Twenty-seven-year-old rapper Wallie the Sensei has had an impressive career that continues to grow steadily. Though he debuted only four years ago, in 2019, Wallie has already accomplished a number of feats. From his 2021 single “03 Flow,” which has amassed nearly 20 million YouTube views, to his upcoming appearance on the Str8 to the Klub Tour, supporting rap artists YG, Saweetie, and Tyga, it’s evident Wallie is determined to head straight to the top.
Even through our brief conversation over Zoom, Wallie’s passion for music and ambitious attitude is apparent. Wallie’s career started merely through a bet he made with one of his closest friends, and from there, he was determined to stick with it.
“If I didn't have at least $40,000 put up by December, which is my birthday, I would have to just make a mixtape and release it, and it doesn’t matter what it sounded like, good or bad, I’d just have to drop it,'' Wallie explains. “So my birthday came. I didn't have the money. So I went to the studio two days straight. And all the songs that I made I just released. And it just happened that one of my songs called ‘Scandalous’ went viral, so I just kept going and kept making music.”
Though he didn’t seriously pursue music until that life changing bet in 2019, music had been a part of Wallie’s life as long as he could remember.
“I sang in church as a kid growing up,” he reminisces. “I used to go to church with my grandparents and I would sing in the church choir. Then, six years ago, I started making music because all my friends were making music, and I didn’t think I’d connect to it. But around 2018, I started making music, and it became something really therapeutic for me.”
Born and raised in Compton, California, Wallie says his background has shaped his lyrics and musical style.
“My perspective in life is based on where I grew up,” Wallie says. “(Compton) is really different from other places, and I didn’t travel a lot growing up, so basically the city has made me who I am.”
Musically, Wallie draws a lot of inspiration from both mainstream musical artists and his friends who also make rap music. One of his top inspirations is Kendrick Lamar, another Compton native.
“We’re from the same neighborhood so he kinda inspired me to want to do music until I die,” Wallie says. “It could have just been a hobby for me or just something that pays the bills. But, for me, seeing how far Kendrick Lamar has gone in his career, it opened my eyes to the fact that it's possible. I've never thought that something that big would come out of my city. A lot of the stuff that we talk about is the exact same thing because we’re from the same place, just from two different perspectives.”
The process of creating music and working in the studio for Wallie is very creative and free. He prefers to let ideas come to him rather than forcing creativity.
“None of my music is premeditated,” Wallie says. “Like when I go to the studio, I usually have no idea what I'm gonna make, what I'm gonna talk about, what it's gonna sound like. I just go. I hear a beat for five to 10 seconds and if I like it, I just let my brain go. It's kind of like my subconscious. I just let my words come out based on how the music makes me feel.”
Wallie makes music for every different type of mood, and every type of person. He believes his music appeals to everyone.
“If you want to dance, I have something for that. If you want to cry, I got music that’ll make you cry. If you want to laugh, I got tracks I consider kinda funny,” Wallie chuckles. “I make music for everybody, especially the younger crowd, people in their 20s that can relate to my message.”
Some of Wallie’s favorite songs in his discography are the tracks “Silly Rabbit” and “Get Freaky.”
“‘Silly Rabbit’ I made with Nebula Swavey, who’s passed,” he reminisces. “The song’s just exciting and honest. And then my song, ‘Get Freaky,’ it’s just a different sound. I feel like it's got a real commercial sound. But the shit that I'm saying really ain't commercial. So I like the way that I was able to say some negative shit, if you pay attention, but it just sounds groovy, it’s a groovy song.”
Even though Wallie never saw himself making music, he believes that in music, he’s found his true calling and a way to keep himself humble and grounded.
“It’s like therapy,” Wallie says. “(Music) is just something that reminds me where I am in life, where I should be going or how I might have felt in every situation that I've been through.”
Wallie signed with Capitol Records in 2020 and since then, success has been coming nonstop for Wallie. Between EP releases, sold-out performances, and opening on an arena tour, Wallie has had a lot of exciting career moments, but his favorite part of being a rap artist is being on stage.
“Performing is the best part of music,” Wallie shares. “When I'm performing, I feel like I’m high. Like I’ll do a show and be ‘high’ for like a week after because this is like the only place where I feel like I'm supposed to be. Seeing crowds of people rapping my words bar for bar or even just the fact that all these people can relate to what I'm saying. Especially for me, coming from where I come from. I never thought that I'd make it past 16 years old, let alone be on stage. A lot of my friends are dead or in jail for life, so I'm grateful for this experience. It's fun too, it’s hella fun.”
Being a successful rap artist and performer doesn’t come without its challenges, though. Coming from humble beginnings, it took Wallie a minute to get accustomed to his new career and lifestyle.
“I'm really just now getting to a point where I can say I'm just like, a lot more comfortable with the whole process of being an artist,” Wallie admits. “I mean, I signed my first record deal. And like, I mean, really the most challenging part is that I put on myself, like setting goals for myself and be like ‘OK, I want to make 15 songs in the first studio session.’ And in the process of that, you might get frustrated or can't really figure out why you can’t get to the end of the song as fast as you would like to, it’s that sort of pressure of making music that’s challenging.”
On top of the struggle of being an artist, Wallie struggles with balancing his career and his personal life at times.
“I hardly ever have time to myself,” Wallie reveals. “I got three beautiful baby girls. So all my free time is for sure going to the kids. It’s not easy balancing music and life. Honestly, I feel like music kind of took over my life. It tells me where to go, it takes up my free time. But I’m grateful to have this career and do what I love, so I can’t complain.”
Wallie has already reached incredible heights in his career and his talent and drive is sure to take him to the top. On top of all he has achieved, Wallie has several more things he wants to accomplish in the next few years.
“I'd love to have generated a festival similar to Travis Scott’s Astroworld,” Wallie shares. “I don't really have to be the biggest artist in the world. But in five years, I want the strongest core fan base that you've ever seen because I really like to connect with my fans. And some hit singles, like maybe three or four, five or six hit singles. I want to earn some plaques, I want my own shoe brand.”
On top of his musical ambitions, Wallie wants to help out children who grew up in underprivileged areas, similar to himself.
“I want to start a program for kids, kids in bad neighborhoods, and I want to take them on monthly field trips to see dope ass places they might have never seen. I think that would be cool.”