Haiti Babii is a go-getter in every aspect of the word. Aside from his double workouts in one day and playing the father figure to his newborn, the remaining hours are spent in the studio perfecting his craft. With his Instagram name reading “Trap Art,” the Guyanese and Haitian rapper, producer, and songwriter embodies the definition of someone who’s in their own lane, carving their own unique sound and style in today’s generation of music.
When it comes to his work ethic, he sets the bar. He states, “You may have better music than me, you may look better than me, you may be taller than me, but I’ll die before I let you outwork me. That’s my mindset.”
You may have seen Haiti’s name from his viral moment freestyle on Real 92.3 (which caught the attention of Chrissy Tiegen), or maybe from his breakout single “Change Ya Life.” Either way, Haiti is proud to put Stockton, California on the map, serving as one of the first known artists to come out of his city. Beyond that, he’s followed by the likes of Rihanna and Meek Mill.
Flaunt caught up with Haiti via FaceTime, who was located in Las Vegas preparing for his lady’s birthday. He jokes, “I’m a ladies man.” Read below as we discuss fatherhood, inspo behind “Red Lights,” moving to Los Angeles, learning how to produce, a day in the life, studio essentials, going Gold, Rihanna and Meek Mill cosigns, his new album Trap Art, and more!
How are you holding up during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I’ve been doing great actually, it hasn’t stopped nothing. I’ve been having time to myself, to my daughter, understand my baby. Quarantine’s giving me time to focus on me, working, and focus on my family.
How’s fatherhood treating you?
It’s great, it’s an experience. Before the baby even was here, I was already motivated to go harder in everything.
What’s the best part of fatherhood?
That feeling in your heart you get when you look at her smile. When I see my daughter smile… the worst thing is blown away. I don’t see how professional athletes do it when they be on on the road for games. I see how they do it because they get the money but damn, the best thing is being around this person. This little human being laughing and giggling all the time.
“Red Lights” video out now, who or what inspired this one?
I always experiment with my voice and flows, I knew it was the time to give the fans what they wanted. I mastered my craft and realized it’s a sample of that. It’s West Coast in it, but I’m singing in melodic ways. When I made “Red Lights,” first off shout out to my producer, Hitamadethebeat, he killed it. Shoutout to my engineer Darrius up at EMPIRE studios in Frisco. I really went home, wrote to the beat, went to the studio and laid it down.
You live in Los Angeles now, when did you leave Stockton?
I left Stockton 2 or 3 months ago. Stockton’s only 5 to 6 hours away from LA, LA’s a second home anyway so it’s not like I’m too far. It’s an easy move. I got a lot of family, a lot of people in LA anyway. It’s where everything is at so you have to be in LA if you’re from the West Coast.
How was it shooting with the snakes in the music video?
Shoutout to DezGreat, she directed the video. She really sat with me one on one and asked me a bunch of questions about what’s my ideas, what do I see, what do I want in the video? She really brought it to life, but she put her own oomph into it. The snake part, I love stuff like that because it’s stepping outside my comfort zone. I’m comfortable being uncomfortable.
Were the snakes scary at all?
It was my first time with snakes. As a kid, I always told myself I’m scared of snakes. But when I got in front of one, I wasn’t scared at all. If it bites me, it bites me. I don’t really care. I’ma do this video, that’s what my mindset was. When I step into a character, I can do whatever I want. I’m Tom Cruise! I’m Haiti Babii, I step into that mode.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
Honestly with “Red Lights” usually I don’t care what people think but this song, I really was checking out the comments on YouTube. I got a lot of positive reviews. A lot of people said “I found out because of the Riri situation. Yo, Wyclef shouted you out so this is how I found out about you and I realized you make dope ass songs.” People are respecting my songwriting skills now, so I got a lot of good reviews from fans.
What’s your creative process in the studio? (writing & producing)
I literally freestyled one song my whole life. I’ve never freestyled a song, I write everything down. I always go home, find a bunch of beats, I’ll spend hours or days coming up with the best verse, best hook. Erasing, rewriting. I go to the studio and I lay it down. I’m one on one with my producers. You know how somebody work with a lot of writers? I don’t have that. I don’t work with writers, I work with a bunch of producers and engineers in one room. The best thing to me is the mixing. I co-produce a lot of my tracks, most of my tracks you hear I co-pro.
Have you always known how to produce?
I started when I made “Change Ya Life,” I co-produced my hit record. I’ve been doing it more so because listening to people like Travis Scott and Kanye, they always say you get the best of your music. That inspires me, I gotta start co-producing so it can sound 100% me. I gotta give it my all.
How’d it feel to go Gold off “Change Ya Life”?
It feels great. I always looked at myself as a superstar artist, a person who’s looking for longevity and not success for a moment. It blew up through TikTok on a fluke. When that blew up, okay the world knows my name. Now I got a reason to keep going, I got my plaque. It’s like getting your first little trophy. Going Gold to me, the feeling was almost as equal as getting a Grammy. Only reason I say that is because I come from so much. I’m from a little city, so going Gold was huge. That’s why I can say stuff like “I’m a king where I’m from,” talk my little shit and get cocky because I’m from a little town. Only people you know from my town outside of artists are Nate Diaz, Nick Diaz, a few NFL players, but the world doesn’t know then. For me to make my own name, now I have graffiti of my faces up on the walls in Stockton, it’s dope.
You say “the dream is free the hustle isn’t,” what’s the reality of the grind?
Really when I had my daughter 5 months ago, even before she was born, it’s an extra oomph in my life in general. I was less lackadaisical, I was more intuitive, more on point with everything I’m doing in life. Now I wake up at 4 in the morning to go work out. I wake up at 4 AM, I eat, I get to the gym at 5:30 AM. I go back home, I shower, eat again, play the game for a little bit and go back to the gym about 10 AM. Look I’m going crazy, nobody can stop me. [laughs]
After I go home from my second workout, I eat again but I make sure I don’t eat too big. I like to snack so while I’m snacking, I’m writing. I limit my gaming time. I pick a beat or I look for a beat, and I write. I don’t even have to like the beat but the fact I can make a whole song to it, I can use those lyrics and adjust them to another track I got. Always making my brain work. I call my writing time my homework. After my homework, I plan a studio session whatever day it is. If we’re talking a non-studio session day, I’m down spending time with my family. I use the whole rest of the day spending time with my babygirl. If you’re talking a studio day, I do all I just said. I leave for Frisco, get to Frisco, record. I’ll be in until 2 AM or 3 AM.
What drives your double workouts? One workout is a lot!
I’m 23 but I’m already an athlete already. I’m an artist, I look at my life like other artists. What’re they doing? Why aren’t you getting up at this time? Why are people in New York getting up at this time and we’re not? What are you doing that’s that special? Me waking up early makes me feel like I’m outworking the people who they call talented. You may have better music than me, you may look better than me, you may be taller than me, but I’ll die before I let you outwork me. That’s my mindset.
Who are you bumping when you work out?
Travis Scott, I listen to that. Young Thug, I listen to that. Drake, listen to him. Kanye. Lately I’ve been slapping Jay-Z, a lot of Jay-Z on my Spotify playlist. Of course, me. When I slap my music, I critique myself. I’m listening to my old songs like “oh, I coulda said this. Oh, I coulda switched this. Oh, I shoulda turned that down.” Other than that, my workout playlist consists of those artists
Favorite Travis Scott song?
I got so many. I have a new one, it’s brand new. It’s called “WHO? WHAT!” When I first heard it, nah I’ma skip it. I kept skipping it when I’m listening to the album. When I finally played it, this shit slaps! That’s my new favorite song by him, period in general. Then “Mamacita” with him, Young Thug, and Rich Homie.
Is Travis your dream collab then?
For sure, I’d call it a dream collab. Anybody who meshes well with me and my craft… I look at the game like this: if you’re an artist out there and fans feel we have similarities together, we got the name game and the same flow, I don’t want to work with you. You know why, because it’d be a repetitive track. I’d rather build a relationship with you and tell you “yo, your shit’s dope.” If I work with someone like Travis, he’s going to test me. I want to work with somebody who’s going to test my abilities, not just “you’re a rapper, I’m a rapper.” Because that can happen anytime. For instance Sada Baby can come out of anywhere and say “let’s work.” We both go rap on here. With someone like Travis, I have to step my game up. I’m might have to come hard, I might have to sing a little bit. It always differs. I’m a hardworking artist so I like working with everybody at the end of the day.
3 things you need in the studio?
I workout while I’m in the studio, which is crazy. No one knows that unless you’re in my session. I get these 2 little weight bags, nothing but sand in it basically. Use those to hold down light stands or microphone stands. I pick those out to put a piano room, I’ll be in the room listening. I’ll get resistance bands so I need those. As far as food, we can have some Skittles in there. And some Fiji water, need the Fiji water.
Talk about bringing your Haitian culture into your music.
It started like this: California Hatian, I call it an album but it’s more of a mixtape. If people listened to it, that really showed the world okay, this is me showing you my Guyanese side. Not just Haitian because I’m more Guyanese than I am Haitan. I’m showing them that side, I can step outside my comfort zone. Stepping into this new album, Trap Art is more for my dominant fans. My original fanbase, the fans that were listening to me when I was dropping those hood tracks, those ratchet tracks. Trap Art, I’m giving them what they want. I’m giving them that street, that hood. I’m not really experimenting with new sounds. Plain and simple: I’m here, this is my year. I’ma talk my shit, I’m still a gangsta. You know what it is. That’s how I’m stepping into Trap Art, 2021. Get rich or die trappin’!
Is your sound considered trap?
It’s not trap because trap to the industry is a whole different sound. The trap is where you come from. In an instance, you come from it too because trap is a mindset. Trap doesn’t have to be where drugs are sold out of. If you’re trapped once in your mind, you could be in college and feeling like damn what’s the next step? You’re trapped. The reason I put art is because art itself is artistic. Whenever you’re feeling trapped, draw out a pros and cons list and be artistic with the shit. Be artistic with your life. Sit down and think for yourself, set goals and eliminate boundaries. Do different shit. I named it Trap Art because it’s different.
What’s crazy about this Trap Art album, I went back to my inspirations when I was a kid. I grew up listening to a lot of 50 Cent, that first Get Rich or Die Tryin’ album. That’s why I cosign the name Get Rich or Die Trappin’. A lot of Usher for sure, you can hear both of those artists in that album. You can see where I got my inspirations and my ideas. Some Thug in there. Not to disrespect but Thug got it from Wayne, like how I say I got it from some artists. You go here, gotta respect Wayne too. That Hot Boys era.
Talk about Rihanna & Meek following you on Instagram, that’s huge.
Riri found out about me through the radio, she’s like “yo this kid has the look, he has the sound. He’s going to be big one day.” That’s riri’s whole impression on me. I have a track with her that’s going to be on her album, called “Real High” that I co-produced. Meek found out about me through girls and other people posting me, he’s like “Ima check his music out.” He was trying to sign me, I said I still got a deal with EMPIRE. He said “it’s all good, I’ma support you from the backend. I’m watching, I’ma fuck with you. That’s how Meek’s hype was, it’s all love. But Wyclef’s been the biggest for me, because I can hit Wyclef right now. I can talk to him anytime, that’s unc right there. He’s cool.
What’re you most excited about in the new year?
If everything opens back up, I’m excited to compete. This is a competition to me. I’m not in competition with people in a negative way, I’m using my competition in a positive way to better myself . I can’t wait to perform, to shine. I can’t wait for the world to see who I am, and hear my music. It’s always going to be about the money for everybody and me too, but it’s about respect for me. I want respect, give me my respect because I’m working hard. Y’all see me, that’s where I’m coming from.
Anything else you’d like to let us know?
Let the world know the Trap Art album is going to be the best thing they’ve heard from me and from the West Coast in a long time.