"The whole thing that got me here was controversy," admits Hopsin. In 2010, the Panorama City, California native's back was against the wall. He was unhappily signed to Eazy-E's former label with a debut album (Gazing At The Moonlight) failing to meet his artistic and commercial expectations after years of acting on a major network and a feature film. Hardly a "kiddie rapper," the emcee took to the Internet and released "Sag My Pants," an instant rewind.
"I lashed out against Ruthless Records. I knew that would have some shock value. But at the time, I had to do whatever I could do." Hopsin's survival mechanisms have guided him through life. As a youth placed in Special Education classes, Hop overcame the obstacles to become a video editor and music producer in addition to rapper. He is also co-founder of the independent powerhouse Funk Volume. This 2012 XXL Freshman is at the top of his class.
In an era defined by cosigns and flashiness, Hopsin and his Funk Volume cohorts took to the rapper's basement. Raised on the music of Eminem and 50 Cent, Hopsin studied how to engage fans, both with sharp lyricism and careful branding. Also having a passion for video production, Hopsin succeeded in going viral without big budgets. "I want people to know it's a Hopsin video. A lot of things matter: Colors, cuts, wardrobe, and acting. Some rappers come out and look so fake instantly. You just gotta learn how to make yourself into something that there's not a lot of things about you that people can knock."
On his self-released sophomore album, Raw, Hopsin embodied a confidence in the vein of Hip Hop legends. "I realized we had something. I made $4,000 in one day off that album. It's still a lot to me today, but back then, I was living off just a few dollars a week." Following, Hop was performing for hundreds nightly on the I Am Raw Tour. The mastermind recalls, "I knew things were taking off a lot bigger and faster than we expected."
Each year on Hopsin's birthday, he releases a video from a series of "Ill Mind". In 2012, he shook the Internet with his controversial "Ill Mind of Hopsin 5," where he took a much darker route, addressing issues society is currently facing such as drugs, gangs, and religion. The risk to take a stand against the use of drugs and alcohol, and the deglamorization of the party scene, paid off, and with over 1,000,000 views in the first 24 hours, this catapulted him into his third LP, Knock Madness. "It's gonna be hard to top -- I'm calling it right now," he boasts, claiming it's just "an enhancement" of his work. His humble beginnings continued to drive him, as he again self produced, mixed, and mastered this album, proving to the industry that you do not need a glamorous studio in order to top the charts. Knock Madness peaked at #2 on iTunes and its success led to a five-month world tour.
Although Hopsin made many references about quitting music upon the completion of the Knock Madness tour, his love for the artistry could not keep him out of the studio. Sticking to his controversial "internet trolling" ways, he publicly quit the rap game, only to announce a week later that his newest project, Pound Syndrome, would be released in 2015. With his fanbase having grown to 2,500,000 Facebook fans and 1,100,000 YouTube subscribers, Hopsin is back and ready to shake things up and continue to prove that even a special ed kid rapping in his momma's basement can make it.