Perhaps it's the inherent cool that he carries like an extended limb; he's debonair as LL. Or maybe it's the seriousness that masks his face when in deep thought; he's business as a young Master P. His mind to get money by any means necessary is virtuous as a young Russell Simmons and his no holds barred, relentless nature has the likes of 2pac written all over it. Whether he's the playboy that gets all the girls, the businessman that makes all the ends or the thug that you love to hate, St. Louis Hip Hop hardhead Huey, has arrived.
Grounded on the same streets that produced successes among the likes of Nelly, Chingy and the St. Lunatics, the 19-year-old's approach is a refreshing one. "I'm versatile," he offers matter of factly. "It's like whatever the beat tells me to do - it could be relaxed on a cool level to where I'm explaining my feelings for a female. It could be me explaining my feelings for money. It could be dancing in the club, crunk in the club. It's a bunch of everything that's going to be on this album."
The Notebook Paper, Huey's official offering to the masses, comes with perfect timing. Inundated in a world beset by rappers preoccupied with immersing themselves in the superficial elements of the world, Huey allowed his heartbeat to dictate where the music would take him.
Born on the 50 Block of Arlington Ave., Huey explored his musical side early on. Along with a neighborhood friend, he initially crafted beats to express his inner artistry and eventually started writing songs. "I never really took it seriously though," he remembers."
However, as his confidence and love for the craft grew though, Huey tried his luck on the block. Only fifteen at the time, he was showered with genuine support and reinforcement that obviously worked to encourage him that much more. Huey's older brother took a special interest in furthering the cause by bringing seasoned music veteran Angela Richardson into the fold. "She had a group she was managing at the time, so I was just waiting my turn," Huey remembers. "But they didn't play out the right way and I was the next project."
Without fear or favor, Huey became the sole emphasis of Richardson's outfit. Already a hit on the streets, he soon became the talk of the town, performing any and everywhere Richardson could book him. His visibility didn't stop on the stage either. The relationships that he built with DJs, promoters and the like, worked to establish him as a force in clubs and on the radio, ultimately finding nominal success with local gems, "Oh" and later "Pop, Lock & Drop It."
TJ Chapman (of TJ's DJ's) produced another opportunity for the young rapper. Impressed by the buzz that Huey had created with his close knit team (he heard "Pop, Lock & Drop It" and saw the dance in the club), Chapman arranged a meeting/session with Mickey "MeMpHiTz" Wright (President of the HiTz Committee Inc. and also VP of A&R at Jive Records who signings include J-Kwon and T Pain). Skeptical as any aspiring artist would be, Huey found himself accepting, but not overwhelmed. "I was like 'Alright, whatever,'" he says, remembering his untrusting tone. "But like a week or two passed and MeMpH flew me straight to New York and it was done, just like that."
Before long Huey was being sought after by colleges and other non traditional outlets. He continued to build on his success by dropping 8,000 copies of a mixtape - Unsigned Hype - which the streets gobbled up like dopefiends. "They were with me then," Huey remembers. "They felt me."
Since forming his own click, The Camp Boyzz (Kydd Trel, Money, Marco Polo and himself), it's easy to presume that Huey has acquired even more support. The first artist to be released from the Hitz Committee, the young prodigy was uprooted from his hometown for favor of a condo in downtown Atlanta, but stresses that his loyalty remains in tact. "I'm St. Louis til the day I die," Huey says. "I love my home. It's a few haters out there, but that's everywhere in the United States. But St. Louis is with me."
The Diary of Huey: Pre Notebook Paper, his most recently released mixtape, is but a sketch of what is to come with the heavily anticipated full album - The Notebook Paper. Laced with guest appearances from the likes of Yo Gotti, YoungBloodZ, T Pain, Lloyd, Asia, Raheem DeVaughn and M.O.S., it's a moving testimony to life's ups and downs from Huey's young eyes. Bound by his love for the streets and everything therein, it's gutter as it is straightforward and true.
"Basically you take your surroundings," Huey begins. "Okay, you're young. You got guns around you. You got drugs around you. You got cars stuntin'. You got alcoholics. You got all this around you. When you place it into a notebook, this is your rhyme. So basically, everything is the truth. You place it into this notebook and off of the game you makin' paper. You gettin' dust now. Why not call your album Notebook Paper?"
Huey's lead single, "Pop, Lock & Drop It," which interestingly enough, is the track that got him signed, works to establish his convincing flow over a classic St. Louis cadence. "I started with that one in the clubs," he says remembering the days when he pushed his music independently throughout the Lou. "From Rio to Spotlight, Plush to Toxic, it got to every club and [the deejay's] really didn't have a choice but to play it. Before we knew it, it went to number one on spins."
Fittingly, the Jazze Pha produced "When I Hustle," featuring Lloyd, introduces the player that the ladies just can't get enough of. "That's basically lettin' the females know, even though we out there on the grind, we got them on our mind," he explains. "We gotta grind and take care of home. So while we out there grindin', we thinkin' of them. It's not like we out there just doin' nuthin' for nuthin'. We tryna take care of our family and that's what it is."
Along the same lines is the Raw Beats assisted "Love of My Life," featuring newcomer Asia, which speaks to the woman who's in love with a thug, but wants more than just a passing romance. "You gotta get the women," he reasons, citing lessons obviously learned from the likes of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. "The industry wouldn't be the industry without the females. Basically, it's for the females that still like the thugs. But they don't just want a thug. They want a thug with perfection, who's still going to treat them like a woman."
"Adidas," is Huey's dedication to his favorite shoe and an obvious indication that he is poised to spark his own kicks craze, despite the success and influence of his predecessors. "It's like another 'Air Force One,' but it's just a different shoe, tryna get sponsors and get everybody hip to Adidas. I mean, everybody's already done Forces and me myself, I rock Adidas strong. That's the kind of guy I am."
Understandably, as he's climbed the rap totem pole in the Lou, Huey has experienced his fair share of hate. As he's taken it all in stride for the most part, the artist in him couldn't resist the opportunity to vent. The Trackstarz produced "What'cha Lookin' At?!" featuring the YoungBloodZ, is an obvious rebuttal to the expected growing legion of detractors. From the birthday party that went wrong, to the envious stares he's absorbed at the mall, to the soured relationships that have all materialized because of his success, Huey tells it like it is.
"That's for all those supposed to be tough ass niggas when you go in the club," he says with a confident smile. "They got they homeboys with them, just muggin' a nigga 'cause they see you shinin'. There's always hate in the atmosphere. St. Louis loves me to death, but it's just those certain ones. You have your fan base that just loves you, but just because you have these people that love you, you still have those certain ones that be like, 'that nigga ain't shit.' That's what it is. It's a shame it's like that, but you can't change it."
Only five years in, Huey speaks like a seasoned veteran. And while outside opinions may sway, he's clearly been placed in a situation to carry on the musical following of St. Louis - by any means necessary. "Right now, we're commercial. Flat out," Huey says. "Right now we're just looked at as a commercial place and it's not that. We're not just commercial. It's gutter gangstas in St. Louis and me as a young person, it probably would be hard to believe. That's why you gotta straight give it to 'em. It's a new St. Louis and that's what I'm about to show err'body."