Fokis is one of a handful of rappers that can kick that old school flavor with late 90s lyricism and that’s why he is poised to bring the Lower East Side out of the dungeons of rap and into daylight. The multifaceted artist is set for big year and The Planet recently caught up with the visionary along with collaborator RP to discuss Latinos in Hip-Hop, Nas’ pops, Executive Producing Sadat X’s new album, the hype around The Vintage album and much more. Let’s get it in.
Planet Ill: You wear a lot of different hats professionally. Let the people know who you are and what you do?
Fokis: Well, I’m Fokis aka Fokeezy. I’m a rapper from the Lower East Side [Manhattan] but I am also a recording engineer, a producer and I am a fiend for the music.
Planet Ill: In this over-saturated industry, how big of an advantage is it that you know how to engineer your own records, produce and rap?
Fokis: It is like the best thing in the world that you have this knowledge and there is no one that can take from you. I can do it all and get my stuff out there without any interference, so it’s great man.
RP: It is also great for me because I can get my shit discounted by going to him (Laughs.) Nah, for real man, it is super important to learn everything you can in this game. The kid is the total package and real student of the game, so big ups to the dude.
Planet Ill: There are few interviews you’ve done with Olu Dara and Kurtis Blow, as a rapper what did you hope to accomplish as a journalist?
Fokis: It was really about getting knowledge, because I was interviewing people in the business. As I’m learning, it is good to share that knowledge for the world to hear and see. It was for both and for the people that want to learn more about the industry. I asked a lot of questions and I believe they were really insightful. I interviewed some vets in the game like Olu Dara, Sadat X and Kurtis Blow and I gained some information from them and I wanted the world to learn the things I soaked up.
Planet Ill: Who were some of your influences coming up?
Fokis: I grew up on Big Daddy Kane, Q-Tip, Kool G Rap, Nas, 2 Pac and that is pretty much a wrap when it comes to my music influences. Those five dudes right there are definitely top notch in my book and they have a strong influence on my style.
Planet Ill: Being of Dominican descent, how do you feel about the Latinos in Hip-Hop?
Fokis: I think we are doing some big things out here in Hip-Hop, but to be honest, I don’t get into the White, Black or Latino thing, because good music is good music. People could say I’m the hottest Latino rapper or the best rapper, but honestly I don’t care how they categorize me, as long as they are feeling the music. People are always going to have perceptions and you can nnever change that; it just is what it is. I’m just focused on making music and connecting with my audience.
Planet Ill: You are from the Lower East Side and it seems it has fallen on hard times with the lack of mainstream attention. Why do you think they are not thriving like other hoods in New York?
Fokis: I really don’t know man, but I guess you can say that about a lot of places. Bushwick for example has a lot of talent. I think it is hard to succeed in general. There are neighborhoods around the world struggling to crack through and it’s tough man. There is a lot of talent out here, but bottom line it takes time to get through and hopefully, it will get its chance to blow.
Planet Ill: Loyal Digital Corp. is your digital media company. Why did you establish it and what’s your primary goal for the company?
Fokis: Well I have been an independent artist for so many years and I have been building relationships and learning the ins and outs of the business. I have been linking up with talented artists and giving them a platform, for example my man RP is really talented and we have been working on some ill music in the lab. He is really committed and can definitely spit, so when you put two people in the booth like that, the results are crazy, so I’m going to keep linking up and get the company heading in the right direction. We have an album called The Vintage Album
Planet Ill: Word is you are Executive Producing the next Sadat X album. How did that come about?
Fokis: Well you know, I am a recording engineer and Sadat X records out of my studio all the time and over the years we developed a relationship. I told him one day that I am a fan of his music and I presented him some beats, as well. Then before you know it, we have six records in the bag together. He is also on The Vintage Album and the record is crazy.
RP: Pardon me for a second, I just need to interject and talk about the record. Sadat really set off some of the records and the entire album is super dope and it has a lot of surprises on there and everyone has a chance to shine on the album. Look out for that.
Planet Ill: You have worked with a lot of artists Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden among others, who do you want to work with that you haven’t?
Fokis: Man, there is so many artists that I would love to work with, like I have a list full of people. Big Daddy Kane, Q-Tip, Prodigy [Mobb Deep], and even some of the newer guys like, Wiz Khalifa, and pretty much anyone that is dope and has a great work ethic then I’m down get in the studio with them.
Planet Ill: Your style is refreshing, because you have that Golden Era feel to your music, but you have also have commercial appeal, is that a style you cooked up or is it natural?
Fokis: That’s a great question, because RP and I were speaking about this the other day. I think if you are a rapper in your late twenties or early thirties, then you are someone I would call a hybrid artist, because we have grown up with that Golden Era sound, but we are still young and fresh those are up on the new shit. It is a perfect mixture of two worlds.
Planet Ill: I guess I can pose this question to you both, where do you see yourself in 10 years in this game?
RP: Man. I think I’ll be somewhere lamping and chilling (Laughs.) Nah man, it is all work ethic kid. It’s hard to say where I’ll be in 10 years. I can’t guarantee I’ll be doing this rap thing or doing something else in music or outside of music. There is no real set plan for me. I’m just going to keep grinding and see where it takes me.
Fokis: I want to continue what I am doing and work it on a larger scale. Hopefully get signed and put work out on some bigger labels. I would love to continue making my own type of music and establish my own distinct fan base that I would like call The New Golden Era. I am not trying to recreate that sound, I’mma leave the past where it is at and form something new a fresh unlike the material out today. That is my primary goal and I am building it one fan at a time. I also hope five or ten years down the line people are still going to be talking about The Vintage Album and how dope RP and I laid it down, because it is the biggest project I have ever been a part of and I know it is going to be one of the best projects.
Planet Ill: When is The Vintage Album going to drop?
Fokis: I would say late May and early June at the latest. There is no set date, but late June at the latest and it is going to really set the streets on fire and everyone will enjoy. It is dope.
Planet Ill: What’s next for Fokis?
Fokis: A lot man. This is going to be a busy year us. We have the album that is going to drop then we have a Union for artists and musicians project called Local-MU12. It going to be a great project and it is compilation album in the summertime. Also in the summer, RP is going to release his mixtape and solo album then I going to drop my solo album. Some of the other members of the Union have records coming as well and finally the Sadat X album. So I am very busy this year and I’m staying productive this year. We also have a lot of shows, so I am definitely keep the fans posted.
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