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How rapper Foogiano made good on his word and got rich in a year

Kwame Brown hops onto our call seeming apprehensive. It’s not that he’s shy — more that he’s not sure how much time he wants to spend on this interview. Because these days, Brown doesn’t have time to wait for anyone. Now he’s better known as Foogiano, the first rapper Gucci Mane signed to his new label.

Brown, 26, grew up in Greensboro, Georgia, a city with a population of less than 4,000, in the middle of a rambling family, five brothers and four sisters. The difference between him and them?  “I jumped in the streets and they didn’t,” Brown says. “That’s all it is.”

He pronounces “sheeeeit” like Clay Davis from The Wire and speaks with a Southern drawl that at times makes me ask him to repeat himself, but he hardly pauses to consider his answers. They simply roll off his tongue, staccato—a series of factual clauses. No filter.


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🗣 slimmm 😈Ⓜ️🎱🅱️🦍

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How old were you when you started getting into music?

15. I used to write poems and my little brother said: “let’s try to turn it into rap.” And I did. When I heard myself on the mic I fell in love with it.

Do you remember what you first rapped about?

Hell no.

Was there a particular day or moment you remember when you were like, “I want to do this professionally?”

When I got out of prison.

What did you go to prison for? How long were you in for?

Burglary and robbery. Three years.

Do you think going affected your music at all? Were you writing while you were there?

It made me who I am. I brought it with me to the studio.

“Call up Guwap and he gon’ pour up the lean. I got ripped for serving dope to the fiend Coca-cola, with the cola I’d beat the bowl. My mama kicked me out for cooking on the stove. Went auntie’s house and I slept on the sofa. Had the 40 on me, never had a holster.”

You mention in the clip from the song you posted today (TrapSpot ft. Guaptaratino) that your mom kicked you out for cooking on the stove—is that true?

Yup. My uncle taught me. My uncle came from prison and he taught me how to cook dope. I came home and my older sisters used to watch me because my mama worked so much. But my mama came home and, goddamn… they were gone! And I was just trying to do it by myself. And I almost burned the goddamn house down.

How old were you?

I was 13.

Damn, so you were a kind of a bad kid, huh?  I read you were in and out of juvie a lot? What’d you go in for?

I was bad as hell!  Yeah, I did 10 years in jail. All types of shit. Burglary, armed robbery. Everything.

And then you started making music right after that?



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#TBT 🗣Ⓜ️🎱🅱️🦍

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There are lulls in our conversation when I can hear a noise in the background. A smattering of murmurs, coughs, and inhales informs me that Foogiano is not alone. But he’s almost never alone — community is important to him.

How did you build your team of people?

It’s all family. We’re from a small city and it’s crazy because there’s no one outside our family. It’s all my cousins and my brothers. There’s probably a few that’s not my real blood family, but they might as well be blood.

“That’s why it’s so different because we’re actually family, people have a lot to give, people really be reppin… We really family.”

And I can’t get mad and be like “I don’t want to talk to someone” on some bullshit.

They’re my cousins! No matter what, if me and him get mad… I’m still gonna see him at my Auntie’s house. So we all strapped in where we can because we’re from here. We try to stay together because we’re small. And we stand out because we’re so different.

Did y’all listen to the same artists growing up? Who did you listen to the most?

Lil Wayne, Lil Boosie, and Gucci.


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Molly at 2 million views 🤯🤯

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So what’s it like signing with Gucci, since he’s one of your early idols?

Oh, Gucci the goat. Where I’m from Gucci is the goat, so that shit is a very big deal.

How did you end up with him?

Authentic Empire had a competition. Sheeeit, that was crazy bro. There were so many people that went. It was over 50 rounds. It took us hours. So I won the competition to be on Authentic Empire and Gucci just called me to be on 1017. I’m the only rapper in history to ever get a distribution deal and a record deal on the same day. I signed with Atlantic and 1017 the same day.

And you’re the first artist to sign to new 1017. I noticed you got like 80 thousand new followers in a week—what’s that been like?

Shit’s crazy! I had to turn my notifications off. I got two phones because when I won that competition in December I had only 1800 followers. Now I have 190,000. So goddamn, people act like they’re your fans on Instagram, but now they see me doing this and homies wanna kill a motherfucker.


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Believe it or not I’m really from the Block 👨🏾‍✈️🥶 #GlacierrrrBoyz

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Have you been partying a lot?

No, not unless I’m at a club and it’s a show. I work a lot.

What is something that people say about you that they’re wrong about, or that you wish you could change?

That I can’t take everybody with me. Just family.


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I said it didn’t it 🤷🏾‍♂️👨🏾‍✈️ NOTICE I SAID US NOT ( ME ) 😤 🗣Ⓜ️🎱🅱️

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What’s your dream?

Playing ball. I was a ballplayer. But I was getting in trouble like a motherfucker. I was just so good–the coaches used to go out of their way to be like, “come on man, you gotta get out of this and start doing this.” And I was smart as hell. I ain’t never failed. I was the youngest person in my class. I was 17 when I graduated. I wasn’t even grown. I was a young ni–a.

What did you play? Point guard?

Yeah, I played point guard–deadly. I’m going to the Celebrity All-Star Game soon.

Bet! So, let me ask you, is there anything that scares you about all the success and attention you’re getting now?

Not me, but for other people. Is it going to change them? Is my success going to change them? Because it’s not going to change me.

Is there anything you’d change about the industry?

All the fake shit going on. The industry is fake as hell. Ninety percent of the rappers that are lit, that say they about all that shit? They ain’t about that shit. Ni–as will try to write to you on Instagram saying they’re trying to rap… It’s just all about who’s hot.

“Ni–as ain’t genuine and you got to be real careful.”

Because you got to be able to pick out who really is genuine and who is trying to ride your wave just cause you hot.

So how do you tell the difference?

You gotta pay attention. And I can pay attention like a motherfucker.

Word. And you got this mixtape, Mayor Season, on the way. Anything you want to plug about it?

Sheeeit, like everything, bruh. I mean, we take it so seriously because we never thought we’d be doing anything. Like… what the fuck? We could be signed with Gucci? Like, I’m a very, very big deal where I’m from.

You know I walk through that door and I’m a very big deal—I’m the only person to ever do anything where I’m from that’s this serious. So… Sheeeit. Sometimes I don’t want to move like that, but I have to because I know I have to protect myself and I gotta be aware. But you know… I want to be repping. Ya feel me?

But my partner tells me, “bro, you can’t be. Even though you want to be, it’s just because you real like that. You want to be the same ni–a, but you can’t be. You gotta adapt to the same shit.” And I’ll be like, “it’s aight.” I don’t need all this. I got all these people sending me hugs and it feels good, but that ain’t like, how we get down about that shit.

That shit don’t… that ain’t what I do it for.

“I do it for the money. That’s what my goal is. If I could make the same amount of money and nobody knew me, I would.”


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🥶🥶🥶 @foogiano x @darealga #Kickdadoor 1017 Ⓜ️🎱🅱️🦍 æ

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The last ten minutes I spent talking to Foogiano I hear him brushing his teeth into the receiver of the phone. He’s got a hard stop at 4:30 pm because he has a music video shoot that I later learn consists heavily of him sitting on a throne.

This would feel appropriate if I thought being a figurehead mattered to him. The last bits of our conversation communicate the opposite. Whenever he speaks of his recent achievements and what they mean to him, I notice two trends.

Firstly, he says “we.” A lot. He and his family’s accomplishments are inextricable. More notably, I notice a detached fervor when speaking about his signing with the new 1017 and his forthcoming album.

At times it sounds like he’s speaking about someone else entirely; as if he’s admiring a newly famous painting recently elevated in the small city of Greensboro.

There’s no finer subject than family.

Make sure to tune and check out rapper Foogiano and all of his hits.