A quintessential part of living in Brooklyn, New York City’s largest borough, is witnessing the speed at which an aspiring artist can go from local to global. From Biggie and Jay-Z to Bobby Shmurda and the late Pop Smoke, the King’s County has spawned countless talented stars over the years. Standing at the forefront of New York’s burgeoning drill scene is Fivio Foreign, who went viral with 2019’s “Big Drip.” The 24-year-old rapper cements his strong presence through signature ad-libs and gritty bars about rising from the trenches.
After losing his mother in 2018, Fivio Foreign put the pedal to the metal with his music career. He would spend years carving out a name for himself before being formally introduced to the world on his debut project, Pain and Love. Amongst emerging acts like Sheff G and Sleepy Hollow, Fivio is by far one of the most radiant voices within this new New York scene. His eccentric hooks and unforgettable one-liners set him far apart from the crowd.
Over the past few months, Fivio has been dropping stellar tracks like “Wetty” and “Richer Than Ever” with Rich The Kid ahead of his major label debut under Columbia Records. The project, 800 B.C., otherwise known as “Before Corona,” cleverly alludes to his 800 Foreign Side Crips affiliation and the COVID-19 pandemic. With his latest project, Fivio puts forth his most introspective music so far. “With the new one, you already know who I am so I’m more so trying to teach you how to be me,” he states.
I chatted with Fivio about finding his purpose, the rapid rise to fame, and remembering Pop Smoke.
MALCOLM TRAPP: Walk me through your childhood, what was in like growing up for you?
FIVIO FOREIGN: Growing up was fun. We did all the basic stuff like sports and manhunt. That’s like tag times ten, you know? When we grew up, we started getting into other dumb things like learning about gangs, shit was crazy. For me, it was really just how to really live and survive.
How’d you initially get into making music?
I was always rapping and fucking around with music. I started taking it seriously when they started saying, “Yo Favio, you kinda nice bro.” Then I just started taking it serious. If I wasn’t doing music, I’d probably just be cuffed up. I’d be a family man with kids, probably would get a job. I think this was it, I had to become a rapper because I’d probably be dead or in jail if not.
What’s the story behind getting Quavo and Lil Baby on the “Big Drip” remix?
I fuck with them heavy. They just randomly hit me up on their own, that’s big Quavo and big Lil Baby. You can’t reach out to them and go “Yo, I want you on my song.” You have to wait until they’re ready so I just waited until then. They randomly hit me up and showed mad love.
What’s your recording process like in the studio?
I hear the beat and get straight to it. I don’t write anything down. My sessions are deep, I’m with at least thirty people in the studio. They can all tell you I don’t write.
Talk to me about signing to Columbia Records, what made you choose them out of all of the other offers you were receiving?
Columbia had the best offer, they did the right thing. They had the best relations with my bill. I get to control my shit, certain stuff I can ask for and I got it.
Do you look back on any of your older releases such as Pain and Love to inspire your latter works?
No, I mostly try not to make the same music. It may come out like that ‘cause that’s my sound, but I don’t look at any of my older work to inspire my new songs. Then I’ll probably be making the same song over.
How would you compare it to your forthcoming project dropping soon?
Pain and Love, I was more or so introducing the world to me and how I am. With the new one, you already know who I am so I’m more so trying to teach you how to be me. I’m giving instructions.
Looking back on some of your past performances, what’s the craziest encounter you’ve had with a fan so far?
One time I walked into Five Guys to buy some food or something and like the whole work crew was like “oh shit.” Next thing you know, they started almost getting ready to be fired. They were jumping on counters, Woo walking, and acting crazy. I was Woo walking with them, but the boss messed with my music too so they were all good.
What’s the last album you listened to?
Pop Smoke, Meet The Woo 2.
In February, Pop Smoke passed away. How did that situation affect you and what does he mean to the community?
He meant everything. Pop was the nigga who was taking off, like changed the agenda. Now, it’s up to us to keep his legacy pushing. That’s home team so I’m just going to keep it alive for him, he’s never going to die.
What’s one of your favorite memories that you two shared?
I just remember one time he was mad at me because he felt like I wasn’t showing him enough love. I used to tell him like, “Bro, I love you. We in this shit together, it’s just us.” From there on, everything has been to the moon. He brought me to my first radio interview, so that’s kin.
When it comes to keeping your composure, how do you keep marching despite all the negativity and stuff going on in the world?
I mean, it’s normal for me because that’s what we’re used to. When we grew up, things weren’t always going our way. The world has been fucked up, this is nothing new to me. It’s like the comfort zone for me.
How did you and Tory Lanez eventually come together for “K Lo K” and what was it like working with him?
I fuck with Tory, he’s good people. From God, he a good spirited nigga. More so, he just reached out like everybody else. When artists like that reach out that’s that big, you gotta show respect.
Would you say you’re the hottest rapper coming out of New York right now?
I’d say I’m the best. However, in reality, it’s a lot of artists coming behind me. I’m kicking the door for mad artists right now.
Do you have any passions outside of making music?
I love basketball, I’m nice in sports. I’m like the best.
What advice would you give to some of the younger artists trying to make it?
I would say like go home, make sure you put your all into your craft. Put your everything into it and it’ll be alright. Don’t stop for nothing, can’t be a half-time job when it comes to this.
Photo courtesy of Rickaya Hines