Adam22 of the ‘No Jumper’ Podcast Smashed the Like Button for SoundCloud
"When I'm getting hate, I can tell how to translate the hate into what they want from me"
When Lil Peep visited Adam “Adam22” Grandmaison at his Los Angeles clothing/BMX bike store, On Some Shit, six months ago, Grandmaison joked that Peep stole his girl. He also joked that Peep was “not dead yet, but he’s working on it.” Still, when he got the news that Peep had died from an overdose, it took him an hour of refreshing his social feeds before he believed it. Even then, he figured that Peep would recover. He did not.
“All of a sudden I found myself weeping on the phone with my mom trying to tell her about it,” he recalled. “I’ve had friends die this year who were closer to me than Peep was and it still hit me harder.”
Adam22 is the host of the influential podcast No Jumper, which has amassed almost 950,000 YouTube followers and over 175 million views. Before that, he started The Come Up, which quickly became the “most popular BMX website of all time” and led to its companion companion store on Melrose. Before that, he made a living playing online poker.
When No Jumper began, Grandmaison’s plan was for it to be a general interest internet culture podcast where he could interview anyone he found interesting. Guests have ranged from the super-controversial former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, to unhinged actor and comedian Andy Dick. But Grandmaison’s passion lies in underground SoundCloud rappers and he quickly became the dude in that space. No Jumper was Lil Yachty’s very first interview and he recently went back for round two.
MASS APPEAL continues our year-end coverage with Big Year, Big Talk, a salute to the people who shifted the culture in 2017. Reflecting on this tumultuous time, Grandmaison spoke about Lil Peep’s passing, his innate ability to figure out the internet, and how BMX gave him all the tools he needed to be successful in life.
How did you feel when you found out that Lil Peep died?
When I found out it was early enough and I was distant enough that I had to sit there refreshing Twitter and IG for an hour before I believed it. I felt devastated. I spend so much time triumphing dudes like Peep who I’ve seen from the first stages of their career. For someone like me who has kind of seen it all and done most of it, you’re assuming that no matter how hard they’re partying that they are going to figure it out. Even when I heard Peep overdosed I was scared, but I didn’t think there was any chance he was dead. I figured it would be a wake up call. Instead here we are.
How has and will his death affect you?
I really want to start being more literal and upfront with kids about drugs. And to be honest, it’s made me take a much closer look at how I’ve been living. I’ve taken drugs that fans gave me dozens or hundreds of times just like damn near every other rapper I know. I always felt some solidarity with Peep just because he’s a mixed up white boy from the Northeast and seeing him die just because of one bad decision really hit home.
I guess I just felt like he still had so much to offer and we weren’t done watching him grow. He was only 21. At the absolute lowest, I just kept crying and repeating, “He was just a kid,” unable to comprehend it.
Is there anything you wish you had told him?
Since Peep died I’ve been hitting up a lot of my other friends who are too heavy into the xans and lean, trying to tell them that they aren’t hopeless and that there is a path out of that shit and that if they need any help I’m there for them. Mostly I haven’t got any responses. They’ll FaceTime me the next day all happy and not even remembering that I hit them up like that the day before. A lot of times rappers end up with a sea of enablers around them and I’m not saying that was 100% the case for Peep, but he definitely had some people like that around him.
Peep’s manager, Chase, had a tweet saying, “I’ve been expecting this call for a year,” and a bunch of people thought it was callous. But anyone who has dealt with a heavy drug user knows that you usually know before it happens and you feel powerless to stop it. I feel like I’ve spent plenty of time having frank discussions about drugs on my podcast, but I haven’t been explicit enough in telling kids about the bad side of drugs or even describing what sobriety is like and how to get there.
Peep wasn’t going to change his lifestyle until he decided he wanted to. But for the average kid out there, I just want to let them know that you don’t need to do drugs, and if you are mixed up in them that all hope isn’t lost. I feel like hip hop should [use] this as a moment to speak more honestly about drugs and stop glorifying them in a way that doesn’t accurately depict the negative consequences. RIP Lil Peep.
Between online poker, the BMX blog, and ‘No Jumper,’ you’ve had a string of successes. What’s your secret?
I can’t do anything that I’m not interested in. I physically shut down when I try to do anything that I’m not really interested in. That’s what happened with me with the BMX stuff. I was so passionate about it for so long and then as soon as I wasn’t anymore I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t write blog descriptions for videos anymore and I couldn’t make vlogs at the skatepark. So it just turned into the rap thing accidentally. I just wanted to do more of like an overall internet culture podcast, and then I just sort of happened to know more about rap than anything else, so that ended up being what took off.
In terms of why, I feel like I come from a place of genuine interest and I don’t get that feeling from a lot of websites or channels that you could probably compare us to. So if I had to guess why there’s sort of an outsized response to my shit, it would probably be [that] I don’t listen to anything but rap, I go to rap shows all the time, I hang out with rappers all the time. I guess I’m just authentically in it. But most people who are authentically in it aren’t necessarily the kind of people that would start a podcast.
In your Reddit AMA you said that BMX gave you all the tools that you needed to be successful in life. What did you mean by that?
I just have these a vivid memories of being 14 and going out in my front yard and trying to do a 180 on flat ground on my bike. Or trying to do a manual, which is a wheelie, and I couldn’t do anything, much like anybody who starts out doing something like that. I had absolutely nothing going for me. I had very little natural aptitude for it and I was also kind of doughy and young and weak, so I just remember those hours and hours and hours spent in my front yard just trying to do a wheelie and then it finally started to work. And it really gave me the confidence of, “Oh, I can be into something that I have absolutely no skill with, no talent [for], and I can just work at it over and over and over.” It gave me a level of confidence that I never had before that because I never did good in school. I had my parents encourage me in school, but I just did terrible. And BMX was the first subculture that I felt like I truly was able to thrive in..
I mean, that’s a metaphor for everything. Like, if you want to be a journalist, you’re going to have to start out at a point where you don’t know shit, you have zero connections. When I think about the podcast thing and how I’m able to just sort of insert myself in these situations I just think of those experiences on my bike when I was young.
You’ve also talked about pinpointing a niche and really going in. In 2017, with the internet being so oversaturated, do you feel like it’s still possible to do that?
I totally think it’s possible, but my first success with the BMX website in, like, 2006, the world was just starting to experience blogs, and nowadays I would say your likelihood of starting a successful blog is probably incredibly low. But I see 16-year-old kids who start Lil Pump fan pages and all of a sudden they’ve got 100,000 followers and that might be where it’s at now, that everything goes straight to social media. I see really intelligent well thought out concepts from pretty young people on YouTube all the time in terms of people who are just starting platforms for themselves. And who knows where those could go?
When you look at YouTube, it’s a little easier to monetize than when I started a blog and I had to figure out all that crazy advertising shit at the time. I definitely think that if you have a passionate interest in anything then you’re in a position to create content that people are really going to care about. My thing is, you just need to know about lots of stuff in general. I was lucky with the BMX side of things that I knew about blogging and writing online, and then I knew about BMX. And then with No Jumper, it’s like I’m lucky that I was involved in a sort of specific hip hop scene and I already knew about podcasting. It was just a matter of connecting the dots between disparate things.
Gary Vee wrote something about blogging on native platforms and really maxing out what you’re doing there. Is that what you’re talking about?
I think there’s something to be said for having a website. At this point in No Jumper‘s career I’m thinking maybe we should take that leap and have a website. But for the average person, like if you don’t have any social reach, then your odds of building a popular website are probably about zero.
Why’d you go with ‘No Jumper’ as the name of the podcast?
Basically my other brand names, The Come Up and On Some Shit, [there was] very, like, no thought at all. It just seemed obvious that that was what they were going to be called. No Jumper was the first one that me and this dude that I used to work with, we wrote out like a hundred different potential titles for. It was supposed to be a blog. This was many years before we turned the No Jumper thing into a podcast. We thought that was a standout line from the Gucci Mane song “Bricks” where he says, “95 Air Max ’cause of I’m a dope runner/ Ballin’ like an athlete, but got no jumper.” And then Waka Flocka took the “no jumper” hook and put it on his mixtape and, I don’t know, it just kind of always stood out to me as a good line. It’s like a good metaphor for the kind of content that I wanted to do at the time, where I really wanted to highlight some of the people in the scene, people who are being creative and interesting who weren’t necessarily superstars. And now I’ve been lucky enough to be in the position where I’ve gotten to interview plenty of superstars, or superstars from my perspective, and that’s cool.
Originally, I was going to start a podcast and interview journalists. “I’m going to interview the guy who’s making the Young Thug music video since I can’t get Young Thug.” That was my original intention, so “ballin like an athlete but got no jumper.” You’re making something with what you’ve got even though it might not be the guy who’s the star of the show out there scoring points.
You’ve talked about wanting to create a platform to interview up-and-coming people, but you’ve also mentioned that the sheer number of plays an artist gets might also pique or reinforce your interest. So what is the process of deciding who you’re going to interview?
I feel like I have a mental algorithm going. I did an interview with a guy named DJ Lucas a couple of months ago and he’s just, like, a fucking fire internet rapper from Western Massachusetts. He didn’t have a ton of plays or anything, but I just really, really believed in him, so that made sense for me. Sometimes there will be a rapper that maybe I’m not 100% a huge fan of, but I see the reaction that they’re getting from the audience, and that in and of itself is interesting to me.
I consider myself such a fan of hip hop that even if something is not 100% tailored to me, I can still be interested in the effect that it’s having on the culture and the community. So it can really come from all sides. It’s also, I could get hit up tomorrow by an R&B singer that I thought was incredibly talented, even though that’s 100% not my lane, and that would still be interesting to me. I’m interested in multiple things. I want to satisfy my base in terms of just doing the hardcore underground hip hop interviews, but at the same time I want to challenge myself and go outside the box. And really, when I say that the podcast is just what I feel like doing, I can’t overstate that enough. I’ve gotten offers to do huge interviews that I just couldn’t really bring myself to pretend to be interested in.
And honestly, my concern with No Jumper is building it out bigger than just me because I’m almost 34, I know at some point I’m not going to want to be interviewing every up-and-coming SoundCloud rapper. I want to build out something that could go bigger than me at a certain point because I know that the day where I become not interested in doing 18-year-old rapper interviews, I’m not going to be able to fake it anymore.
So you’re conscious that you may age out of this at some point?
I’d love to maintain a place in the music industry, but I’m not sure what I’m going to want to do. I believe that No Jumper could be something a lot bigger than just me. A lot of the stuff I’ve been doing lately is to build up content. I just dropped a piece of content with Bandmanfari that I’m really proud of. I’m not on camera. So it’s kind of my plan for more content where I’m not on camera, and then working on bringing in hosts, ideally women and people of different ethnicities and stuff like that.
So building a bigger media company?
I think every media company has an assumption or an interesting mission statement. And if there’s anything that No Jumper should be about, it’s about the new hot shit. The special hypothesis that I can see in retrospect is, like, people are interesting regardless of if they’re popular, if the platform is well-curated. I think that that’s something that the internet overall has kind of failed on. At some point, with the whole blogging thing, [it] lost its momentum because of the fact that there was no curation and it was just too much stuff. I feel like that’s the thing that I could pull off with No Jumper.
So, you put this vlog up that shows you visiting back home. Is that another new direction?
I have my own separate vlogging channel because I really want that stuff to seem like a separate thing from No Jumper as a media company. When I started doing the podcast I was enjoying it so much and just enjoying that feeling of being able to put out a new piece of content and get that reaction from people as much as possible. But then I was traveling for stuff I have to do and I was like, “If I just do vlogs, then that will help keep up this dopamine rush that I’m building up here.” For me, a lot of times my day is just interesting enough and I really want to document it more to an extent than just being on Snapchat. It took me too long, but I just started a second channel so it could be separate from the No Jumper thing. Once I start to have more of a plurality of voices on the No Jumper channel then, in particular, I don’t want to have iPhone vlogs about myself. But people love it, and I do like it, so I’m glad I have a personal channel now.
What do they think of you back home?
I mean, Nashua, New Hampshire? I’ve never heard of any one doing anything from New Hampshire to be totally honest. In a way it’s kind of baffling to people because obviously a lot of the people back home don’t know anything about the internet or what the kind of music I’m listening to is, but I get a lot of love out there. It’s weird because I’ve been living hard for 15 to 16 years out of high school, so when I go back home, I’ll be hanging with my nephews. That’s really all I do when I go home, is hang out with my family, trying to get that family time in, but then I’ll go to the mall and I’ll see 10 people who remember me and I don’t remember any of them because I’ve been doing all this crazy shit for all these years.
In that same video you were talking about having humility, which is kind of cool because if you wanted to, you could kind of be a dick. Why are you not?
I come from BMX and I know in rap it’s a very common format to just blow up, get huge and way too cool for everybody, can’t talk to anybody. You’re wearing expensive ass $3,000 jeans, all that shit, and I get that, but that’s not really the kind of person I am. I come from very humble beginnings. I grew up, not poor, but very humble, modest, didn’t have extra money for anything. In BMX in particular, and in skateboarding, it’s the same thing—it’s just not considered cool to have an ego and to be full of yourself, so I’m kind of in a unique position where I’m on both sides of both of those worlds that have very different sets of values. It is hard to manage. Like, how do I not act like an egotistical dickhead when I have like a hundred kids trying to take photos with me and I don’t want to and I can’t because I don’t have enough time. I like taking photos with kids, but sometimes the sheer scale of it is difficult to deal with now. But I want to be the kind of person who blows up and gets rich and doesn’t change, so I try to really stay focused on that. Just keep my head down and keep working regardless of people’s perception of me changing.
There was some blowback with some of the interviews that you’ve done, like Milo Yiannopoulos. Do you ever regret any of the interviews that you’ve done, or has anything ever backfired on you where it seemed like you were cosigning something that you were not?
I’m not sure I would say I would regret that many of the interviews. Like the Milo one in particular was weird because when I did that interview I was really thinking of the podcast as being more of an overall podcast. I’m looking at the people that I’m kind of looking up to, like Joe Rogan and Dave Rubin, they had just had Milo on. So I got offered the Milo interview and I’m hyped. I’m like, “Oh hell yeah.” I was interested in him, even though I consider myself a liberal. I was excited from a challenge perspective, like this is a dude who’s so different from me, this will be a really cool interview. But that’s always the case. When I did the Ian Connor interview, no one had ever said anything about him doing bad stuff. When I did the X interview, nobody had ever said stuff about him. With the Milo thing, I did know that he said problematic things about feminists and Black Lives Matter. I didn’t think that he had said anything that was so over the top [that] I absolutely couldn’t be associated with him even in an interview.
Because that’s what it comes down to with interviews. You are giving somebody a platform, but at the same time it’s that back and forth. Any journalist would have wanted to do a Hitler interview, and that’s weird too because you know 100% that people are going to take it as, “This guy fucks with Hitler!” In retrospect, the Milo one in particular didn’t really age well because obviously he’s had scandals that are way beyond anything that I ever would have expected. I’m not hugely regretful about it because I don’t think it was a really bad thing, but it’s a weird thing that comes up because you’re sort of associating yourself with so many people, and these days associating yourself with somebody is just as bad as being that person. It’s something to think about, but I don’t beat myself up over it.
That’s also an internet specific thing. Like if Barbara Walters interviewed a dictator, no one’s going to think that she’s cosigning.
I was kind of regretfully running a hip hop podcast at that time because I didn’t want to accept that that was clearly the direction where it was going. So when you think about it from that lens, interviewing a really conservative person like Milo, I don’t think that it was necessarily the right move because I hadn’t balanced it out with enough people who were on the left that might have made it more clear what my actual position was. I think about it like that. I would never do a Richard Spencer interview because I don’t know how I could have a respectful conversation with him. As much as people want to call Milo a Nazi, we’re like laughing about the idea that he would be racist during that interview.
You recently had entrepreneur Gary Vee on. Is this a new direction for you or have you always sort of interwoven different subjects?
That’s just another challenge, another person of interest. I get sort of pigeonholed as doing underground rapper interviews and SoundCloud rapper interviews so much. That’s what I’m most beloved for, but I’ve always wanted to do anybody that I find interesting. With the Gary Vee one, Gary Vee has a huge fan base in hip hop that I don’t even know how he necessarily got there. I saw a meet and greet that he did the other day and I was driving by it and it’s like three blocks of people, and it’s way more people of color than white people, and I’m just fascinated by the guy in general. I did a lot of authors and stuff over the years. If anything, I would like to do more stuff like that and balance it out.
Is this ability that you have to grow things on the internet innate or is it something that you learned/taught yourself?
When I think about it, there are very specific thoughts that I had. I remember when I realized that there was a very specific communication style on Twitter for share-ability and retweets, stuff like that. It was like exercising a muscle that allowed me to phrase tweets, as one example. Every different social network has a language, and a lot of times when I look at the young rappers that I’m associated with, it’s amazing to me, because they get that. They don’t have to think about it at all. For me, I get the internet, I think, just because I’ve been online for so many years. But it took me a couple of years to really get what I was doing with Snapchat. The social norms change all the time, but I feel lucky to be able to still speak the language pretty effectively.
I love Joe Rogan. He’s a huge inspiration to me, he’s like 50. And when I hear him talk about the internet, I’m just like, “Oh God.” I’ve got to stay on top of shit because he’s pretty good for a 50-year-old that understands the internet, but at the same time it’s just like hearing somebody from Mexico speak English. No matter how good they are, there’s still that little piece where you can kind of hear them not saying words correctly or whatever. That’s why it’s so important to stay totally immersed in the culture, because I don’t want to lose track of it. If I’m off Twitter for a week, then there’s going to be significant things that take place, and I want to have those things in my vocabulary and not be missing out on that.
People must come to you all the time to have you teach them what you know. Do you ever see yourself transitioning into that sort of a role?
That doesn’t really sound like my idea of a good time. Somebody paying me money to sit there and teach them and tell them what to do because I kind of got enough money that I’m not really worried about money? My attitude is, I’m turning down big ass deals all the time just because I don’t feel like doing it. I’ve had people mention to me, “Oh, I can get you something where it’s $10,000 a month from this company and all you got to do is go to one meeting a month and talk to them.” It doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world, but it’s not something that I would necessarily go out of my way to do.
Yeah, any time you’re doing it just for a check, it feels bad.
Yeah, there’s like a certain dirtiness to it. Like if I don’t have to, I don’t necessarily want to.
You’ve said early on you were influenced by Nah Right. How so?
Oh man, so like back in the day I was just sitting there playing online poker. That’s the way I was first able to make a living legally. I had a lot of down time to be able to look at websites and things like that. I was interested in rap. I was always buying issues of The Source and XXL from day one, from like 4th grade. At a certain point I just found out about Nah Right. I might have found out about it from AllHipHop.com and all the sudden I just noticed that I wasn’t buying hip hop magazines anymore. All of a sudden I was just looking at that shit every day and it stood out to me a lot, like, “Wow, that’s a profound change in my behavior and I hadn’t even noticed that it happened.” It’s not like I made a decision to stop buying magazines, after 10-plus years of buying magazines. It just seemed like a really logical step.
I was already so interested in BMX and had been immersed in it for like 10 years. I was like, “Oh I can do the same format.” Now it seems like an incredibly simple and boring format, just, like, blogging. And I ran that kind of website for BMX. So Nah Right really sort of gave me the plan. And the dude, Eskay, who initially ran it, he’s just a really smart guy who really stood by his principles too and he never sold out. He never did any real crazy bullshit for money, so I was always just kind of inspired by seeing him. That’s one thing about me. I’m inspired by a lot of shit and I’m not really scared to wear my influences on my sleeve. I could sit here all day and tell you YouTubers that basically made me want to do what I did even though my shit ended up being a little different than theirs.
When I first got into the idea of podcasts and blogs, I dated this YouTube makeup vlogger girl for a minute, like two weeks. Seeing her talk about makeup on camera and the fact that she had all these little girls who were fans, that just stood out to me. Like, she just sits there and talks about shit? I could do this and do it about my thing. Then all the original hip hop podcasts like Juan Epstein and Combat Jack. In terms of YouTubers, there are so many because once I found out about Casey Neistat, that opened the floodgates for me. I was already into the idea of podcasting and I had seen what [the vlogger] was doing, but I didn’t really know how to put all the pieces together. And then I saw Casey’s shit and then it all of a sudden made sense to me. Like podcast, blog, it’s all the same, it’s just a conversation, just showing something. For me, a podcast is a podcast because that’s a very narrow format, but I’m very interested in creating content that kind of plays with the format, just entertaining content in general.
Are you committed to Exposed or is that something you’re experimenting with?
No, the Exposed thing is official. I’ve already filmed like 10 of them. I see the feedback in such a visceral way, like I can see through the hate. When I’m getting hate, I can tell how to translate the hate into what they want from me. I think that people wanted me to continue to do content with really underground rappers. I just thought nobody is really dying for an hour-long interview with some of these people and it would be a much better entry point to just do a five or 10 minute piece of content with them and maybe make it a little bit more engaging with cool editing and make it funny. So the Bandmanfari one that we put out, I think we just nailed it with the first one. I’m just really excited about that format. It makes it a little bit easier on me so I don’t have to put out four or five podcasts per week. A lot of times that’s what it turns into. I’ll do like 12 interviews in a week because there are so many people that I’m interested in and a lot of people will be in town and I don’t feel like turning people down. So the Exposed thing, I think it’s just a cool way to mix it up a little bit.
What’s been your favorite interview that you’ve done?
Right now I’m buzzing because I did a Lil Yachty interview that was a follow-up on the first one. It’s been almost two years and me and him both, he was an absolute nobody when we did that first interview. It was the very beginning of his career and the very beginning of me doing the podcast and we just both blew up. And then he went on to start doing media with like Hot 97 and stuff. I saw him in the studio with Lil Pump and he was like, “Yeah I’m going to come back and do another one.” It was such a good feeling to have him come back to where he did his first interview. It was an awesome experience. There are so many that I had incredible experiences with.
Who’s someone that you’ve been wanting to interview that you haven’t gotten yet?
The other day I had an hour-long meeting with Chief Keef’s manager. He assured me that it’s really possible and he could help me with it. That’s just a crazy conversation to have in general because to me he’s one of the most influential people in music, especially in terms of the shit we’re into. And I’ve been loosely promised by Gucci Mane’s label that he will do it at some point in the near future too. Chief Keef and Gucci, to me, are probably the two most influential rappers of the past 10 years, at least in terms of my world. Those are both going to be very, very exciting.
In your Rolling Stone interview, you said that you got all those tattoos so that you could force yourself to never get a regular job. Were you joking?
I really wasn’t joking and I actually consider that statement to be pretty cliché. I feel like I’ve heard a lot of SoundCloud rappers say similar things over the past six months or year. That was part of it though. I remember I had a really bad injury riding BMX. I was in the hospital for a week, like, I split my knee cap open. Basically I had a friend call me and he was like, “I’m going to the tattoo convention,” and I was like, “Alright,” so I just left the hospital without them agreeing that I should leave and I went and got a huge tiger tattooed on my neck after I had just been in the hospital for a week. I remember just sort of going back and forth on it and just being like, “Bro, I know that my life has lexactly two paths. I’m either going to keep doing whatever I want for the rest of my life or I’m going to jail.” So I figured that a neck tattoo was probably a fine bet either way.
You mentioned that when you started ‘No Jumper’ you were sort of emulating Peter Rosenberg on Juan Epstein. Have you surpassed the goal or expectation of what you thought it would be?
I was looking at Rosenberg and Combat Jack and thinking, “Damn, I want to do what they’re doing, but for my scene,” like, the underground scene that I was involved with. I knew a handful of rappers that I could get interviews with. It wasn’t even all about rappers. A few of the early ones, like I did this tech dude name Ryan Denehey, he’s just like a startup-type guy. I did Shop Jeen which was a girl’s clothing store. I did my friends clothing line. There’s a couple of rappers too like Xavier Wulf and Pouya that I knew I could get.
I just wanted to do content about those guys because in my world they seemed gigantic even though now I’m so deep in the rap world that I can see more clearly that they’re underground but that never really mattered to me.
It seems like you’re probably in a position to write your own ticket at this point. What are some of the other things you’re thinking about?
Right now, all I’m concerned about is just growing No Jumper as a media company. That’s priority number one. I have people talk to me about TV all the time, but that’s not really something I’m passionate about, at least not at this time. So it’s kind of like, if somebody wants to give me a check to sit there and do some stuff that’s fine, but when I go to these meetings a lot of times these people are like, “Oh yeah, pitch us show ideas. Help us develop something.” And if I was going to develop something I would be doing it for myself. I just want you to give me, like, $50,000 to talk on camera for half hour. I feel like I’m lucky as shit to be in a position where I can say no to everything because I’m not money-focused and I’m not hurting, so I’ll do stuff if it comes along, but it’s not a huge priority for me.