Sitting down for lunch at Denver vegan restaurant City O’ City, Casey Veggies smiles unexpectedly, even as he gives suspect glances toward his food. While talking, staff delivered an array of seitan wings, margarita pizza (Veggies: “I’ve never had pizza without any pizza sauce on it before,”) pasta (no olives) and vegan macaroni and cheese (which involved a question and answer session with the iPhone assistant, Siri about taleggio cheese). Veggies, one of the founding members of hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, has quite a bit going on these days, including a clothing line, a solo career and a show at the Gothic Theatre on Wednesday.
And for the underground rapper, he wouldn’t have been anywhere if it wasn’t for Kanye West. Veggies first started writing rhymes when he was 12 years old and inspired by West’s “College Dropout.”
“I loved Kanye growing up because I was so young. I hadn’t heard anything explained in the way he was using his words,” Veggies said. “When I write to music, it’s the beat that builds my inspiration the most. When I started with Odd Future, we were all working on such different styles of music but the interests were similar.”
As other members of the Odd Future collective, it’s impossible to just be a musician. Tyler the Creator and Frank Ocean both have a number of business endeavors on top of music careers. So, along with releasing his most recent mixtape, “Life Changes,” the 19-year-old Veggies has launched his own clothing line Peas and Carrots International. And to Veggies, making clothes is not much different from hip-hop.
“It’s a positive and natural thing that the homies came up with to get our thoughts across. It’s something a lot of kids can get behind,” Veggies said. “Street ware and hip-hop go hand in hand. It’s an easy growth process. It started with one design, and now we have our own store. It’s similar to making an album. It all starts with an idea.”
This idea has turned into a thriving clothing store in Los Angeles, where Veggies said he can express himself through streetware as he does through his music.
“We stand behind the clothing aspects as much as we do the music. I wear our clothing on stage because it’s actually dope and it matches what we think,” Veggies said. “It’s the same thing with the music. When I put out ‘Customized Greatly,’ (Veggies’ mixtape series) I just wanted to give my personality a chance to grow organically.”
But, when it comes to the release of his full-length debut, he’s less open about it than he is his clothing.
“I’m working on music right now and have a deal I’m looking at. When I’m making music, I just let the beat pull the lines out of me,” Veggies said. “I feel like as I grow, people expect more polished ideas out of me and more organized noise. Now that it can be seen what I can do, I’m adapting to the situation. “
Veggies said he is planning to release music on his own terms, and with his best ideas intact.
“It’s a lot more work that I need to do before people are ready to receive my music in the highest form. I listen to music that captures my ear, just like I build brands that are automatically different from everything out there. That’s why it’s most important to take my time and put the work into build something I’m completely proud of.”
Ru Johnson is an arts and culture music writer living in Denver. You can follow her on Twitter here.