As I prepared for an interview with rap’s latest golden child, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had seen and heard of FAME, but working in an industry where personal style is traded in for a team of stylists and designer labels, I wasn’t sure if the the image I had been sold was one that was real. Quickly, I learned that the 20-year-old Brooklyn rapper was well matured beyond his years and in control of both his music and his image. Not only did FAME assure me that he was ready to take the rap game by storm, he made it clear that in an industry where it takes more than good music to reach fame and fortune, he was destined to achieve just that.
Born to a single mother in the heart of East Brooklyn, his story is similar to New York rappers before him. But having spent time living in Los Angeles and traveling around the world, his eye for fashion leads many to believe that he is today’s generations’ music and fashion phenom, like Biggie was to the 90s and Kanye was to the millennium. With an ear for music that is on par with his sense of style, it’s no wonder the young artist caught the attention of music execs and signed a deal to MBK Entertainment, quickly launching a career that shows no signs of slowing down. With appearances on 106 & Park, a spot on the BET Music Matters Tour and his latest mixtape Hybrid Season 2 scheduled to drop this year, FAME is not only catching the attention of rap fans, but the eyes of fashion executives, editors and young females.
Once unheard of in the world of rap, FAME (with his unique mix of R&B and rap) wants his turn to prove to the world exactly where his music and style fits in. He sat down with VIBE Vixen to tell us more about the artist, the music and the wardrobe.
VV: Just a few years ago, labels wouldn’t take the singing/rapping artist seriously, but with the success of Drake and now Chris Brown doing it, did that make you more comfortable doing both?
FAME: I wouldn’t say more comfortable, because that’s where my comfortability has been since the beginning of my career, even before it was accepted and before Drake had his success, I was in the studio working. I acknowledge what Drake did because he kind of opened the door for it and made people see that it’s not as dumb and not as ridiculous that many people think. I remember when I first said I was going to do the whole singing and rapping thing, a lot of people looked as me as if I were crazy. I just never stopped because I knew it was going to be a time. Now I’m just happy the world is starting to accept it.
I read that while you draw inspiration from Jay Z, Biggie, Fab– but also Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Sublime and retro-80’s. How did a rapper from East BK get familiar with rock groups?
With me, it was my family who was very musically inclined. Music was something that was very broad in my household. I would travel with my mom and I would hear different types of music. I fell in love with melody and song… I love the whole Rock Star persona and fell in love with it early on. I just want to bring that element to hip hop.”
Your love for the rock style persona is very apparent in your style. Describe your style and fashion? I notice that you rock vests a lot.
I’m definitely a vest dude. I like a lot of things. My style is a little different than the typical NY rapper style. I like the whole rock star look and the leather; I love the whole LA look with the snap backs, too. I love army fatigue, and I’m a big sneaker head. Name a sneaker and I probably have two pairs.
We see a lot of rappers who have no style, but are married to labels? Is that something you’re into as well.
Nah, I’m not a big label whore. I have labels that I love, just because I love the material that they make. I like Dolce and Gabbana; I love their jeans. I love Alexander McQueen and YSL. I shop urban, like RockSmith and Vinnie Styles. I like to keep my ear to the streets and knowing the latest and hottest thing out. When you keep your style relevant, it keeps you relevant and keeps your career going. I like to grow with my culture, but I like to give it my own twist.
Who would you consider the most stylish men of hip hop?
To me, Kanye just constantly pushes the ball. At first glance, it just instantly catches your eye. You may not understand it, but it catches your attention. You may not get it, but you have to respect it. He brought back the 5X tee from 2001 on the Watch the Throne tour, on stage killing it.
Fab is just clean cut with his. I remember back in the day wanting the top throwbacks. To this day, I love the way Fab puts his look together.
I’ve seen Tyga do his thing, and I’ve been seeing the Last Kings line he has coming up.
Could you see yourself in a Drake sweater?
[Laughs] Why you gotta call it the Drake sweater? Nah, no Drake sweaters. I’m a vest guy.
With bouncy, melodic sounds Hybrid Season 2 is an elaboration of its predecessor Hybrid Season. Creating who he is and drawing from his own life to make what he thought would be a great artist, FAME has created a new true collaborative sound.