Updated: Oct 25, 2020
Haiti Babii, born Amari Amil Proctor, has come a long way since his viral moment on Real 92.3. The Stockton, California rapper used the newfound hype to its full advantage: co-sign from Rihanna, streams through the roof, and gold record.
Haiti Babii music embodies a classic West Coast sound, and you can hear the influences of Mystikal, Mac Dre, and Suga Free permeate his sound.
He dropped visuals for “Cutlass,” the latest off his most recent album California Haitian, on Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the day the enslaved people became free in the United States.
The video is a celebration of Black love, and Haiti Babii highlights Black designers while rockin’ Pyer Moss by Kerby throughout the video.
It was important to represent and highlight his roots, with the nation focused on the Black Lives Matter movement and nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, with Haiti Babii having been shot by the cops himself. BLM is personal to him.
Erin Boogie of In the Field Radio had the pleasure of going In the Field with the rapper to discuss his Rihanna feature, creative control, the “Cutlass” video, and more!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. This interview aired in its entirety on June 22, 2020, on 91.3 FM WVKR. Tune in every Monday at 10 PM EST. Outside the area? Listen via the TuneIn or Simple Radio app by searching WVKR.
Erin Boogie: How are you doing right now during these times?
Haiti Babii: Doing good. Just been promoting my music and then chilling with my family.
Erin Boogie: For those that may not be familiar, who is Haiti Babii?
Haiti Babii: I’m an artist. I’m an entertainer. To describe my personality, I’m a social bug. That’s a little short summary on me.
Erin Boogie: You grew up in Stockton, California. What was it like growing up there?
Haiti Babii: Stockton, California. That’s my hometown. I was born in Oakland. Being raised in Stockton, we’re like the countryside of California. We don’t have a lot of resources as a people, so I had to really get it out the mud. That’s a little term we use. Well, everyone uses it. I had to get it out the mud with a lot of things I wanted to do, but I’m close to L.A., and I’m close to the Bay. I’m only five hours away from L.A. and an hour from the Bay Area, so whatever I was going to do, I knew I had to shoot for my dreams because I’m close to Hollywood.
Erin Boogie: Who were some of your musical influences growing up?
Haiti Babii: I would say Usher, Chris Brown, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, The Game, DMX, Suga Free, Mac Dre, and Mystikal. I always liked Mystikal.
Erin Boogie: Talk about the freestyle on Real 92.3. You can’t compare that freestyle to your style of music at all.
Haiti Babii: It was just a marketing scheme. At the time, when it came out, I can’t tell the world, “yo, this is a marketing scheme.” I had to let it play out, and then I had woke up, and Meek Mill had hit me. Rihanna had hit me. I was like, “welp, my plan worked.”
Erin Boogie: How did it change your life?
Haiti Babii: What’s crazy is I had a record called “Change Ya Life” and after I did the freestyle, that song “Change Ya Life” went gold. My streams went skyrocket. The whole point was for people to look at that, you could laugh, you could like it, whatever you want to, I was just on there doing my thing. It was for you to go back into my real catalog and check out all my music. That was the point of the freestyle, and a lot of people did it, and my streams went crazy high. I was in a situation where I knew the music that I have made, I’ll be able to take care of my family and me for the rest of my life, and it just motivated me to keep going and make more music.
Erin Boogie: How does it feel to have that cosign from Rihanna?
Haiti Babii: That was like a wake-up call. Like yeah, this is your calling.
Erin Boogie: She had FaceTimed you?
Haiti Babii: No, she had hit me through Instagram, and then we had got on a voice call with her and her manager, and my last manager, and we discussed some business and some records, but mostly— the discussion on Instagram was all her showing love to me.
Erin Boogie: Congratulations on being featured on Rihanna’s album if and when it drops! Talk about that.
Haiti Babii: I can’t wait ‘til I hear that. That’s going to be dope!
Erin Boogie: Do you have any idea when it’s going to drop or not at all?
Haiti Babii: I don’t. At all. If I did, I ain’t gonna lie; I wouldn’t be able to tell you.
Erin Boogie: I figured, but I had to ask. Talk about being on Rihanna’s album and working with her.
Haiti Babii: She picked up my audio from the freestyle, so it wasn’t like I had the opportunity to go into the studio and work with her. She just picked up my voice and sampled it. I feel like when the world hears that, then it’s like ok, I can talk my little shit. I can brag. Like, “yeah, say something now.” It’s a dope experience, you know? This whole little journey of mine is a dope experience. My intentions weren’t to become a pop star or fit into any role. I just wanted to make music. To have a female like Rihanna and other legendary artists like Wyclef and Meek Mill give me some advice, it was inspirational and motivational to me.
Erin Boogie: What was it like working with Hit-Boy?
Haiti Babii: It was so easy because he’s from the West Coast, and I make West Coast music. My dominant style is West Coast. It’s gangster rap, so when I told him to challenge me like “yo, give me some records that’s gonna challenge my sound,” and he was like, “it’s all good, I got you.” We put on some records, and I tried to explore, create new sounds, so I could step outside of a box and create a new lane for myself. Open up my fanbase so I can get some more fans. That was easy. Working with Hit-Boy, it was fun; it was dope, but it was like we meshed so good.
Erin Boogie: Are you still self-producing your own music?
Haiti Babii: Yeah, I co-pro everything I do, but I work with other engineers. 100 percent.
Erin Boogie: If you could work with any producer, who would it be?
Haiti Babii: Missy Elliott. Yeah, I like Missy. Missy go crazy. I could picture myself really rappin’ rappin’ to one of Missy beats, even if she gives me some slow vibes. I feel like we’ll make some dope music.
Erin Boogie: I think she would complement your style, too.
Haiti Babii: For sure. My image and everything.
Erin Boogie: All your visuals are so dope. How involved are you in creating them?
Haiti Babii: Yeah, like when it comes to the directing part, actual filming, no. When it comes to planning, my team always asks me questions. “What do you feel is best?” So I always give my input. ‘Cause I’m the artist and for any other artists out there, you wanna make sure to always think about 30 years from now am I going to look at this and be like “I did that? I made that decision.” Or is it gonna be like someone made that for me. Someone chose that. I always think about that before stepping into a video or even a song. When it comes to the creative work of “Cutlass,” that song by itself? That was Des (Gray). She gave me the Queen & Slim. She basically told me to be myself. She didn’t tell me to fit into no role; she was like, “just be yourself, be you, and it’s gonna work perfectly.” So I was like yeah, I’m gonna give them a vibe.
Erin Boogie: You have a lot of creative control over what you do. You’re heavily involved in your visuals, producing your own music.
Haiti Babii: Yeah, I have a lot of creative control with my whole career. You could say that for sure. I’m with Empire, so that’s an independent distribution label. When I do get with a major, which I plan on doing, I know the creative control for other artists ain’t there. That’s why I did this early on, so when I’m 25 and 26, and I take that leap over to that side of the world, I can already know what I want. You know what I’m saying? I already know what to say; I already know the rules.
Erin Boogie: Having so much creative control now, you’re not afraid of signing to a major and giving up some of that control?
Haiti Babii: Yeah. It’s 50/50, though. I have records like “Cutlass.” I have videos like “Blue Dragon.” I have certain videos where it sticks out so much that I feel like I could fight for that. Like, “yo, I want creative control over my whole—” You know what I’m saying? Looking back, they’ll be like, well, you was doing good when you was independent. It’s not like you were busting out a bunch of at the beach videos all the time or at a store type video all the time.
Erin Boogie: Favorite memory from the “Cutlass” video shoot?
Haiti Babii: The female we had in there, when we first got into the video, she was a bit nervous for her role, but I feel like she made that video pop. Even though I did the record, I spoke about the record, but she made the video pop because of her melanin, her skin, the way she glew, the way she was interacting with me. It felt real. When I watch the video now, it’s like, wow, she really made that video pop. I commend her for doing a good job.
Erin Boogie: What did it mean to you to drop a video representing Black love on Juneteenth?
Haiti Babii: I feel like as a Black man, that’s the goal. To inspire other Black men to uplift Black women. All women at the same time but especially Black women, because of the times like this. Me and Simone, my team, we were talking like, “yeah, you should do this, you should do this, you should do that,” and I was like, “yeah, I’m gonna hit ‘em with something.” I knew I was gonna hit the world with something like, “yeah, they gonna like this.” I just wanted it to be my body of work and knowing the way that it came out the way it came out, and it did.
Erin Boogie: What are some goals you have for yourself?
Haiti Babii: At this point, I already made my first album. I want to make at least 15 to 20 albums throughout my whole career. I don’t plan on stopping. I want to get to a point where I get older, and I’m still putting out content. That’s a long term goal. I also want to— for right now, I know it’s COVID, but at the beginning of this year, I didn’t know none of this was going to happen. I wanted to perform at festivals and do crazy stunts. I don’t want to just perform; I want to entertain. Come off from the sky or something. Another goal? Let me see. For right now, I think that’s probably it. The rest are long term because I don’t really think short term goals. That’s the easy way.
Erin Boogie: What can we expect next?
Haiti Babii: I got a mixtape coming out. It’s going to be super West Coast. You’re gonna get a Nate Dogg type, NWA type of swag from my next project. It’s a little mixtape. Something I know my dominant fans are going to like—the West Coast. And then the album I might shoot straight into the island vibe. The whole album might be straight island. I want to get into the roots. All my fans and all my supporters are going through the journey with me. That’s what some people got to understand. Me finding my roots, me going to Haiti, me going to Guyana, I’m allowing my fans to do that with me instead of me going out there and not filming it.
Erin Boogie: They get to go with you.
Haiti Babii: Yeah, go with me. While I’m learning the language, you watching me do this. It’s all on footage so people can see.
Erin Boogie: Are you filming a documentary then?
Haiti Babii: Yeah, this whole time. You know how Travis Scott and other artists did in the past where they just keep filming and don’t stop? That’s basically what we have been doing. Just keep filming. All the BTS, just keep filming, just keep filming, just keep filming. So when that time comes, I know I got a body of work, and I can put this out.
Erin Boogie: Anything else you want to let our listeners know?
Haiti Babii: Strive for greatness. Dreams do come true. You got to work a little bit harder. You got to work a little bit harder than what you’re doing right now. What else advice I would like to give? Motivation will come from the craziest places and the craziest times you’ll get motivated, so don’t ever give up. Motivation will just hit you. I would like to tell the audience that. People get down on themselves. I got down on myself and wanted to give up, but you got to find that motivation. You got to go out there and reach for it. You can’t just be sitting around expecting it to fall in your lap.