SHANE: Let’s just get into it dude, so for fans who don’t know who you are, tell us your story. I mean, how you got into the music and just what life has been like for you this past, you know, couple of years building up this project.
FEMDOT: Um, let’s see. Uh, yeah, my name is femdot. I grew up in the north side of Chicago in a suburb called Glenwood. I’ve been rapping for about 20 years now. Technically the first time I started rapping was 2001. My oldest brother was a rapper; So he like got me into it, and pretty much put the whole family on hip hop and music and sh*t and that’s why I rap now. That’s literally the catalyst of all my music interests, at least in specifically hip-hop. I’m the youngest of four, so my brother closest to me, had me listening to Wayne and Gucci man and shit like that – but then my sister had me listening to hella RNB.…My oldest brother had me listening to hella boom-bap and like super nineties era rap music, which allowed me to start my own discovery into music on its own. I’m a first generation, Nigerian immigrant, both of my parents moved here in the eighties.
So funny enough, I didn’t learn this til I was older, but my dad used to DJ parties for his homies. He’d bring his vinyl collections and spin for people in places, which I never knew that until I got older. So I guess the music thing has kind of always been around for a little longer than I thought it was.
And then, yeah, I mean, I’ve been rapping for so long. I was selling mixtapes in middle school. We was recording with rock band mic’s and Cool Edit Pro and audacity. I was stealing CDs just to burn my songs on and I wouldn’t sell them for like a dollar, I’m selling for $2, so I can replace the ones I stole from my pops or whatever…I was always on Limewire, so I burned CDs for people as well. But, as time went along and I was like 16, I was really pretty much in it. I really just felt like, I’m actually pretty good at this rapping sh*t. And I ended up being known in my area and my school.
And people knew me, pretty much every point in my life, somebody has known me as someone who either was very interested in rap music or who was rappin’. Most people now, are just surprised that I’m still doing it versus where I’m at now. People are always saying, it’s good to see you still rapping or are you still doing the rap thing, and that’s what’s up because they remember me doing it 10 years ago.
So there’s been a whole process here – the brick by brick idea, is very much not something that I say, because it’s cool. It’s because it’s literally been building up and currently is, building up to this point where we dropped you know, a couple of studio projects and dropped hella mixed tapes and EP’s.. And it brought us to this point now, where we Not for Sale, for real.
SHANE: I mean, I came across your shit back with “Delacreme2” and I feel like I really got to see what you’re saying by building brick by brick. I mean, as a, as a fan, and even as a friend, I always wondered why you took some time off from 94 Camry Music. There’s never any crazy rush about putting things out there – truly building things up and letting them come in their own time. What was that timeframe like for you after dropping Camry and then building up to Not for Sale? Just from an artist standpoint and individually?
FEMDOT: I mean, it was cool in. 94 Camry Music was the first year I was living as a rapper. So like I graduated high school right. I graduated college and then dropped Delacreme in the same week – And then I quit my job, like a little after that; So I was still trying to figure out how to really survive just strictly off of music. 94 Camry Music was the first year I was really like able to do that, but like do that well and start to kind of break through. Also like outside the career, that was my first tour, you know, and first really big brand partnerships. You know, by that time I think that’s like the second project that I had under the belt with my team. So we’re starting to kind of figure out how to improve and really put things together. And it was really just like a testament of me walking out on faith and just doing things that I feel need to be done. And then the world stops, you know what I’m saying?
It was kind of like such a crazy effect that I was doing all this moving around. You know, I’d be out of Chicago for months at a time, go touring, I’m doing shows here. I was setting up stuff right, it was looking like it’s about to be a breakout year for me and then — the world stopped.
And, you know, I didn’t really have anything going on at all. And also I didn’t really know what I needed to do. At the time spring comes around and we’re dealing not only with COVID, but also the effects of everybody being stuck in the house, plus police brutality is still going on and all the injustices and inequalities that are happening really all over America.
I felt like it wasn’t even my place to be making music at that time. I needed to be using the resources I have for other things. So I really spent that whole time just running programs with the nonprofit, Delacreme Scholars and you know, feeding people and doing all this other shit because people were in the streets protesting every day.
I couldn’t do that because I had got injured by the police while I was protesting during the George Flloyd riots. So for my sake, for my health, I couldn’t be out as much as I wanted to. I had to take it into other things. But even at that point, I kinda just felt like music wasn’t really what I needed to be doing – other things that needed to happen.
Um, so it wasn’t even like I was trying to build anticipation for a new project. It was just, there was so much going on in the world. It wasn’t really like music. Wasn’t the focus. So by the time I got back into the music, really like early 20-21, the project was almost done anyway, because it was almost done before COVID most of it was done before COVID so, um, but afterwards going into, and I, well, we don’t know how we’re going to figure out how to roll this out or what the world’s going to look like.
But at the time we are planning to drop it. It’s the same brick by brick idea, just go walking out on faith. Let’s start playing with things and putting things together. Um, and I think hat was very reassuring too, is like, uh, during that time I had the highest, uh, steaming numbers I’ve ever had. Like when the, during COVID was when, like I’ve seen the largest jumps, not on tour and now whatever during COVID is when I seen the largest jumps in my music.
Um, and I think that was one, just testing into like music lasting long and knowing that my fans are just people who are, who are alike, like the type of music I make would stick around to listen. Um, but also a testament that like I was doing what I needed to be doing. You know what I’m saying? Like, in the meantime, uh, in that, in that energy came back and the support I got.
So, um, yeah, so that kind of brought me up to this point. Yeah, man. I mean, like that feel like from like, from my perspective too. Like not a lot of artists you, or at least you don’t know about, or you just don’t hear about it. They kind of take a different direction. And obviously we all kind of did during those times, like we realized, like what was important.
SHANE:Um, but I mean, like doing that nonprofit work, talk more of, you about that, like how that started for you and how did that feeling and that impact on l your community and everybody, you know, translate into the energy you put into Not for Sale.
FEMDOT: Um, it’s, it’s crazy. So, you know, we started giving out scholarships in 2018 when I dropped on the De La Creme. When I graduated college because I’d been wanting to do this since like maybe 23. So we were like, let’s do something and use proceeds and shows and just start giving out scholarships to people in the middle of the year.
We can help somebody at school. So we were doing that for a couple of years and then, um, you know, uh, we started going to the scholar’s slide by or the grocery delivery service, really, because it was a response to like work that was already being done in the community. There are already people doing donation sites and food drives and stuff, but like a lot of people, especially during COVID was so nervous, they didn’t have access to get there.
So we’re like, okay, let’s fill in those gaps and deliver food to people. Which is a blessing because had I not been beaten by the police and had to get my head stapled I couldn’t go back out to protest. I probably wouldn’t have gone to one of these donation sites where I figured out, oh, this is what’s going on.
So, um, it all works itself out how it’s supposed to. And that summer was crazy. Cause I made a bunch of new friendships and community and you saw community work so well and you see everyone bond over a lot of shit that was fucked up. But also just the fact of like, yo, like there are people that really care about where they’re from and, and other people.
So even going back to the project, Not for Sale and the whole concept of Not for Sale is I think everything so far in advance. So like, like the title Not for Sale was like solidified, I think the beginning of 2020, but the idea of what I wanted to talk about has been there for like, maybe since 2015.
And even some of the songs on Not for Sale are from 2017 and 2018. Um, so for me to go back to the music now and listen, and for it to seem even more relevant now than when I thought about it, it was like, okay, I’m going in the right direction of like what I’m supposed to be talking about.
It’s going to resonate a lot more now, which is another reason why I felt secure and not dropping beforehand or not doing, or, you know, dropping a couple of records, but not, not really focusing on music as much because now after all of this, I feel like it’s, it’s a much clearer thought and the music is even more impactful because I feel like it’s much more relevant even though I thought of the idea years ago.
SHANE: So, yeah, I mean, do you just the way that the world kind of panned out, I feel like this is definitely one of those projects that people kind of like need to hear, or like, definitely like wanted to hear and they don’t even know it yet. Cause I mean, for me there were so many different snippets of you talking on there. I feel like you were giving advice or just kinda dropping some gems of just your own experiences. Um, the, I mean, obviously you just like kind of plan to, to work that in. And I mean, there was even like notions or like moments where the cha-ching sound went through, like what was, what was the goal with those? I feel like you’re trying to leave a little paper trail throughout the whole project. And when those went off, I felt like I needed to really pay attention. I don’t know, these lil’ like snippets and puzzle pieces that connected the whole project and its message together.
FEMDOT: I think so. Um, I’m a very, I like sequencing. I love cohesion and I’ll always, and every time I look at a project or even a song, it’s just very much figuring out what story I want to tell. And with this one, um, I really wanted it to be important that I showed the full thought process that got me to like the last song or where I’m at now.
But because of that, I wanted to include, cause I really just voiced no myself talking to the house all the time. So like, they’re just, it’s not like me doing this for the album. These are just like regular voice notes that I sifted through, out of the hundreds of voice notes from when I’m just giving ourselves therapy in the house.
So I was just kind of thinking everything through, but like these voice notes were, a lot of them were around the time I was really coming through, coming to this conclusion of like, you know, you can’t put a price on experience and that, you know, knowing my worth. Um, and, but I’m like, okay, so we set the album up or the project was set to set up like a full, complete thought process.
So you kind of get like a glimpse of what I’m feeling in a big. You know, the first line is “You cannot buy me, I’m already free”. And I feel like I spend the rest of the project explaining that, right? Like that gets to that point. Uh, and even like when Alex comes on and the first thing you hear is like, and I didn’t tell her to do this.
She just did it. And it was just fantastic. Well, like,” I don’t know if I could be something like that. Like even if there hurts, like, I don’t know if I can be this person that’s supposed to be just rooted in. Even if I may not make the most of it, because as a, you know, as a consequence and because, and why, because you can not buy me, I’m already free, right?
And then these are the reasons why, so it’s kind of honestly set up like, I look at everything scientifically. So it’s kind of set up like a, like a science report or a lab report. Cause if anyone, whoever I went to school for, like any science and I take any labs, you have to have your introduction, which pretty much it was like explaining the whole research where it’s like very small.
And then you have all of your data and then you have your conclusion, right. That like really digs into everything from the beginning, but like wraps everything up. It was like, let’s make the project kind of like that. So that way, when people are listening, they feel like they are growing with me in real-time. As we go through this thought process that has gotten me to the end.
Um, and those snippets kind of just worked perfectly, but every sound effect was super like every sound effect you hear whether a money machine or like. Or a register noise or, you know, extra “Ooh” or reverb in the home or drum, everything is super intentional.
SHANE: Man that’s dope. I mean, going off that, what’s something that you hope people kind of take away from this?
Femdot: I want them to just see the lab-grown, like one of the artists, but also as a person, like, okay, like this is not the same person. This is, this is an evolved version. Like it’s not the exact same person that you are listening to two years ago. Um, but as for people who like this is their first time, I just want them to see me as human. I hope that allows them to have these conversations with themselves to maybe even come to a different conclusion, but just leave room for them to have that conversation with themselves as well. It’s just finding balance, but like, that means more than just like balancing on like the day-to-day shit. It’s like having conversations with yourself and having those conversations about your future as well.
SHANE: Man, that’s dope. I really hope people can like grasp that. And I think they will, but I think it’s super inspiring, especially just as an independent artist to deliver a message like that. Again, just like the timing too, of the juvenile and the world and just how things are going. I think it’s really just perfect and I’m excited to see what happens with it for other people. I think this is probably one of the best projects that come out this year, especially in the independent market...Well, bro, I have only one more question because it’s the easiest question, but what’s your favorite track or one that hits hard for you on this project right now?
FEMDOT: Right now, it changes by the day. But right now I was telling somebody this yesterday, right now it’s “the funds broken interlude” , because it’s the most uncomfortable song I’ve ever made. And I’m very curious. I’m just very interested, on what is going to allow me to do it on stage because the stage is the most comfortable place I ever have been ever.
So it’s like when two unmovable objects meet, like what happens, you want to have the most uncomfortable song I’ve ever made and the most in the most comfortable space. so I’m excited to see what that looks like. Same man. So right now that’s my favorite one, because it’s going to be, is this the one that I have to think the most about right now