42 Dugg Teases Lil Baby Collab Project, Talks Rapping In Prison & The Infamous Whistle

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Even before he signed a joint deal with Lil Baby’s 4PF and Yo Gotti’s CMG, 42 Dugg was picking up buzz locally in Detroit. It didn’t take long for the world to catch onto his genius, with the budding superstar going absolutely crazy in 2020 through a consistent stream of features, as well as his own music.

This year, the 25-year-old recording artist, born Dion Marquise Hayes, released Young & Turnt, Vol. 2, following it up with a deluxe version several months later. He’s currently working on another new project, supplemented by the singles “Free Merey” and “Free Woo”, which are dedicated to his friends who are currently incarcerated.

It’s clear that loyalty plays a major role in 42 Dugg’s music. His next project is already clearly showcasing that theme, shining a light on the friendships he’s made over the years as he brings his homies to the big stage with him. 

Image provided by CMG

The work that 42 Dugg has done this year guaranteed him a spot in our On The Come Up series. He is picking up the basics of the music industry at a ridiculously quick rate, hitting with his Lil Baby collaborations “We Paid” and “Grace.” As one of the voices of the streets, especially in Detroit, Dugg is destined for huge things in his career.

We were delighted to spend some time with the rapper, via video chat, to go over some of the main themes in his work. We spoke about the wisdom that he’s picked up from Yo Gotti and Lil Baby, learning to rap while in solitary confinement, and more. We also touch on the reason why he whistles in all of his songs.

Watch the latest episode of On The Come Up with 42 Dugg, and read the unabridged editorial version of the interview below, edited only for clarity.

HotNewHipHop: I want to start off by congratulating you on all your success in 2020.

42 Dugg: Appreciate you.

For anyone who doesn’t know, who is 42 Dugg?

I’ve been through a lot but I can still be myself in any situation. I’m tryna be someone that provides for my family.

You’re a family man, I respect that. How’d you get started in rap?

I spent six years in jail and shit. I ain’t had nothing to do when I went to the hole so I started rapping.

“I spent six years in jail and shit. I ain’t had nothing to do when I went to the hole so I started rapping.”

You were in solitary confinement when you started rapping? What was that like? 

Yeah, it was new to me because I was so young. But you know, I adapted real quick. I made the best out of it and I learned.

Did you always want to be a rapper or was there anything else that you were interested in?

I wasn’t interested in shit but getting money.

What were you doing before you got serious about music?

Rapping just, shit, you know, it helped me out. It helped me express myself. You know what I’m saying?

And you’re good at it. So I think it worked out.

I’m alright.

I think you’re better than alright, man, give yourself some credit. You’re signed to both Lil Baby’s 4PF and Yo Gotti’s CMG. At what point did they come into the picture for you?

I met Baby first. You know, we used to gamble and just kick it. Somebody had played him a song [of mine] and one day, he was like ‘play some more of your music.’ We was in the studio and I put on some songs and it just went from there.

And Yo Gotti?

I think Baby and Yo Gotti were shooting their video and Gotti noticed me like, ‘who the hell is that?’ Baby was like, ‘you know, this is my man’s.’ And another girl was telling Gotti about me. She was telling him like, I’m somebody from Detroit and, you know what I’m saying, he reached out to me. And then my manager– my old manager– was telling somebody about him, so it was like three different muhf*ckers. You know what I’m saying. ‘You gotta check, you gotta check him out, you gotta, look, this who they was talkin bout.’

At that point was there some local buzz going on in Detroit or was it even bigger than that?

I had Detroit already sewed up. It was Detroit and Ohio I damn near had, so it was just getting past that.

What made you want to sign a joint deal with them?

I just feel like, me going to Baby, me going to both of them for advice, everything just made sense. Like, why would I just be CMG and Baby help me out with everything? You know what I’m saying? He helps me out with the same stuff. Just keeping me in my bag and vice versa. Why would I be 4PF and Gotti just, you know what I’m saying, the most influential person there. I don’t wanna say one of them is more hands-on than the other because, you feel me, I don’t really ask Baby for that much. But whatever I do ask Baby for, you know, it’s whatever you need. ‘I’ll pay for the video,’ you feel me? Ain’t nobody more hands-on [than the other]. It’s a joint effort.

At the end of the day, you need to come up with the ideas and you’re the one that’s running your business, so it’s kinda like your little empire that they’re helping out with.


42 dugg yo gotti blac youngsta

42 Dugg with Yo Gotti and fellow CMG signees Blac Youngsta and Moneybagg Yo – Prince Williams/Wireimage/Getty Images

What do you respect most about Baby and Gotti?

Rap is like, it’s a now-thing but like, everybody else, we ain’t living for now. Well, them two ain’t. They always reiterate that with me like, ‘it ain’t gonna always be this, make sure you know how to prepare yourself for after rap, bruh. This way, you really want the money outside of rap,’ you know what I’m saying. Rap is cool, but there’s shit that be better elsewhere.

Yeah, it’s definitely important to set yourself up for financial success in the future. Growing up in Detroit, what was that like?

It was cool for me, you know what I’m saying, this is the only place I ever been so, shit, I’ma say it was the best thing for me. It was just, you know, kids being kids, skating. High school parties. I used to party every now and then.

“[Lil Baby and Yo Gotti] always reiterate that with me like, ‘it ain’t gonna always be this, make sure you know how to prepare yourself for after rap, bruh. This way, you really want the money outside of rap.'”

You used to be partying?

I was in the strip club at 14, you know what I’m saying?

What were you like as a kid? Were you more extroverted or introverted?

I liked to be outside, you know what I’m saying. I was always in a mix. Used to be back and forth.

And in school? Were you a good student?

Hell no. I was a motherfucker. I was a motherfucker in any school. I was probably the baddest person in every class I ever been in.

Damn. Did you have a favorite subject?

Hell yeah, gym. Look, so in math, in middle school and shit, I had this teacher, Mr. Black and shit. He used to come get me to crack jokes on in any class. Anybody playing around, he’d come get me out of my class, you feel me? That was funny to me, so I liked his math class.

Did you go to college?

No, I ain’t go to college, I started rapping.

If you were to go to college, what subject would you study?

Shit, uh, probably business. Yeah, business.

You said gym was your favorite subject in school. Did you play any sports growing up?

Yeah, I played basketball and football.

What positions?

Running Back and Point Guard.

Which one did you prefer?


Obviously, you had that six-year stint in jail before you blew up in rap. Were you working any jobs before that?

Hell no, I wasn’t working any job.

So you’ve never had a real job? Damn, what’s that feel like?

Nah. Shit, I don’t know.

Back to the music, you have one of the biggest songs of this entire year. “We Paid” went absolutely crazy. Congrats on that, first of all.

Appreciate you.

lil baby 42 dugg we paid

Lil Baby and 42 Dugg performing at the 2020 BET Hip-Hop Awards – 2020HHA/Getty Images

How many more songs do you have with Baby? Have you guys ever discussed a collaborative project because, obviously, “Grace” and “We Paid” are two of your biggest songs?

Yeah, we got something in the works. I don’t wanna spoil nothing.  

“Yeah, [Lil Baby and I] got something in the works. I don’t wanna spoil nothing.”

Okay! You got me excited now. What’s the process like when you guys get in the studio? You seem to have outstanding chemistry.

We feed off each other’s energy, you know what I’m saying? We just really get in there to talk shit.

It’s kinda like back-and-forth, you guys are just freestyling?

For sure, that’s the only way we do it. That’s how we come up with every song, freestyling. For “Grace,” I just laid down the first part. I laid the intro down and left. He sent it back with his version of the hook, and then I finished it off.

And for “We Paid,” y’all were together?

“We Paid,” we freestyled it, you know what I’m saying, we just sitting there, talking shit.

In almost all of your songs, you’ve got the infamous whistle sound. That’s such a smart tool as an artist because, when people hear it, they can automatically associate it with you. How’d you come up with the whistle?

It’s just something I started doing to catch beats. When I used to want to start songs, the beat dropped and I used to want to rap right away so I used to use the whistle.

Recently, you dropped your new singles “Free Merey” and “Free Woo.” In the “Free Merey” video, there’s a scene where you walk out of a major label meeting with Gotti because you guys weren’t satisfied with the offer. Is that based on real-life?

You know, here and there. We get a lot of offers these days. Ain’t nobody really told us what we can’t have. I can say that. We just find the best fit for us.

I feel you. Would you ever consider signing to a major?

Hell yeah, for the right price.

Until now, though, you’ve decided to remain independent. What’s the reason for that?

I just feel like, if it ain’t life-changing money, why would I sign? You know what I’m saying? I feel like, I know enough to keep myself up to par.

And you have the right people in your ear too, guiding you.

Yeah, that’s really the reason why.

What advice would you give to other independent artists that may not have the same platform as you but are also starting to get attention from labels and aren’t too sure how to go about it?

Bet on yourself if you feel like you the one. That’s my format. 

You’re betting on yourself, big time. Obviously, you’ve been plagued with legal difficulties. We won’t go into what happened earlier in August for legal reasons but can you tell us about your previous experiences in prison and how they shaped you to be the man that you are today?

You know, they let me know that that ain’t where I wanna spend years of my life at. I missed out on a lot growing up. It really grounded me and made me treat every day like it’s my last. You know what I’m saying? I live every day to the fullest, I’ma get the best out of my life. That’s what I been trying to do. 

You’ve got a lot of new music on the way. Is there an album coming out at some point?

Mm, Free Dem Boys, We Got ‘Bows In, you never know.

Is that a title right there?

Never know.


Image provided by CMG

Okay! You’ve been doing a lot of features lately. You’re featured on the Kaash Paige album. You also did a song with BROKEASF and a few other rappers. Who else have you worked with?

I don’t wanna spoil it, man.

Is there anybody big?

There are some big ones.

Can you give me a hint?

Big. Big as it gets.

When will we find out?

Eh, in a few months.

Before the end of the year?

For sure.

Aside from making new music, how have you been spending quarantine time?

I been buying cars and buying houses. Getting money.

Buying houses? Shit. You on your shit right now. Congratulations.

I’m trying, I’m trying.

What’s something that you’re passionate about that your fans might not know about you?

I’m really like a chill person, know what I’m saying? I laugh a lot. I take everything as a joke. I don’t take nothing seriously. If you see me acting serious, just know I’m playing.

I’m really like a chill person, know what I’m saying? I laugh a lot. I take everything as a joke. I don’t take nothing seriously. If you see me acting serious, just know I’m playing.

On social media, people have been making jokes, picking apart your lyrics and joking about your height. Do you see any of that and how do you feel about it?

Think what you want, know what I’m saying? If you fuck with me, you know what it is. If you don’t, I don’t fuck with you neither.

Before the end of 2020, what do you want to accomplish?

I want one of my songs to go Platinum. “We Paid” is Platinum, but it’s Baby.

I feel like that’s coming.

Yeah, me too.

Thanks for taking the time, Dugg. I really appreciate it. Do you have any parting words?

Free dem boys, man! You know what I’m saying, big turnt shit.

Check out our April 2020 interview with 42 Dugg for more information on the rising rapper here.

If you missed it, you can read (or watch) previous On The Come Up interviews with Yella Beezy, who details his Southern influencesLil Keed, who teases a possible song with DrakeMulatto, where she dives into Gucci Mane attempting to sign herFivio Foreign discussing why the ‘King of NY’ title is obsoleteD Smoke diving into Gang Culture during his interview, and finally, Flo Milli telling us about going viral on TikTok and how that changed her life.

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