With his group Pac Div on hiatus, rapper and producer LIKE has been building a name for himself. His credits for others include crafting Kendrick Lamar’s “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” and Anderson.Paak’s “Room in Here,” but he also put out the instrumental collection Emeralds. This week he releases the loopy album Songs Made While High. We talked to him about getting high.
Can you tell me about Songs Made While High?
There was definitely a lot of weed consumption and mushrooms as well, and just creating. I’ve had a studio for a couple years now and I’ve just been locked in, creating music—not just for myself, but for other people. I decided that instead of giving [others] my best beats, I still had ideas and concepts in my mind for songs and I would just record them myself. Time passed and I stockpiled close to 20 to 30 songs. I thought that I could put out an album. And that’s exactly what I decided to do.
Do you have a medical marijuana prescription?
I don’t. I was born and raised in LA and I never felt the need. I have friends who grow indoors and weed was always around. I never needed to go to a shop, but I see the benefits of it.
Would you feel more comfortable having the protection of having a medical card?
Yeah, definitely! If I decided to grow myself, I know there’s certain procedures that need to be met in order to keep it legaliz and to protect my own self. I don’t want to get arrested and not have the proper paperwork on hand.
Growing up in California, do you feel like there’s a less of a stigma around marijuana use here now?
Oh yeah. There was a time where there was a [police] checkpoint and I rolled down the window and marijuana smoke was just creeping out the car. The cop wasn’t even phased by it. I was like, “Oh wow, this is California for sure.”
Are mushrooms something that you had experimented with before making this album?
I started drugs later in my life. I drank alcohol, but I didn’t smoke until I was maybe 25 or 26. It wasn’t until my group signed our deal with Universal that I was like, “Now I can be a rapper full time.” I didn’t work a job anymore, I wasn’t concerned with all that type of stuff, so let me just smoke. And once I started smoking, it was a mental release. I felt enlightened. The mushrooms I took a couple years after I started smoking weed. Those are great experiences too. A lot of colors.
Can you make music while you’re on mushrooms?
Yeah, definitely. I make great music.
Do you feel like listeners can get on that same vibe?
Yeah. When I make it, I’m egoless, I’m selfless. It’s from a place beyond me, beyond my thought.
When creating Songs Made While High, were you doing more weed and mushrooms than usual?
Yeah. The bulk of the album I made in Ethiopia, I was living in Africa for four months last year. That was inspiration too. And the weed was way cheaper and I got really high. It was a lot. I really didn’t know anyone out there, so I would just smoke and create, and I would just get the groove. When I came back to Cali, I just picked up where I left off.
Why were you in Ethiopia?
I was out there DJing. I got offered an opportunity. My friend is Ethiopian and she asked if I knew a band and if I would be down to come out and spin. I was DJing at a nightclub out there for like three nights a week. The whole first month the club wasn’t even ready yet, so I had a bunch of free time to just explore the region. I just gained inspiration from what I was observing.
What’s the nightlife vibe in Ethiopia?
It was a lot of Vegas-style EDM music, which I was shocked at. They also like country music. It was kind of weird. They went through this huge dictatorship in the late ’70s to the early ’90s where the import of music wasn’t even allowed, there were no record stores out there, so there was just this huge gap. Also, there was a lot of missionaries in the ’80s that would help, so there was a huge Christian influence in the city I was in, Addis Ababa. That was different to me, seeing White Jesus in Africa.
But it was cool, I was able to merge in the style of house music that I spin. I play deep house sometimes in my sets, so I would mix in that stuff. I don’t know if they were necessarily ready for that, they were still into the Top 40, Bieber records and things like that. That’s not really my style per se, but I compromised.
Was this your first time in Africa?
I’ve been to South Africa in Johannesburg, which is much more progressive.
Is your friend from Ethiopia?
Yeah, it’s my cousin’s baby’s mother. She’s Ethiopian, they met in LA. They were going out there for the summer anyway, and she knew the owner of the nightclub. He spent millions of dollars on the club, and it looked like it. It was extravagant, it looked like a Vegas nightclub. I would get burned out, because I don’t usually spend that much time in the club. I’m usually in the studio. It was different. The first night there, we stayed in the hills and saw hyenas.