Everything is coming naturally for Foggieraw right now.
He spent his early days trying to fit in with his friends by making backpack rap music, but Foggieraw finally came into his own when he transferred and allowed himself to start making a colorful style of rap that better reflected his charismatic personality. "I was able to become my own artist," he says. "I don't take things too seriously. I'm always trying to find the cool thing in a bad situation or the funny thing in a hard situation."
Foggieraw's style isn't easy to pin down. He often delivers his fluid verses with a mumble and focuses on feeling over bars, but his music isn't the usual AutoTune-heavy "mumble rap" we're used to hearing. Foggieraw's naturally deep vocals and wide range of influences from artists like OutKast, Pimp C, and MF DOOM give his music its own flavor. If this is mumble rap, it's a new evolution of the sound.
So far, Foggieraw's best moments have come when he doesn't have to force anything and falls back on being himself. His latest, "Look Like Porzingis," is an addictive song that came to life when he and his producer Erik Kingsley put together something that they "didn't take very seriously" to hold over fans until the next project. When the original concept for the video fell apart, he told his director Tanner Ross, "Okay, put me in funny places where I can just be me. So, if you're gonna put me with a donkey, I'll dance with a donkey." Honestly, it might be his best work yet.
Watch the video for "Look Like Porzingis" below and continue for our interview with Foggieraw (as well as more music from the Maryland artist).
Can you tell me a little bit about where you’re from and how you first got into music?
I was born in Ghana, then I came to America when I was five and lived in Prince George County, Maryland. That's where I started doing music. I played piano and saxophone until I was 18, then I started rapping.
Did your first music sound like the stuff you’re putting out now?
When I first started rapping, it sounded close to what it does now. But my friends at the time were on some backpack ish. So it was like, "No, you can't be doing music like that. We don't know what you're saying when you're mumbling." All that type of stuff. So I started doing a lot of backpack and soulful, R&B-type rap joints. Then, I transferred schools, so I was away from them and I was able to become my own artist. That's when it really changed.
When I think of you, I think bright, colorful, effortless rap music. Do you agree with that? What kind of music are you trying to make?
I think bright and colorful is a good description, because that's how I try to be in life in general. I try to be outgoing and the way I dress is very bright. I feel like music is a way to express yourself, so I'm definitely trying to go for a cool feel. When you think of cool colors, like yellow or pink or red. Not necessarily summertime stuff, but just cool colors. That's what I want people to think of when they listen to my stuff.
Some of your stuff is pretty lighthearted. It doesn’t sound like you’re always taking yourself totally seriously or trying to be a hard rapper or anything. Why do you prefer that approach?
That's just how I am in general. I don't take things too seriously. I'm always trying to find the cool thing in a bad situation or the funny thing in a hard situation.
What do you think of the term “mumble rap” and rap’s new melodic style? How do you think your music fits in with all that?
I like mumble rap. I just like anything. I like backpack rap, I like mumble rap, I like the melodic stuff. I just feel like it's all art. I don't think there's such a thing as high art and low art. It's just all art. My music is just a combination of everything that I grew up listening to. I was listening to all the Texas stuff like Chamillionaire, Pimp C, and Trae The Truth. Then I listened to OutKast and all the ATL stuff. But my older brother was also putting me on to MF DOOM, Black Star, The Pharcyde, and all that stuff. So my music is a culmination of all that stuff together.
Some people are calling your music "mumble rap." But there are differences, like it's not covered in AutoTune. How would you categorize it? Is it mumble rap?
I'm definitely kind of mumbling. So it is mumble rap. I just don't like the negative connotation that it gets. I've written many types of songs, whether it's a hundred bars type song or a mumble rap song. They're equally as hard. And sometimes the mumble rap stuff is even harder, because it's more off of a vibe and not just off words. So they should be equally respected.
Your newest song is “Look Like Porzingis.” Where’d that title come from?
So, [NBA Basketball player Kristaps] Porzingis used to have braids a long time ago. And I used to have braids, too. He cut his and I cut mine, so I was like, "Okay, this works." [Laughs].
Can you tell me about the creation of the rest of the song?
We weren't even taking that track too seriously. We had put out a song previously that was getting a little bit of buzz, so we wanted to put something out to hold everyone over because we're working on this project. Every time I drop something, I don't want it to be regular. I want something to be unique about everything I do. So my producer Erik was like, "What if we did a marimba kind of sound and you just rap in a trap way over it?" I was like, "Yeah, that's cool. I feel like I don't hear that much." But we initially weren't taking it very seriously.
The video for “Look Like Porzingis” is great. It’s so simple, but it feels like a lot of your personality comes through on it. Can you tell me a little bit about how that video came together and what you were going for?
We had a whole bunch of different ideas for the video, but things weren't really working. So I was like, "Okay, put me in funny places where I can just be me. So, if you're gonna put me with a donkey, I'll dance with a donkey." You know, just a whole bunch of weird stuff. We just went with it.
I want something to be unique about everything I do. So my producer Erik was like, "What if we did a marimba kind of sound and you just rap in a trap way over it?"
Based on the comments, it looks like a lot of people have discovered you from Nileseyy Niles YouTube channel. Do you know him? Or do you know how that happened?
Yeah, we're from the same area and we connected a while ago. He was always real supportive and I was always watching his stuff. And he ended up using my stuff in his video.
Scrolling through your SoundCloud, I see all of your artwork for the last couple years are drawings of women’s faces. And each of them have a number included on it. What’s the story behind that?
Yeah, the artist is my boy Andre Leonard. He was doing that before I was using them. I always thought they were cool, but one day I needed artwork for a song, so I asked if I could use it. He said yeah, and that was the most successful song I'd ever had. So I kept using them. As for the numbers, I didn't want to put my name or any titles on it, so I just did it so people would be like, "Why is he putting numbers on these?" I just kept doing it. There's no secret puzzle or anything like that, though.
Do you have any plans for a project or anything coming up?
The only thing I can really say is I think it should come out mid-to-late January. I'm putting everything I've got into it.