Karmaloop got up with New Jersey rapper Neako to discuss the creative process for recent project LVLZebra, the “LVL” lifestyle evolution, assumed Taylor Gang affiliation and much more – check it:

My first impression of you was the single “Resume and Name” - how did that particular song come about?

I actually had that song to a whole other beat – same verses, similar hook. I remember feeling like I had to revisit who I was and where I’ve been… let people know. The Rubix Cube Red Edition [mixtape] was the platform for that. The final outcome of “Resume and Name” was produced at 3:oo a.m. on a summer night.

Dope! Where was the video shot?

North 18th at Eaton Place in East Orange, New Jersey, a local area where I went to school. I grew up in the Hoodaville section of Newark.

Which of your singles would you say got you the most buzz in your career?

“LVLYSL” is one of the staple songs from The Number 23 [mixtape] that I produced. It defined the LVLYSL lifestyle, what I represent and what my movement is about.

How has your creative process grown since you dropped your first mixtape back in 2007?

I have always written, produced and performed all of my music. The only thing that’s changed is where I created it, from having a studio in my basement in 2006 to now having complete control over my work to being at Gramercy Records in NYC and having the same control. The process is still the same: get in there and create.

How does it show in your most recent project, the LVLZebra mixtape?

It was created in two weeks, a direct result of having control and being able to create at will. I have always created like this – no limits.

There are some interesting track titles on there, how did you come up with the names for some of those?

[Song title] “1 333 777 2323″ is a frequency that my music exists on. LVL is before many of the titles because it’s the address of the emotion, “LVLRATCHET.” For example, at the time, we were just describing the world around us in a language that existed in our clique… I guess it transferred to the naming process.

Can you explain the “LVL” lifestyle evolution you have created with your designer, Mudasser Ali?

Mudasser and I figured out that if you smoke enough weed and pray you can connect to something else and use that energy to make something else like clothes, music… real things.

What does the LVL acronym stand for and what does it mean?

LVL stands for Learning Various Levels. All things are done through the LVLs. There’s a lot of them, we just smoke to find them all.

Now, LVLZebra is a prequel to your next project – what can we expect with T.A.T.T. (These Are The Times)?

I’m still smoking weed thinking about the music. I haven’t even actually laid it down. It’s going to be amazing though. I’d say around June I’ll release it… it’ll be done by then.

You worked a lot with Wiz Khalifa in the past, how did you first connect?

I don’t know… MySpace? Wiz and I spoke to each other, exchanged numbers, and one day Wiz came to Newark to my mom’s crib. We recorded four songs [and] the rest is history.

Is Zebra Gang in any way associated with the Taylor Gang?

The world was built on gangs. There are many. What you represent is what separates you from the rest. Zebra Gang represents the forgotten, unruly ones. It’s for the ones who were told “no” a couple of times. I’m their voice, I’m all of them.

People have had [the Taylor Gang affiliation] confused for a while. I’ve always been the leader of my own movement ever since 2007. Go back and listen to the music, I’ve always had weed, promethezine, sneakers, cars, clothes and girls in my music as cultural reference points outside of the inspirational, spiritual bend to my music. Me and Wiz connected because we shared some of those aspects. I waived the TGOD flag out of respect for his brand and because of our friendship. Of the 11 projects I have out, I’ve always represented my own movement.

Anything else you would like to add?

T.A.T.T. this summer – thanks Karmaloop!


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