When you’ve obtained an Oscar, one of the most prestigious and sought after awards that entertainers in any medium can receive, which only 6 rappers have ever received, how do you follow it up?
In the case of Memphis’s Bay Area representer Frayser Boy, you keep grinding. Since winning the 2006 Academy for “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” from Hustle & Flow, he’s released a never-ending string of content, appeared in the critically acclaimed documentary Take Me To The River, and even performed for the NPR staff in the award-winning Tiny Desk series.
When we spoke to he was continuing to build his own brand. He’s left Hypnotized Minds and been plugging away at establishing his B.A.R. Muzik label, continued with his highly in-demand songwriting, planning some collaborative projects, & begun producing.
We touched on all that and more in Frayser Boy: The DGB interview.
Do you feel your accolades equal your accomplishments?
Not all the way. I still think I got a lot more to do and further to go. A lot more to accomplish. For the longest, I was kind of hidden behind the shadow of Three 6 Mafia. Now I’m on my own, trying to push my own brand B.A.R. Muzik. I’ve gotten far but there’s still so far to go. I’m not complaining, I’m blessed to be where I am. There’s a lot more to do.
How much did your feature price go up after winning an Oscar?
Oh man, phenomenally. They had to start bringing it on out. I’m not the type of artist that bust people’s heads though. I still want to work with people. I fuck with those who fuck with me. If a local artist is really trying to get it for themselves I’ll work with them. I do songwriting too. Anything you need as far as music. I’m getting into producing now too. I do it all.
Did people in your immediate circle treat you differently after you won?
Nah, I always hung around real niggas and real females. Of course, they were proud of me. Didn’t nothing change. Well, I can say some of the fake ones changed. They started faking some shit but they weren’t there before that. I just kind of kept the right people around me. Not too many treated me different.
Do you remember the first time you heard the H.C.P. beat?
That’s a classic. All of Paul and Juicy’s beats are crazy. When you get a posse song on your own, you know you’re showing and proving in the camp. I was hype on the fact that I was getting my own posse song. You know when you coming up you’re listening to that posse song, now I’m getting my own. That was crazy to me.
The actual beat, Paul made the beat. When I heard that beat he actually let me hear what he was sampling first. Then I came back the next day and he had the whole beat done. My head almost flew off my shoulders. The night before he was watching The General’s Daughter and he heard the sample. Once Paul hears something, a sound that he’s really excited about, it’s always crazy how he transforms it into a track. That’s one of my favorite songs to this day, even 17 years later. I still go back to it, I still bang it.
How many hours a week do you spend making music?
Actually now it’s a little lower than it usually is. I have kids and I spend a lot of time with them. I spend more time writing than anything. I’d say maybe 20 hours a week recording. A lot of times I’m so dedicated to my kids I have to catch up to music on my own. I don’t go to the studio every day like people would think. I write a lot, so it weighs itself out. When I go to the studio I’m ready to record. I’m not one of those artists who go to the studio and writes a lot. Unless there’s a producer on hand who wants to work with me. I usually already have the beats I want to use. I already have the songs written.
Are you still working on Gone On That Bay 2?
Yes. Really I’m wrapping it up. I have about 75-80% done. It’s all produced by Y.K. of 808 Mafia. It’s going to be some of that. I ain’t going to let you down. It’s going to be crazy. It’ll come out in January or February next year.
Do you think you’ll ever do another full project with Criminal Manne?
Hell yeah. We’re actually going to begin working on something over the next couple of months. We’re going to do The Takeover 2. We’ve spoken about it, that’s my brother. We’re from the same hood. We actually went to high school together for a minute. That’s a brother that will always be in my life, just a down brother. He’s a real friend. We are definitely working on The Takeover 2 and it’s coming real soon. The first one is another classic. I’m definitely looking forward to part two. I just talked to him recently and we’re going to be doing that real soon.
How did the song you did with Three 6 Mafia for the Kay Slay album come about?
We actually recorded the song in Harlem. Then we shot the video in New Jersey for the NFL Street video game. It was for Kay Slay’s album too. It was actually in the video game, which was very dope hearing my voice on a video game. When Kay first heard the beat, Paul and Juicy played it for him. It had a Transformer sample or some shit, he went crazy. It was right around the time they were pushing Lil Wyte really hard so that’s how we were able to get on the song. That’s another classic, to this day.
What New York rappers did you listen to growing up?
L.L. Cool J, Rakim, KRS-One, the list goes on. A lot of people influenced me out of New York. I would never say just Memphis music, but the Memphis music let me know that I can do it. I had my own sound that I can approach. First and foremost those NYC cats were who I would listen to. I had all the L.L. shit. That right there was the era that set the tone for hip-hop, period. Just by what they were doing. Really they created it, so you had to listen to it. Much love to New York, they’ve always fucked with my music.
When did you first hear Lil Wyte?
He was with a group. He found out that Paul and Juicy were up at the radio station and he was able to get there and give Paul and Juicy a demo. I remember listening to the demo with them and he was the hardest one out of the group. Even I said he was the best one. So next thing you know he was signed to the label.
He’s from the same neighborhood as me. The crazy part about it was I had never met him until he came to Hypnotized Minds. He grew up maybe two miles from where my hood was. Frayser, Bay Area out Memphis, Tennessee.
When you first came out when people heard Bay Area they thought you were from the West Coast. What’s the Memphis version of the Bay Area like?
It’s the gutter man. It’s hood, just like the rest of Memphis. It’s right next to North Memphis where Project Pat and them are from. A lot of murders, a lot of drugs. All the typical shit that goes on in the ghetto. It’s just some real shit going on and I learned a lot coming from there.
That was the dopest shit I’ve ever done musically for my career. It was my first time working with a live band. It taught me a lot about music. I had felt that since I had been in the game so long that I already knew everything about recording and music. When I got introduced to that live band it was something new to me. Just some of the dopest shit I had ever done. I got to work with some of the people I had grown up on. When I saw what they were doing in the film after they got our sessions down, and saw what they turned it into on the big screen, it blew my mind. I’m still working off of it and booking shows five years later.
What was doing the Tiny Desk concert like?
Oh shit. That was priceless too. I didn’t know what Tiny Desk was. It was actually the last day of the tour when we did that. The film’s director Martin Shore said we were going to go home after the Tiny Desk concert. I asked him what the hell is that and he said: “Trust me, you probably want to do this.”
When I did it, it was some of the dopest shit. It’s this real workplace. No props, it’s a real office. The people that are watching you are the real workers from the office. They go on lunch break and they’re the audience watching you perform. It’s about 50-60 people in this office with cubicles and everything. We just brought all the instruments and perform in front of them. Just another great moment from being involved in the film.
Who’s the most impressive musician you’ve ever worked with?
That’s hard, there’s a bunch of them. The crazy part is that after the documentary came out there were about 8 people from Stax records that passed away. I would say Bobby “Blue” Bland, he passed away. Charles “Skip” Pitts he played on a lot of Isaac Hayes stuff. He had that waah-waah riff sound. It’s unlimited out of that group, old heads too. The Hi Rhythm Section, Charles and Leroy Hodges, they were on all the Al Green classics. When you heard Al, you heard them. I got to tour with them, we actually did a 55 city tour. I was able to be together with them for a 2-3 month tour. They loved me.
Finally, what are you promoting/working on now?
Definitely that Gone On That Bay 2 and I have another new album called Year Of The Underdog. I might change that name though. The Frayser Boy and Criminal Manne sequel. Also, I might be doing a joint album with La Chat. We’ve been talking about that. Who knows? I’m just working and trying to stay busy.