Fru’s bio reads something like a movie script. A promising young man, estranged from his family who then found himself at the mercy of the streets. Through his love for poetry, Fru was then able to build himself back up again to an ’emerging’ rapper with a promising career. His latest Polished Misfit EP is a solid piece of work and is definitely worth a listen.
Fru chats to Rawroots.com about his EP, events in Ferguson and the current state of the rap game.
I really loved Polished Misfit. Explain the motivation and the process behind the album…
It was a long process, some of those records for instance “Nobody Gon’ Change me” I recorded in 2007 which is a bonus track on the EP as well as “Only the Strong Survive” recorded in 2009.The album is actually based on events that took place in my life between the years 1999 and 2002. So I found myself homeless in 1999 which put me in a completely different head space as far as survival. I started doing things I normally wouldn’t do like petty crimes which lasted long enough to make a living at it. I worked several odd jobs while still on the streets doing whatever I had to do to survive but in between that I ran into an older white lady “Marion Leonard” who gave me a place to stay in her house. She treated me like I was one of her kids and just motivated me to do better being that I was young and out of control. That’s where the theme of the album stems from. I felt like an outcast just trying to fit in and was trying to clean my act up henceforth polish my ways for good because I used to think I became the kid parents told their kids not to hang out with.
Explain your style/music to our readers who may not have heard your work as yet?
It’s really hard to describe my style in a nutshell. I record music in real time or write music in real time meaning that I don’t create music off imagination, I just write from the heart depending on the mood I’m in. If I hung out at the club the previous night I might write about it which will be considered a club record based on the content or if I lost a friend to gun violence I would write a sad song and this could practically explain why I don’t have a lot of music out considering the fact that I’ve been recording music since 2002. And I don’t think it’s a pattern in my beat selection, I don’t constantly rap on the same type of beats but I understand people need something or somebody to compare you to especially when you are a new artist but like Nas says “No idea is original, it’s nothing new under the sun, it’s not what you do but how it’s done.” So I guess traditionally the masses and fans would place me in the backpacker / real or emo rap category with a splash of gangsta in between.
How did you connect with SKE Records?
I actually connected with SKE Records through Q the Question. It’s crazy how we met. So I was following a client of his on twitter whom I knew from around the way and he used to retweet some of Q’s posts. In these posts Q used to talk so much shit *laughs* I clicked on it one day and found out he was a publicist. At the time I was trying to figure out my next move because what I was doing on the streets musically was not going anywhere so I hit him up in 2010 and hired him to promote the record “Nobody gon’ Change Me” online and we’ve been working together ever since then.
As a new artist, what are your thoughts on the current landscape of hip hop?
Hip hop is going back to its essence right now in my opinion. A lot of artists are taking the independent route. Artists have become more business savvy in this generation now that if you have a single popping online right now you can create a brand around that and actually generate show money , sell merchandise and albums without a major label backing. It’s safe to say that hip hop is the most popular music genre right now and it’s definitely a lot more political when it comes to radio. Nobody is taking a chance on breaking new records without payola or huge connections attached to the record. Radio DJs have lost all power as far as what they can play on the radio. The quality of the music is balanced. Just like you had artists like Vanilla Ice , the 69 boyz , Sir Mix A Lot …etc back in the day now you got migos , cash out , etc that make dance music. I do think some of the auto tuned records are draining us out though, however you have artists like Kendrick, J.Cole, Wale, Drake… etc that help keep hip hop balanced. I love the game right now as an artist because I don’t have to sit and wait for a label to get my career off the ground. The harder you work and strategize logically, you’re bound to see some decent results.
Which artists do you respect and why?
There are so many artists I respect from old school to new school, too many to name. Of course you’ve got the greats like Biggie, Jayz, Nas ,Tupac, Rakim, Big daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Snoop Dogg, Eminem etc… too many but overall what I respect about these artists is the level of talent they’ve got. I respect Jayz’s business moves, he has to be the biggest business savvy hip hop artist we have ever seen period. Consistency is key in this industry especially now so if you’re 20 years in the game performing songs from your first album that came out 20 years ago like Nas was at summer jam last year then you deserve the ultimate respect from any fan of the genre. Hats off to all the artists who are still relevant after 5 years in the game because nowadays it’s extremely hard to get even one year in.
Recently with the events in Ferguson, much of the hip hop community has been taking a stand and fighting alongside the residents for justice. However, many feel as though the hip hop community hasn’t been proactive enough. What are your thoughts?
The content of hip hop music used to be about social issues mostly but nowadays that has changed drastically. Artists stood for something back then, it wasn’t just about the flashy lifestyles but also about showcasing issues like police brutality in the music like N.W.A did. Public Enemy had such a big influence on the community that it changed our mentality as far as standing up for what we believed in, having morals and values and caring for each other but now everybody is in the strip club making it rain or busting it wide open. Everybody claims to have a Ferrari and fucking somebody else’s woman. I don’t want to rant but it is what it is. I applaud the artists that did go down there and helped out but like you said it’s not enough light on that. This has been going on for over 400 years. If you’re black in America things are just not going to be in your favor so you have to move accordingly, it’s sad. All we can do is keep fighting the system or die trying like our ancestors did because they will always outnumber us. When we make music about these type of issues we are labelled struggle rappers. People were quick to flex their twitter handles with the Ferguson situation but moved on when the next headline popped up. It is what it is.
How do you feel about all of the ‘so-called’ rap beefs? (Iggy & Nicki. Nicki & Kim. 50 Cent and EVERYONE) Genuine beefs or PR stunts to move a few extra units?
It’s 2014 right, to me all beef nowadays is PR stunts, and it’s not just on the artist’s side but the media drives it too. It’s corny to me because it’s not like its making artists competitive musically, it’s mostly social media beef. I haven’t heard any dope beef records since Nas “Ether”. I really think that PR stunts like that might bring attention to your project but doesn’t necessarily move a few extra units. Don’t get me wrong it’s fun to watch but at the same time when I found out as a kid that wrestling wasn’t real I lost interest completely so I understand the kids buying into it.
Were you pleased to see G-Unit reunite?
I’m a huge fan of G-unit so it was cool to see that. *Laughs* 50 Cent crazy , ain’t no telling what he gon do next but when I saw Buck come out on that stage I was hype because he been through a lot so I know it was big for him. Shout out to the Unit.
What would you say are the key components to succeeding in this business?
Honestly, the music industry to me is like Las Vegas right now, it’s all a gamble. You can have great music and do all the right things and still not be successful at it. I’d say just strategize logically, work smart and count your blessings. I have a mini- documentary series out right now called “Luck is the residue of Skill” which basically means even with talent you still need some type of Luck to be successful. Pray hard, work harder that’s it.
Your moniker is FRU which stands for fellow rebellious underdog, will that lose it’s meaning if/when you break into the mainstream?
Wow, it’s funny you say that because I always thought about that, you know when I started rapping I really didn’t think I would get this far. I sort of fell into this. I gave my homie a ride to the studio and jumped on the mic in his session although prior to that I wrote poetry but I didn’t rap. Fru is actually my last name but I wanted to give meaning to it so on one of those drunk nights that’s what I came up with. The actual meaning behind fellow rebellious underdog is just saying I’m an underdog in the rap world just like rest of my peers in the DMV (D.C, Maryland and Virginia) area. I believe we have potential that the rest of the rap world doesn’t recognize musically especially coming from the DMV. 10 Years ago they weren’t any artists out popping in the mainstream like Wale, Fat Trel or Logic right now from here. I still feel that way. I can say they are many artists in the game right now that still feel like they are underdogs so if it hits the mainstream I would still be the underdog in my mind because I have so much to prove. I’m a very passionate person so every word I utter on record has to touch something which is totally the opposite of what records are coming out nowadays. It’s going to be a constant battle with me trying to get to people’s heads with my agenda musically. I rap about all kinds of issues so it’s going to be hard to categorize me or marginalize me which is a battle itself. Music is all about opinions nowadays but most would say that DMV Artists can’t rap and I feel that some of us can. I feel just like me Darius Wolley is great, D’General is great, My producer Jrob is great. SmCity is great. July St Rose is great. Young Noah DMV is great. Sherell Rowe is great. Es Q is great. Steph B is great… etc and they are all underdogs just like I am.
What’s in the pipeline for FRU?
Well, I will continue to promote this EP I got Polished Misfit which is now available on iTunes. I will be shooting a couple of videos in a few weeks as well so look out for that and hopefully get on the road real soon. Peace and Love.