop music, I’m touring, getting everybody hip to this sh*t. So only thing I can say is some merch and possibly seeing me in more cities, festivals, sh*t like that. We just shot the video for “Memories” last week, you going to get that soon, we getting treatments in for the “Where We Go” video and we still gotta shoot the “Better Without You” video, so we just gonna keep Keep It Clean running, while I finish up this next project and then drop some merch on these n****s!