When Foolio starts to reflect on his past over Zoom, he flashes a toothy grin that reveals a blindingly radiant grill, encrusted in diamonds. “We fought our opps at our jamboree,” he shares, revisiting a core memory that helped define his childhood. Since his inception, the Jacksonville rapper’s life has been an uphill battle, underpinned by feelings of betrayal and paranoia.
From being robbed by a close friend to surviving a shootout in his hometown, Foolio’s resilience in the face of adversity is eye-opening for someone with no support system. His ability to overcome life’s obstacles is a testament to the incessant itch that drives him. And despite his impressive catalog (which includes a joint project with Zaytoven and a score of regional anthems), Foolio’s still grinding like it’s his first day on the job. In other words, he’s ambitious, ready for his long-overdue breakthrough.
Where rap’s biggest names have spent the last few years trying to crack the code on creating viral content, Foolio has stayed true to his belligerent stylings. Over the years, he’s continued to build on his buzz with releasing a pocket of increasingly popular diss tracks (“When I See You” and “Double That”). His refusal to back down from the opposition has proven to be beneficial for his rap career, however, as evidenced by Foolio’s fearlessly honest lyrics, that approach has also fostered feelings of depression.
Vignettes of betrayal run deep in Foolio’s catalog. It’s an unfortunate and unavoidable part of his reality. And yet, he remains unmoved by the noise, using music as means to tell his story in a way that feels uniquely his.
[Life of Me] is your first project released this year – what about now felt like the best time to drop?
I haven’t been dropping like that and I felt like my fans wanted [the mixtape]. [Life of Me] like a warm-up – I’ma drop another one later this year, probably in November or December. It’s gon’ be so hard. But [Life of Me] is just to get me back in front of [fans] and show ‘em this how I’m coming.
What kind of artist are you when it’s time to rollout new music? Some [artists] don’t enjoy the promotion part of the business.
That’s important, though. For me, ‘cause I’m really on the independent side, I have to promote. I like to promote. I want everything to be perfect when I drop so it all makes sense.
Have you always had a go-getter mentality?
I had an independent mindset all my life. I ain’t never had no real person give me a handout so I always had to really be like that.
Did you have a strong support system growing up, or did you have to fend for yourself?
Nah, not really. I ain’t really had nobody. My momma used to pay for like… when I first started rapping, me and one of my homeboys, she used to pay for some of my studio time. When we used to do lil’ shows and had to pay for it, she would pay for that.
Do you remember what the first song you ever recorded sounded like?
Yeah, I was in a real studio for my first song. I think it was 2010 or something like that. Me and my cousin, we made a song about our grandma. That bih was hard, though, for us to be young doing that.
Is family important to you?
I wouldn’t say “family,” but certain family members important to me. I had family do creep shit to me so I take loyalty seriously. When I was a jit, I ain’t gon’ say no names, but one of my homeboys had robbed me and my cousin. Like, my real homeboy. We was young – 14,15 or some shit like that.
Were your younger days filled with trouble and hardship? You weren’t into sports or anything extracurricular?
I played basketball and football but shit, even with playing football, we had our opps coming up there. We fought our opps at our jamboree, before the game and shit. On bro, I remember that shit like it was yesterday. We fought before the game and we still played. That shit was crazy.
[Laughs] That’s insane. It sounds like you’ve lived quite a life.
I’ll say it’s been good and bad.
Up until this point, what’s the best thing that has ever happened to you?
When I got my momma a crib outta Jacksonville.
With moving your mom out of Jacksonville – was that a priority?
Hell yeah ‘cause my house used to get shot up and shit. She ain’t deserve none of that shit. That was my bullshit. Getting her out of my city, Jacksonville period, was big.
Buying your mom a house is like a rite of passage for any rapper, but I know removing her from that environment – especially with the unwarranted tension – was a sigh of relief. Did you learn anything from that experience?
Stop trusting people: everybody ain’t yo friend. Gotta keep your circle small.
You tackle depression throughout “Looking For You.” Is that something you struggle with?
I got PTSD, you know what I’m saying. It be them days when I think about my past, my dead homeboys, shit I went through – my lil’ brother getting killed by the police. It’s just a lot of shit. A nigga have them days where I just be like, ‘Fuck this shit.’ Before I dropped [“Looking For You”] I ain’t drop in four months. I was real deal like ‘Fuck rap.’ My mind was everywhere.
How did you shake back and regain your motivation to create?
I ain’t gon’ cap, some of my homeboys really hit me like, ‘Man, you on some bitch shit. You the key to this shit. You needa get on yo shit.’ I hear that a lot. Then, my momma hit me, people was hittin’ me like, ‘Damn, wassup. You ain’t been dropping.’ They don’t even know, I got so much shit on my mind. And then you be lookin’ at social media, looking at all that shit like damn – I ain’t gon’ cap, sometimes I be lookin’ at social media like I’m supposed to be bigger than… know what I’m saying. But I’m grateful, I just look at it as a process.
Sonically, would you say that Life of Me is like turning the page on a new chapter in your artistry?
Definitely. When I go in the studio, it’s really based on how I’m feeling. Ion go in the studio set like, ‘I’m finna make a thousand melodic songs.’ It’s about how I’m vibing with the beat.
How did the G Herbo feature come together?
I think I reached out to him on Instagram or something like that and he told me he’ll send a verse. I sent him two songs ‘cause I was gon’ put him and Nardo Wick on the same song together. He sent that bih back asap and that shit was hard. We gon’ shoot the [music video] and drop soon. I ain’t expect [G Herbo] to be real like that. If you look at my catalog, Ion do a lot of features like that. I ain’t really the friendly type but I’m getting more into it. That’s why I did a feature with bruh ‘cause I relate to him. When I reached out, [G Herbo] sent [his verse] back quick. That’s when I knew he was a real one and I rock with that.
Are you warming up to the idea of collaborating with other artists?
A lil’ bit ‘cause rappers be iffy. Ion wanna reach out to no rapper and they say some shit like, ‘Oh, you ain’t got streams like me. Your followers…,’ know what I’m saying. Most rappers really take that shit to the head. At the end of the day, we was all in the same position at one point. We was all broke at once. That’s how I look at it. It is what it is, though.
It feels like you still have something to prove.
I’ma always have that feeling ‘cause I know my music hard. I’ma always have that [thought] in the back of my head. You gotta do this, do that, there’s always another step to cross.
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