ONESTY, INTEGRITY, and HARD WORK: not only a general recipe for success, but a trifecta of attributes as rare together as they are individually uncommon. In a renegade breed, much of those aspects are still present. That rare breed, reared in South Jamaica, Queens, includes Frenchie 1017; Bricksquad member, Atlanta-transplant, a Queens representer – and the hardest-working artist out right now
Born and raised in the much-maligned, yet-highly-glorified crack epidemic of the late 80’s and early 90’s, Frenchie lived through what many of us only read about: the depreciation of an entire neighborhood (Southside, Queens) into one of history’s most dangerous, rugged, and unsafe stretches of skull-cracked pavement and harsh realities to ever exist. Frenchie’s crossroads – Merrick & Linden – provided a firsthand account into the annals of hustler history. “To be honest, I grew up around a lot of ignorance. The older people that I looked up to, they were jackers; robbers. I was a part of it, too; but I always wanted more.” Frenchie displays a brutal honesty in describing his come up; and an uncontained, raw emotion that is undoubtedly a showcase of the final offspring of a rare breed: “I didn’t want that nine-to-five,” he continues. “I always wanted more”. Using music as a path to achievement, fourth-grade ciphers graduated to sixth-grade battles, and circumstantial yet pre-destined familial ties led to music as the only career option. “My family runs deep – my cousin Bimmy used to be an A&R at Def Jam, and DJ Hurricane – my uncle – was the Beastie Boys’ DJ.” Add that to the fact that Deborah Antney, mother & manager to Wacka Flocka, is his aunt, and you see how Frenchie wasn’t left with much of a choice – succeed in music, or stay in the hood. What separates Frenchie from his peers, though, are two seemingly trivial, but actually monumental tidbits: his constant travel back and forth from Atlanta, and his raw focus, energy, and determination. “I’m always up for an adventure. I was one of the only ones from my ‘hood to hop on the train; to see Brooklyn, to see the Bronx. I been through the Carolinas, Virginia – I spent half my life in Atlanta.” But the remembrance of Southside – its vitality, its vigor, its corruption, and ruggedness – instilled in the twenty-six year old an unparallel work ethic – to get rich, or die tryin’. As far as Frenchie’s influences go, apart from a few out-of-towners, the home base is well-represented: “Gucci, that’s my boy. Banks, 50 Cent, Yayo – those are dudes from my neighborhood, and they made it out. LL Cool J, some of the older cats…and One Republic. I love so much different type of music, it’s a shame!” As far as concepts, the answer isn’t what you’d expect, but signifies an innate intelligence, tremendous foresight, and the result of exposure to different: different music, different cultures, and different regions. “My style is universal. I’ll go wherever the tempo takes me…the concepts come from the beats. Certain beats speak to my soul. It has to feel live.”
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A constant tour de force of videos, work, and tours, Frenchie’s Internet presence is a sight to behold: a quick WorldStar search brings forth over forty self-produced music videos, and his YouTube presence includes videos spanning back several years, and millions of collective views. “The Internet is the number-one promotional tool in the world. Children have so much technology nowadays, that they don’t even have to come outside. They can just stay indoors and have fun.” Maintaining this momentum, though, is a constant struggle for a 21st-century entertainer, as Frenchie elaborates: “The grind is the toughest part. It’s beautiful when the music is out, and they vibe to it. But the hard part – you gotta wake up early, everyday, after barely sleeping for days on end, to go to the studio to fine-tune, edit, and break day. Sometimes, I wanna close my eyes and sleep, but I’d never allow myself to do that – not till I’m in a coffin. I work hard, I go hard.” Showing no signs of slowing up, Frenchie’s onslaught will continue with the release of The Concrete Jungle, a mixtape hosted by DJ Holiday, fresh on the heels of Bringin’ Gangsta Back, hosted by DJ Trapaholics. Having done features with a broad range of Southern stars (Juicy J, Project Pat, Yung Joc, Gorilla Zoe, Soulja Boy), family members (Gucci Mane, Wacka Flocka, Wooh Da Kid), and East Coast up-and-comers (French Montana, John Depp, Webstar, and the late G. Baby), Frenchie’s groundwork has laid a solid, universal foundation. Success is only a step away. hoodstarmag.14
edemption is an oft-repeated phrase, whose value has been rendered inconsequential. Scholars, religious fanatics, and pundits may use the term, but they’ve probably yet to experience it. For Yung Joey, 21-year old phenom from Northside Jamaica, Queens (by way of Atlanta), redemption is the song of success. Redemption is a second chance – and the beginning of a Rebirth.
Raised during the late 80’s/early 90’s heyday of Southside Jamaica Queens, under the watchful auspice of the infamous Supreme Team, Yung Joey has always been around the music landscape. “My father had a club, so I used to rap there when I was like four, five years old,” he remembers. “And my uncle Bimmy was an A&R at Def Jam, so I’ve always been involved.”
“I can only look up; I can’t look down. it’s only a matter of time before it’s my time.
Being around the likes of LL Cool J, Slick Rick, Jay-Z, Irv Gotti and other Def Jam elite gave the youngster a first-hand look at the music business; while being around his father, a wellknown dopeboy of the era, gave him a bird’s eye view of the streets. It would be after he moved to Atlanta at age fourteen, though, that the two worlds would converge. Initially attending an elite boarding school with the world’s brightest students, he soon enrolled in college, which lasted a year. “I never was a problem child – that’s not my story. I got good grades, and went to good schools.” At the same time, his aunt Deb Antney had begun managing a local rapper named Gucci Mane, who’s just had his first hit with “ So Icey”. Yung Joey served as everything from roadie to Suburban driver to hype man, seeing once again how the music industry operates. Soon enough, the lure of fast cash and street life proved unbearable, and life hit hard. Dropping out of college to sell drugs, Yung Joey was caught up in a homicide investigation – and charged with fourteen counts, including aggravated assault, possession of a firearm, and murder. Police investigations led him from Atlanta back to New York, shuttling underground, re-evaluating relationships, and predicting his next move (as well as the next move of the FEDS). “When I found out, I had this gut feeling at the bottom of my stomach – I knew this was gonna be bad,” he recalls. Though his family was initially shocked at his troubles, they hired a powerful attorney, and through due diligence and conviction, Yung Joey beat the case. “The odds of beating a case like that are almost impossible; so when I walked out, I knew that this was my second chance – a second chance to breathe.” As his trial wore on, Joey watched from the sidelines as the careers of his comrades (via blood relation) Wacka Flocka, Frenchie and Wooh Da Kid flourished. His aunt also managed artists Gucci Mane & Nicki Minaj, who became overnight sensations. Once freed, Joey immediately shot his first video, a song entitled “Stripper”, directed by WorldStar powerhouse Blind Folk Vision. He also got his production chops up, quietly producing the majority of his own records, while also working on songs with the likes Nicki Minaj, Bobby Valentino, and Vado. Citing versatility as his key attribute, Yung Joey now has over half a dozen videos on WorldStar, approaching close to four million views. He cites his immediate peers and contemporaries, and his family as the reason for his drive: “My support system provides motivation for me. The fact that I’ve seen so many people do it – Gucci, Wacka. I’ve seen success right in front of me, over and over again.” Yung Joey is currently working on his first mixtape, The Sixth Man, to be released this fall. With a formula that combines the lyricism of Queens legends to the rhythm of Down South808’s, Joey also credits his consequences and surroundings: “My story is so unique – I’ve been to prep school with kids from all over the world, and I’ve been at the bottom of the totem pole with lifers & rapists. I’m everything every other rapper is not.” Yung Joey’s shot at redemption – his second chance – is one that he doesn’t take lightly, as evidenced by his understanding of what he’s been through, and where he’s headed: “I can only look up; I can’t look down, it’s only a matter of time before it’s my time.”
For more information on Yung Joey, please visit www.YungJoey1017.com Be sure to follow Yung Joey on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/YungJoeybsm