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Our artist of the month for July has been a recent favorite of ours, after working his way up from dope man to hypeman to businessman. Fans of the worldwide A$AP Mob will recall hearing his name mentioned by mentor A$AP Ferg on the smash “Shabba Ranks” hit, and even more so on the Future-assisted “New Level” just last year.

Marty Baller, the underdog on top, has impressed hundreds of thousands of listeners worldwide with the release of his highly-anticipated mixtape, Baller Nation earlier this month. Slade Da Monsta, Ben Jayne, and standout producer Boogz Baked, among others handle production on the album. The 10-track project, while a speedy listen-through, contains some of the best features that we’ve heard in recent times from A$AP Ferg, MadeinTyo, Rich The Kid, Rob Stone, Reese LaFlare, and newcomers, 14-year-old Smooky Margiela of New Jersey and Aexys.

On Baller Nation, we get a better glimpse into Marty Baller’s new lifestyle and the driving forces in his life that make him who he is today. Starting with the braggadocious “1st Quarter,” we’re immediately hipped to the fact that the struggle is over for the Harlem native, and that – if he can help it — it’s a life that he won’t be going back anytime soon.

As the tape progresses, we get an in-depth look into how Marty began to push drugs at the age of 16 and use the money to better his situation, if you’re smart enough to listen past the diamonds and flashy imagery provided on the hard-hitting “Rambo” assisted by Rich The Kid. On his A$AP Ferg-assisted single “Send ‘Em My Way,” he creatively plays with the tone and range of his voice, effortlessly going along with the beat from rapping to singing, and it all ties in to sound incredibly natural for him. In fact, I’d like to hear more of Marty be more melodious and use his voice in that exact way on more songs in the future.

He’s an artist who wants to work, and he works hard by carefully selecting his slew of guest features that the younger generation worships, and garnering previously unheard of producers to embody the new sound of rap music currently infiltrating the music industry. By the project’s end, I’d learned that Marty Baller is no longer an underdog, but able to run with the pack and judging by the growth from his debut project MartyGraW, he can definitely hold his own against the big dogs.

We were able to speak to Marty Baller in a dope phone interview this month, where he talks to us about not being stupid with our money, Baller Nation merch, why older rappers need to take a break and give back, and he even reveals his celebrity crush!

Read below, and click through the media to learn more about Marty Baller. Baller Nation is available now!

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DTS MEDIA: You just dropped your big mixtape, Baller Nation! How has the reception been? How’d you go about selecting your features for it?
Marty Baller (MB): Yeah, it’s my mixtape, but I’ve been feeling like it’s an album, the way people [have] been showing love to it. These guys were my friends. We tour together; when they’re in New York, they check in to see what’s good with me, or [we] just like, hit the studio. It was real organic. I like making music with people that I’ve built with. I don’t like making music with just anybody, so these guys are my friends.

DTS MEDIA: Is it that same type of involvement when it came to choosing your producers, too? How involved were you in that?
MB: It was all my ideas. Me and my producer, for the most part, Ben Jayne took care of me, so he was involved with the beats. I’m involved with beats and picking who I’d want on a song, so I was in the whole process.

DTS MEDIA: What was it like shooting the “Rambo” video with Rich The Kid?
MB: Rich The Kid is dope. He has a lot of energy, [so does] Famous Dex, and their whole gang. “Rambo” was big for me. It’s basically talking about me at 16 when I started hustlin’, really hustlin’. In the video, I took them to the building I really hustled at. People ain’t know that. I had to get Rich [The Kid] on that [single]. He’s a young hustler, young CEO, so it was only right.

DTS MEDIA: It seems like you put a lot of work into your videos. I especially loved the “Big Timers” video with Ferg because of how visually appealing it was with the neon lights. How did you guys make that?
MB: Thank you, thank you. We just woke up on tour one day, honestly, in New Orleans. I was like ‘Yo, we in New Orleans, we might as well just shoot. We got Chase [of Guru Media Group], and we woke Chase up. Jumped off the bus, no budget at all, no nothing, just pure energy.

DTS MEDIA: Wow!
MB: Yeah, we went to the strip club in New Orleans, [and] we went to the hood in New Orleans, [but] I forgot the name of it. Mannie Fresh even pulled up on me, that was — that was lit! I’m still certified in New Orleans till this day. So all that shit was a dope feeling.

DTS MEDIA: So most of your current fans got to know you from Ferg’s verse on “New Level,” but do you think you could teach us how to be a boss?
MB: (laughs) Sure.

DTS MEDIA: Well, how have your money habits changed from before the fame until now? Do you think you’re any better with spending and saving?
MB: Everybody knows it’s hard to save. Sometimes I just look at it like you can’t take it with you, so just enjoy life. But, like, I’m at the point when bills kickin’ in and I really gotta learn to budget my money and make sure it’s all going to the right places. Once you grow up, you realize you don’t need certain things and you start to focus on kids and just bigger things in the future.

DTS MEDIA: What’s the best piece of financial advice you’ve gotten, and who gave it to you?
MB: [A$AP] Ferg! Ferg told me, ‘Make sure you GET. YOUR. MONEY. Get your bread, I don’t care what you do, make sure you get your money.’ I was like, ‘Aight, keep telling me that! I’ma get mine.’

DTS MEDIA: Tell us some bad money habits that our readers need to stop. What do we do about things like spending money on weed?
MB: Yeah! Please stop [that], but I’m always smoking, so I mean I would tell people to stop smoking [if they can’t afford it]. They’ll have $10 in their pocket and go 5-5 with someone and only have $5 left, and that don’t make no sense. I get a lot of weed for free now, so I don’t spend any money on weed. But if I was, I’d definitely cut down [laughs].

DTS MEDIA: Let’s talk about team building. When you were just starting, how did you make your team be serious with you? What was it that made you want to take your own music seriously?
MB: Team is everything. Sometimes I might wake up and I might not be in my element, and my energy might be off and one of my team players will bring my energy back. That’s a big thing. It’s all about the vibes. Even when I’m making my music, I only have people around me that’s creative and moving. You gotta be moving. A team is a big thing. I only keep family around me.

DTS MEDIA: These days, how do you weed out who’s not as serious as you are?
MB: It’s easy to impress dudes out here. I press [my friends] about that all the time. Girls [are] the #1 thing — you see how a dude acts in front of a girl, you know his true colors. Same thing with liquor, too. If a guy can’t compose himself drunk, or whatever drugs he’s doing at the time, I judge them by that, too. It’s all about who you are. I never change around nobody. I’m always going to stay true to that.

DTS MEDIA: Changing pace, what else can we expect out of you on the merch side? Will there be other things besides the Baller Nation merchandise?
MB: I’ve got a line coming out called Health Is Wealth. It’s a positive line, getting people to be healthier and eat differently, and look at things from a healthier aspect. We need to be encouraged to do things like that. But, the Baller Nation merch is definitely about to be big. I’m trying to get in connects with Nike and adidas, and all the sports lines so we can really take over. I’m just speaking it into existence.

DTS MEDIA: Do you have a celebrity crush?
MB: I’ve been looking at Tinashe. She’s a little cutie. [laughs] That’s just the level-up, though, to [be in a relationship]. You gotta have a girl. A king’s gotta have a queen, and they’ve gotta be on the same level.

DTS MEDIA: That’s interesting! So you don’t want a regular girl, you like triple threat singer, dancer, producer, Tinashe?
MB: I mean, it [doesn’t] have to be a celebrity girl, she’s just gotta be a real business woman, like a real woman. I’m not trying to be teaching girls no more. I’m either trying to learn or be on the same level.

DTS MEDIA: So, to wrap up, we definitely feel like you’re part of this new wave of rap music, but it looks like a bunch of older rappers are being rubbed the wrong way by you guys’ presence. What do you say to that?
MB: [laughs] I mean, the rap game is like the streets. Even in the streets, that’s old niggas’ problem. They never wanted to put a young nigga on. But like, [they’re] getting too old, [they] can’t be out here doing this! So I feel like if old people just sit down and talk to [us] like they don’t got it no more, that’s okay. Everybody retires, everybody gets knocked out.

DTS MEDIA: But it’s almost like they don’t want to stay out because everyone’s doing the whole comeback album thing.
MB: Yeah, everybody’s coming back now because it’s boomin’! It’s boomin’ again. Everybody’s like ‘Well I have a chance now,’ but they’re still being selfish and not reaching out to embrace anybody. It’s always going to be like that. Old niggas be wylin‘. [laughs] I’m definitely gonna be that old person to help the young ones, you know.

Special thanks to Postal Music Entertainment, Marcus, and Marty Baller.