On the cover art:
“It was really more of an introspective thing. Although what you see on the outside is a guy who is apparently balls-to-the-wall naked in the woods near a waterfall, it’s really a moment for me to conquer all the fears that I might have had. All the inhibitions, the insecurities that usually exist in a person; to me it’s no exception. Insecurities of the body, being free in a public place.”
On the location:
“I don’t want to hide, and I don’t want to be trapped in a world of cars and buildings and machines. I want to be able to have things that are alive, that are growing, around me when I’m creating my music. And that was just a little place I would go and hide out and write songs with my guitar in North Georgia. I would go there and oftentimes no one would be there. I would say to myself, ‘Man, I wish I could just run around here naked. It would feel so free.’ I said, you know what, that’s what I’m going to do for the cover art for Tru.
“I got this military jeep that I take off-road a lot. And that’s probably the only way I would have found it is with the jeep. Oftentimes when I was making the music I’d travel out to different locations that would’ve been hard to discover with any other vehicle… You take a dirt road, no cell phone service. I would go to those places and just write my music.”
On the Tru EP:
“The path [of the EP] is to eliminate tricks and gimmicks. Let’s take Photoshop out of the equation, let’s take all the filters out of the equation. F–k it, let’s take the clothes out of the equation. When we record, let’s take the Auto-Tune out; let’s create songs based around a story first. Let’s strip everything down to its simplest form possible in order to capture the best work possible.
“I don’t know if I really captured it with the artwork; I hope people don’t see it and think that I’m trying to sell or degrade myself. I wanted to make it as tasteful as possible. Unfortunately, a naked body is seen as exploitive or nasty. I think that it’s beautiful, because that’s the way you come in.
“You can be with a person, even with your lover, and they want to turn the lights off and make love to you because they don’t want you to examine them under the microscope. People try to hide their flaws, but I think the flaws make them a beautiful person. And that’s what Tru is all about.”
On working with Childish Gambino and his cameo on Atlanta
“Me and Donald attended the same high school in Atlanta. (Donald is a year older than me.) We have a mutual friend who, when Donald first started making music, I luckily was one of the first people he reached out to about collaborating. I remember I had a lot going on at the time. ‘I’ll do it for Donald, but I’ll get to it.’ It ended up being the same mentality when I was working on Drake’s first tape. It was like, ‘OK, yeah, I’ll get to it.’
“And then I saw the video for ‘3005′ and I just thought, ‘Man, this is shot really well, who did this?’ I found out he directed the video himself. I thought that was awesome and intriguing and unique for someone to take their destiny into their own hands like that. After that I made it a point to work with him, and of course ‘Telegraph Ave’ came about. From there we just always kept in contact.
“When he said he was working on his own show, he hit me and asked if I would be a part of it. I had to say yeah, because I think we have to learn how to give it up to each other. Instead of looking at each other as a threat, or looking at something that might not be all the way developed right when it’s presented to you, [you have to] see the potential in each other. And also be able to recognize when someone is special. And tell them, ‘You know what? You special.’ There’s nothing wrong with that. I felt like it would be special if the show was critically acclaimed or not. Just the fact that it was Donald and he was doing his own TV show. That ain’t something you hear about everyday.
“I remember when I first saw the script, it was about making fun of yourself. Like in the line in the show, ‘You gettin’ soft out here, man.’ And I’m just like, ‘Alright, whatever.’ [Laughs.] I thought that was cool to be able to laugh at yourself.”
Be sure to look out for the Tru EP coming soon!