FONZIE

Speaking with the West-London rapper on his latest single, 'Not Right', his creative process and upcoming Brixton Jamm show.

What was the inspiration for your latest single, ‘Not Right’?


The beat was made by a guy called RNDM and I wanted to try and put my life on a track. When he sent me that beat, it was the best beat for me, to express my life on. So, he sent me the beat and I wrote the song in like twenty minutes - I just put on purple lights in my bedroom. It’s easier when it’s real life, so that’s how that song came about.


You also released the visuals, what was the inspiration and how did it come together?


The video was shot by a guy called Caleb, he calls himself Red and I'm all hands-on when it comes to the visuals, so yeah for that one I just wanted to show a bit of my everyday life - just with a creative twist. So, when you see me sitting on the car driving through the streets and that kind of stuff there, that’s the creative twist to it. There’s one part where I’m sitting on the sofa and the alcohol is pouring out, I just wanted to add some creative twists to my everyday life.


Your first single of the year ‘Pop Up’, can you tell us a little more about the inspiration for the track?


Pop Up, was more of a vibe for me, with my guy RNDM. He played the beat and I was just like, ‘Yes!’. I just wanted to create a vibe to turn up to, so yeah, I didn’t expect it to do what it did. I just made it so I can play it to myself and then I showed some of my friends and my cousin and they loved it man, they loved it - so I just put it out.


You have a very versatile sound, from 'Pop-Up' to 'Still Sippin', the vibe is very different, why is that important to you?


I grew up on loads of different music and even now I listen to loads of different music, so I think that really influences my sound - I wouldn’t really say I have a label, so to speak. I just do whatever I want to do at the time, or whatever I’m feeling at the time. The concept was real life, I was sipping, just reflecting on life and stuff like that. Then Pop-up, I wanted to turn up - I think my sound will never be one thing; it will be a variety of different sounds from me.


Do you work with different producers to achieve this?


Back then I was working with like two different producers, but now I’ve kind of expanded, even more, I’m working with The Heavytrackerz and ADot Skitz, a couple of people - so I’m just expanding to see if I can make continuously different sounds. With music, I just really want to push how creative I can be and just continuously like what I’m doing.


What do you want your listeners to take away from your music?


I want people who listen to the music to know that I’m real - no matter what it is. I'm giving you the uncensored truth of what’s going on, in my life. I feel like then more people can relate to it, I feel like there’s a lot of stuff that people go through that they don’t really want to voice or are scared to voice so I just want to voice whatever I’m going through - or whatever people are going through. I want my music to be an escape from reality, like a drug, you can forget about whatever you’re going through - you just play it and you’re high.


Is there a Fonzie project in the works?


I was working on an EP but I don’t want to rush anything, so I feel like I’m in a space now, where it’s ok for me to just drop singles. Especially, in the music world right now, that’s what people are doing. I’m going to keep continuously dropping singles and grow the fanbase a bit more and then I can see what they want.


How was it to be selected for MOBO’s UnSung award last year?

 

So, my cousin Marley reached out to them but they shouted me before, so when they saw my name they were like ‘yeah, we want Fonzie’. So, I went down to the audition thing and I got straight through. 

 

The thing is with that as well is that you’re not supposed to know anyone on the panel and I didn’t know who was on the panel and I went in there and it was Novelist, and I know Novelist and he just came out and instead of pretending he didn’t know me, he was just like ‘FONZIE!’ - but yeah it was a great experience. 

 

I did like a piece where we were in a studio and I had a personal assistant and there were loads of people on set, it was a wild experience.

 

You also have ‘NOIR’, a label imprint for Absolute Label Services, how did that come about?

 

So, growing up I didn’t really rap too much, Football was my thing. Whatever you’re doing you come into snakes and they say they’ve got you and they don’t and stuff like that. So, ‘NOIR’, it stands for No Outside Invited Round, I’m big on energy and stuff so it’s about keeping the energy positive and keeping it close and tight so, yeah I’ve got my cousin he’s a manager, my other cousin he’s a DJ, so yeah I’m just building the brand. 


What’s the plan for the future of NOIR?


I would love to get an artist on there and producers and stuff but right now it’s like me building me and it’s more like the brand is me. When it gets to a certain point, then I would love to have other artists and creatives. Like, when I say artists I don’t even mean rappers or singers, it could be people who do web design or something.


How did you get into music and when did you begin taking it seriously? 


So, I used to have a friend and he used to rap and knew I could freestyle, so he was saying to me that my flow is crazy. Then one time I came back from Turkey and I came back and quit Football and he was like I beg you, can you please rap. So, I was like all right, I’ll try and yeah I think it was a freestyle and it got like 35,000 views, so I was like - I love this. I just continued and yeah, even now I don’t write anything down, I just keep it in my mind.


Who are your biggest musical influences?


I like Jay-Z , Pharell is big, Kanye West , old Kanye, old Lil Wayne , Dipset , it’s loads - Biggie Smalls , Tupac , Erykah Badu , Lil Kim - it’s mad. I love the classics, man.

 

Any upcoming artists?

 

Kendrick Lamar , J. Cole - 100%, J.I.D - sick. Smino , who else, Tyler, the Creator, I love him.


How was your O2 headline show and what can we expect from your upcoming Brixton Jamm show?

 

That was sick, man, that was the first time that I headlined a show. When I came out and saw that everyone was there for me, I was shocked. People were singing back my songs to me, my bars - I was like, wow. That was a mad experience, I can’t wait to do another show. 

 

I’m looking forward to that [Brixton Jamm], I got like two unreleased songs, so I’m looking forward to that - it’s gonna go off. I think I’ll have maybe one or two more songs coming out but I’m really concentrating on 2020. I’ve got five songs ready for 2020 that I’m going to drop and I’m shooting a video next month, so … the work rate is going to triple.


Recommend 5 artists?


Right now, I would say J.I.D , Brent Faiyaz , Smino , Kojey Radical and Collard


Collard is sick ...

 

Even with Collard, he used to rap and I’d say to him, bro your singing is better than your rapping - he never used to sing that much. It’s crazy. Elton John said he was sick too, he was on some radio thing and he called him up.

 

What’s coming up for the rest of the year?


I’ve got a video coming out for  'Colours', that’s coming out this year and I have one more new song coming out. But yeah just follow me on IG, you can stay updated.

 

 

 

 

 

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Art by Ozgen Osman

Interview by Emily Fortune