Los Angeles-based emcee FYI Sits Down with
Hip Hop Headquarters
What’s the meaning behind your new album title, especially as it pertains to the cover image?
It’s my new word to describe myself and people from my community. It’s the evolution of black folk in this current society. Previous titles for black people were nigger, negro, colored, black, Afro-American, African-American, now it’s ameriBLACKKK. The KKK represents the oppression and struggle for true liberation and how that element is intertwined into the bigger narrative of the culture since America‘s inception. The album cover is open to everyone’s own personal interpretation. It was created to start dialogue and after listening to the music inspire change within the person and from without in the community. From my standpoint, when I see the cover; I see the concept of race being flipped upside down and the honor that is usually placed on the founding fathers being challenged. The cover also shows a legacy of oppression and a system of brutality against people of color that’s been in place since the birth of this nation.
What do you feel is the strongest line you’ve ever written and why?
When I create, I’m always trying to write my best lines so I can’t pick just one. On the new record, there’s some lines that should raise some eyebrows. But overall that’s up to the listener to decide what resonates with them, but I approach the lyrics as giving something to someone every time so they can be inspired by, entertained, or can learn from. I take the music seriously and when it comes to the bars, I’m not here to play with it. Trust.
“These The Times” features a singer and a horn player. How did the song come together? As a result of a jam session? Or did you envision it then bring the moving parts together?
The track is soulful. So from the top, I had a melody in my head and the horn was something I thought would bring out another element to it. Live instrumentation makes songs richer and I knew with that melody and a horn arrangement; it would be a dope combination. I wrote the hook and reached out to Kaye Fox (singer) and she blessed it. Then I reached out to Ryck Jane (horn player) and she blessed it. I never heard of a female horn player on a rap record in my life so that alone makes the song stand out to me. I was definitely pleased with how the record came out and I’m getting good feedback about it so that’s confirmation to me about the creative process I went through.
What’s a life motto you try to live by?
Do you freestyle and battle rap? What’s your opinion on them?
I came up battling against different local crews when I was in high school and battled at open mics, etc. It helped me to learn the type of artist and emcee I was. I think as an emcee it’s part of the process, some signed rap artists have never been apart of that process and as an emcee I think that’s critical to development especially in the beginning stages in order to really know how to perform and make records. Freestyling and battling are always part of the culture and rap music specifically so I don’t see that ever changing. But like everything in rap music, to an extent it’s become commercialized and corny depending on the arena that someone sees it in. But the battle leagues and the cypher sites are dope. Still haven’t heard of any those rappers transitioning into making records so it’s definitely something that you have to transition out of eventually if you’re really trying to make music.