Music is more powerful than money. Music can provoke personal and social change; music heals. We make hip-hop. This global phenomenon is one of the most celebrated forms of music. Then why do we allow music corporations to continue to diminish our art? Everything spewed from corporate rap is identical. Each rap song sounds the same, each rapper Frank Lucas’d his hood, and each rapper is a world-class lothario (EVEN before signing the 360 deal). What happened to individuality? Instead of a sixteen offering a personal account, the cloning continues. Why aren’t our MCs revolting in rhyme? Well, some of them are.
“Instead of complaining, be the change you want to see now,” insists Fred Knuxx. The Face of DE, continues by challenging hip-hop, “Everybody is crying foul, but look yourself in mirror and ask, ‘What am I doing to make a change?’ ” There has to be balance. Fred Knuxx continues striving toward longevity. His discography boasts everything from partying to politics.
Knuxx knows what it feels like to be on a stage, connecting with a crowd, while steady thinking about a wife that is across the country, caring for a sick child. With lyrics that are capable of provoking thought, or helping to sustain a concert’s crescendo, Fred Knuxx speaks from his heart. His lyrics carry the seeds of life. In this exclusive BallerStatus interview, Fred Knuxx discusses music, marriage, and murder.
BallerStatus.com: Why do you emcee?
Fred Knuxx: Why do I emcee? Ever since I was young, I was always into the whole art form of hip-hop. The first record that I ever saw was Slick Rick’s “A Children’s Story.” That was my favorite video. That was what kinda got me into it. Actually, I used to set up little Apollo Theaters in the living room. Me and my cousin would always battle, and he would eat me up. But, then I just got better at it. My older brother put me on to Run-DMC and N.W.A. It was always there and it was always around. I always wanted to be a part of that, so I just started writing my raps. It took me awhile before I could even think I was good, and from there I just kept doing it.
BallerStatus.com: How has becoming one of hip-hop’s emcees impacted your life?
Fred Knuxx: It’s impacted it in a positive way, only because I’ve been doing it for so long. As far as [doing] something that I’m passionate about, it’s really like my first love. As far as rhyming, doing shows, being in cyphers, and doing interviews, it’s a passion. So, it’s affected my life in a positive way; because, I don’t know what I would be doing if I wasn’t emceeing and rapping.
BallerStatus.com: Let’s talk about love and hip-hop. Given that you’re married, how do you balance the time that you dedicate to your wife and family with the time that you dedicate to your art?
Fred Knuxx: That’s the million dollar question. Me and my wife have been together for over ten years now. So, it’s better when you have somebody who supports your dreams and supports your goals and supports what you’re doing in life. Even before we got married, she would go on tour with me. She’d help me pass out fliers, and with the videotaping, and taking pictures. It’s kinda easy when you have someone who really supports your dreams. Now that we have our son, my wife can’t do as much as she used to do.
It’s hard especially when I go out and do shows [that are] out of town. I’m so used to being around them. At the end of the day, it’s just something that they know that I love to do. Now, my son he’s rapping my lyrics and picking up microphones. He’s starting to do the same stuff that I’m doing; he’s becoming a little showman. It’s just something that I’m going to pass down to him, because he’s already musically inclined himself.
“Straight Edge MC”
BallerStatus.com: RapMania, an upcoming mixtape, is slated for an early November release. How’d you feel when Randy “Macho Man” Savage passed away in April?
Fred Knuxx: That was one of my favorite wrestlers, right there. Just how he died — a lot of time wrestlers usually die from the same causes like a heart stoppage, or a drug overdose, or [succumbing] to steroid abuse — but to find out that he died in a car accident [was surreal]. This was the guy who was up there; he was like 50 years-plus. To find out that he died in a car accident was just crazy, because he wasn’t one of those wrestlers who was really out there in the spotlight after he was done wrestling. It hit home. This was the guy that we all grew up watching. Randy “Macho Man,” Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior — growing up and being a fan of the whole WWF and that whole movement, it was big. That was a major loss. That is just as big as if somebody like Hulk Hogan was to die. Him and Hulk Hogan was neck and neck.
BallerStatus.com: You’ve been quoted as saying, “RapMania will be a classic just off creativity alone. And the way that I took each wrestler and made songs that relates to me as an artist, but them as wrestlers.” How do you work to ensure that an album’s concept motivates your creativity rather than confining it?
Fred Knuxx: To me, it’s about trying to think outside the box and find something to challenge myself with. It was easier with RapMania, because I was a wrestling fan. Currently, I still watch wrestling, so I was watching it and I kept noticing how the fans would get hype when a wrestler’s theme music would come on — they’d get crazy. I think it would be dope if somebody could take those same theme songs and flip them into hip-hop, and bridge the gap between real hardcore, underground hip-hop fans, and real hardcore, underground wrestling fans. It goes hand-in-hand, because most hip-hop cats know something about wrestling. A lot of times wrestling is always trying to incorporate some level of hip-hop, but never to this magnitude [of RapMania].
This project was one of the easiest ones that I came up with. It was one of the most creative ones that I came up with. It’s easy for me to do, because I’m a wrestling fan. For instance, if I’m doing The Rock’s theme music — this dude was the king of catchphrases at one point, so it’s easy for me to use some of his catchphrases and put them into a rap. Before the clichéd word of “swagger” was cool, The Rock had it way back in ’98/99. As far as wrestling, back then he was doing his thing. He was the first wrestler that had that rapper charisma to him. Just taking certain characters like that — that I grew up on, that I watched — I applied it [those characteristics] to the project. With the whole project, it’s going to be a lot of wrestling, and there’s going to be a lot of Fred Knuxx.
BallerStatus.com: Is the whole wrestling theme too esoteric? Will people who aren’t wrestling fans care to hear this mixtape?
Fred Knuxx: Yeah, because, no matter what, it’s still hip-hop. So, if you’re a fan of good music, if you’re a fan of dope beats, and good lyricism, then you’re going to be a fan of the project, too. That’s the reason why I didn’t want to go overboard with the wrestler’s theme songs, because some of the theme songs are like crazy. When they listen to it, it might not be everybody’s cup of tea. I got a producer to take samples and flip them into real hip-hop songs. So, on the project you’re going to find a lot of true hip-hop. So, if you’re a fan of hip-hop, you’re going to like the project whether you’re a wrestling fan or not. If you’re a fan of wrestling that may not even listen to hip-hop, you may be able to relate to the songs, because [the theme music comes from your] favorite wrestler.
BallerStatus.com: You sound like a confident guy. (laughs)
Fred Knuxx: I’m real confident. (laughs)
BallerStatus.com: One of my favorite tracks by you is “Freedom.” You and Crooked I killed it. After hearing you say, “What happened to our people / our leaders is all evil / they cheat us and say we’re equal / land of the bald eagle / more like snakes that lethal / and the government was just placed here to deceive you…” After you said that, I was like, “Damn, I’m really need to find out more about homeboy.”
Fred Knuxx: [begins to laugh]
BallerStatus.com: Your words really had me intrigued. What I want to know is does Delafornia boast more tracks of this caliber?
Fred Knuxx: On Delafornia, I would say that was like the only track on there of that caliber. I think that was more so of a collective effort. I tried to make songs that are compatible to the West coast artist that I’m on a track with. It was more of a collective effort with say Fred Knuxx and G. Malone, or Crooked I. When I got the beat for “Freedom,” I was like, “Okay, I gotta put a little bit of Fred Knuxx in it.” You know what I mean? Because that’s the kind of stuff that I think about, like the political stuff. Yhat’s just me. I wanted to put that element into it and Crooked I just came on the track and busted it.
BallerStatus.com: I see that you’ve worked with a lot of people from California, have you had the chance to work with Nipsey Hussle?
Fred Knuxx: Nah, not yet. I would like to; he’s a dope artist. At the time when I was doing the Delafornia project, I had a manager that was from the west coast — my old manager, Jazzy D. We’re still cool and everything. He hooked up the whole [list] of features, because he’s out there working with these artists on a day-to-day [basis]. I’m from Delaware, so he was pretty much plugging me to the artists that are out there. As of right now, I haven’t done anything with any current West coast artists.
BallerStatus.com: He seems smart and your words are very intelligent; I think it would be a dope track.
Fred Knuxx: Tell Nipsey Hussle to holla at me, man. Let’s make something happen.
BallerStatus.com: Networking, right? Earlier, you mentioned that you are politically inclined. So, I want to get your opinion on Troy Davis’ execution. The state murdered this man after seven eye witnesses came forward to recant their testimony. He pleaded his innocence until he was fatally injected by hate. The very next day, on September 22nd, the state of Georgia commuted the sentence of [Samuel] David Crowe from death to life in prison. Is this a case of the effectiveness of the death penalty, or institutionalized racism? What are your thoughts?
Fred Knuxx: Honestly, nothing that this country does surprises me. You have to look at how this country was founded. You can’t judge a country that was founded on some thievery. Ever since then, the savage attacks and the savage mentality that this country was founded on is not going anywhere. It might be disguised in business suits, but it’s still here. To me, nothing that this country is doing is surprising. Right now, it’s almost … it is what it is. Just because we have a black president right now, it’s bigger than him. He still has to answer to people. The government as a whole is still running this country, not just one man.
When you look at things like that and the injustice [that our people have encountered], as a people you have to think: where were we at prior to [Davis’] execution? What were we doing prior to that? We were in the club making it rain, we were in the club dancing, we were too busy doing other things… but when something like this happens and gets brought to the forefront, now we want to cry “Injustice!” Now we want to cry, foul play! Where were we at before that? Now, what are we doing to uplift the youth? Instead of complaining, be the change you want to see now. If you’re tired of seeing this, it will take us a people to do something about it before it even happens again. Until then, nobody can say much, because nobody is really doing nothing. Everybody is crying foul, but look yourself in mirror and ask, “What am I doing to make a change?”
BallerStatus.com: [pause] What are you doing to make that change?
Fred Knuxx: [slight chuckle] What am I doing? I’m trying to put out conscious music, consciously aware music. I can stay within my realms as far as my gifts and my talents with music. So, through my music, I can reach people. With my gift and my talent, I better use it to the best way possible to get a message out. Not every song is going to be politically correct [and] not every song is going to be real deep thought, you know what I mean? I look at it like this; the average consumer is really buying music [that’s made] at a sixth grade level.
BallerStatus.com: [erupts with laughter]
Fred Knuxx: If you want to be honest, it’s not really the consumer’s fault; it’s the whole machine behind the music industry. It’s what they’re pushing out to the masses. When a song first comes out, you might think it’s trash. Once you hear it ten times on the radio every day, eventually you’ll go, “That’s my song right there.” It’s just a matter of finding the right avenues, and the right places to get your music heard, and when you do get that platform, you have to make the best of it.
Put a little message in there to get the people to say, “You know what, maybe there’s more [to life] than doing tip drills? Maybe there’s more than just going to the club and promoting this type of lifestyle to the young people out there who don’t really have a clue.” There’s more than just that. I’m not knocking anybody that’s doing what they’re doing, but there has to be a balance. That’s my main concern with hip-hop now. There is a lack of balance. Back in the day, we had party rap, we had the gangsta rap, we had the conscious rap — everybody was doing something. Now it’s all one-sided. They’re like, “This is what you’re getting and this is what I’m feeding you; so, take that!” It’s just a matter of putting the music out, finding your lane, and keep going…
BallerStatus.com: Until the next time that BallerStatus catches up with you, what would you like to share with the public?
Fred Knuxx: Follow me on Twitter @FredKnuxx. Look out for RapMania, it’s coming real soon, in November. I got a call that I’ll be in a movie role called “Broad Street Bully.” It’s a fully independent movie [that’s being filmed] within the [Philadelphia] Tri-state area. It’s going to come out on DVD. I’m actually playing a Dominican drug-connect. How crazy is that? I’m around. Thanks to everybody that’s supporting the music. Shout out to my whole team — Fife Star team, Starcore, and team Knuxx … everybody that’s been a part of what we got going on. Thank you for this beautiful interview, I appreciate it, BallerStatus always shows support.