The underground stalwart on sessions with Evilgiane, bilingual raps, the Clayton County legal system and his new lease on life.
The music of Georgia rap artist Slimesito expands into an entire world of characters. Throughout nearly every song, he’ll matter of factly list off plugs and shooters from Argentina, Mexico, Chicago, Memphis and Dublin like they’re a rolodex of NPCs wandering his mind. Every other person is Muslim. The women in his life—Panamanian, Spanish, Thai, Caribbean— are also willing to go the extra mile for Sito, whether that means handling weaponry with the same nonchalance as Madea or trapping for him on a part-time basis, despite holding full-time jobs at State Farm. The common thread tying these recurring characters together is an unwavering sense of ruthlessness, a penchant for designer goods, and Sito’s detached, bilingual style, with a requisite amount of Spanish leading off, nestled within, or punctuating verses.
Slimesito established a foothold in the mid to late 2010s underground and brought a splash of gritty realism to the fabric of user’s Soundcloud feeds. In between every Lil Yachty posse track and song riding a leased beat to over a million plays, you were bound to find a Sito track.
Born in PG County, Maryland to Panamanian parents, Sito bounced around in his youth, moving to the southside of Atlanta at around 10 and then Panama to be near his dad when he was 16. Sito, who didn’t know any Spanish ahead of this relocation, says he can understand it better than he can speak it, and that the experience taught him the value of what he had back in the US even if it was “little shit, like having carpeting in your house.”
“I’m not gonna lie, I feel like that sound — salsa music, reggae, and all the type of stuff my mom used to listen to — that I grew up listening to [in Panama] are still in my head,” Sito said. “It’s like a tropical sound, there’s a bounce to it. I feel like that’s inspired me even if I don’t notice it.”
“Plata o Plomo” a steely cut off his 2021 album Out on Bond, represents being caught between languages and worlds. Over bassy, militant production from Dolan Beatz, Sito describes getting blood on his “zapatillas,” with a blasé attitude, like this situation is a regular occurrence, and converses with a courteous plug that wishes him “buenos días.” The track’s language is interchangeable to the point where I mistook the mention of “Sopranos,” for a Spanish word, rather than the massively popular HBO show.
Growing up in Clayton County, an area of Atlanta that has a lineage of rap royalty (both Waka Flocka Flame and Slim Dunkin come from this part of the city), Sito studied and absorbed the sound of his city. The low-decibel, monotone flow he uses flattens 21 Savage’s cadence into a straight line. He fills every inch of negative space on his songs with a non-stop onslaught, in the vein of a less rowdy Flocka.
Emotionally Sito remains largely indifferent, which can make it hard for some listeners to connect with him. His music is more physiological than spiritual. Instead of reflecting on the universality of a bar, you might feel your internal blood pressure increase. The music can be seen as nihilistic or as detailed perseverance in the face of extreme circumstances. While other Atlanta contemporaries, like Young Nudy, have veered into psychedelia, Sito sticks to a cold, isolating environment, untethered from moral or social codes. Extended listening is a numbing experience.
Like his raps, a Slimesito-type beat favors minimalism and menace, usually from mainstays like Casok, Al Chapo, Dolan Beatz, Sensei ATL, and XanGang. He captures the moment right before a building is detonated. Disaster could be around any corner.
Before Slimesito started to develop a following for his music he was somewhat of a mythical figure online. Outside of a tight-knit group of collaborators, features were limited to Lil Yachty and K $upreme. In early 2017, a period where Sito only had a few EPs floating around, his digital presence was confined to a handful of YouTube videos — one of which is a vlog that functions like a spoof episode of Cribs. Instead of a mansion equipped with a walk-in closet the size of an apartment, Sito takes a tour of a Westside-Atlanta home where he shoots the shit with a nascent Trippie Redd about open-face, red-ruby grills, while an episode of Family Guy blares in the background. Another vlog, presumably filmed on the same day, shows Sito in the recording process with largely the same crew made up of Duwap Kaine, Digial Nas, Candypaint, and Lil Wop, among others.
Now, these vlogs feel like time capsules of a period where the Atlanta rap scene was populated with a melting pot of characters that would take over the world, whether as pop stars like Trippie Redd, or as underground legends exerting influence to this day.
“I was already popping before I dropped a song, my name was buzzing. That’s what gave me the platform to rap,” Sito told me over a phone call back in 2019, towards the end of the summer.
One month after that call, Sito would be locked up on a number of charges related to gang activity and weapons possession. He would remain in jail for a year and a half. Legal setbacks threatened to derail him entirely, in the midst of a development and career peak.His collective Rich $lime Gang (RSG) has had a contentious relationship with local law enforcement in Clayton County, the history of which was expertly reported on by Jacob Dorion for Passion of the Weiss back in the Summer of 2020. Victor Hill, the former sheriff of Clayton County, who had similar policing methods to a vigilante Clint Eastwood character, pursued the group to set an example in the community. Hill was convicted on six counts of federal civil rights violations last October.
From 2018 to 2019, Sito released four First Day Out freestyles, each commemorating his release from jail. “On the first one I had the hook in my head, it was like ‘first day out the mother fucking jail’ I just kept saying that in the cell,” Sito said about the process.
These freestyles reflect a resilience that can withstand “23 hours up in isolation” and on “First Day Out Pt 3,” he raps about these struggles in detail — “In the cell 20 hours a day/mama always told me about rainy days.” Despite the fatigue, he sounds unfazed, like these periods of incarceration are just minor speed bumps on the road towards the inevitable: a better life.
“I don’t ever want to release a first day out again,” Sito told me back in 2019. He would end up following through on this statement, as the first release following his extended sentence would be Out on Bond, a manic tape that demonstrated a renewed focus. Everything is constantly in motion on that project. These are raps that are being made with a new lease on life. Since that project Sito has gone on to put out Vida Brazy (a career-best), singles produced by Evilgiane and Eyedress, and a slew of other tapes. He’s even more surgical, playing with negative space in a more introspective way, letting beats ride out for a millisecond in between bars.
There’s an added emotional depth to some of Sito’s music as well. To counterbalance his varying levels of detachment, he strays towards the pensive, exhibiting a world-weariness that reflects a period spent in true isolation. There are moments to reflect, instead of a constant need to trudge forward, softening the edges of his sound.
Last December, Sito hopped on a Google Meet with me from the passenger seat of a car, in a nondescript parking lot that could exist anywhere in America. He arrived on the call in the middle of performing surgery on a backwood with the precision of a neurosurgeon and sporting a white tee under another, more formal white shirt. We spoke about his process, a villainous Clayton County sheriff, and how he’s changed since becoming a free man towards the end of 2020.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Will Gendron: What have you been up to since we last spoke in 2019?
Slimesito: Trying to travel, stay working, staying busy for real. Dropping clothes for my brand, I’ve been working on that a lot. Just enjoying freedom — doing festivals and enjoying time.
What’s been your favorite city or new place?
My favorite place to be is New York — it moves on the same time that I live on. And I like doing shows in Dallas.
Why is that?
It’s turnt, the crowd is showing love everytime we go out there. They always show the most love.
There’s something more intentional about a driving city, you won’t just stumble on a Sito show in Texas.
For sure, even when I do a show in Austin it be turnt out there. I like Texas. But out the country, I’ve only been to Panama because that’s where my family is from. I used to live out there but haven’t been back in a minute. I’m supposed to go [in 2023]. I have one more pending charge in Clayton County and have the last court dates in February, so I want to go that same month.
Victor Hill ran Clayton County like a supervillain.
You see they locked him up?
Yeah, things have really flipped for him.
Now people know everything I be talking about because I know I have a bad reputation for shit in the past. I know when I got locked up back in 2019 they thought he really did that shit, but nah it was a misunderstanding. [Hill] was just harassing me. They gassed [his case], they gassed it — trying to make something out of nothing. When I was in jail that shit used to be crazy. He used to walk around [jail] with a Batman costume on.
I swear. Everyone in Clayton County knows this. When you walk around the jail and he comes by, everyone faces the wall because he doesn’t let you see his face. He has so many enemies he doesn’t want anyone seeing how he actually looks. You know you’re gonna end up seeing his face eventually — when he’d lock me or Gwaluh up, he’d be like face me. He wanted us to see him, but not other people.
Melo was going crazy. Ever since we made Ride With The Glock with K ‘Preme, I just started tapping in with him. He was sending beats to my email, and I don’t know, his production reminded me of Dolan and I like that shit. When I made “Sticks” I remember I was in Kennesaw. I was out there fucking with my partner [Playboy] Poop on campus and met some people who had a studio in their dorm. After I made it, I did a snippet for my Snapchat and everyone in the studio was turnt the fuck up. That’s how I knew that shit was a hit, because it was too genuine. That was my early stage of rapping, day one stages. When I make a song, I can tell it’s hard based on the reaction in the studio, especially if there are a lot of people in there.
What was it about the production that let you hit another gear?
I know for a fact all my beats sound weird and dark. I used to fuck with Grandfero, him and Melo were my two go-to producers at the time. They were coming with similar sounds like — *Sito starts imitating an ominous synth sound that’s halfway between a creaky door opening and discordant piano key* You hear that in the car and you already know who that is. It’s a whole type beat.
Did the success of “Sticks” and the records that began to gain traction ever confirm this idea of music as a life-calling for you?
When I was younger, I used to think about it, but I never tried to do it all the way. There were times where I bought a studio and tried to do it, bullshit programs, bullshit mics, but I never put a song out or anything. When n****s took it seriously, everything was just perfect timing. It was like the stars aligning. We already knew it too, even when it wasn’t lit yet, we knew it was going to get lit. We didn’t even doubt it, it just happened. I feel like I don’t even know what song it was, I was just working hard as fuck. In the studio everyday, if I wasn’t shooting a video, I was on the block. I was just being productive. Even people I didn’t know — I’d meet people in Atlanta, Oh yeah Sito I fuck with your shit, I do this, I do that. I’d just take their number down and really work with them.
I ask because you’ve mentioned in interviews, and even when we last spoke a few years ago, that you never viewed rap as a career.
At first I did. But I’ve been with the same people that I’ve been with even before the rap shit went up. Sometimes when I come out of this world [of rap], I see how big it is. Sito pans his phone to show his cousin in the driver’s seat of the parked car. When I go to LA or somewhere else, or even when I go downtown in Atlanta. Because I’m from the Southside, I don’t stay in Atlanta. When I hop in someone’s car or show some new shit, it really hit me like Damn n****s done came a long way.
You incorporate a lot of Spanglish into your music. What does the expression Plato o Plomo mean to you?
It’s basically, like, get down or lay down.
Is it even something you think about actively or it just comes out?
That shit just comes out because I’m flowing. Vocabulary, words, wordplay, the way I’m flowing in the pocket. Words that I know. I lived in Panama before so I had to use these words before. It’s in my vocabulary. When I’m thinking of a word I can say it in Spanish too, so it’s just boom.
What was Panama like as a kid?
I remember how fucked up it was out there, like poor. My cousins didn’t have shit that we had. One year our parents, me and my cousin Leo, made us leave our game systems out there and we didn’t want to do that. Hell no! FIFA, NBA Live, Mortal Kombat, we played all that shit in Panama and left it all. They didn’t have the new systems [in Panama]. They were bootlegging — getting a game and then hitting it with a chip, so you could print copies.
I know you’ve talked about doing a tape like Vida Brazy and honing in on Spanish trap but it still seemed like a step out of your comfort zone in terms of beat selection. Is this salsa-inspired production something you want to keep experimenting with?
Yeah, the original sample in “KLK” was something I heard a lot of times growing up. I’m not gonna lie, I feel like that sound — salsa music, reggae, and all the type of stuff my mom used to listen to are still in my head. When I hear a producer like Dolan make something similar, that shit makes me go crazy. It’s like a tropical sound, there’s a bounce to it. I feel like that’s inspired me even if I don’t notice it.
Are you salsa dancing?
Nah, I don’t be salsa dancing man. But my folks do, people in my family really be doing it.
I wanted to ask you about “Murder she wrote,” which seemed like a departure for you because I’m used to your music being constantly in motion. On that song you seemed to be taking your time.
Me and Giane were in Brooklyn and made six songs that night. When I recorded “Murder She Wrote,” I did want to go on slow. I knew that. I was like imma just slide on the beat. Sito starts humming the first couple bars. It just came out, it was meant to be like that. Sometimes I’ll stop and run it from the top again to hear what the first four bars sound like. That’s the whole song to me. The way you come in is everything. You definitely have to turn up after the first four bars, but as long as you come in right, it’ll be easy. Especially with the way I record because I punch-in straight up. I’m not really thinking too hard, I don’t have a blueprint. Right after we recorded, we were talking about doing a tape, and I shot “Moving in Silence” [in New York] and he was like, “You need to send me that shit.” As soon as I officially dropped it, that video went up. There was just some energy that day.
Do Evilgiane’s beats bring out a pensive side to you at all?
Evilgiane’s beats are hard as fuck, he’s the goat. Even if it’s a drill beat it doesn’t sound like a drill beat. I don’t even think of his beats as drill, he’s not a drill producer. But I rap on some of his beats that are drill — isn’t “Myself” a drill beat?
But it doesn’t feel like a drill beat when I rap on it. He’s really talented.
The projects you released right after getting out at the end of 2020 seemed like a leap for you. I felt like Out on Bond takes the idea of a First Day Out freestyle and extends it into a whole project.
That’s why I didn’t release another First Day Out. When I was in jail I was thinking someone should drop an Out on Bond tape. I was already going to do a tape with Dolan but it was gonna be called SlimeDolan. I used to call Dolan out the blue [in jail] and he would talk about dropping a tape when I got out. I made [the song “Out on Bond”] the same week I got locked up [in 2019]. It wasn’t called “Out on Bond,” I said that line on a bar though, because I was already out on another bond before I got locked up for those 16 months. I used to always get people to play that song for me when I was in jail.
Comparing that project and Mafioso, you sound like someone who has a new lease on life. What was the recording session like with Dolan?
Basically what I really do when I make a tape is record for a certain amount of time and then just pick the hardest songs. Sometimes I try to find songs I haven’t heard in a minute too. Ones that I missed or forgot to drop. I’m not in rap mode 24/7, I still have a regular life and have shit to do. Not that I get lazy but I get distracted by life. If I’m working with one producer and we’re doing a collab tape then I’m just gonna make a lot of songs. I have two hard ass tapes in the cut with Sensei and 2wo2imes.
You’ve cited Flocka as an inspiration, especially because you would see him around Riverdale and Clayton County as a kid. Some of today’s youth probably view you in a similar way.
I used to think about that more often. I be used to that shit though, to people looking at me. I’m still listening to older music, like Waka and Gucci mixtapes. Some old Wayne out the blue. I’m still inspired by that shit because in the beginning before I was even rapping that’s what inspired me. What [Waka] did for Clayton County, him and Dunk, that’s something I’ll never forget about.
With that influence do you feel obligated to move in a certain way?
I have a lot of patience now versus before I got locked up. I have more discipline. Above all else I always do what I want to do, I don’t care what anybody else is doing. I don’t even know what’s hot.
Throughout 2018 and 2019 your music was taking off, but legal setbacks threatened to derail all of that progression. How did you maintain your spirit?
How was I feeling when shit was hot? Honestly I was motivated to do this rap shit. I can’t explain it but that wasn’t the first time in my life I experienced pressure. I knew that whatever I was doing, I had to keep doing it. They tried to lock me up for gang charges and all this bullshit. It wasn’t making sense to me, so I’d get out on bond, shoot a video, and they’d lock me up again. I changed my approach and started laying more low, but that shit taught me you don’t have to show everything you’re doing.