On Sunday, Carol City rapper, Lil Champ FWAY, headed to the stinky and smoky trade show known as Cannabis Cup in Denver, Colorado, to usher in the unofficial stoner holiday, 4/20. Before surrendering himself to the hazy interiors of Denver Mart, he took some time to talk with New Times about his latest EP, Pray 4 FWAY; what’s next on his agenda; and what he's doing in Atlanta.
New Times: Last time we talked to you was a few years ago when you were in LA. Are you in Miami now?
Lil Champ FWAY: I'm in Atlanta right now, but I have shows in Miami in June, so I'll be there in June.
What brought you to Atlanta?
I got cousins that stay up here. And I had come up here for A3C, and I linked up with Coach K from Quality Control — he’s the CEO of the label the Migos are on. I've just been up here trying to work with artists. You know, I linked up with Playboi Carti from Awful Records. Really, I’m just up here working. That's really it.
Did you have any talks with record labels?
Yeah. Actually Coach K, we've always been talking. I've seen him out here a lot in Atlanta too, but right now he's just like my big homie. But soon we're gonna try to work something out.
So, Pray 4 FWAY dropped earlier this month, and I'm kind of interested in the title. Why pray for you? What was the inspiration behind that?
I say pray for me because really I’m out here taking a lot of risks. A lot of people don't really leave the nest, but I’m really just like out here. I don’t even really know anybody in certain towns, but I just be there off of music. So I just want the people to pray for me and wish me well while I’m on this rap journey that I’m chasing.
What was your mindset while making Pray 4 FWAY?
Really, I was just making music. I was getting beats from my producer, Yung Icey, you know, just making music. And I was hearing a sound and I was like, "Damn, I'm liking these sounds. I feel like I should put together an EP." When I make my music, I just go by what’s really going on in my life at the time. So my music is gonna always sound different. So that's how I really came up with it. It just happened.
If you compare the songs on this EP to some of your older songs, like “Oh Yeah” or “Spaced Out,” it's a different style of music that you've got going on here. Why is that?
You know I’m from the South, so I like my beats with a lot of bass, and I like the turnt-up beat. But the sound that me and Yung Icey — the producer for Pray 4 FWAY — had is a different sound. I like the challenge. It's really a sound I've never used or heard nobody else use, so it's really just our sound, and we're just trying to build off it. You know, just trying new sounds and creating new things.
Well that's one of the things about you: You have a lot of different styles of singing and a lot of different flows when you rap. You're kind of a wild card in that sense. Do you ever feel a need to go in one direction, or do you think it's OK to be all over the map and have multiple styles?
I like having multiple styles because when I go into a studio I feel different every time. I don’t go in and make the same type of song or pull up the same type of beat. Really I just go off of how I feel that day, and that's how I make the music. So yeah, I’m just gonna continue doing it and let whatever happens happen.
Pray, other than sounding melodically different from the other stuff you've done, is also a bit different subjectwise. You've got songs about praying, patience, and strength. I feel like this is a deeper EP from you, a more introspective project than what I'd normally expect.
It really was. I was really trying to inspire the people rather than just give them something that they can just turn up to. I wanted them to think about everything that's going on in their life and think about stuff. I want you to get inspired when you hear Pray 4 FWAY and do whatever you're trying to do in life. That's what it was meant for.
And it kind of gives a deeper look into who you are as a person.
Yeah. I was just trying to bring them in a little bit in what was going on in my life.
For instance, the chorus to "Be Patient" is "be patient, your time is coming." Was that advice meant for you? Someone else?
I always was not patient. But I learned to be patient. You've got to be patient and not move too fast, because then stuff won't go your way. I've also got young'uns who I talk to, and they're always in a rush because they make music too, and they’re always wondering when they're gonna make it. So, you know, when you're in a rush to get where you're going, you start getting distracted. So I’m just telling them to be patient. Your time is coming. It's all gonna be straight.
What are some things in your life that you'd tell yourself to be patient about?
Sometimes I move too fast with my music or with my thought process. So I tell myself to slow down with it because I’ve got a lot of stuff and when I have new music, I just wanna drop it. That's how I was doing it in 2013. I was just dropping stuff out of nowhere. Now I’m kind of patient with my music and I let it build up a little bit so that people can catch on a little bit.
That's a good point, because you haven’t come out with anything new since 2013. What have you been doing in the two years since?
I look back on 2013 and I put out three EPs, and it was in a short amount of time. I put out Finesse Muzik in June, then I put out Ayee Laide$ in August, and then I put out Real Nigga Shxt in October. So it was a lot in a short period of time. And I felt like, you know, I wanted to let the people like catch up on it. So the whole 2014, I didn’t drop no projects. I let them catch up to my old stuff, and I dropped a few songs on SoundCloud and one video. But it was really so that people could catch up on my old stuff. I felt like if they missed it or didn’t hear it, I had to let it breathe, so that's why I didn’t drop nothing in 2014.
Do you have a favorite song on Pray?
My favorite song is “Pay Day.” I like the beat, and I feel like I could see kids singing along with it. And everybody likes pay day.
It does seem like that's more of a traditional Fway song. It's more of a banger than "Sometimes," which I really liked. That was very different.
That was the last song I recorded for the EP. Like that was the very last one.
You get really raw and candid in that song. What were you thinking about when you wrote it?
I was just thinking about how everybody has times when you're unsure of yourself or unsure of something. So I was just making a song for everybody who feels like that sometimes.
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What do you think about the hip-hop scene in Miami right now?
I feel, musically, we're very strong, and we got great artists. And we're young — there's a lot of young ones. It's just we need to learn how to bring our energy together more and organize things better so that we can build a system in Miami so that we all can come up in it instead of just one or two. There's a lot of good artists; there's just no system. So we're making all this good music and everyone's doing their thing, but it's not really coming together like it should. That's why I came here — so that I could, like, get a boost and get around the right people that are in the mix. Maybe I can get my foot in the door and then I’ll open the door for everybody back home.
I know you just came out with Pray, but do you have any projects coming up, or are you working on anything?
Yes, I'm working on three projects: 2 EPs and a mixtape. One is The Red Rocks EP, and the other is Finesse Muzik 2. I'll drop those sometime in the summer on the same day. And I'm working on a full mixtape, 100% FWAY, which should be dropping at the end of this year.
You know how I was saying this last EP was more introspective and sentimental than your other stuff? Do you have any idea what your next projects are gonna be like if you had to describe them?
The Red Rocks is gonna be about relationships. It's really called The Red Rocks EP because there is a place in Denver, and it's like these mountains, and that's what really inspired the music. Me and my girl had been planning to go out there, and we finally came, and we took a photo of the mountains that's gonna be the cover of the EP. And Finesse Muzik 2, you know, is part two of my Finesse Muzik 1 that was probably one of my best EPs I put out. That's what held me down, and I had a lot of hits in the underground world, like "Normal," "Keep It Pimpin," and "Steeze." It was all produced by Legion Beatz, and they're producing this one too. It's gonna sound like the first one, just better. Like uptempo, trap beats and club songs. And 100% FWAY is really all about me. I’m giving you all my styles, and I’m just gonna give it all in that mixtape. It's gonna be hits, lyrics, everything. That's why it's called 100% FWAY.