Twenty-eight year-old New York rapper GASHI is ready to become the next big thing in music. While currently readying his Stairs 2 project, the follow up to 2016's Stairs, he's creating music that's not only a product of his upbringing but his current environment. Born Labinot "Larry" Gashi in Libya to Albanian parents from Kosovo, GASHI moved around a lot, mainly in Europe, until his family immigrated to the United States - finally residing in Brooklyn, New York.

In Brooklyn, with the different cultures and sounds around him, GASHI breathed all of this in and would use it as inspiration for developing his sound in music. GASHI is now known for blending singing and rapping into a style, but what makes him stand out is that his sonics echo the sounds of New York, while reflecting the flavor of the world in it.

And on February 8, I had the pleasure of talking with GASHI on the phone. In our conversation, we talked about his life and growing up and how that made him into the man, he is today, how moving around influenced his music and about his new single, "Used to be," and finally, the tour announcement with Big Sean.

So, before we talk about the news of the tour and the new single, "Used to Be," tell me about moving to Brooklyn after travelling so much and how moving to Brooklyn and residing there change your mind state on life?

It made me who I am because I feel like Brooklyn was, because I traveled so much to different countries and when I came to Brooklyn, it felt like all of those countries were in one spot. So, I just became a product of my environment and kind of got influenced by all of these sounds and different cultures, which I use to now in my music.

Yeah, I can totally understand that and what I find really interesting about you is that before you got into music completely, you graduated from high school and you earned a football scholarship, but then you dropped out and jumped into music full-time, can you tell me about that moment in your life?

I mean, so my brother was supposed to drop me off at the greyhound and I was supposed to hop on the bus to school, but as I stepped on the bus with one foot, I look inside the bus and I was like nah fuck this shit, I turned around and went back into the car and my brother said, what are you doing? I said I'm not going back, I'm doing music full time and it's a story my brother tells me all the time.

And Is this decision something you think about still or is this moment just so far in your past at this point now?

Nah, I used to have nightmares, these nightmares of me playing football in heaven and I no longer have those dreams, music is full-time now. The thing is, music is something I feel in love with as a child, football was just something that I did because I love the game, but I only played because they said If I played football I would get a full scholarship and my parents wouldn’t need to help me pay for school.

Yeah, I feel you and I'm curious because in really learning about you, I learned that in adopting your stage name, the number 4 has major significance, can you touch on that? And I've noticed recently, the number is no longer in your name as well?

Yeah, so the number 4 is basically like football, like fourth quarter, it's not about how you start the game, it's how you finish, but I kind of put a 4 to remind me that your still in the game and you're still going. With the number going away, when I started working with Roc Nation, I did a radio run and when I did that, I kept seeing how people were messing up my name and I was kind of like, since GASHI is my last name and that's what I work hard for, you know what I mean? So, if I'm going to work hard for my name forever, people need to say it right, so I took the 4 out of my name, but it's still 4's up which is my slogan.

And now jumping into the Roc Nation, you signed with them in a management role, can you tell me how things have changed since then?

Things have changed a lot man, I went from putting quarters together trying to eat to having anything I want in a menu, going to a restaurant, ordering 30 different dumplings and not eating them. I got my mom a house, I bought my dad his favorite car, I took my parents out of debt, you know, it's not about the money though, it's about the fact that I can focus on my art. Because before Roc Nation, I was making my own videos, editing my own videos, recording myself, making beats, doing everything by myself, booking my own shows, selling out Switzerland, London all by myself, I did everything by myself for 7 years straight and dude I was homeless and now I'm going to brunches with Jay-Z.

Now talking about your music and jumping to your next release, Stairs 2, is there anything more that can be said about the project because I know you released a bunch of singles for it?

Yeah, Stairs 2 is a project where you will see exactly who GASHI is and what I'm capable of doing. I'm putting every single skill and talent I have into this project. And Stairs 2 is going to be featuring the biggest artists of our generation.

Yeah, a lot of your fans are anxiously waiting for that, so that sounds exciting, now can you talk to be about the new single, "Used to Be" I know you released the track and the music video, so can you touch on that?

Yeah, "Used to be" is something I recorded with Ben Billions whose like the biggest producer right now, he did The Weeknd stuff, he did a bunch of stuff, he's one of the biggest producers of all time, so I linked up with him in Miami and he thinks I'm one of the best up and coming acts, so he wants to do a collab album with me, but I told him let's just do one track first. So that night, I went to the strip club and went I came back to the studio around five in the morning, I recorded the song, kind of screaming, expressing how I feel, like shitty friends turning on me, me wishing that I was a kid again and the only time I feel like that is when I pop a pill to sleep cause it's the only time my mind's not racing and I'm calm. So that's "Used to be" and I shot and recorded the video myself.

You shot the video in Brooklyn too, I know it must have been an amazing feeling to do the video in your own city, how was that?

Yeah, yeah yeah, going back home is the key. I love the fact that when I was a child, New York City was my inspiration because when I saw it in the movies, I didn't believe Manhattan was my backyard because it was just a few stops away from the train from me and what that did for me, it showed me, that little by little I can leave the block and go out there and see the things that I saw when I was in Europe, the things I saw on T.V as a child and I'm like holy shit, these skyscrapers do exist, imagine what else I could see if I hop on a plane.

Yeah, I feel you, now finally jumping into the tour announcement, the tour with Big Sean being announced, how does it feel?

People don't know, but Big Sean is the reason why I dropped out of school. People don't know that. When I heard Big Sean's story on how he made it and his mixtape "Finally Famous" it inspired me to do it as well, so every day I would write to Big Sean, I think it was 07' or 08' or 09,' I would write to Big Sean on his website, one day we will have a song together and that one day we would perform together. In 2018, my dreams are coming true.