FRD FRLN: Vibes x Vibrations

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Photo courtesy of Oliver Whitehouse

Emcee FRD FRLN kicked off the year with the release of an EP titled “Same Old Different New…” The New Jersey native is ending 2023 with another EP called “Vibes & Vibrations.” Don’t let the title fool you, Vibes & Vibrations is light on mellow music and heavy on hard beats and rhymes.

Vibes & Vibrations is a 7-track EP featuring Joe Clark, Con The G, and FT of Streetzmartz. The project is produced by Piff James, JPatz, Aaron Green, The PLUG BEATS, and the Beatenaunt.

The Real Hip-Hop spoke to FRD FRLN about his favorite emcees from New Jersey, why showing love is easier than hating, and his new EP, Vibes & Vibrations.

TRHH: Why’d you title the new EP Vibes & Vibrations?

FRD FRLN: It just came to me. Last April, my second time in Athens, I went to solidify some connections and whatnot that I had made the first time I was out there back in September when I dropped Thoughts Illustrated. I kind of wanted to make it a thing that every time I’m out there I record with a few people that we respect each other, we respect each other’s talents, and we value what each other brings to the table as far as dealing with Hip-Hop, and things in general. So, one of my connections I made last September that I went to see when I was there in April, The PLUG just hit me with this beat.

I originally went out there to just film the video for Stay Dangerous — the first single from Vibes & Vibrations. I didn’t even really have a title for the EP, Stay Dangerous wasn’t even really written until I got on the plane, bro. If my videographer sees this interview he’s probably gonna be like, “Yo, what?” Shout out to my man Oliver Whitehouse from Sektion Red out of Bristol, UK. I had told him, “Yeah, man I got the song. Just meet me in Athens.” He’s always out there doing stuff with Greek artists as far as like videos and whatnot so, it’s nothing for him to get there. I’m like, “I got the song, I got the song, I got the song,” stalling him out the whole time.

I’m on the plane listening to the beat — it finally hits me. I write the verses, write the hook, bang. Stall him out the whole time again. I recorded with my man NTS Lokall out there in Kallithea, like a suburb of Athens. I record the song, do the video the next day. And releasing it, for the write up I needed to have something to go in there and it just so happened that again The PLUG who did the beat hit me with that beat while I was there. So, like my last few days I wrote that song also. It just hit me like the whole time I was out there that’s what it was — vibes and vibrations/good times and libations. The whole time I was out there that’s literally what it was, so, that’s just how it went. It’s like, hey, this is what it’s going to be, and I just went off of that. I had no idea the actual project was going to come out the way it came out.

Literally the week before I dropped it I’m still sending tracks back over to my engineer in Jersey because I’m already out in Athens. I’m still sending tracks back to him like, “Yo, man fix this, do this, do this,” the whole time. It’s kind of like how Q-Tip used to be how Chris Lighty explained it. Like, still trying to tweak it to make it as good as I could possibly make it I think. Finally, I was like, yo, you gotta let it go. But again, like at the time that literally was just what was going on while we were out there in Athens. Like vibes and vibrations/good times and libations. So, it just seemed like it was fitting. That’s what made me wanna go back to release it out there also. It’s like, yo, why not? The idea hit me here, the energy hit me here, we gonna return to the scene of the crime, so to speak.

TRHH: On the single “It’s Like Dat, Pt. 2” you rhyme over the Long Red drums. Take me into the creation of that song.

FRD FRLN: I’m 44, right. I’ve been listening to FT since the Stretch and Bobbito days. One day it comes across Instagram that he had did a guest appearance on Lu Chin’s jump off, the one before this new one he put out. I’m like, “Oh, FT doing features with people? Let me try and see, the worst he could say is no.” So, bong, that’s for the first one. He said yeah, we did it, it got such a good response, and we both felt so good about the energy of the song and how it came out. That’s my man’s now. We literally kept in contact. He’s from Brooklyn, I’m from Jersey City and he literally works at the World Trade Center. Every day when I come into work or leave I’m probably going to see him because he works over there. The whole time after I dropped Same Old Different New and It’s Like That was just getting mad burn and we was noticing it, we was just like, “Yo, man we need to continue doing something. We need to continue to do more things because this energy is dope.”

I had it in my head that I wanted to do another song with him right away and when it came about I was sitting with Piff James. Piff James is my man –Animal Crackas, 152 Gang, Outsidaz, Jersey shit. Piff James is also with Gold Chain Music – Planet Asia. So, I was sitting with Piff James just running through beats. He’s like “Yo, pick what you want, pick what you want.” And the beat comes on and immediately I start doing the hook ‘cause it just hit me. I’m like, “Oh, this is the one, bro. This is the one right here, yo, you gotta give me this one.” So, he gave me that one, I threw it to FT and like I say a month later I hit him with my verse and like immediately he hit me right back with his, and that’s just how it went. And again, we both were just like, “Yo, this one is even better than the first one, bro.” It’s kind of dope that somebody who I came up listening to and I admire has some appreciation for what I do and it shows. He definitely takes what we do seriously when we link up and try to create something. I guess it shows when we do come together. We definitely like what we did and I guess the response we’re getting from it is more than satisfactory. I’m digging it.

TRHH: Why’d you choose the name Ford Fairlane?

FRD FRLN: Alright, it was many iterations of FRD FRLN prior to this. I was rapping ever since I was like, I guess 11. I started rapping watching the older dudes on my block or whatever and I just had many names through many phases. You know rap had the conscious phase, the gangsta phase, the flashy shiny suit phase, and then like just coming into my own one day and the movie came. The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, and I was always a Dice Clay fan. Once you actually peep the character like yo, he’s a good dude, just a little rough around the edges sometimes. Sometimes he’s a little uncouth and whatnot, but his heart is always in the right place and he gets the job done. I see some of myself in him. I guess Ford Fairlane would be the rap version of who I actually am besides not wanting to use my actual real name, because if I could, I would. FRD FRLN actually sounds like a real name, also, so it works out. And again, I think me and the character kind of share similarities.

I’m a little rough around the edges, I can go from the hood to the boardroom, but at the same time I’m the son of a Geechie man, half my mother’s family from the Bahamas. I’m a little country and a little crazy. I deal with fundraisers in Manhattan, I’m around a certain echelon of people but I navigate those worlds and go through it, but at the same time I’m just me. Within those worlds sometimes my coworkers will see, I’ll do something incredibly like just out of pocket just for the setting, but that’s just me. So, I just come in and I’m a dude that doesn’t front for anybody. You get me all the time, no matter what that’s gonna be. It may be good, it may be not so good, but you gonna get that all the time. Whatever it is, it’s FRD. That character is pretty much that way, and I looked at it and was like, “Alright, that’s gonna be your name now. You’re not gonna run with the whole persona, but that’s gonna be your name now, because in your own way you and that character blend.”

TRHH: Who would you say influenced your style the most as an emcee?

FRD FRLN: Wow, alright, man, let me just get it off the top of my head — a lot of Rakim. When I first started rapping I kind of patterned myself after Lord Finesse and Rakim. I was a big huge Rakim, Lord Finesse, Kane, KRS, Nas, De La Soul fan. I’m a child of that era. Even it’s reflected in my music now. I come from a time where you might have tackled a couple of different subjects on one album, but you didn’t do the same song virtually through a whole project. You gave them different looks or something, so I’m a child of that era. Again, those I mentioned and then, yo, I have to credit my sister. My older sister was the one who put me onto a lot of things. She’s the one who put me on to Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito, she put me on to DJ Martin Moore & Mayhem, they used to come on WNYU like the day before Stretch Armstrong. She put me on to Jay Smooth and the Underground Railroad, so my sister had a hand in that.

So, listening to DITC, Godfather Don, even Cage, and Tame One definitely, yo. I’m a big Tame One fan, thank God I got to do one of the last songs before unfortunately he passed. El Da Sensei, and a bunch of dudes that came from Jersey. I grew up around the corner from Sugar Ray from Double X Posse. Chill Rob G was three blocks away from me. The dude Double J that was down with Flavor Unit was two blocks away from me — he was a block before Chill Rob. P.M. Dawn was downtown by my high school. All of that is what makes up this guy right here, FRD FRLN. But then also, I actually have a bunch of other different musical tastes. I said it a long time ago, “I’m a little bit country, a little bit Rock & Roll/For the record, a lot of reggae, Hip-Hop and soul.” All of that goes into me.

Even lately, for the last I would say a year and a half I don’t listen to a lot of rap. I listen to a lot of the things that I may sample to make a beat. I listen to a lot of things that I grew up with my dad playing on Saturdays, stuff I grew up with my mother playing. They were big into gospel, my mother would throw on reggae, both of them would throw on Motown soul. So, a lot of that goes into what I like, and then I’m a dude who grew up playing the saxophone. You throw a saxaphone in my hand I still play that thing — E flat alto. A lot of stuff goes into this guy right here.

TRHH: Who are your top 5 emcees from Jersey?

FRD FRLN: Top five emcees from Jersey all-time in no particular order, I’m only saying him first because he’s not here anymore, Tame One, may he rest in peace, Redman of course, Treach, Chill Rob definitely. I’m trying to get at Chill Rob ‘cause we from the same hood — literally three blocks from each other. I’m trying to get at Chill Rob to do something with him. He don’t get enough credit – YZ. G-Rock from Trenton. He don’t get enough credit. Yeah, I’m still listening to In Control of Things like from the first jump off, and The Return of the Holy One when he got signed to Livin’ Large. They was Livin’ Large/Tommy Boy. Yeah, bro I still listen to that sometimes. So, those are the ones. I’m a kid from that era, so that’s the stuff I go back to.

TRHH: The song “Mi Amor” stood out to me because it sounds different from everything that’s out now. Why did you choose that beat to rhyme on?

FRD FRLN: It was dope. Shout out to my man Aaron Green. It was musical, it was different because he threw some live instrumentation in there. He plays a few instruments himself. That bass in there was him. Again, I’m a child from that era, so even in the midst of Rakim giving you something like The Ghetto, he threw in a Mahogany. He threw in a What’s On Your Mind, ain’t nobody really doing that nowadays, bro.

Dudes virtually do the same song for a whole project. It’s got a different name, it’s got a different beat, but like really, it’s the same subject matter. He’s pretty much saying the same thing for a whole project. I’m trying not to do that. I’m actively trying not to do that. Don’t get me wrong, there’s gonna be stuff where I do, do that because I understand what’s up, but like at the same time I’m going to do what I wanna do. And what I wanna do is not do the same song for a whole project.

TRHH: On the song “Forever & Always” you say, “Show love ‘cause it take too much effort to act funny.” That line resonated with me because I feel the same way. Why do you think so many people don’t move that way and decide to act funny?

FRD FRLN: Sometimes it’s insecurity of their position. It cost nothing to show love. We live in a day and age where people perceive showing love as d-riding. It took me stepping out-of-the-box to get to say Athens to where a motherfucker out there got no problem putting their ego aside and saying, “Yo, fam, you dope. I fuck with you.” There’s other places like that, too. Stuff like that makes it easier for me, because I’m that way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to show love because when you’re acting funny, you gotta move funny. That means you gotta move out of character and you gotta actively, voluntarily, try to move out of character. Showing love is involuntary for me.

I could appreciate somebody and genuinely appreciate what they do, see value in that person and whatnot, and not feel like it diminishes my stock, also. Because that’s the insecurity part, because people feel like the more they pour into somebody, I guess, and the more other people pour into it, then there’s nothing left to pour into me. It takes away from what they were pouring into me, and it’s just like, bro, the energy you put out comes back. And aside from that, it’s a lot of people who want to see certain things, who want to see stuff like that, they want that to be the reality, they feel as though that’s not the status quo, so they just moving along with whatever is going along. You’ve got to be the first person that you see doing what you want done. You can’t wait for somebody else because you may never see it. So, you’ve got to be that first person, and then that allows somebody else who might be on the fence to see that thing, and then it goes on there.

A lot of times when somebody’s actually genuine with you, if you are genuine, it rubs off. They have no choice but to because it’s like, “Oh, wow, this person doesn’t want anything from me. This person is saying what?” It might catch him off guard at first, but once they actually get accustomed to it then it’s easier for them to be that way. And then they’ll see that the stuff they was doing, it takes too much effort for that. It takes too much time and energy, you got to keep up facades. And even think about it like this, that takes a lot of fronting. You’re in somebody’s face smiling and behind their back you’re like, “Man, I can’t stand this motherfucker.” I don’t got time for that, bro, I really don’t. So, I show love because that energy that I would use to act funny, I’m doing other things with that shit.

TRHH: Who is the Vibes & Vibrations EP made for?

FRD FRLN: It’s a combination of people. Most importantly it’s made for people who love Hip-Hop and lyrics. It’s made for people who actually love music as an art form as a whole, because what I generally try to do is I’m not out to just make the hardest record. I’m out to make this piece of art. It’s this thing that is to be revered, that’s what I have to do. Also, in a nutshell it’s kind of like good travel music. Literally good travel music. You listen to it and it puts you in a good space and mind. Songs like Happy Place, songs like Mi Amor, it’s traveling music.

I take you on a road with my man Con The G. He’s originally from Vancouver. but he’s Greek. His parents are Greek, so when they moved back to Greece he moved back when he was 15. That’s when you hear a little bit of English and Greek in that verse with him, too. So, it’s travel music, it’s Hip-Hop level music, it’s art level music, it’s B-boy music, it’s B-girl music, it’s boom bap, it’s all of that. It’s literally all of that. It’s for everybody that’s just into all of that, and even then, a couple of people who didn’t know they were into that, they might find out that they are.

Purchase: FRD FRLN – Vibes & Vibrations

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About Sherron Shabazz

Sherron Shabazz is a freelance writer with an intense passion for Hip-Hop culture. Sherron is your quintessential Hip-Hop snob, seeking to advance the future of the culture while fondly remembering its past.
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