Interview: Harry Fraud Talks 2013's Great State Of Music And Cementing His Legacy
Chances are by now, you're pretty familiar with La Musica de Harry Fraud. Aside from being French Montana's right-hand man, the Brooklyn-bred producer has collaborated with Action Bronson for his Saaab Stories, worked with Eddie B on Paper, Piff & Polo, linked with Smoke DZA and Curren$y for The Stage EP, as well as conjured up material for the likes of Joey Bada$$, Earl Sweatshirt, RiFF RAFF, Ab-Soul, Pusha T, WIz Khalifa, Casey Veggies and more.
VIBE chatted with the buzzing producer about why music is his art of choice and exactly how he intends to leave his mark on a rapidly evolving music culture. --Stacy-Ann Ellis
VIBE: When it comes to today's street culture, what about it inspires and influences what you do?
Harry Fraud: The music that I listen to is all kind of dictated by street culture. I don't really pay attention to internet as much or stuff like that. I came up in that era of making music for mixtapes that were predominately sold hand to hand. It was a way more grassroots thing. Then as the internet has taken over that aspect of street culture, that's become the new thing. If you're an artist that's not as concerned with traditional records, that's where you take your cues from. If that's what you want to call it, street culture.
Well how do you think you're contributing to this new evolved culture now?
I came up making music with French. For the first 4-5 years of my career, all we did was make mixtapes and French would just make music straight for that. It wasn't to sell records or anything like that. It was just to give to people. I mean, people would sell it however they would sell it, but we were just giving it to people to do whatever they wanted with it. That's all we've made music for. That's all our influence. Now that's the industry. They take their cues from what's hot around the kids and I think that's how all of us are influencing both kids and the game as well.
You mentioned working with French, but how'd you get started even before that?
Me and French really started from nothing. I just had a studio and I wasn't really working. I was in little rap groups here and there, but it wasn't really clicking off like that. This is so long ago, but I started working when he didn't have a buzz. He was actually blackballed, so they wouldn't play his shit on the radio. He had so much industry beef or politics that was going on. We both started on such a low level together and that was really how I got my foot in the door. With him.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Nature inspires me a lot. The ocean inspires me a lot. The people that are close to me, like my family, inspires me. I also just think wanting to achieve what I want to achieve inspires me and drives me. That's where my head is at. I feel blessed in that respect that I don't really have to look for inspiration. I can draw from whatever I want.
What about musically?
Musically, I think I'm probably inspired by older stuff. I don't listen to much new music. I'm more drawn to classic rock, classic reggae music and dancehall music. A lot of oldies, like a lot of old soul and 50s music. I like stuff that's pleasant on the ears.
Give us a sample. What are 3 random favorites that you can think of?
So today we drove around and I listened to Barrington Levy first for a while. Then I listened to MF Doom, and now I'll probably listen to a Frank Sinatra CD for a while, or a Weeknd CD.
Who else endorsed or co-signed you during your come-up?
It was really me and French for a while. Everybody I came in contact with always showed me love, so anyone I was working with at that time was definitely showing me love. For instance, whenever me and French would do records with people whether it was Jadakiss, Rick Ross, this guy or that guy, they'd always show me a lot of love. Like, you're on to something here. Keep working. Anyone I bumped into would show me that respect. And then as I came up, I built strong relationships with people like Smoke DZA, Curren$y and Action Bronson where it extends that making [of] art together. It's also building rapport and friendships to where the art gets better. That's kinda what I'm on now. I don't want to run around and work with everybody. I just want to build those strong relationships with people.
Now that you're getting up there, is there someone that we should be checking for who might be the next big thing?
Oh man, the thing about music is there's so much quality stuff out there and there's so much music to check for. Obviously I've been working with an artist Adrian Lau real closely; he's a rapper that I've been fuckin' with. I've been listening to Banks. She's got a bunch of dope shit. I just did some work with The Internet, I love them. It's like whatever you want is at your fingertips. Music you want to listen to, you can go find so much good stuff. That's why I hate when people say music is all fucked up and this or that. Music's not fucked up. Music's great right now. There's so much shit. People are so creative. Kids have no rules. They don't give a fuck about old purist bullshit that people tried to put on me and my group of kids that when we were coming up making rap music or making rock music or whatever type of music we were making at the time. There were always people who said, "Man, you can't do that." I feel like now, kids don't give a fuck about that. They're like, "Don't tell me how to do it. I do it how I want to do it." They start getting programs and Fruity Loops when they're mad young, so it's like they already have their own swag and style before anybody can tell them how it's supposed to be.
Yeah, 2013 was a real strong year for music.
You're always gonna have your bullshit. There's always gonna be bullshit, but there's gonna be good shit, too.
How'd you describe your style and your sound to someone that's never heard you before?
I think my sound, especially now, is getting more and more eclectic where I'm trying to move different pieces into it, grow and evolve, so I don't like to put it in a box. But I would say I have an eclectic sound. I'm always trying to get an emotion out of people. I'm always trying to make the music emotional. That doesn't mean down or dark or anything. Just emotional. A happy emotion, a sad emotion, anxious, whatever. I'm just trying to make you feel something.
What impact would you like to have in the long run?
Multiple people have said this but I forgot the first person who put this concept into my head. It was a long time ago when I was young and started making music and started making art. This is something that when you create music, or you paint, or you're a sculptor or whatever you do, you can leave something here that's a piece of you that's forever. Or for as long as this civilization that we have is gonna last. That's all I want to do: leave as much of myself here as I can. I try to put out a lot of shit and I keep the quality high but still I don't hold myself back 'cause I never know if I'm not gonna get to do music anymore. I just want to leave as much as I can here. You never know what's going to influence who and somebody 10 years from now can hear something that makes them the greatest artist ever. You never know. That's what art is all about.
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