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Interview: Joey Fatts details independence, loyalty and relationship with A$AP YAMS

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Some artists lack sense of authenticity and seemingly plan to just pass through the industry on the thin string of their egos. However, this Long Beach-native is far beyond that scope. He’s transparent and plans to evolve as a person (and independent artist), while helping others. From being homeless to finding a brother-father figure in Yams (Steven Rodriguez), the legendary Hip-Hop mogul and founder of A$AP MOB, Joey Fatts has built a sturdy foundation to keep him focused. Whether you know it or not, the Curren$y collaborator has received many notable recognitions as a rapper-producer, which authenticates his latest effort, “Ill Street Blues”. Let Joey’s street knowledge, honesty, loyalty, and love for what he does, speak for themselves. In addition, remember not to sleep on what’s next to come.

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Ok, so we all know you as Joey Fatts. Do you ever get the ‘Oh, your name is kind of like Fat Joe’s, just backwards?

Yeah, everybody calls me like Fat Joe and you got some people that will say Joey Badass. It’s like the names go on. It’s ridiculous, fucking ridiculous.

What do you think about Fat Joe? Any relevance to you as a music fan or musician?

I fuck with Fat Joe and that old school Fat Joe. That shit is dope.

One of the first times I’ve ever met or seen you perform in person, was at The Blue Cafe in Long Beach back in 2012. Then, in 2013 at the Roxy with Bodega Bamz and World’s Fair, etc.

The Blue Cafe was my first time ever, ever performing and yeah, I had never performed before. I was only rapping for a couple of weeks then. The Roxy, we turned that motherfucker up. Woo! That shit was too lit.

How do you think or know your music has transitioned throughout the years?

I’m just a little bit more personal and in tune with myself. You know, I used to rap about selling a lot of drugs back then because that was in, and I was doing it in the streets. Also, that’s the type of rap that was “in” back then. People still talk about that. They also talk about moving bricks but I know how to connect with the more personal side of it. I’m more in the personal side, you know what I mean? I talk about where I really come from and talk about storytelling.

One thing I enjoy about you, is your honesty and loyalty, and those traits are rare nowadays, especially in the industry. What is your input on that? Has it changed in the streets or in the industry?

This is just how I am, and I grew up with a bunch of liars. My dad lied to me my whole life and one thing I pride myself on is to be transparent and honest. I tell everybody what is going on and I mean it, even when they ask. When I ain’t got money, people know I ain’t got money, and when I got it, they know I got it. I’m being transparent and honest. I help people out and I help people around me.

Listening to Ill Street Blues feels like watching a movie, a movie about yourself. Was that the way you wanted to go about it or was there a certain concept you had for the album?

Yeah, and I got my mini-series coming out. The audio I did was for a reason because I wanted to show people that I can do shit that YG and Kendrick Lamar does, without a budget. Independently, I put out music and production, just as good. I can do everything that these motherfuckers done made, and it’s in my budget.

Is it harder being independent?

Yeah, it’s harder and putting shit together but once it is rolled out and out there, it is no better feeling. You get paid a lot more money, so independent is a lot harder. Independent is like being a bonafide entrepreneur and there are some ups and downs, with no promise in this game. You just trying to work your way and work your magic doing business.

What made you decide on producing your own album, Ill Street Blues?

I wanted to show people the musical skill, and there are very few people that can do that. Like Kanye, J. Cole, Big KRIT, you know what I mean? There are very few people that you can walk in the room and they can create a whole project themselves, producing and all that. I am able to master that and I wanted to be able to show my expertise. I felt like I needed to bring something different to the table, rather than just rapping all the fucking time. So, I’m like, “Yo, let me sit my ass down, make these beats, and start rapping after that.” It turned out good.

In your album, you emphasis about going out there and getting it. You also speak about loyalty, surviving, and basically staying true. Is that a message you spread on and off the mic, away from social media?

Yeah, it’s the lifestyle that I live, and I’ve been in the streets my whole life. Yet, what kept me out of trouble and out of jail is that I am able to [tap into] reality and face reality. Not a lot of people are able to face reality. I keep it real, keep it one hundred; even when I don’t want to and even when I am wrong. I keep it honest and do not lie to people, you know what I mean? It’s a lot to it man, it’s a lot to it.

Your Twitter be lit.

Yeah, I be having to remove myself.

“Everybody” is one that I truly enjoy listening to.

That’s my favorite.

Nowadays, would you say you see people trying to get it, one way or another?

Yeah, that’s basically what that song is about. Like, people, they’re so anxious to be someone and so anxious to get somewhere, that they end up losing themselves along the way. Due to them losing themselves, they affect everyone.

Yeah, some even get lost in the process.

Yeah man, they do.

Now, the track “Stevie World”, I’m not going to lie but it made me shed a tear. It hits home and you can hear and even feel your pain as you say every word.

Yeah, I cried the whole day listening to that song.

Was it difficult to record that track, since Stevie recently passed away?

When I heard the beat, it had already hit home. When I was recording, you can hear it in my voice, if you can hear my voice. I was crying lowkey. When I was recording at the end, I started crying. It’s a touchy subject to me and still to this day, can’t believe what is going on. We pushing and we keep it moving.

You pay so much homage to Stevie; that’s obviously because of everything he did. I respect you for that.

Yeah, he was like the father I never had, you know what I mean? He was my age and he took care of me, when I didn’t have anyone to take care of me. When my mom or nobody would take me in or give me a place to stay to show me what to do to get money. I can’t do nothing but applaud that and take that to the grave with me. I will never forget my man.

How are you using some of the tools that Stevie passed down to you?

The tools that he gave me? Producing my own shit is one of them. He always told me to produce my own shit and to stop rapping over other people’s beats. Produce your own and do your thing. He always told me that, and I hate that it had to be this way but I did it for him.

It’s funny how you can come across people (or even rapper friends) that will not help you push your music. What’s your input on that?

Yeah, I don’t fuck with rappers and I don’t have any rapper friends. I’m cool, dude.

In life, we go through different stages: What would you say you’ve learned from when you were homeless, to when Stevie helped guide you, to not physically having him here?

Like I said before, honesty. He taught me to be that: Loyalty, and always listen to what others got to say. Even if they do not have anything to offer you. Everybody has been through something you have not been through. I try to have conversations with everybody.

Now, you are going on tour with Ashton Matthews and y’all L.A. flyer looks like y’all are about to enter a wrestling match.


Yeah, it’s the Dudley Brothers, if you know about wrestling.

What can people expect from y’all on this tour?

Turn up, turn up, turn up! Breaking legs and I’m breaking everything. Turning up all over again.

Are you ready for the groupies/THOTS?

Nah, I don’t do groupies and I’ll end up taking my girlfriend on tour with me.

I know they be wildin’ just like you said on your track, ‘Went to havin’ hoes frontin’ to the nigga they fuckin’.

Oh yeah, that’s true.

So, what is your ultimate goal to achieve as a musician?

To take care of my family, that’s what I’m here for, and to provide for my people.

How long do you anticipate on waiting to achieve your goal?

I’m already achieving my goal. I’m paying mom’s rent and I pay everything right now. I’m achieving my goal and it’s about keeping it steady. I’m not worried about being famous, being a ASAP Rocky, or being anybody big. As long as I got a steady income, I’m cool

Alright, we will need to see and wait for what you have in stores for us. Before we end this, what is one thing you would say to those striving and trying to reach specific pinnacles?

Stay humble, stay focused, have faith in God, have faith in yourself, keep in contact with your friends. That’s very important. It’s not about the money, and have fun doing what you gotta do. Just be happy.

Written by Manny King John

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