Interview: Joey Fatts Discusses A$AP Yams And ‘Ill Street Blues’ EP


A hustler’s ambition should be uncompromising and governed by no one. When one is too trill for corporate America — his die-hard resolve or revolver — enables him to make and abide by his own rules. You don’t have to like it but you’ll definitely respect it. That’s why 22-year-old Joey Fatts, one-third of Cutthroat Boyz comprising of his cousin Vince Staples, who spazzed on Common’s “Kingdom”, and Aston Matthews, is on the receiving end of army-like salutes from the streets and hip-hop legends alike.

“Rapping is all about being in the moment. Like, when Big Sean met Kanye and put him on the spot,” Fatts says from his Long Beach home. “Everybody get their chance to shine. You got to seize that moment when you get the chance. God has blessed me with the chance and opportunity to seize that moment. And hopefully, I keep the ability to keep doing so.”

Fatts’ shine is being unearthed from the mud that smothers the streets of Northside, Long Beach. After seeing Vince Staples perform back in 2013, the Northside LBC kid decided to try his hand at rapping. Since then, he has cranked out joints with A$AP Rocky, Curren$y, 9th Wonder, Evidence and Freddie Gibbs — to name a few.

After dropping his first mixtape, Chipper Jones Vol. 1 in 2013, Fatts’ followed up with Chipper Jones Volume 2 and  3.  He built solid relationships with Waka Flocka, Alchemist and his late friend and mentor, A$AP Yams. Recently, Fatts released, probably his best project to date, Ill Street Blues (which was self produced). Oh, and he did it by sticking those unbending rules that are rooted in the concrete. Staying Indy.

“Man, I’m independent. I ain’t got nothing. I do my own thing, and I’m my own manager. I have a business manager, he just got his business degree. I got an agent, which is another one of my friends. But he’s not on no big agent company or nothing like that. He just got me a tour. That’s it. It just feels that much more better cause I ain’t got no co-signer — no big artist trying to vouch for me right now.”

VIBE recently hit Fatts on the horn and he let us all into his business, including the Ill Street Blues, meeting 9th Wonder and more. He even shared some hilarious stories about his mentor, A$AP Yams.

– Darryl @darry_robertson

On His Ill Street Blues Mixtape:
“It’s seven tracks for every day of the week. It’s basically like a week of my life. It begins on Friday and ends on Thursday. Its basically what I was trying to do on the Chipper Jones joints but I threw an extra on there like Kendrick and YG’s albums and those skits.”

His Favorite Songs On The Project:
“The whole project is fire. But the “Same Shit” record is a stand out. “Sunday” is a dope record. That “Sunday” record is the one. It’s me talking about doing all these bad things on Sunday, doing everything except being in church but I’m thankful that I’m living it.”

“It’s consciousness. It’s a more cohesive project because each song takes off the day before. Each song is touching a different subject of what’s going on in the life of a minority.”

What He’s Learned From Recording:
“I’m still learning how to convey my words, and put my thoughts into these words, and make it sound a certain way — and make sense of the story. I also think that’s what keeps artists like me and Vince inspired because we have a story. We don’t have to come up with clever metaphors and witty rhymes. We have a story that makes people want to tune in and hear the story.”

Who Influenced His Writing Style:
“I’m influenced by Nas. He’s my favorite rapper. I like Nas because of how consistent he is. You hear a Nas verse in 2015 and it still sound like Nas in 1994. He’s not adjusting himself or changing who he is or how he’s conveying his message to people and that’s what makes his stuff timeless. And Rick Ross, he’s one of my favorite artists as well. Rick Ross is getting better with time. You wouldn’t expect him to be getting so much better because he’s not out there in the streets like he was. That just comes with him having a great mind and being able to convey his message how he wants.”

On Getting A Major Deal:
“My family ain’t never had shit. So of course I’m interested in mainstream success. That’s another level of income that I could take care of my family with. But in terms of doing what I need to be happy with where I’m at? No, I don’t. Hearing that you’re a fan of my music, that’s enough to make me feel good. As long as I keep being transparent and showing my struggle and not putting on a façade, then my fanbase will continue to fuck with me. Even if I don’t see mainstream success with every single, I think I’ll still be able to go out and tour once a year and feed my supporters.”

On Meeting 9th Wonder:
“When I first started rapping, I had a close relationship with Evidence. That was basically like my mentor. I met 9th wonder through Evidence. I was at home one day and Evidence hit me up, like, ‘Yo, come by the studio. 9th Wonder about to come lay down some tracks and I want you to meet him and try to prove yourself.’ I came, 9th threw on a record, which is the “All Good” record that I ended up rapping on, on the Jamla, The Squad album. When he threw the record on, it grabbed me. I wrote the verse in like fifteen minutes. Went in there and recorded it and 9th was like, “Wow, that shit is amazing.”

Funny A$AP Yams Stories:
Everyday with Yams was a funny one. He’s a rockstar. I remember one time it was twins, bad white chicks, and Nast had just fucked one of them. We had did back to back shows in London with Rocky, Nast had fucked one the night before, the twin went to get her other twin so Nast had hit both of them. We were leaving London, kicking everyone off the bus and Yams was on the front of bus tongue kissing the girl that Nast just had sex with. He brought her back on the bus and made love to her [Laughs].

Out in L.A., its this strip club called New Fantasy. It’s by Rocky’s crib. This bruh, this club is so trashy, no one goes to this club. It be like two people in there. This nigga went up in there, off the Henny, and ate a stripper ass lost his voice and got pink eye [Laughs].

But I miss my nigga bro.

What’s Next And Cuttthroat:
I got a tour dropping in March, April and May all across the U.S. called the Ill Street tour. I’m also dropping my LP in the summer. Honestly, this Cutthroat shit gon’ be here for a while. Vince gon’ be here for a while. Ashton is nice. He gon’ be here a while. I’m just want to create, man. I just want to get my message out and not have to be in the streets and do all this other shit.”