Peewee Longway has become a lynchpin of Atlanta rap just as much as he’s an arbiter of taste for the city’s ever-expanding trap scene. Where many of his peers boisterously claim to hold sway over the ATL, Longway has been the silent partner, unassumingly building his own catalogue and becoming one of the city’s most reliable rappers.
He’s the owner of a chameleonic approach to rhyming that neatly fits into the pocket of basically any ATL hitmaker’s production, and the fact that he’s never truly received the profitable embrace of the mainstream can be a source of both frustration and bewilderment for those who’ve followed his career.
Peewee Longway at the HNHH office in NYC, 2018
Nonetheless, if you dig deeper, you’ll see that Peewee’s ubiquity within the city has ensured his professional life is booming, regardless. “It played a lot in my career by having a lot of swag and culture in Atlanta,” he informed AllHipHop in 2019. “It helped me to see what’s going on in the streets…. By staying in Atlanta, it made me different than everybody else.”
Although he and fellow Atlanta stalwart Gucci Mane are often seen as indivisible, it’s important to point out that they weren’t childhood friends or anything of that ilk. In fact, they were placed in each others’ orbit by Peewee’s uncle and Brick Squad alumni Coldblooded Da Don at a time when Peewee was yet to consider a career in the rap game. After the two got acquainted, Peewee became the last signee of 1017 Records’ original incarnation.
LISTEN: Gucci Mane & Peeewee Longway “M&M’s”
“We brothers man. We came from the streets together. When somebody lends you a helping hand — how you fuck with your folks, that’s why you do for your folks,” Peewee reflected. “To help somebody, I would do that.”
Soon after, Peewee was introduced to the world on 2013’s Gucci-assisted Money, Pounds & Ammunition. Although labeled as a collab tape, Guwop’s top billing was simply a means of summoning an audience and allowing Peewee to map out his unique characteristics as an MC over 19 hard-hitting tracks.
Just as it had begun in earnest, Peewee’s career was disrupted when Gucci headed to jail. Despite setting him on a course of independence after he and 1017 severed ties, Longway’s departure did little to derail his relationship with Guwop. Soon after, Peewee and Gucci formed Felix Brothers alongside Memphis’ Young Dolph, dropping a much loved, Tijuana cartel-inspired tape in 2014.
Peewee Longway and Young Dolph pose together at Pierre “Pee” Thomas of Quality Control’s birthday party, 2017 – Prince Williams/WireImage/Getty Images
Operating in hip-hop’s uniquely common middle-ground between friends and colleagues, the pronounced trust that Guwop and Peewee established would enable the Zone 3 resident to introduce Gucci to a soon-to-be bonafide superstar. Thus, setting the tone for Longway to become one of the most attuned talent scouts that his city has ever seen.
“When Peewee got to the studio, Peewee brought Thug and two other guys,” Guwop informed XXL during a 2016 cover story. “I had a bag with some money and got $25,000 out and I signed Thug right there. Never even heard a song from him… I value Peewee’s opinion so much.”
Intent on paying it forward after Gucci had initially gambled on him, it’s no exaggeration to say that the dominant trap landscape may look unrecognizably different without the unifying force of Peewee. Just as he’d played the middle man between Thugger and Gucci, turning his MPA studio into a social hub for Atlanta’s burgeoning stars would place three Lawrenceville MCs on the path to greatness, as well.
“Everyone would hang out [at Peewee’s studio.] Even Lil Baby would hang there before he became a rapper,” Offset reflected to I.D when asked about Migos’ career origins. “PeeWee has done a lot for Atlanta rap, he’s also the one who introduced us to [Quality Control’s] P and it’s with them that we signed a deal which allowed our career to take off.”
Young Thug, Peewee Longway, QC’s Pee & Marlo attend Lil Baby’s “Harder Than Ever” listening event, 2018 – Prince Williams/Wireimage/Getty Images
In addition to his architectural work that’s built Atlanta’s rap scene into the thriving metropolis that it is, Peewee’s has put together a prolific discography.
Released in 2014,his enigmatic Running Around The Lobby project had all the hallmarks of a breakout moment, as did tracks such as the Metro Boomin-helmed “Sneakin’ and Geekin” and 2018’s inner-city anthem “I Can’t Get Enough.”
As far as collaborators go, his list of rhyming partners sounds like a guided tour of southern hip-hop institutions. Aside from his evergreen partnership with Gucci, Offset, 2 Chainz, Richie Homie Quan and Rae Sremmurd have all traded bars with Peewee. Then, in 2019, he would find another thrilling marriage of styles when he teamed up with neighbouring Decatur’s Money Man for their acclaimed joint tape Long Money.
Alongside working with the A’s leading artists, Longway’s has also loaned his trademark wit to outsiders such as NBA Youngboy to Goldlink and Lil Baby protege 42 Dugg over the years. And, in what felt like a landmark moment at the time, appearing with the Migos on “Sloppy Toppy” from Travis Scott’s Days After Rodeo introduced the Peewee to an entirely different section of the hip-hop audience and seemed capable of furthering his profile.
LISTEN: Travis Scott’s “Sloppy Toppy” feat. Migos & Peewee Longway
However, a few years later, in 2017, Peewee admitted that his mainstream reach was capped because “it takes a bigger machine.” He went on to reveal that, while he had fielded some offers from major labels– aka the big machine– they weren’t cutting it. “We got opportunities. But it’s a perfect time for everything. It wasn’t right. I wanna learn first. It wasn’t really a money thing but it’s just like, ‘What you gon’ do with me? What you gon’ do right with this work? Cause I’ma give it my all.’ I’m gonna be a whole other person when I sign.”
Among the interest in Longway’s career, however, there was someone who Peewee clearly trusted to steer him right. ASAP Yams, spiritual leader of the infamous East Coast crew with a prominent Southern influence, actively tried to bring Longway into the fold.
“He flew us out to New York for an ASAP party. Those folks believed in Longway before Longway believed in himself,” PeeWee told Vlad TV. “Yam was talking about taking us straight to the label…to go overseas with the ASAP Mob… He was just connecting all the pieces to the puzzle.”
Yams tragically died before these plans could ever materialize and in Peewee’s own words, the loss “fucked him up.” With that door of opportunity now seemingly wedged shut, Peewee returned to the distribution channels that he knew best.
A veteran of the mixtape hustle, Peewee has pinpointed Blue M&M’s 2: King Sizeas his magnum opus and claimed that each track on the project is as “meaningful” as anything he’s ever done. In terms of other essentials, his Longway Sinatra tapes with Cassius Jay— which saw its second instalment arrive in January of this year— brim with an originality and conviction that proved he can still hang in today’s trap realm.
WATCH: Peewee Longway’s “Wet Wet” music video
As Atlanta’s rap evolves and new stars jostle for position, Peewee has come to form part of its backbone as both a respected elder statesman and high-calibre rhymer. And even if his mentor, Gucci Mane, has gone on record to declare that Peewee is the better MC, Longway is not one to hang his hat on such an endorsement or stake a claim to superiority.
“He believes in me more than I do, so I respect that,” he told SayCheeseTV. “My partners and shit [respect me]. I don’t compare, I just do me. [When Gucci said that], I took it and smiled. He’s felt like that from the jump.”
From appearances on Young Thugga Mane La Flarethrough to Gucci’s latest tape, Peewee has been rightfully enshrined as part of Atlanta hip-hop’s royal family, without the platinum plaques or status as a household name. And even if he goes his whole career with just a singular Billboard 200 appearance, this is bound to remain the case.