Casey Veggies isn’t a vegetarian or vegan. Contrary to what his name suggests, the California rapper doesn’t have a vendetta against meats. When I ask him about his name over the phone, he chuckles and shrugs it off. “I think the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle is definitely something that people should be interested in,” he says while driving to a nearby recording studio. Only 25 and already a decade into the industry, he’s lived much of his life in the booth. But his forthcoming album, Organic, serves as a bit of a reintroduction for the rapper whose long, circuitous path has led him back to himself.
Veggies dropped his first mixtape, Customized Greatly Vol. 1, in 2008 and became a fan favorite over the years thanks to his penchant for homespun storytelling. It helped him establish quite the résumé; he was a founding member of Odd Future before leaving in 2011 and was a close friend and early collaborator of Mac Miller. He also has collaborated with most of hip-hop’s current top players, including Travis Scott, Logic, and Wiz Khalifa.
In 2015, after releasing one independent album and five mixtapes, Veggies released his debut studio album Life Changes through Epic. But it was a short partnership: Sometime after, he split with the label. “They definitely gave me an opportunity but there were certain things, I guess, that we didn’t see eye to eye on,” he says. Now, he’s independent once again – something he loves – and ready to return after a hiatus of a few years to implement what he’s learned in his time observing the game. Just listen to his triumphal tune “Awarded,” released May 25, that reads as both a reflection on the past and a celebration of what’s been claimed to come. Veggies is here, and this time he’s ready.
MTV News spoke to Veggies about his forthcoming album, Organic, working with Mac Miller, the blog era from which he came, and more.
MTV News: How has the game changed for you since you came out in 2007? And how do you avoid feeling fatigued?
Casey Veggies: I think that now, it’s a lot different because of streaming. When I came out in ‘06-’07, I was one of the only young rappers in the game. There were a few of us, young and doing our thing and building. I feel like nowadays, you’ll see a bunch of kids from 13 to 20 years old and I think it’s a beautiful thing, a renaissance. A lot of young kids realize that they can do it themselves. Nowadays, power is in the hands of artists.
MTV News: You came up in what was defined as the blog era. Many people say it’s over. I wanted to know if you think so and why?
Veggies: It’s still going because there are a lot of artists popping off on the Internet. Without it, we wouldn’t know who a lot of these artists are. I grew organically through my city and word of mouth. The Internet has played a large part in a lot of artists’ careers, and me. It’s transitioned to YouTube and Instagram instead of just dope blogs that fans go to for the new music. I think it’s a little bit different, where a lot of fans are just connecting to the artists.
MTV News: What was it like seeing the growth of Mac Miller from a scrappy young rapper to the household name that he became?
Veggies: It was honestly beautiful. I remember meeting him on Twitter. He hit me up on a DM saying he heard one of my albums and we ended up just chopping it up. He brought me on my first tour for two weeks we did a West Coast our, smaller venues. At the end of that tour, it went so good [that] we did a song, and he told me, “Bro, I have another album I’m about to drop. I’m gonna bring you on tour again. Don’t even trip.” When I graduated high school in 2011, Mac dropped Blue Slide Park and he brought me on that tour. We did 60 shows across the United States and everything was sold out. The fans were supporting on a whole other level that I had never seen before. To see a fanbase really back an artist like this was one of the first times that I had ever seen it. He grew into a full-fledged rock star.
By the time that he dropped Swimming, I almost cried. To hear his growth as a musician and artist, I feel like that he was finally able to paint the picture that he was trying to paint. That music was incredible. On Swimming, he really finally figured out what he was trying to say.
MTV News: In a recent interview you said that “it’s all about sticking to the initial vision.” With that being said, what is the Casey Veggies vision in 2019?
Veggies: Just being hands-on and direct with my fans. Being vulnerable and giving people the real. I want to represent my brand (Peas and Carrots International) and be more than just a rapper. My vision is being a hands-on CEO and keeping it grassroots. I want people to vibe with the brand, the lifestyle. I have a big vision and international scope of where I see myself, my clothing line, and my music. I want to definitely be a brand for the whole world.
MTV News: What’s been the narrative that you’ve crafted through your eight projects released thus far?
Veggies: My first project Customized Greatly is me showing that I’m different and embracing it. That was what that series was always about. Sleeping In Class was my first album, and I made “dreamer” music. It was about that imagination of when you’re in school and you’re not paying attention in class as much because you have a bigger dream — painting a picture of a guy from the hood that’s trying to do something different with himself in his life. From Sleeping In Class to Life Changes, the story is of the kid who got his dream and what comes with that, the good and bad.
MTV News: Where will Organic fit in this story? Can you give us any details about what it will center around?
Veggies: It’s an answer to everyone that doubted me. Everyone has something to say about the trajectory of my career and I just feel like Organic is me saying I’m just doing what is impactful and natural to me. Organic is a project that we been working on. I have four albums that I’m working on right now that will continue the storyline.
MTV News: What can you tell us about forthcoming new song “The Ceiling?”
Veggies: It’s a super vulnerable song that talks about painting a picture of the dark space I was in. I want to appreciate my blessings instead of letting things get to me. I want to move forward. I talk about what I’m feeling and what I’m going through. We have party records and “hit songs,” but this project wasn’t designed from that. We have songs up there that’ll be big for the Bay Area and the West Coast, that the world will vibe to, but I decided to drop this first because it’s a powerful record and it has a great feel to it.