Interview: Phora Reveals The Elements Behind His Debut Album, 'Yours Truly Forever'
Marco Archer, known to his fans as Phora, carried an upbeat aura as he walked through VIBE’s offices last month. The California native didn’t hold back his appreciation for the hip-hop space he now occupies.
A member of his crew finds perfect angles to capture Phora’s excitement over our enlarged Outkast VIBE cover from September 2000. With his Polaroid camera, Phora’s pal snaps away, holding a piece of the rapper’s joy in a simple photograph.
Phora may carry a blissful smile during our encounter, but his music holds something much deeper. The artist is one of rap’s latest newcomers that isn’t afraid to break down the levels of male masculinity through adversity and heartache. Combined with the brooding and melodic sounds of longtime collaborator Anthro Beats, he paints emotional and thought-provoking pictures of his personal story and the world around him.
“I talk about being vulnerable and just being a human being instead of glorifying everything,” Phora explains about his major debut album, Yours Truly Forever. “Typically in hip-hop, the idea is to act like you’re better than everyone else, to act like you’re larger than life. I feel like in my music, I try to bring myself down to earth and eye to eye with the listener. In my music like to humble myself and really relate to people, especially people out there that’s really going through things.”
After years of being independent since his 2012 debut Still A Kid, the Anaheim rapper has finally signed a deal with Warner Bros for his 16-track project which includes the heavy hitting “Sinner Pt. 2” and the smooth and beautifully written ode to the love of his life, “Loyalty”.
Over the past five years, the former tattoo artist has developed his own style of emotional lyricism that captures fans by the heartstrings. His biggest influences to this day are J. Cole, 2Pac, and Hopsin as he tells his stories primarily without features or any outside producers. He especially stays true this on his new album.
Many of his songs have garnered a huge cult following like the standout track from his previous album, With Love, “Sinner”. The Anthro Beats-produced song easily earns such a reputation as it's one of his most personal songs he’s ever recorded. It is a full display of cathartic lyrics and a heart wrenching delivery over a dark and somber soundscape.
“I started recording that around five in the morning and I started writing it a few hours earlier. And it was at a time when I was dealing with so much anxiety, depression, [and] anger,” said Phora. “I was going through so many at that time in my life and I was like a bottle that was shaken up for years and years and years and I had so much pent up inside me. And I feel like it was just me letting out all this aggression, anger, and me just expressing myself. Obviously, the production was amazing and that’s what led me to be even to be able to express myself on that.”
The song came a few months after Phora was shot at the 210 freeway in Pasadena where he wrestled with a great deal of paranoia and anger after the incident.
On Aug. 25, 2015, Phora and his girlfriend Destiny were on their way home when a car pulled up beside them and shot three rounds into his back and his neck, barely missing his vertebra. Ironically, he survived to release his new album exactly one week prior to the date where he, as he explains, celebrate the victory of overcoming the near tragedies he’s been through as well as his longevity as an artist thus far.
Thankfully, it isn’t all gunshots and gloom.Another factor in his rabid fanbase is his love towards women. Whether he’s expressing what kind of women he prefers on “Nobody But You” or paying homage to his queen on “Loyalty,” he creates a distinct capability of making sincere songs for the ladies which stems from his single parent household.
“I think a lot of it is driven by being raised by a single mother and just seeing the beauty in everything women got to deal with,” explained Phora. “In this day and age, there’s not enough credit given to women in general and I feel as if there’s no enough respect given to women in general.”
He added, “I’ve been through my share of relationships good and bad ups and downs and I feel like that’s a way of me coping with it. Writing music based on relationships is something that I’m very good at doing and something that just makes me feel a way and I know people can relate to it.”
As the 22-year-old storyteller begins to make his mark on such a grand stage with such a solid album, filled with authentic storytelling from a compassionate perspective, it wouldn’t be surprising to see that his star will continue to shine in the years to come.
Get to know Phora in the a little game of "This of That" above.