Memphis Legend SB SurfsUp Champions Mental Health Awareness; Dives into the Meaning of ‘M.O.D.E.’


AllHipHop caught up with Surfsup to discuss his desire to give back to the community, what sets him apart, growing up in Memphis, the creation of “M.O.D.E.,” wanting to be mogul status, studio essentials, goals, and more!

Surfsup is the next hottest artist to come out of Memphis… and he’s not stopping until he gets to the top. The rapper and entrepreneur recently returned with his newest single titled “M.O.D.E.,” which stands for Money on Demand Everyday, pushing his foot on the gas pedal as we dive into the new year. Newly signed to indie label Drought King Music with a new distribution deal with Sony/The Orchard, the rising star plans to leave his legacy as one of the hardest working rappers of this generation.

On top of the music, Surfsup describes himself as “a super cool dude, an artist, a father, a businessman, a mogul in the making, a protector.” He states, “I do a lot of things, I’m one of them all-around type guys. I’ve done a lot in the industry and doing even more. I’m building that profile, trying to explain the brand. I’m chasing that mogul tag, trying to make it happen.”

AllHipHop: What sets you apart from other rappers?

Surfsup: Being genuine and staying true to self. It’s easy to get lost when you’re trying to please so many people. With me, I stay grounded. I stay 10 toes down. I focus on what’s best for me and if people like it, I appreciate it. If they don’t, then it’s not for them at this time. Outside of doing music, I’m helping mentor mental health, behavioral kids. I understand it’s a bigger picture than just rapping. I’m in front of the camera, I know how to get behind the camera. That’s what sets me apart, with me understanding exactly what’s going on in the industry.

AllHipHop: What made you want to give back in mental health? Did you struggle with your own?

Surfsup: During the time of me transitioning and getting out of a situation, I was with this other label and it was going bad. I had to take a step back from music for a second. Throughout the process of my whole career, I always wanted to go to middle schools, high schools, alternative schools, juvenile detentions, I always liked speaking to the youth. When this happened, it fell in my lap. I took it and ran with it. I seen I really made a difference.

I don’t think people really understand how serious mental health issues are, especially in the black communities. Black moms don’t want to put you on any medicine, they don’t want you to go to the doctor. They’re going to whoop your ass until you sit down. That’s not always the thing that’s going to fix it. I try to use my platform for good, especially if I know it can help. A lot of these guys are misled so I have to do my part. I love it though. My nickname when I was young was Preacher Man, that’s what they used to call me. It wasn’t about the Bible, it’s how I spoke. I’d be so gamed up and spread those gems to everybody else.

AllHipHop: What was it like growing up in Memphis?

Surfsup: To me, it was really dope. I come from the projects. I’m from North Memphis, Hollywood, some super fun times. I be telling people Memphis is one of a kind. It’s a tough city so to be one of the ones to break through and make it out, it’s impressive because a lot of people get stuck. From my neighborhood, not many of us made it out. The whole process of growing up, not having everything and having to work for it. In my family, I had hustlers, I had corporate America workers, I had gangsters, I had athletes, I had streets… I was in a pot of so many different personalities. Me being gamed up by everybody was really dope, Memphis to me creates everything. Memphis is always looked at in a certain way and people be so happy to link with us. We’re pure genuine people. We tell it like it is, we speak from the heart. We’re not with that extra b#######. A lot of people take a liking, and of course our country ass accent.

AllHipHop: Who were you listening to growing up that made you want to rap? 

Surfsup: I was raised in juke joints, my dad had 2 juke joints and my uncle had a barbecue spot. I came up on the oldies like Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Prince, Keith Sweat. If you take a look at my music, you’ll hear so much melodic sounds and me harmonizing. I didn’t understand why I was so melodic and liked harmonizing until a few years ago. My ears were programmed from hearing so much singing, that’s why I’m so into performing in the entertainment part of it because those people I named were pure performers.

Honestly, I didn’t like rap until Yo Gotti came out. He was from my neighborhood in North Memphis. I listened to Cash Money, those were the first rap artists or rap groups I played and listened to. Now my family members played everybody: Fly, 8 Ball, all the legends. I didn’t gravitate to it but Cash Money and Gotti was the sound I liked, then it grew. I liked Busta Rhymes and Ludacris. You see how their videos, their animation was all over, that caught my attention.


AllHipHop: At what point did you realize you could do music for a living? 

Surfsup: The first time I did a talent show, I earned my name from this talent show. There was another guy name Sup at the time and I didn’t know. I was young, we just started rapping. When we did the show, we end up in a fight with the other Sup. Once this was all over, the police was escorting my ass out and the crowd’s saying “you’re the real Schoolboy Sup!” At the moment, I’m like “oh yeah, this is it here. They f###### with me, I gotta run with this.” And I ran with it, I never had to audition for a talent show after that. I was a special guest off the first one. The promoters can testify for this if you ever talk to Rico Owens, Sean Rumben, any of them guys can tell you that dude was special a long time ago. That was ninth grade when we did that, I’ve been stamped ever since.

AllHipHop: That’s fire, how did you get your name?

Surfsup: My granddad gave me the name, he called me Lil Scooter and I had the board. I’m the type of person, I like to be around grown folks. I like to peep game. When I was 6 or 7, my cousins are 14 or 15 and let me run the streets with them. In my hood, everybody knew each other so it was safe. People said “your mom let you do that?!” Well she really didn’t, my cousins would sneak me out. [laughs] I’d listen to the conversation, analyze it in my brain how I see it, then I’ll go speak it to kids my age. SB is still Schoolboy but I shortened it because I did a brand change. I was leaving one label and wanted a fresh start. You know how a woman gets cheated on and she cuts all of her hair off? [laughs]

AllHipHop: Bring us back to the studio session for “M.O.D.E.”

Surfsup: I was supposed to be writing for another artist. I’m at the studio, but the artist was late as hell. As we’re waiting, the engineer was playing beats and I heard the “M.O.D.E.” beat. I’m like damn, cut the mic on! I don’t really write anymore, I go straight to the mic. As soon as I walk in the booth, I yelled out “I’m back in my mode again!” It was pure energy because I’d been tied down due to a contract, this was my welcome home party because I was free again. I was able to do what I need to do, then “M.O.D.E.” came out. I be talking my s###, genuine pure s###. 

AllHipHop: Money on Demand Everyday!

Surfsup: Every day, everybody can relate to that. Every race, every culture, wherever they are, they can relate to that. I want some money! 

AllHipHop: What were you trying to convey in the visual? You have a little skit going. 

Surfsup: We were remaking a movie called Money Heist. I’m big on the entertainment part of it. I really want to get into acting so I direct all my videos. Me and my director work hand-in-hand. I always like to put a little bit of my acting on the table. I’ve been doing some deals and the s###’s going sideways. Instead of me handling the business, I have these 2 little pretty ladies that love me to do it for me. As long as they get the job done. The video’s crazy, that s### hard as f###.

AllHipHop: What’s the reality of an independent grind?

Surfsup: It’s really tough, it’s not as easy as people make it out to be. Or maybe when people see it, they get this misunderstanding when people say “I’m independent.” They don’t be telling you that this s###’s hard as f###. Independent is saying instead of me being an employee at Walmart, I’m about to build a Walmart. What comes with the building is getting your employees, getting your stocks, having the board meetings, getting the right people to build it. You have to go get the funds, worry about the hiring and firing. It’s lot of steps that come with an independent grind.

I still want to be a part of a machine, which is a major label, but I want to do a partnership. I’ll bring what I bring to the table with my investment, then they meet me halfway with their investment. That way we still keep more of our stock. These people that are independent are winning, because they have an investment with millions of dollars behind it. I want to be a huge star in the music business so my approach is different. I don’t knock anybody. If you want to stay 100% independent, blessings to you and I pray for your success.

AllHipHop: Who is in your Top 5?

Surfsup: Roddy Ricch, Rod Wave, YNW Melly, Kevin Gates, then Derez De’shon and Mo3. I’ma put them 2 together. I like to listen to people that I’m compatible with, all of them are melodic and they harmonize. It’s what my ears like to listen to. It’s a lot of other dope artists right now, but those guys I’ll have their songs playing. When I’m not listening to my music over and over, I’ll listen to those guys.

AllHipHop: 3 things that you need in a studio?

Surfsup: Red Bull, water, and fruit.

AllHipHop: What kind of fruit?

Surfsup: Mixed: watermelon, pineapples, grapes, strawberries. I buy fruit and mix them together in a bowl. I don’t really smoke or drink, none of that. I naturally go in there and do what I need to do, it’s not really a party for me when it comes to the studio. It can be there when I’m done working but while I’m working, I like my space. Really me, the engineer, and producer. 

AllHipHop: What can we expect music wise?

Surfsup: A lot of greatness. I already have the rest of this year planned out. We’re doing “M.O.D.E.,” it’s with 10 different radio stations now. We’re about to amp it up with 10 or 15 more before the middle of February. I’m already pre-planning for my next record called “My Lil Chick On The West Coast,” a West Coast record.

AllHipHop: On Valentine’s Day right?

Surfsup: Valentine’s Day is “Fiendin.” What I do is I pick my radio singles and songs we’re going to put the real money behind, and I have fillers in between. “Feindin” is a feeler to give more creative content for the fans and the audience. Instead of them watching one video, I try to throw in fillers so they can have more stuff to watch and gravitate to. Everybody knows I love the ladies. I’m crazy about women, not gonna lie I love them to death. What better way to bring in Valentine’s than “Fiendin”? 

AllHipHop: Goals that you have for yourself at this point in your career? 

Surfsup: I’m chasing nominations and Grammys. My album is called I Deserve Grammys, that’s really big for me. To create a better system for Memphis when it comes to music, we’re doing really good but we could do a lot better. We still don’t have proper politics in the city, I really want to fill in that gap and put something in Memphis where artists can come get the game. 

My clothing line is called Dreams and Believers, I want that to be my own mental health facility for the youth. I’m chasing that mogul status. Even right now with me being a true artist, I started a management consulting company with a friend of mine. Trying to put the town on for artists like me, I’m trying to bridge that gap in the city and get more of the commercials guys out. We have a lot of street and trap rappers from the city, but I’m trying to get the singers, pop stars, artists such as myself out.