Introducing F. Stokes: Discusses His World Tour, Why Labels Are His Enemy

F. StokesI first encountered F. Stokes at a random bar in Chicago --  we were the only two black people there, so we were bound to speak! I somehow ended up with his CD and listened to it on the ride home, only to find out a few days later that Stokes was my neighbor. I'm pretty sure we were the only two black people in our particular neighborhood, so again, we were bound to be friends.

All jokes aside, I've been following Stokes career closely for the last two years and have seen him really grow in to a superb artist.  I am so excited that BallerStatus is giving me the chance to present him to its readers.

Stokes is one of the few true voices left in underground hip-hop, and he is really making waves on the international scene. Check out my interview with Stokes below and get familiar, you'll be glad you did. Is this your first time in Europe? What's it like performing in front of a foreign audience, who may not speak your native language?

F. Stokes: No, this was actually my third time in Europe. My first venture was Australia, which is one of the furthest countries from America, but extremely close in terms of lifestyle and cultural mannerism. Australia was great in the sense that it prepared me for my future tours. I was highly unprepared for that tour, so I was able to learn as I made mistakes, and apply that knowledge instantly. I consider all crowds family, so the language barrier isn't that much of an issue. My stage show is built on raw emotion, so words will never be able to fully capture my performance. It's love. It's pain. It's joy -- and that language, is universal.

BallerStatus: Where do you get your inspiration for your subject matter from? If you had to describe your particular form of hip-hop music, to somebody who hasn't heard it, how would you describe it?

F. Stokes: My inspiration comes from everyday living. I'm a sponge for information; a stone romantic, so my subject matter will always be colorful and diverse based on that foundation. Traveling inevitably expands my pallet, rather domestically or abroad. I think as artists, or conveyors of the message, it's important that we travel and interactively feed off the knowledge of the people. It makes so much of a difference in how we craft our pieces. I'm not really a fan of titles, so I wouldn't necessarily put a label on my style of music. My musical influences are endless, so you may hear a bit of blues, folk, soul ... all jammed into one song. I'm at a stage now,.in which I'm a bit more experimental, so labels are my enemy (laughs).

BallerStatus: So I've known you for a while now, and it seems funny to me that I can never really pin point where your from. Are you a Chicago artist? A New York rapper? A conscious hip-hop Midwesterner from Madison that gets white boy wasted? You almost defy labels ... kind of an enigma/rolling stone. So please, clarify it for me once and for all, what is your home town?

F. Stokes: Simply put, I'm a success fueled man, with a nomadic soul. I have two hometowns, Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin, but New York is my home. When I was wearing colorful clothes in the Mid-West, people would mock me and call me cruel names. In New York, they take my picture. So yea, New York is my home. It's one of the few places I can stretch my creative/artistic wings with no filtering.

BallerStatus: Who are your favorite artists right now, what is in F. Stokes' playlist? Is there anybody you consider a role model? Do you have a mentor?

F. Stokes: I don't necessarily have a favorite artist, my playlist is loaded with everything from Miles to Q-Tip, Jamie Cullum to P.O.S. I find inspiration from all genres of music. I would have to say my role model is my mother. Ever since I was born I've wanted to be exactly like her. Even when I was young, I would play dress up with her clothes and makeup. I have quite a few life mentors, who keep me balanced. I think mentors are imperative in life. We all need someone to admire. It perpetuates the cycle of giving, and spreading wisdom.

BallerStatus: Where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years?

F. Stokes: Growing. I don't put a time line on growth. Ideally, I will be a bit more financially secure, to the point in which I can directly provide for my mother, but life's a journey. In five, and 10 years, I will be a better man. As I am a better man today, as I was yesterday.

BallerStatus: What sets you apart from other up-and-coming artists? I find that a lot of artists strive to enlighten their audience with their music while others seem to be trying to figure out their life's questions through their art making it more of a personal relationship between themselves and the music they create. What's your motivation for doing what you do?

F. Stokes: That's a great assessment is very well put. I think what separates me from other artist is that I am willing to sacrifice momentary satisfaction/comfort for long term success. I live my life quite fluid and according to where the music takes me, so at any given moment I can be teaching the basics of hip-hop to a classroom of 5th graders in Copenhagen, Denmark - or captivating a crowd filled with art buyers at a gallery in Chelsea.

My motivation is to inspire. I live by the motto 'aspire to inspire'. I believe we all have the ability to change lives.

BallerStatus: What is your favorite city to perform in? Do you have groupies yet?

F. Stokes: My favorite city to perform in ... it varies, there's currently a tie between Paris and my hometown Madison, WI. Paris is like my second home at this point so the love is at a all time high when I'm out there. Me and that city have a connection beyond explanation. There are times when I'm in Paris that I just walk the streets and smell. I know it sounds odd, but i LOVE the smell of that city (laughs). As far as groupies, yes, both male and female!

BallerStatus: If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?

F. Stokes: Hmmm, 3 wishes. Global peace, stop global hunger, and spread global love.

Don't forget to follow F.Stokes on Twitter at @FDotStokes.