If the music scene in Chicago was a person, it would be Birdman in his viral interview on The Breakfast Club in 2016, demanding that people put some respect back on it’s name.
Chicago was undeniably home of rap’s most promising talents in the mid-2010s, but appears on the outside to have lost steam over these last few years. On the inside, those sentiments are almost laughable. Rather, Chicago artists like Fletcher have been navigating in a pocket where mainstream reception is as invaluable as a Tracfone with no minutes. Even if the amount of acknowledgment is less prevalent, he’s confident that refusing to conform to what other cities are doing will soon pay off for everyone in the Chi.
“I really think we’re about to witness Chicago have it’s own little come up again,” he says. “ Right now we’re making music that not a lot of people are doing. Eventually one of us is going to pop. And it’ll take that one person popping to help everyone else progress.”
There’s a high percentage that Fletcher will be one of those people to resurrect the city due to the nature of his art. His music is created freely, prioritizing genuineness over gimmicks. It can’t be boxed into one specific style or tone. Rather, it ping-pongs between rigid rap hymns like “B4!” and lagging ballads like “signs?”. His versatility opens up even more lanes for his destined success to come in 2020, on a Mario Kart cheat code level of finesse.
As he’s gearing up to drop his next project this February, Fletcher chopped it up with TUC Magazine to talk about how a wild dream inspired his last project, how moving to the suburbs impacted the music he made, the music scene in Chicago, and much more. Check it out below:
What’s your first memory of falling in love with music?
The first time I remember falling in love with music, I had to be about three or four years old. My uncle really wanted to be a rapper when he was in high school, just about to graduate. My family’s always been full of people who always push forward. If you have a dream, everybody will support you on that dream if that’s really what you want to do, so he wanted to be a rapper. Him and my dad used to be in the room making freestyles, so I remember hearing them from my room while I was playing the PlayStation. I would wander into the room and they would try to put me on the spot as a three or four-year-old. I was a kid and as I grew older, my uncle would put me on the music. He was in love with 50 Cent and Tupac. While in comparison, my father was more into A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie, KRS-ONE. I was brought up on a balance of music. From there I knew that it was always fun, but I found a true passion when I turned 15. 15 is the age where I realized I wanted to actually try and make music.
Take me back to the music scene in Chicago when you were 15. What was going on?
I believe drill music had just started becoming the thing. It just started booming throughout the city. It was all about King Louie, Chief Keef, Lil Durk, Lil Reese, all of them. And there were little subtle things Chance, of course, and Mick Jenkins. Around that time I was living in a little city right outside of Chicago called Maywood. Then I moved with my dad towards the suburbs in this little area called Minooka. Minooka is a predominantly Caucasian area. It blew my mind because nobody really had any type of connection to the culture in the city of Chicago until drill music started popping. I promise you, I’ve never seen Caucasian kids with Louis belts and Air Force 1’s until Chief Keef and all of them came around. It was a gorgeous time. It was beautiful to see how influential the city was at the time. Everything flipped from kids being focused on Eminem to where I could hear them saying GBE. I’m like, “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, wait a minute, hold on.” That’s where everything just clicked for us. We wanted to get out there with our best bars and show people we could rap.
How would you say moving to Joliet impacted the way you made music?
Because I came from the actual city environment, I knew what it was like. I grew up near the west side. I used to hang with my cousins around where my family lived. At Minooka (Community High School), they hadn’t really seen or heard of things like that. To hear stories about things that were going on in the city was like a whole new world. It was a fun thing to listen to. And on top of that, the kids back in the city could hear it and they could relate because we were living it. I remember when I was about 16, one of the first few songs I made was called “Hood to the Burbs” with my friend Marquise. And it was over a Joey Badass beat. We were sharing it with all our friends at school and it shocked me to know that people were coming up to me to talk about it. That was honestly just mind-blowing. I didn’t expect anybody to care at all.
Who would you say are some of your influences?
Of course, there’s always the topic of Tupac and Biggie. There’s the new age big three which is Kendrick, J. Cole, and Drake. I feel like people really undercut Big Sean a lot. I like The Pharcydes too. It was something about the way they rapped and the melodies they rapped with. It was always super cool to me.
Mick Jenkins and Chance definitely played a big role. I’m going to say this, I know it’s a little controversial opinion, but I really think Mick Jenkins is one of the best lyricists out of Chicago next to Lupe. One of my favorite songs from the man is “Jerome”. I’m one of those people who like to go back, re-listen, and take the time to look up the lyrics to see what they’re really sayin. The metaphors, the flow, it’s all that he does. When he released “Bruce Banner”, that was one of the songs I heard and said to myself that I needed to level up. Right now, he’s undercut for where he is. But give it a few years, they’ll give him that credit he deserves.
You implement a lot of voicemails in your songs. Why is that?
When it comes to music, of course you have to talk your shit. But you gotta show them that certain aspects of your life are real. I actually just had to delete a bunch of messages from my mailbox. On the prelude to “Grandma’s Porch” there’s a voicemail from my grandmother. One thing about my grandmother is, it doesn’t matter how recently I’ve spoken to her, she’ll call me even if I just left her house. And if she calls me, I will get a voicemail each and every single time. Each time it’s something different. That’s a real deal aspect of my life. I love my grandmother to death, but every time she calls, I know she’s gonna leave me a voicemail if I don’t get to the phone and pick up.
As you grow, you get hit with more responsibility. Certain things happen in your life and you have no choice but to deal with it. I remember being young and my grandmother always told me, cause I’ve always been one of those kids who tries to do things at the last minute, “Cameron, you see that stoplight right there? You see we’re sitting right here, but look at the clock. Time is still going. Time is not going to wait on you. You have to get it together.”
As I’ve grown older, I’ve started to realize that she’s not lying to me. She told me the truth. Times not gonna wait on me. As I’ve grown older, I’ve had to deal with the loss of my grandfather. I’ve had to deal with the loss of some friends. I’ve been through my ups and I’ve been through my downs. I’ve lost the days where I definitely could’ve avoided it. I’ve had to deal with the mistakes that I’ve made and had to try and to climb out so I could get it together. Again, that goes back to just being relatable. I can’t be the only person that’s going through all of this irritation. I can’t be the only person that feels like life is just not happening quick enough or everything’s not falling into place how you want it. It kind of puts this pressure on you that asks, “What are you going to do next? What’s your next move?”
My family’s stressed the idea that you need to be pre-cognizant. You need to be three steps ahead before you even take your next step. Don’t even bother taking the next step if you don’t know where the next three steps after that are going to take you. That’s always been how I was raised and it stays in my mind.
The entire concept of Three Day Theory. came from a dream I had. It was so strange. In this dream, for whatever reason, I was like beat up, bloody, and battered. I used to have asthma as a child. I kind of outgrew it, but for whatever reason, at this time I could hear it in my dream that I was wheezing. I was walking up this mountain and as I was going up this mountain, I had everybody that I love, everybody that cares about me, cheering me on.
I had shackles with weights on my ankles, but I was still pushing my way up there. I look over to my left and I see this girl crying. So for whatever reason, I decided to stop to see what was going on. As I went to reach toward her, she turned around and stopped crying, quick as shit. That scared the fuck out of me. She kissed me on the cheek and told me all as well. She grabbed my head and she helped me up. Those weights became nothing. It felt like everything was at peace and I had it together.
All of a sudden these two shadowy figures that are kind of built like me, start beating the mess out of me, like battery. I couldn’t find anyone who was helping me go up the mountain before. The figures took me, and they dangled me off of the cliff of the mountain. The girl I saw looked me dead in my face as she walked toward me. She looked me and said, “You can save everybody around you except yourself” and they dropped me right off of the fucking cliff, straight down.
I fall into this pit. It’s dark and all of a sudden, I was in a chair. There’s this light bulb dangling above me. Right across from me, there’s a guy in the suit. He starts talking to me about myself, telling me things about myself that I’ve I haven’t talked about with many people. We got a dialogue going and long story short, I found out that the person I’m talking to is God. I remember talking to him and I asked why I was being put through all of that. He said simply, “If you really want something, you have to be willing to go through what you have to go through to get it.” He said this was only one obstacle. I asked what I should do now and he told me to climb back up. I go back up the mountain and I see the girl, and these figures again. She said, “I kicked you off this mountain many times, why are back?” And the only thing I said to her was, “I have more mountains to climb.”
I remember waking up like, what the fuck just happened? So that set me up for the inspiration for Three Day Theory. The idea for that album is resurrection.
Can you break down a few of the songs on Three Day Theory.?
Three Day Theory. is a rise and a fall and a rise again. As you progress throughout the album, you hear me talk about other problems, like in “Broken”. In the song, I talked about how I don’t have the funds to do the things I need to do.
There are songs about love, too. “Smokey’s Interlude” is supposed to represent that feeling. It represents that point where you felt like you tried your hardest and it’s just not working. It’s like, “Fuck it, I don’t even care anymore.” It’s when you just let life happen as it goes along. But, that’s why the album ends on “Back in Three”.
“On My Way” was me speaking on my experience growing up and realizing that I have to keep going. I can’t stop because I’m on my way. That’s Three Day Theory. in a nutshell.
I spent from 2017 to 2019 trying to get that sound. I couldn’t figure out how I wanted to do everything. That was probably the absolute most time I’ve ever spent on a project.
You’ve been dropping music at the end of each week in a series called FatBoyFriday’s. What’s the story behind that?
FatboyFriday’s originally began in 2017. I was going to Joliet Junior College and we had a huge group of friends. One day I remember walking down the hallway and this guy named Marcus, he goes by Starfox, pulled me over to this table with people I could network with. Some of them were producers. Some of them were just people who went to school there. Either way, I got to know a bunch of people through him.
In the school they had a giant hallway that had almost every country’s flag in it. They called it the flag hall. We used to sit in this hall and we would play music, freestyle, and make jokes. We used to be so loud that we consistently got the campus police called on us to get us removed from that specific area. In 2016 I was getting ready to drop Static Volume 2 and I was trying to figure out what would be a good way to promote my music. I’ve always been a big guy, so I thought FatBoyFriday’s. I made a song called “Nextel” and that was the very first song off of FatboyFriday’s. That was the very first time I had ever seen my music go up into thousands of views. That started to grow so I started to release music every Friday.
What was your inspiration for “B4!”?
Whenever I find a beat I really like, I’ll spend time riding around listening to it. That’s one of my rituals. I’m a delivery driver for a pizza place around my local area. And one of the things I like to do when I’m working is play beats from YouTube. Or I’ll go to certain people’s pages and I’ll look up their beats. When I found that beat, I heard it right. DaBaby’s flow had been popping so I thought I could make it cool and use some of that. At the same time, I had been going through this simp stage and for whatever reason, there was a girl that I used to know back around 2017 that I wanted to try to talk to. But we ended up getting disconnected after awhile. That’s Haley Leno. I was like, “Alright, I’m going to make this song and I’m going to talk about previous stages of my life. I’m gonna throw her in there too.” Because that was my attempt at trying to get her attention. She’s somebody who lives in a local area so I know that mentioning her would grab the attention of the people in the area. I really thought for a second that I could really be like Drake and I could pull this girl through dropping her name.
How have you seen the song grow over the last couple of months?
I didn’t expect that song to do as well as it has. When Adam22 was having one of his streams, me and the homies put together $100 for him to play the song so that we could get an honest opinion out of it. He heard the song and when he heard the song he liked it. For whatever reason he decided to give us the free repost. So we were like, “Whoa, what?” He liked the song so much that he gave us the free repost. I think that was a big contributing factor to that song’s success. I need to get a video going for that song. Getting a visual for that would probably be my next best move.
One of my other favorites is “not likely”. How did you craft that one together?
I haven’t always had the best of luck when it comes to women. I feel like if this rap thing starts working out, I’m going to start hearing from them. There are already some people I’ve started to hear from who I haven’t heard from in years. So that song came from a place of simping, bro. I’m not even going to lie to you. Because I know that when it really comes down to it, you’re not really for me. You’re just for what the time will bring. And I don’t want to rock with you like that. I try to keep that kind of energy low. I don’t want to be a spiteful type of person. That was just the emotion I was feeling at the time. That shit came from pure emotion.
Which was your favorite song from FatboyFriday’s to lay down?
I know it’s not the most checked out one, but I really love “signs?”. That song was a little bit experimental for me. I really wanted to catch that R&B vibe at the time. One of my favorite Beyonce albums is Dangerously In Love and she has a song on there called “Signs” with Missy Elliott. I also love the song “Signs of Love Makin’” by Tyrese. Both of those were the inspiration for “signs?”.
I have an interesting correlation with zodiacs. I know the concept of zodiacs is something that hits with a lot of people. And I know certain traits that some of them hone. So I tried to make sure that I fit in every zodiac sign. Singing it was fun to me.
Who are some Chicago artists that should be on people’s radar?
We still have Herbo [G-Herbo] going crazy. Calboy just came out. There’s a guy named Kiraly Payne — he was on “Melanin”. He just dropped a project called Protect my Heart.
Austin Noble; he’s just a great lyricist. I met him at a concert when we were opening for Diggy. Austin was the first person to greet me when I got off stage.
There’s a guy called illatheillastrator. That guy there holds the characters to be one of the greatest producers out of Chicago. You can hear the time he’s taking to put into his music.
My homie Brax10 is really dope. I would also say Isaiah G and Ausar.
When I was in high school, me and my homie Santiago used to spend a lot of time looking around the local scenes just to see who was popping. We used to check out these people. These guys were the inspiration for my growth in essence.
What’s next for you?
I’m going to keep on working and growing progressively. I’m trying to do a few shows in the city. I’m going to do a few features here and there. I want to get some videos done. Right now I’m working on a project that I’m trying to have completed by this month. The title of my next project is called Simp and it’s just going to be a short EP.