Slumped inside a Suburban heading 25 miles southeast of Atlanta from a LRG Clothing billboard shoot to a barbeque, Waka Flocka Flame shook his shoulder-length braids to the crackling beats blasting from his iPhone. The speakers were playing seconds-long snippets of Playa Fly’s Movin’ On and Sammy Sam’s Knuckle Up, partying soundtracks of his distant past. “Man, he went so hard in that shit,” he says about ten seconds into each song, as a folded pile of $100 bills slips out of his sweat shorts pocket and onto the backseat. When he finally notices, he tosses a receipt for a dozen New Era caps on top. It’s a telling Flocka moment, one that’s ultimately helped to define his approach to his new album, Triple F Life: Friends, Fans and Family.
Since his 2010 debut Flockaveli, the self-proclaimed mixtape prince released another slew of mixtapes and, after re-listening to Kingz of Crunk, realized that critics’ comparisons to Lil Jon weren’t that far off. Less than 24 hours before he left to help kick off Drake’s loaded Club Paradise tour, Hive spoke with Flame about how fans helped with Triple F Life, Lex Luger versus South Side and why he wants to be the king of crunk daddy.
When did you first start recording for Triple F Life?
The first track? Beginning of last year, probably. “Round of Applause” was the first song.
What got you back to recording for an album, versus recording for a mixtape?
Honestly, the fans is what got me back into that recording mode. The label, too. Previous things that happened. It just made me want to go back in. I’m kind of a go-with-the-flow guy, so whatever happened was supposed to happen.
How is Atlanta represented in Triple F Life?
My producer South Side [Ferrari Boyz, Watch the Throne.] Myself — well, that’s implied. My own artist Wooh Da Kid, my own label  Brick Squad. Honestly it was more of a team effort that got me ready and on the album. Every day I made my album my team was there to support, know what I mean? They were there to give their opinions — “Nah, bro. Nah.” There were a lot of features like that too where I was like, “Nah.”
And how did fan input help influence Triple F Life?
I feel like with my mixtapes, my fans let me know what they want to hear next — and not one mixtape ,not not two, like five. Actually I did eight of them, nine of them. Fans mainly want to see me dress in different colors, be more spontaneous — bring my sense of humor out. And start attacking out, stop letting people steal your credit, your lane, what you created. Just, basically stop letting people deprive you. Go hard.
“I felt like I was the man to enhance Lex. He didn’t just come with the sound — we created the sound together. I feel like we saved hip-hop with that sound. That sound got us the next five years.”
Triple F Life features Lex Luger, a producer you scouted before anyone else. How do you feel about how far he’s come since Flockaveli?
I feel like me as an artist and me as a businessman, I help a lot of careers out. I feel good that I was a part of Lex’s career first. I feel like I’m happy to be the man that damn near invented the sound, and I felt like I was the man to enhance Lex. He didn’t just come with the sound — we created the sound together. I feel like we saved hip-hop with that sound. That sound got us the next five years.
The tracks featuring Lex sounded like the end result of a real producer-emcee relationship.
The whole CD was like that, between a producer and an artist. With Triple F Life, same difference. It was me and South Side for the whole CD; he damn near executive-produced it all.
Break it down: Why South Side?
Honestly, I worked with South Side in Flockaeveli too, not just Lex. It was me, Lex and South Side creating that sound, not just Lex. A lot of people always say that Lex showed the South when South Side was the guy who gave me my first beat, day one. That being said, we had to set up with Lex because we felt like Lex had the upper hand. And as a team, we felt like we might as well just run with that, and on the second album we would go with South Side. Me and South Side met through my brother [1017 Brick Squad signee] Wooh da Kid. They have their own sound going on, a crazier sound than with me — like he throw a whole lot more bass in it.
Do you still relate to [Flockaveli closer] “Fuck This Industry”?
That song “Fuck This Industry” gonna apply until the day I close my eyes and meet my maker. That’s how I feel. The rap game is not an industry. Shit is not corporate. Shit is not meant to have politics in it. This is entertainment, so we’re going to stick to being entertainment — and, not just about one hip-hop, being street gangsta rap. When I was coming up as a child, hip-hop developed into everything not just one genre. I grew up to a lot of things as a child: Biz Markie; the old Bad Boy era, from 112 to Craig Mack. I heard a little bit of Rakim, but I was more cool with Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, Boyz II Men. Playa Fly, UGK, Three 6 Mafia, Pastor Troy, Kilo Ali — the real South.
“Fuck This Industry” sounds like a prelude to the premise behind Triple F Life. That said, what new things do you have to say in this album?
This album? That I have a good time.
Is that new?
I’m definitely having a good time. My last album was just mad; I was mad as hell. With this album I just want people to know that I’m not going to change. I’m still who I am today, and I’m not going to change because of “star power” or “being a celebrity.” I’m just going for the crown of king crunk daddy, for this party scene that developed into pop. When I seen that I ran over there, but with hip-hop, you see what I’m saying? I just want people to know that I ain’t going nowhere.
So if you were to throw the ultimate party for Triple F Life, who would you invite?
I don’t know, that’s a good question. God knows I’d go get Lil Jon and Busta Rhymes for that crowd. For the younger crowd I’d go get Tyler, the Creator. A$AP Rocky, I’ma go snatch him and the rest of his Cali guys. Of course I’ma grab my artist Wooh Da Kid, and Drake to bring another party beat, then French [Montana]. I just want an all-around party, because Triple F Life is an all-around party. My first single [“Round of Applause”] is a party, my second song [“I Don’t Really Care,” feat.Trey Songz] is a party. I got singles called “Get Low,” “Fist Pump,” “Rooster in My ‘Rari.” Yeah.
Triple F Life: Friends, Fans and Family is out June 12 on Brick Squad/Warner Bros. Watch the video for “I Don’t Really Care” below: