[Editor’s note: In “Tweets Is Watching,” Phillip Mlynar asks local artists questions based solely on the contents of their Twitter timeline.]
Lakutis came to prominence with 2011’s I’m in the Forest EP, which was released on the Greedhead label. Since then he’s been percolating away on the NYC rap underground and recently dropped the 3 Seashells project, which includes savvy production assists from Hot Sugar, Black Noise and Steel Tipped Dove. Off the back of that release, here’s Lakutis talking through his Twitter timeline about sampling The Prodigy, fan fiction, and the ever pressing state of the New York pizza circuit.
— DJ Red Viking (@WaspFactoryAZ) March 3, 2014
How has the reaction to 3 Seashells been?
The reaction has been pretty positive, I think I did a good job, the art is cool and the songs are cool. I chose the right people to work with. Everything’s good. Last time I made an album I didn’t really know what I was doing but this time I paid a lot more attention to it and the structure of songs and I realized I could do whatever I want: When you start it’s like, “Oh, I’ve got to write a 16 and then a hook,” but this time I realized I could do whatever I want.
You have 3 Seashells as a name-your-price option. How does that work out for you?
It does, people pay for it. I don’t know if I’d have sold more if I put a set price on it, but people pay for it.
Do you ever get people offering just one cent?
Yeah, plenty of people even download it for free, but some people also pay $10, $15, $20 for it to support the whole thing.
How did you first hook up with Steel Tipped Dove?
I think he started hitting all of us up after the Das Racist shit came out. He was just down to do whatever. I remember I wanted a beat based off that song “Breathe” by The Prodigy. That was on “I’m In The Forest” and I wish I could use that beat again ’cause it’s great. When we made it we were emailing and I was like, “You know that whip sound that’s in that song? Can you put more of that in there, even more of the whip sound.” We did that back and forth about five times. If you listen to that song, there’s a lot of that whip sound in there.
I think that whip sound is originally from a Wu-Tang Clan track.
That whip sound? Really? Oh, damn, I didn’t know that. I got to check that out, that’s awesome.
@desusnice that shit is a lie. They told me that yesterday on the 1 9. Like tht shit just stay happening now that theres always other prblems
— Aleksey Weintraub (@LAKUTIS) March 3, 2014
You’ve had some problems on the subway recently, right?
Yeah, the 1 train is so fucked and I heard it’s because of all the salt. The 1 train is one of the closer trains to the surface so I heard all the salt is fuckin’ up all the navigational units and nothing’s working.
Do you believe that excuse?
I believe it’s fucked up! I take that shit all the time and it’s been fucked up. I used to go to yoga every day downtown but now it’s taking so long to get down there and because it’s so crowded I haven’t even left the house for like a week this week.
What’s the most bizarre thing you’ve seen on the subway?
I got some good stories, man. One of the craziest shits I ever saw was there was this crazy homeless dude on the subway that was trying to talk to people but in a friendly way. He was a little off so people were kinda shunning him so he was sitting down for a while. Then a couple of stops later an even crazier dude got on the train and was just screaming obscenities and shit and so that first crazy dude was looking at the people around him like, “Can you believe this?!” That was a pretty crazy moment.
I’ve seen a lot of shit on the subway. The other day I was on the G train and this dude was just screaming at his friend, like drunk, wild screaming at his friend for 20 minutes. I don’t know why the other dude didn’t leave, but he started wrestling the dude and screaming and then there was a girl there and she got in the middle and they were all rolling around on the floor screaming and then the train came. Me and these other two dudes were just watching the whole shit and I barely wanted to get on the train so I could see how it ended. But I got on the train anyway.
Do you have any tips for ignoring crazy people on the train? Or do you engage with them?
I wouldn’t engage anybody on the train. First of all, it’s fucked up ’cause most of those people if they’re screaming shit, they’ve got problems that need to be medicated and there’s a lot of people that’s obviously schizophrenic and it’s not really their fault. But if anybody pisses me off on the subway, I usually just go to the next car but I guess they’re starting to crack down on letting you go between cars.
@gregmishka no matter how rich these yahoos get theyll never have fresh, hot, new york style pizza
— Aleksey Weintraub (@LAKUTIS) March 3, 2014
What makes New York pizza taste so great?
I’ve heard that it’s the tap water that has something to do with it, but there’s not a lot of places left. I literally stopped eating pizza for a couple of years because I got tired of it — when I was in middle school they used to let us out every lunch so we used to grab a slice of pizza and just run to my friend’s house who lived a couple of blocks away and just play Goldeneye for like an hour and go back to class. So for many years I didn’t eat pizza ’cause I was sick of it.
Lately though, with the rise of this dollar pizza shit and whatever, it’s like there’s dollar pizza and there’s gourmet pizza but no real like New York pizzerias left — well, at least in Manhattan, there are out in Queens. Now I’m getting back on my pizza game; if I see a real New York pizza place I’ll definitely go in there. It’s just better than what a lot of people think is pizza.
The reason I sent that pizza tweet was because we were on tour and you’d see signs for shit like that and it’d be mad funny to see shit like that in Kentucky. But New York pizza is just cooked right and you eat every part of it, like you don’t leave the crust like a lot of people do with shitty pizza ’cause the crust sucks. The cheese and the sauce is done a certain way too — but it’s hard to find a good slice these days.
Where do you stand on the issue of dollar slices?
I mean it’s a mixed bag. When I was dead broke, that would keep me alive. But also they’re most times not good and it’s also that culture that’s squeezing out what used to be real New York food.
You retweeted a pic a cartoonist had done of you.
Yeah, I mean I didn’t know who he was but I started looking at his stuff and it’s mad, great, some of the best shit I’ve seen. I can’t wait to talk to this guy. His last two or three cartoons are so fuckin’ funny, they’re like really good.
Is it surreal to have people you’ve never met doing illustrations of you?
Yeah, but it’s not even weird to me now. It was weird when I’m In The Forest came out ’cause I didn’t even think anyone heard that and then I went on Tumblr one day and there was a bunch of wild shit like a girl had done a thing where people dress me up and there were all these fan drawings. And there was a fan fiction thing about me which turned out to be Drew Millard at Noisey now, some fan fiction shit about me.
Who would you pick fan fiction to write about?
I’m not sure. I don’t know if I’d pick anyone real ’cause at the moment I’m on a real McConaughey kick. But I don’t know if I would mix pop culture with science-fiction ’cause I like science fiction too much to do it like that.