Like many fans, I had already heard pieces of the story behind 18-year-old artist 6 Dogs' upbringing before we met—he was homeschooled and raised in a religious household in Georgia, and his mom grounded him when she discovered his music. He persisted, and his unique blend of minimal hip-hop elements, hypnotic deliveries, and dream-like melodies earned him a dedicated and enormous following. Many of his songs have millions of plays, and "Faygo Dreams" has over six million on SoundCloud alone. But throughout his rise over the last year, he's remained an enigma, maintaining distance from the spotlight and holding onto his private lifestyle.

In late July, 6 Dogs came to New York City for the "Faygo Dreams" video shoot, and we planned to link up in Washington Square Park. Going into our meeting during a sunny day in New York City, I knew I wasn't hanging out with the average teenager. I expected someone shocked and possibly overwhelmed by the chaos of New York City, but I couldn't have been more wrong.

If I were to take a guess, I would say 6 Dogs was unimpressed by NYC. After speaking with him, I would even go so far as to say 6 Dogs is pretty unimpressed with the entire world that he was somewhat sheltered from his entire life. 

There couldn't be a crazier time for 6 Dogs to experience the world, but he's taking full advantage of the outsider perspective he has on life, and he's wrapping his head around a plan. Check out the video for "Faygo Dreams" above and keep scrolling for our full conversation with 6 Dogs.

6 Dogs
Photo by Jonathan Astacio

How did “Faygo Dreams” come together?

When I was making the song I just had the hook and my friend had this amazing beat. We made it in the library during lunch. We went in the library for a week, just tweaking and stuff. I was writing some stuff down and it all was corny. I decided to scrap the entire song and rewrite it about five minutes before I left to record it. Then I thought, “What’s something really cool? Faygo.” Then I thought, “What’s something else really cool? Dreams.” Then I put it together.

What about the video?

The video was a dream that I had. It was one of the craziest dreams I’ve had in my life, and I’m very into my dreams and trying to decipher them. You ever have dreams where you just know things without them being explained, even if it doesn’t match up in real life?

Yeah, like the dreams are an alternate reality.

The thing with the video is, there’s a lot going on. You know there’s something there, and it’s something profound and incredibly deep, but you don’t know exactly what it is. By the end of the video you’re probably going to have more questions than answers.

For me as an artist, it’s not really my job to give you everything in a nice box with a bow on it. I’m not just going to give it to you, I kind of want to just give you this big mess and let you take a whack at it. That’s what this video is going to feel like.

The thing is, this dream could mean very much more but I haven’t explored that. With some things, you just don’t know and that’s kind of where I’m at with life. I have a few things that are solid in my life and aren’t moving, but there are other things where I have more questions than answers.

It’s interesting to think about. I have so many questions. The other day I was walking around I was like, “Yo, this is crazy. We’re on this ball that is just floating in space and we call it Earth. That is insane.” Things like that just make me wonder what is actually going on—this all is so weird. I’m enjoying it and I love it, I just don’t understand it.

That’s just kind of the thing with a lot of my stuff, some things contradict each other, some things don’t make sense, it’s really up to the listener.

Talking down about other people and talking yourself up and disrespecting women is crazy. It’s sickening how bad it is. The fact that people are putting that on a pedestal and applauding it is crazy.

Where did your sense of curiosity come from?

I’ve always been like that since I was a kid. Take Legos, for example. I would never use the instructions with the Legos, and I would never build what was on the front of the box. I would always build something random. I’ve always questioned everything because everything is so weird. Why would you not question everything?

I question everything, but at the same time I’m not freaking out. I’m just like, “Yo, that’s crazy, that makes no sense.” It’s in the back of my mind, but I’m always chilling. It’s a weird combination. I have friends who are deep and philosophical and I’m kind of like that too but I just have accepted that there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m just not gonna know, I’m gonna keep trying and sometimes it’ll work, sometimes it won’t. At the end of the day I’m just chilling and creating.

Do you think that your music will inspire the deeper thinkers and help them find some of the answers they’re looking for?

Yeah for sure, I feel like I’m helping them understand themselves. It sounds corny, but everyone doesn’t have to be like me. Everyone doesn’t have to think about the deepest thing ever with a blank look on their face. If I inspire them to understand themselves, that’s cool, because for me, I’ve just been talking about how I feel. With the whole flexing, talking about myself, money, and talking about girls stuff, I’m not really with that. That’s another thing that makes absolutely no sense to me, and that is what rap is currently. I don’t understand it at all. It blows my mind on a regular basis.

Rap as a genre?

Not as a genre, just the content. I love the sound, but the content feels like someone sitting in the booth with headphones on, rapping into the mic while they’re looking in a mirror saying, “Dang, I look good” and then talking about themselves. I just don’t understand it, if someone was just bragging in person in front of me, I’d be like, “Yo, get out of my face, you’re weird.” Then there's the stuff that’s said about women, if you said any of that stuff in a public area you’d get jumped. The stuff they’re saying is wrong.​

Isn’t that trippy how in rap, that kind of talk is normal and it’s the kids that don’t talk about those things that are labeled weird?

Talking down about other people and talking yourself up and disrespecting women is crazy. It’s sickening how bad it is. The fact that people are putting that on a pedestal and applauding it is crazy. That’s one thing about humans that makes me think like, “Yo, you guys are weird.”

So then who or what inspired you to become 6 Dogs and make your music?

I grew up homeschooled in Georgia, kind of in the mountains. My mom’s Christian so I was completely removed from music as a whole. All we really listened to was Christian music. I think that plays to my advantage, because I have an outside perspective and I’m not influenced by certain things that most people would be influenced by. That really attributes to why I’m so different.

The first rap that I ever really listened to was MC Hammer, and then when I started actually getting into the genre it was Lil Wayne, some Drake, Kanye’s hits. “All Of The Lights,” “Power,” stuff like that. Then I started progressively getting more into it, but a few months ago I just stopped listening to rap completely.

I have friends that’ll play stuff and be like, “You know that Pharrell song?” and I’ll be like, “No, I don’t know that Pharrell song.” They’ll show it to me and I’ll take a little inspiration. That’s why I think being so removed is an advantage, because whenever I do hear stuff, it’s later than everyone else and I’m hearing it for the first time.

What made you decide to do music? It seems like you put a lot of thought into it.

I was a lifeguard and I would work six hours a day just thinking about it. I’m not a normal person, I don’t want to be another sheep. Making music is one of the biggest stages in the world, and music is the universal language. I’m good at coming up with ideas, eventually I want to get into movies. I want to make an anime show one day. It’s not just music, it’s creating. I want to create every day.

Also I was going through stuff when I started and needed an outlet, so music helped me a lot. That was the catalyst—me feeling bad and wanting to do something about it.

Are you in a better headspace now?

Totally. I’m just existing. I’m chilling and enjoying what comes my way.

I was just trying to be trendy. I’ll be real with myself. But the stuff that I have been starting to make doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve made. It sounds really good though

Did you already know what to do as 6 Dogs, and what would and wouldn’t work for your music?

Nah, I was just trying to be trendy. I’ll be real with myself. But the stuff that I have been starting to make doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve made. It sounds really good though, and I'm talking about stuff that I find important. That’s it. I’m not trying to do what everybody else is doing. Let’s be honest, it’s about time. I feel like everybody knew that the idea of what everyone considers to be a rapper was going to collapse eventually, because it doesn’t make sense.

How do you think you’re going to adjust to the music industry?

A ton of labels have already hit me up. I have a manager now, I’m getting a lawyer. I know how it works, I know that there are mistakes and you have to watch your back at all times. It’s fine, it’s nothing I can’t handle. I already get the gist and I have my foot in the door.

It’s about to get crazy, I know a bunch of people are going to hit me up. It’s going to be challenging but I have my friends, I have a girl, she’s sitting right across from me. I have everything I need already and I don’t really need anything else.

The only thing that’s going to change is how much money is in my bank account. I’m not clout chasing or anything, that’s so dead. I’m just making solid music. People get too caught up in all this stuff and make it all complicated. There’s a formula, but a lot of people get tripped up and hang out with people that only say yes.

Where do you see 6 Dogs in a few years?

I’m going to be doing the same stuff with the same people. Again, the only thing that’s going to be different is the money in my bank account. I’m not trying to sound cocky, but I’ll be a household name. Sooner than four or five years, probably a year, maybe two. The stuff that I’ve been working on… I think I’m starting to find my groove and starting to get into a rhythm. I see things going really well.

Do you have a name for your project or a timetable for your plan to release?

I don’t have a name, and I don’t want to set a date because I don’t want time to be a factor in the project. I want the project to be perfect. I’m not saying it’s going to take a year, but I don’t want to say two months and then be pressured to make that time. I want to take my time and make every song really good.

6 Dogs GIF
Image via Jonathan Astacio