All photos by Lucas Farrar / Far Fetched
After weeks of planned and canceled meetings, Frenchie’s manager texted me one Wednesday night in April. He told me to meet the Brick Squad Monopoly rapper at Quad studios in Times Square—the same place where Tupac was shot—at midnight. After internally debating if I’d rather watch TV and sleep or hang out and potentially smoke weed with some rappers, I decided to head into the brightly lit depths of Times Square. From what I could gather beforehand, Frenchie seemed like a fun guy.
He’s a member of Waka Flocka Flame’s Brick Squad Monopoly, so you know he has a penchant for the reckless and wild. And his mixtapes like Long Overdue and Long Overdue 2 not only show he’s ready for his time in the spotlight, but that that spotlight will likely be shaking from the physically assaultive percussion of his “real trap shit” music.
When I walked into the studio, his black drop crotch sweatpants matched with Nike sandals and white socks had me thinking he was on his normcore grind. But once he jumped on the mic, I was proven wrong. Frenchie is anything but normal. That night he was working on his first ever EDM track. I heard him rap the line “My girl’s panties is edible, I meant eatible,” over a wobbling dubstep drop at least 20 times. After touring the country with EDM god Steve Aoki, producer Borgore, and his cousin Waka Flocka, Frenchie caught the EDM bug. Now, he’s all about that PLUR lifestyle and spreading the love.
When he was ready to take a pause from recording, Frenchie came into the control room. He reached out towards his friend who passed over a Brick Squad chain that was just a little bit smaller than a composition notebook. Frenchie wrapped the chain around his neck, sat back down, and looked over at me. He was ready to talk. Squad!
VICE: Why are you working on an EDM track tonight?
Frenchie: I’ve been on the road with Waka and that shit was beautiful. I was with Steve Aoki and Borgore and that shit was lit—it was crazy. That party is just crowd controlled. If you say everybody turn around and leave! They would turn around and leave out the door. That’s the most crowd control I’ve ever seen in my life.
How is that different from a hip-hop show?
Because they come and they listen. It’s the beat, the rhythm, the moment—how you feel right then and there. They do everything. Whatever comes to their brain, I swear they just do it right then and there. When I say people are not scared to do stuff, that means they're being themselves. Nobody’s scared. Nobody’s doing this or that, nobody’s doing the popular dance style. Everybody’s making something up. They do everything with the light-up sticks. It’s cool.
Do you think it’s because molly is different than weed?
Yes, a lot of people on drugs, too. That’s the only thing I can say about that. You can see the eyes on people. Everybody’s eyes are open.
What’s the crowd surfing like?
You could jump on a raft and make the whole crowd move you around in a raft and then jump back on the stage and perform again. No matter how far you are up in the air—you can jump from anywhere and the fans will catch you.
I’ve seen Steve Aoki do that.
Yeah. He told me to jump in the raft. He’s like, "Come on! Come on!" I did it one time, I was scared to death, I’m not going to lie. But he’s like, "You got to try it! Just take your chains off." I took my chains off and jumped right into that joint. I was feeling good.
They didn’t drop you?
No, I never got dropped. I know what to do now.
How was Waka’s crowd surf?
Waka’s 6 feet 5 inches. I'm scared when he jumps in the crowd because I tell him that nobody can hold him. It's crazy because he’ll be the biggest guy in the circle and everybody’s picking him up. Damn, he’s like 300 pounds alone!
What was it like hanging out with Steve Aoki?
Girls had signs that said I’m legal now. I’m like God damn, that’s ridiculous. It’s like a never-ending party.
Besides raft jumping, did you do anything that you’ve never done before?
I did many things like, I beat a record with some females. I had 15 in one day, you heard?
They all were just in a line for me, you feel me? Like, what stays here, stays here.
Where was that?
It was in Dakota… No, where is it where it’s a high altitude and it’s hard for you to breath?
Yes, Denver, Colorado. It was hard for me to breath a little bit, but I still got right.
How do you mix rapping with EDM beats?
I call it EDM trap. EDT: Electric Dance Trapping. I blend it because you could still add your flavor to anything and it’s beautiful. I feel like me blending into this—I love it and I have no problem doing it.
Is that going to be your new sound?
Actually, I’m going to give it to them and see how they like it. I have energy so I’m a good performer. I love to perform and that’s what the EDM crowd loves—performance. I’m going to give them performance in my bars and even in my actions.
You’ve been touring and traveling nonstop lately. Is it tiring?
Oh yeah. I never sleep but I got to do it because I have to feed my family.
Who’s in your family?
I have four kids—two boys, two girls, and I got to take care of every last one of them.
How old are they?
My oldest is eight, that’s my boy. My newborn is three months. My daughter is two-years-old and then my other younger daughter is one-year-old.
Do they listen to your music?
Yeah. Last year I took my daughter to a music festival and conference in Austin, Texas. She was a newborn—she was three months. A friend of mine told me, You better not bring her here again. One of the bouncers was like, I hope you’re daughter’s not here this time because you brought her into a club. My daughter was in the club looking at me. The club could’ve got sued for that.
At three months, I’m sure.
It was day parties. Everything was during the day.
Still wild. So you’re in Brick Squad Monopoly and you and Waka are blood-cousins who grew up together in Atlanta. What were you guys like as teenagers?
We did a lot of shit together. We used to fight a lot. We used to whip niggas asses. That’s what we used to do in the club—that’s what me and Waka was good for. When you go to the A and you talk about Brick Squad, they know we was the ones in the club terrorizing everyone. But I’m older now. I’m mature.
Why’d you beat people up?
You know, when they see you on TV or they see you rapping they think it’s a flaw they want to take it away from you. They forgot that you came from nothing. We came from nothing. A lot of people see us on TV and say, "Oh what? He got more to lose than I do so fuck it, let me try him." Not knowing that I have the same mentality and the same attitude.
You toured with Drake when he performed with Waka, right?
It was Drake’s first tour. When he sang “You the fuckin best, you the fuckin best, you the fuckin best” that’s the first time I ever saw Drake. He was in the Velvet Room in Atlanta.
Drake opened for you that night?
No he didn’t open for me. Hell no, he was in the mix! It was like he was getting introduced to the A. I remember that day. I think it was Puff Daddy or someone saying he’s the hottest in New York right now… and he just started spitting and the whole crowd went nuts and listened to him and all that. After that he was taking over—he took over.
What’s Gucci Mane like as a ringleader?
Gucci is himself. And I want to say I don’t wish jail on anybody—free Gucci. Free Gucci.
Did you see the movie Spring Breakers?
Yeah [laughs]. That’s Gucci. Look at Spring Breakers and then nobody ever ask me how Gucci is in his life. Just look at Spring Breakers. That’ll explain everything. That was him.
Have you hung out with Nicki Minaj?
Of course. She’s a beautiful lady. Nicki Minaj is a princess.
Does she party with your homies?
She’s a queen. When she was in my neighborhood she was a queen and everybody wanted her and now she’s out the neighborhood and everybody still wants her and she still keeps her demeanor of who she is. A woman. A lady. She might talk all this nasty nasty nasty, but you go see if you going to get some nastiness out of Nicki. She’s the real. She’s the queen.
Finally, what’s the best part about being in the Brick Squad Monopoly?
That you could wake up and do whatever you want. Whatever style you do, best believe somebody gonna bite it and going to jack it and going to want to take it from you. Brick Squad!