Continue reading our exclusive interview below.
The Virginia rap scene continues to prove it to be one of the most unique in the country. It gave birth to the careers of Pharrell, Missy Elliott, and Timbaland for God’s sake. Even Pusha T’s creative diss towards Toronto’s finest is indicative of how rappers in Virginia circulate the expected and deliver some interesting, wholly unique takes on what hip-hop is, and how it evolves.
Drew Famous is one of Virginia’s most interesting rising prospects because he has the “it” factor – something that’s hard to put into words, but easily apparent once you come across his music. He’s an easily approachable fellow that exudes charisma, and his artistry is unlike anything you’ve ever seen or heard before.
Who is Drew Famous?
I’m an 18 year old hip-hop artist from Roanoke, Virginia.
From 1995, to Trey Budden, to Kaleb Mitchell – you have a lot of genuine connections with powerful people. How do you establish these relationships so organically?
Most every connection that I have came through other friends that I’ve met through the internet, dating back Levi Hinson & Kevin Hackett on Twitter in 2014. 1995 found me through my single “All I Need,” but I had known of him for a while because of his work with John Givez. Trey records at 1995’s studio in Jersey City, so that’s where that connection came from, & I met Kaleb through Levi & Kevin.
The brand of lyricism that you bring to the forefront is unlike any that sub-21 rappers focus on. Yet, your fanbase is growing drastically. How’d you decide to go in this direction? Were you scared?
It wasn’t really a conscious decision to focus on lyricism, I just grew up on guys like Lupe Fiasco & Mac Miller, & more recently guys like J.I.D & IDK have continued to inspire me to focus more on the writing & actual rapping aspect of the music before anything else.
What was the recording process like for 800DASH?
I started recording the album a couple weeks before Yearbook was released, in October of 2017. The original version of the album was finished in January, but I went to Jersey for a week in April to do some finishing touches with 1995, & we ended up recording & cutting a few more songs. “Sun Go Down,” “Chandeliers,” & “Hall of Fame” were all recorded in Jersey City, but the rest of the album was recorded in Roanoke.
Does being selective help or hinder your creativity? Why?
I think it definitely helps, because if you aren’t selective then there’s gonna be a much larger amount of sub-par music that you put out.
Who’s your most unexpected musical influence right now?
I wouldn’t consider him unexpected, but my biggest influence at the moment is J.I.D. Studying his lyrics & flows & patterns has definitely helped me further my lyrical ability, & my flows have improved drastically.
How important do you believe artistic direction is when creating a song?
It’s always really important to me. I focus more on albums & full projects than I do on just making singles, so when I make a song I’m thinking about where it fits within the project I’m working on.
Your first album Yearbook, cracked iTunes Top 40 in Hip-Hop. Is the pressure on you for 800DASH to exceed this level?
For sure. We came it at #33, which was an improvement about Yearbook, but my goal was to hit the top 20, so I fell a little short of how I wanted myself to perform.
What’s one oddball fact about you that Nardwuar would discover but no one else could?
I’m sure he would be able to dig up some 2012-2014 era songs I got out there, but other than that I really have no clue.
What’s the Roanoke music scene like?
It’s existent, but not one that I’m particularly interested in being a part of.
What’s the general Virginia music scene like in 2018?
There’s an abundance of crazy artists coming out of the state recently. I think in the next few years the Virginia/DMV scene in general is going to have a lot of top-tier artists that have come from the area.
Do you belive that there’s still a “crabs in a bucket” mentality hindering the state? Why or why not?
I’m seeing the newer generation of artists helping each other out a lot more than I used to see, so it’s coming to the point where if one of us makes it out, the rest will follow suit.
How has being from Virginia shaped who you are as an artist?
The push to be unique is a huge Virginia thing to me. From Timbaland to Clipse to Pharrell, everybody that’s made it out of the state has been so vividly different & set apart from the rest of the crowd, almost outlandish. Being younger & looking at those guys as the ones who made it out definitely inspired me to be different & not to compromise for the popular sound.
At the end of the day, what’s your goal as an artist?
To make somebody’s day better. Or even just to inspire them or get them out of their comfort zone or something. If I can do for a kid what Cudi’s music did for me, then I’ve accomplished all I really need to.
Your first video interview arrives — your choices are Hot 97, Power 105’s The Breakfast Club, or No Jumper. Which platform are you going on and why?
Hot 97. I’m a fan of Ebro & Rosenberg’s commentary & I feel like I could have a really good conversation with the both of them.
Is Freedom of Speech a hot-button issue for rap nowadays? How accountable do you think you should be for your lyrics?
I think it’s always been a bit of a hot-button because people have always brought up some lyrical topics when stereotyping rap, but as the world has grown up in the past few years it’s become an even bigger issue. I think if you said something then you should be held accountable for it, but not everything you say, especially lyrically, is supposed to be taken literally.
What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
I’m working on a project with a few friends that should hopefully be out sometime this summer, & I’m working on another solo project for myself as well. I don’t know what all I plan to release the rest of the year, but hopefully I’m able to shoot & release some videos for 800DASH.