Los Angeles-based emcee F.Y.I. presents his new album ameriBLACKKK. F.Y.I. recently released the single “These The Times (Don’t Judge)”, featuring singer Kaye Fox, whose vocals appear on J.Cole’s “For Your Eyez Only”. F.Y.I. retrofits the steady timing and LA drawl of his fellow Mid-City rapper Murs with unpredictable twists of cadence and emotion, almost morphing into a different person a la “Gimmie The Loot”-style Biggie on tracks like “Who Stole The Soul?” and “Blame Me”. The album is produced by Compton beatsmith Sir Jon Lee, long-time collaborator Rich Kidd (Drake, Talib Kweli), and 2One2 from New York. FYI recently released music videos for “Legend of G.O.A.T.” (watch) and “Trust Me” (watch). F.Y.I. first gained notoriety in 2010 as part of trio Those Chosen and their collaborations with Grammy-Award winning producer, IZ Avila. In 2012 F.Y.I. collaborated with Ab-Soul on “Dopamine” (Bandcamp). In 2014 he dropped his first solo mixtape Yo! The Places You’ll Go which hit #1 on CMJ’s Hip Hop Charts (Bandcamp). That year he also dropped an exclusive freestyle for HipHopDX (Youtube), followed by AgeSexLocation in 2015 and last year’s F.Y.I. Invented Green. “I was inspired to create this album with the idea of pushing the reset button,” says F.Y.I. “Basically, starting over and erasing the century-old beliefs and labels about race and class especially as it pertains to black people and America. With change comes a new name and a new identity and new way of letting society know this is how things should be when it pertains to me and this is what I value. I’m woke. I’m present and I will not be deceived.”
What’s the meaning of the title of your new album ameriBLACKKK?
The concept was sparked from a song I did on my album, “Yo! The Places You’ll Go” called “King Technology”. On that song, I said the word, ameriblacks, and it stuck with me. I thought it was dope. A new way of describing myself and the community I come from. Once I started working on the actual album, I knew I wanted to title it – ameriBLACKKK. To really put the theme of the music into context, I changed the spelling of ameriblack and added the “KKK”. Because whether some folk want to acknowledge it or not the KKK symbolizes what American society was really founded on – racism, elitism, oppression of people of color, and so forth. I’m also saying that it’s a new day when it comes to me, I’m not the label that society has placed on me; I’m something new and with that comes a new name that I must be described as.
What do you think surprises listeners the most about you?
That I can literally destroy niggas on record on my 1-2 and be very direct about a subject on a song then turnaround and be insightful and introspective. I can be lion and lamb all in one fell swoop. Some would say that’s the Gemini in me, but I give God the glory because He blessed me with the gift of song and storytelling. My job is to be that vessel He uses to communicate the “hueman” experience in all it’s forms not just the triumphs of life but the tragedy and transitions that happen too.
Who’s your favorite rapper ever and why?
I can’t say I have a favorite. I have some rappers that were influences for me and I definitely vibe with heavy. But I don’t have a favorite. I definitely have a Top 5 and Top 10 list fo’sho. Off top and in no particular order, my Top 5 would be NaS, Ice Cube, Q-Tip, Cee-Lo Green, and Andre 3000. I’d love to work with all five of them.
How did you connect with Kaye Fox? How was the recording experience?
A mutual friend of ours linked us together, shout out to my nigga, Marlon! Her voice is rich with pain, love, and tons of heart. The layers and extra melodies she put into the hooks on the new album was exactly what I envisioned without me giving her tons of direction on it. Pure talent. She took what I wrote and made it her own, that’s the mark of a true professional. That’s what all song writers and producers hope an artist can deliver on and she delivered with a bow on top.
Do you think you gain the majority of your fans from performing or online activity? Why do you think this is?
Good question, I let the team worry about the numbers, but I think I’m gaining fans in a variety of ways. Performances is one way, on-line presence is another, but the main way I gain fans is the music. I see people reacting to the music, being inspired by it, and then wanting to stay connected. It all starts with the music. The goal is to make undeniably great music and everything else falls into place