Harry Fraud Interview Harry Fraud Interview

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.

This year alone, Fraud released his own Adrift mixtape and his High Tide EP to pacify eager ears as he works on a forthcoming debut album. And he isn't done yet.

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.

Be sure to check out the new CONS releases over at Foot Locker.

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25 Hip-Hop Albums By Bomb Womxn Of 2018

The female voice in hip-hop has always been present whether we've noticed it or not. The late Sylvia Robinson birthed the hip-hop music industry with the formation of Sugar Hill Records (and fostering "Rapper's Delight"), Roxanne Shante's 55 lyrical responses to fellow rappers were the first diss tracks and Missy Elliott's bold and striking music and visuals inspired men and women in the game to step outside of their comfort zones.

These pillars and many more have allowed the next generation of emcees to be unapologetically brash, truthful and confident in their music. Cardi B's Invasion of Privacy and Nicki Minaj's Queen might've been the most mainstream albums by womxn in rap this year, but there was a long list of creatives who brought the noise like Rico Nasty, Tierra Whack, Noname and Bbymutha. Blame laziness or the heavy onslaught of music hitting streaming sites this year, but many of the artists on this list have hibernated under the radar for far too long.

VIBE decided to switch things up but also highlighting rap albums by womxn who came strong in their respectively debut albums, mixtapes, EPs. We also had to give props to those who dropped standout singles, leaving us wanting more.

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10 Most Important Hip-Hop Artists Of 2018

We’ve reached another end to an eventful year in hip-hop. From rap beefs to new music releases and milestones, 2018 has been forged in the history books as a year to remember. But more important than the events that happened over the span of 12 months are the people who made them happen.

While fans received a large dose of music from our favorite artists and celebrated some of the most iconic album anniversaries, there are a few names that stood out as the culture pushers, sh*t starters, and all-around most significant artists of the year.

For your enjoyment, VIBE compiled a list of the top 10 most important hip-hop artists of 2018 based on a series of qualifications: 1) public actions - good, bad, and ugly; 2) music releases; 3) philanthropic/humanitarian work; and 4) trending moments.

Be clear: This list isn’t about the most influential, the most talented, who had the best music or tours. While we are commemorating artists for the work they’ve contributed to this year’s music cycle, we’re looking beyond that and evaluating how these particular artists have shaped conversations and pushed hip-hop culture forward.

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NEXT: Intent On Impact, Kiana Lede Is Ready To Leave Her Mark

After learning The Alphabet Song as a little girl, Kiana Lede would always “get in trouble” for singing during class. “My mom was like, ‘why can't you focus?’” she laughs while reminiscing on her career’s formative years. “I was like, ‘I don’t know! Songs are just playing in my head all the time!’”

Whilst sitting in a shoebox-sized room at Midtown Manhattan’s Moxy Hotel on a humid September day, the now- 21-year-old Arizona-bred R&B songbird, actress and pianist speculates that she “may have had ADD.” However, she settles down after taking off her white cowboy boots and flops down on the ivory-clothed bed, demonstrating that her fiery Aries energy can be contained. Cool as a cucumber, Lede shuffles between chewing on banana candies and blowing smoke rings after taking drags from a pen, all while musing about her journey to becoming a Republic Records signee.

“I just grew up singing and doing musical theater, and reading a lot of books, and playing piano way too much in my room by myself,” she says, pushing her big, curly brown hair out of her face. Her expressive green eyes widen as she grins. “It was my thing. Nobody in my family does music, just me.”

After winning Kidz Bop’s 2011 KIDZ Star USA talent contest at 14 (which her mother secretly entered her into), Lede was signed to RCA Records. She was released from her contract and dropped from the label three years later. However, thanks to guidance and friendship from the Grammy-winning production duo Rice N’ Peas, (who’ve worked with G-Eazy, Trevor Jackson, and Bazzi), she released covers of songs such as Drake’s “Hotline Bling” while working to get her groove back. The latter rendition resulted in Republic Record’s Chairman and CEO Monte Lipman flying her out and signing her to his label.

“I got a second chance, which a lot of people don't get,” she reveals. “So I'm really happy that that all happened. I wouldn't be here right now in this room if that didn't happen.”

Thanks to the new opportunity she was given, Lede’s sound has evolved into something she’s proud of—equal parts soul, R&B and bohemian. As evidenced by the aforementioned ensemble, glimmers of each aesthetic can be found when observing her personal style as well. She released her seven-song EP Selfless in July, which features the bedroom-ready “Show Love” and “Fairplay,” which manages to fit in the mainstream R&B vein while also showcasing her goosebump-inducing vocals. The remix of the latter features MC A$AP Ferg. What pleases her most is that it not only garnered a favorable response from fans, but that those listeners found it so relatable.

“As an artist, it's really nerve-wracking for someone who writes about such personal things all the time,” she says. “Just the fact that it is my story… It's good to know that other people know that there's somebody on their side, and they're not the only ones going through it. A lot of people obviously feel this way, and have been through this same thing that I've been through. So I think that's cool.”

Although she moved to various places as a Navy serviceman’s daughter, Lede claims Phoenix as home. This means she hails from the same stomping grounds as rockers Alice Cooper, Stevie Nicks and the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. However, growing up in a mixed race household gave way to tons of sonic exploration outside of the rock-heavy scene.

“My dad's black, and both of my parents are from the East Coast,” she says of her musical and ethnic upbringing (she’s black, Latina and Native American). “[My parents] listened to a lot of R&B. My mom listened to a lot of SWV, TLC, Boyz II Men. I didn't realize I knew the songs until I got older. I played a charity show with T-Boz, and I was like 'why do I know these songs?'” Lede also says her father was a fan of neo-soul and gangsta rap, but she personally believes the early-2000s was the best time for music.

“[That era] influences a lot of my music subconsciously, and also, singer-songwriter stuff,” she continues. “I listen to a lot of early-2000s music because I played piano most of my life. I listened to Sara Bareilles, John Mayer.”

An open book, Lede details some of her struggles with anxiety and depression with the utmost candor. After being dropped from RCA, her trust in people diminished, and she experienced long bouts of depression after being sexually assaulted by someone in the industry. The track that she feels most deeply about is “One Of Them Days,” which tackles these issues head-on.

“When I'm anxious and depressed, it's really hard to be happy,” Lede says. “Most of the time, I can do it, but there are just some days where I literally can't separate the anxiety, and I can't tell anybody why, because I don't really know why myself… I was feeling very odd that day, didn't even know if I could write a song. Hue [Strother], the guy who I wrote the song with, he was like 'I totally get you. Lots of people go through this.’’’

As we’ve observed in headlines recently, mental health and being honest about life’s trickier situations can help someone going through the same thing, and Lede hopes her music provides encouragement to those who are struggling. As for how she’s learning to push through her mental health roadblocks, she meditates, runs, and is an advocate for therapy, especially in Trump’s America, where harrowing news reports dominate the cycle.

Another hallmark of Kiana Lede’s personality is her bleeding heart for others. She cites women of color, sexual assault victims and the homeless youth specifically as individuals she feels most responsible to help, since she is personally connected to all three. While she’s aiming to create a project that helps homeless youth specifically, she’s working hard this holiday season to ensure that they have a place to stay “at least for the night” after horrific wildfires displaced many individuals in California.

“My passion is really people. Music is just a way that I can get to helping people,” she says with a grin. “Helping people emotionally and physically are both very important. I never want to stop helping people. I feel if other people can respect me, and I can respect myself, then I'll be happy. Happiness is all that we strive for.”

Recently, Lede played her first headlining solo show, a one-night event at The Mint in Los Angeles. While she was thrilled to see that the show sold-out, she was even happier to see the faces of her audience members, who she said ‘looked like [her].’ “Mixed girls, brown girls, black girls, gay boys,” she explains over-the-phone. Even though she wasn’t in person to discuss her latest huge accomplishment, you could hear the pride and joy through her voice.

As for the future of her career, she’s looking forward to more acting roles. You may recognize her from the first season of MTV’s Scream, and after her recent Netflix series All About The Washingtons with legendary MC Rev Run was cancelled, she has been “reading for auditions” and is “negotiating” for a role in a film set to shoot in NYC. While her time with the Run-DMC frontman was brief, she says he taught her about the importance of “not compromising your art for money.”

What Kiana Lede is most excited about, of course, is making music. She hopes to work on a new EP and then release an album after that. The ultimate goal is to fully realize the dreams in her personal and professional life, and she assures she’s just getting started.

“I want to be able to look back on my career and think 'man, I really poured my heart into this music, and made music that mattered, and made music that made people feel a certain way, whether it's bad, good, sad, anxious, whatever it may be.’”

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