- Words Miki Hellerbach
- Photography Calvin Van
- Photography Mia Manning
"I love chaotic energy and that’s why I rap the way I do". Notion speaks to Atlanta rapper Father about everything from his new album to Hennessy vending machines and much more.
Father, for the first time recently, became an actual father. He’s also 6 years and 5 albums deep in the game and getting a little older. With his new project ‘Come Outside, We Not Gone Jump You’, you can hear the new energy he’s existing in. The overall sound of the album is much more contained and focused, as opposed to the frenzied slaps Father gained his core fan base off of early in his career. He is a certified product of the “weirdos” of Awful Records (Playboi Carti, Zach Fox) and Atlanta, where he has just returned after a long stint living on the West Coast. You can easily hear his early sound’s influence within many of the up and coming local artists’ music, but in this new chapter, Father has grown into a more evolved soundscape.
A “perfect pretty chaotic bubble” is how he describes this new composition, or at least his intention with it. Five years ago the two words “pretty” and “bubble” may have been left out, but Father is less focused on the euphoria of mayhem now, and much more on his artistry. Though he has matured, he does want his music to express the disarray that still exists in his psyche. Yet in the tone, the wildness is contained through time and perspective. Father sees his disruptive days now in retrospect even though he does occasionally indulge. He surrounds his aural commotion with an ethereal and glossy timbre within the music. This creates a new balance that makes listening to his full project so satisfying.
I spoke to Father about all things right now. Where he is mentally and musically, and his point of view on the game looking upon his journey, as well as the future. We chopped it up about everything from families of deer to Hennessy vending machines, and being Team Gucci Mane. Jump in!
Right now you’re rockin a camo hat and orange bubble coat which is so Atlanta to me, but not necessarily what outsiders would think people from Atlanta wear. Can you explain the look and vibe?
It’s very country boy John Deere sometimes. I’m from Mississippi so it’s very country boy to wear camo. It’s branded…what’s it called…Real Tree. I was in Wal-Mart the other day and they had mad Real Tree camo and that’s who owns that specific print you see every-fuckin-where. It’s like some shit you just pick up at a gas station. This is a gas station hat I got for like 5 bucks. It’s a bit of wearing things for actual utility. People are outside. It’s very woodsy. It can get extremely hot and very humid so you wanna be light. But at the same time, it gets dumb ass cold during the winters. So that’s where you see us come in still wearing bubble coats and stuff like that. So you can just kick it at a fire pit drinkin’ with the homies. It’s still very city though, so you see that crossed over with a lot of designer. I might have on the ten-dollar cap, but I got on some nudie jeans and shit. Might throw on a Fendi belt. It’s kind of like posh country boy.
So you’re from Mississippi originally. How long did you live there before moving to Atlanta?
I lived there ’til I was ten then came to Atlanta. I stayed in the Metro Atlanta area until college, and college is when I moved into the city. Then I was in the city for forever until I moved out to LA.
But you just moved back officially. What spurred that decision?
Once LA is on lockdown, it becomes “why am I paying this money to sit in my apartment?” Also, I just had a son in January. I have friends out there, but it’s not the same as coming home. I have family here. Soon as I got back to Georgia my mom was like, “oh we’ll take the baby for the weekend.” I’m like, “WOW.” From the time that he was born until very recently, it was just us and the baby in the apartment every single day. It was like, “yo we can’t keep doin’ this.” We came back out here so we could be around more friends, family members, and shit like that and it’s been great honestly. I can spend less, and live much grander. I have a fuckin massive backyard now for less bread, and I still live pretty much in the city. Still in the mix.
A lot of people don’t realize a lot of Atlanta is the woods, even closer to or in the city.
Yeah, bro. There’s fuckin deer and shits magical. I had just got back and we were chillin’ out here on the patio. I was on the grill and shit and we were like, “hey is that a family of deer?” Three deer were just pokin’ they heads out the woods and I was like, “yo I’m really back home.” I completely forgot what this was like.
So since we’re speaking of Atlanta I gotta ask – what did you think of the Gucci and Jeezy Versuz?
Oh man, that was great bro. I’ve been Team Gucci. When I was coming up, first learning how to get into recording, rapping, and producing for myself Gucci definitely influenced me and a lot of the n***as in my crew. His energy for the whole situation… I was like, “yeah you right, fuck bro!” I understand him not wanting to let up. I was on Gucci’s side. I was never a huge Jeezy fan when I was younger.
I was a much bigger Gucci fan too. I’m from Baltimore and people don’t realize how big he was there, at least while I was growing up.
That’s crazy. It’s funny though, as much as I’ve been in Atlanta I went a while without really getting into Gucci. One of our homegirls, she came from The Bay, and apparently, over the years Gucci got incredibly big there. She had just come back from The Bay and she was playing mad Gucci and I was like “this shit is fuckin hard!” Even though I was in the city and shit, that’s just not what I was listening to at the time. Early on I was into mad New York hip-hop and shit like that. If anything, Gucci grounded me back into my surroundings of becoming more of a southern artist.
That’s wild you can definitely hear the influence, but let’s get into this album! It feels the most cohesive of any project you’ve dropped and is such an easy listen front to back. Was that intentional?
Somewhat yes, in that I nitpicked the hell out of the beat selection for this. I only produced one of them myself, but I knew what I wanted all of it to sound like. I have little Spotify playlists that are private, that only I listen to, full of old R&B. There’s some Drake in there too and that’s what I was drawing from for this. Also, I wanted it to be spacey and as current as possible. I received thousands of beats from strangers and friends and I’d be like “this is hard, this is so fire, but it’s not the sound I want for this”. You were saying it flowed from beginning to end, but that’s because I think anything can be moved around. I’d been listening to the project pretty much for the entire year one way. We were getting ready to submit it, then right before I was like, “ey can we just completely like, fuck it up.” I shifted a whole portion of the album and moved it to the end and took other songs and moved them to the top. Reordered the entire thing and I was like, “oh it’s perfect I love this now”.
Ok so this one is a two-parter. What’s the ideal headspace to be in to listen to this album? And where’s the ideal physical location to listen?
Oh wow. I’m about to say two things you should not do. Imma say drunk, and in yo car. But get drunk and go sit in yo car. Don’t go nowhere. Let the window down if it’s not too cold. I had been listening to the album only in headphones on walks to the store and shit when I was in LA, and after a while, I was like, “I’m tired of listening to this album. Let me go work on some new music”. So I spent a very long time in this break just not listening to it anymore. Then a few weeks ago I took a drive up to the liquor store in my friend’s car. I was tryna figure out videos and things like that so I was like “lemme put this thing on.” I was like, “oh fuck this shit bang n***a like wow, I did a good ass job. This is actually not as bad as I thought it was”. That made me realize this is the perfect space and what I should’ve done a long time ago. Just hopped in a car to feel that boom all around you.
So for the “Love spells got me feelin’ unwell,” bar from “Spell Book,” was there a specific sequence of events that inspired that or is it more abstract?
It was like how in doing witchcraft and magic there’s always something you have to sacrifice in order to get the ends. Basically, it’s taking its toll on the user. That’s what I was referencing when I put that line in there. Like I’m doing all this shit, I’m actually using all these things, creating money, creating vehicles, making this woman fall in love with me and I’m starting to feel sick. The magic is taking its toll on me. I’m using my own blood and my own body to actualize these things and after a while, you can’t continue to push that. Unless you wanna sacrifice somebody else, then that’s a different side of that whole thing. But yeah, it’s self-sacrificing to get my ends.
Damn that’s super-specific. With “Brighton Beach Flow” were you talking about Brooklyn or were you talking about England? My guess is Brooklyn.
A-HAHA! Actually, I was totally talking about England. I named it actually because I’d heard of Brighton Beach in England. I wanted to go because my other manager Jerry, he’s from out there. I wrote a song about it when I was like 22 or some shit. I was like “Brighton sounds like a fire ass beach, I wanna go!” So I just remembered that and brought it back and I was like, “oh UK drill, let me use that as my reference” and I looked it up and I was like, “oh there’s a Brighton Beach in fuckin New York.” So it works both ways.
Ah right, so what I was going to ask next is it’s not a traditional drill beat, but it has that sort of classic warble which I’m guessing now was intentional yeah?
It sounds more like a dream-pop drill sound almost. I asked Dexter who produced it, “can you give me something that is drill-ish, but also sexy?” He fuckin delivered. I was like, “yo this is so perfect”.
So you mentioned this track before. “Boy Runs With Snakes” has maybe your brightest melody of the album, but also the darkest/ distorted beat. Was that juxtaposition intentional?
Yeah actually. When I originally made that one it started as a copy of a Drake song. He’s mastered that. A lot of his production is very uplifting sounding, but also very melancholy. It sounds like Toronto when you’re there. It’s cold as fuck, but it’s pretty. I might’ve based it on “Madonna,” but I can’t remember exactly. It was something off ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’. That’s what I was listening to when I made that beat, but it’s still got very southern me ass drums.
Was “Uncut” inspired at all by watching Uncut Gems?
Yeah absolutely, but just for the opening bar. It was originally called “Uncut Chems,” uncut drugs ya know…I need uncut chems so I can afford the things that I want essentially.
Right got it. But there is also an aesthetic similarity to me between Safdie brothers films, your album art, and the album’s tone. Do you agree and was there any crossover there?
I don’t know. Watching some of their films though, I’ve lived that life, kind of. Where it just feels like immense sitting in chaos. Now I have a child and it’s still kind of the same. It’s all very distracting, and it’s all very loud. I put that same kind of chaos into the music in terms of the energy and how I rap. Everything fits into this perfect pretty chaotic bubble. There’s a “Spell Book” bar about it. I say something about living in chaos. I love chaotic energy and that’s why I rap the way I do. That might be why it resonated and seems similar in energy.
Are there any tracks besides the ones I’ve mentioned that you think exemplify what you think you were going for sonically with the project?
“Backbreaker” leans more into a current pop-ish upbeat strong bass kinda sound too. That was like the most energy I put into anything. Everything else is very laid back and soft and “Backbreaker” is a little more turnt. That’s the one song I did in a studio with somebody else. He had a Hennessy vending machine. I downed like an entire bottle of Hennessy before I recorded that. It cuts off so suddenly because I blacked out. That song would’ve probably been so much better if I had just took it a little bit slower. I hit a certain point in the night and I told my homie, “ey we gotta leave right now.” I saw it happening, everything was just going dark. I called the Uber, then I remember nothing from the rest of the night. I just woke up at home. That’s the “Backbreaker” story of the Hennessy vending machine.
That’s the thing about getting older – it’s not that you won’t go ham anymore, you just inherently know when it’s gonna go left.
I was sitting there like, “yeah I’m feelin it comin guys, I gotta get the fuck outta here!” That’s why I don’t do studios man. You’re just stuck in a room and everything’s there and it’s coming to you and shit. The foods there, the drinks are everywhere, and I’m inclined to overindulge and be fuckin lit. I don’t see how dudes just settle in and go to the studio for a week straight. I’d be half dead bro. I gotta come back to the house. I would love to be one of those types of people. A studio rat just in that bitch everyday crankin out fuckin songs. But I’m more of a, I’ll live my life for a month then go record for a day. I guess that’s why it takes me a while to even put out projects. A bit of perfectionism, mixed in with laziness, and attention deficit. Maybe that’s also why, like this isn’t therapy, but that’s also feeding into the bar structures in the music and all that. That’s why it all sounds how it does. I can’t focus on one thing at a time. I don’t know if people be realizing it, but I definitely be saying a lot shit twice in different songs. I’m just like, “ah fuck it”.
So you touched on his influence before but on Twitter, you said, “All my favorite Drake songs sound like I’m hearin a song I’m not supposed to from the trunk of a car”. What did you mean?
My whole reference for it was you’re being kidnapped…I was probably drunk as shit when I thought this…but my brain went to I’m being kidnapped. I didn’t choose the music, but this shit slaps. But I’m in the trunk of the car so I can’t hear it too well. You hear slight rapping and the beat has that kind of washed-out sound. Like you’re hearing it through a wall from the other side and you’re like, “damn that sounds so fire”. That’s the feeling I get from a lot of his early music especially.
That’s so funny because I took it as lyrical instead of sonic. Like he is telling you something you weren’t supposed to hear.
Ohhhhh ok, yeah I was thinking sonically but he’s very voyeuristic. He definitely says shit that I’m like, “I didn’t need to know that man, but alright”. I love saying shit that people do not need to know. I do it a lot less now because I got a kid and a girlfriend too. I used to say a lot of wild shit, and she used to be mad as shit. Like, “bro why the fuck did you put that in something? I’m embarrassed”. She used to hate my music. She’s coming around now. Recently I was recording something and she was like, “Nah, don’t put that out.” And I was like, “alright.” It was one of the few times where I was like, “you’re probably right I shouldn’t say that huh?” She’s right sometimes.
That’s growth man.
Yeah hold back some things. Not everything has to be out there.
So then how do you view your influence on Atlanta and music generally now that you’re 6-7 years and 5 albums in?
I try not to be too, “I hear myself in that, I hear myself in that. These are all my sons!” and shit. I have heard old Father flows, but that’s still not me so I never felt any type of way about it. Thug basically adopted all his children. He just picked them up and now that’s YSL. I never sought out copies of myself too hard. You sound like me maybe, but your brain doesn’t put together the words the way that mine would so it doesn’t sound like me, to me.
Word I feel you. I meant the question in more of a positive light like how people have been influenced by you and taken pieces of things you introduced, and then made them their own.
Oh yeah absolutely. I still kinda comb through SoundCloud and shit. I’ve definitely heard a lot of things that stylistically remind me of that era of us as well. Early Awful (Records) and shit. More power to em honestly. That shit’s cool.
How do you view the legacy of Awful Records in Atlanta and beyond?
Like your old drunk fuckin uncle and shit. Poppin out like, “oh you used to be a playa back in the day! You chillin now with auntie and shit!” But I don’t know, it’s just chill now man. It’s a very respected name even if no one is currently dropping anything. People remember shit. Terrorizing the city and shit. Everybody faded as hell thirteen deep in the fuckin party beatin n***as up and shit. It was a hilarious time period, I must say. Now I’m tryna be more adult.
Well speaking of that, how do you think being an actual father has influenced your music you’re putting out now?
If anything I think I’m a little less vulgar. Along with becoming a father, it’s also mixed with getting older, but I wanted to lean more into career musician type records and less chasing a booming club hit. Back in the day it was just like, “let me say some wild shit, put some bass over it, and let that shit blow the fuck up.” Now I wanna make chill, contemporary, calming ass records. Something you could throw on and clean up to, I don’t know. But if you still wanna dance to it, you can. Nothing that’s too much in your fuckin face. I spent the better part of the last year just like, “I don’t want wanna hear any rap ima just throw on some fuckin jazz and sit on the couch.” I think that influences a lot of the sound too. N***as got they hyper-pop, and that’s all fire. I wanna be Sade.