With Chief Keef temporarily behind bars, the members of his Glory Boyz Entertainment crew have continued releasing music. Fredo Santana (of "Fredo in the cut, that's a scary sight" fame)—immediately recognizable thanks to the upside-down cross tattooed above the bridge of his nose—took a trip to New York recently to record features and talk business. He also swung by the Complex offices. 

His crew's remained busy in Keef's absence. Last week, Fredo and Ballout released the video for "Trap Life" from the group's upcoming GBE label compilation. A week earlier, he dropped "My Squad" with Frenchie from Brick Squad and "Turn Up" with Soulja Boy and Tadoe.

Despite his intimidating on-record persona, in person, Fredo's one of the more personable members of the group, although he retains the rest of his clique's press-shy demeanor. Still, we got Fredo to talk about the downside of growing notoriety, the upcoming GBE label tape and the misconceptions people have about the crew.

Interview by David Drake (@somanyshrimp)

When did you start rapping seriously? Was it after Keef started getting a lot of attention?
I was doing my own thing rapping, he was doing his own thing. We was like "man, we have to join." That’s when we came together, cause we started more hanging together. That’s when we came up with GBE.

It seems like this happened really quickly, everybody blowing up like this. What’s been the most unexpected part of all this? 
Ballout. He just started rapping, and he raw as hell. Trey Savage, Capo, all of them, like I don’t know how the hell they started rapping. That’s the thing to me. They used to just be around. I used to just have them around, now they rapping and shit. They learned a lot of shit. That’s the thing that surprised me, that my friends are rapping, and they're actually good.

Did you get in on the label deal? Are you a part of the GBE stuff through Interscope? 
I do my own thing. But I still have a percentage of GBE. I’m independent, I ain't signed.

What’s your least favorite part of dealing with the industry now? It’s like a whole new world, right?
Yeah. Sometimes when you just want to be a normal person, you just can’t be a normal person. When you just be like, "I’m finna just be chill, ain't nobody gonna recognize me." And then everybody just get to recognize you. And you be trying to get up out of there. Then you don’t want to let a fan down. Like "No, I can’t take no pictures." Now he look at me like "Damn, how he can’t take no pictures?" But then it’s just too much.

I wanted to ask about Keef going away. Are you in touch with him? 
Oh yeah, he get at my phone. I talk to him.

How’s he doing in there?
He say he good. He just said "Go crazy. Rap." Told everybody, all the other guys like Ballout, all them, to rap. Just rap more, stay in the studio more. Work.

The reason he had to go in was because of that gun range video with Pitchfork. Do you guys blame Pitchfork at all for that? Does anyone feel like someone is responsible for this happening?
I can’t speak for Keef or anybody else. I don’t really get into all...like dig deep into all of it.

Is Fredo Kruger the next project?
Yeah. I’m really done, it’s just the timing. At the end, I’m doing this Glory Boyz thing, we’re working on the Glory Boyz album. I pushed [Fredo Kruger] to the side, [to] let me work on this Glory Boyz album and help others. Do a lot more songs with Glory Boyz artists.

 

[People who are] thinking we just all about violence, which we ain’t. We just seen what we seen, and what we know, and what we been thorough. Coming from Chicago, coming from nothing. From nothing into something.

 

Tell me about the Glory Boyz album, then.
We’re just letting [fans] know more about GBE itself, without Keef. All the artists that don’t nobody really know too much know about. Like me, Trey Savage, Ballout, Capo, Gino Marley, Tadoe, Blood Money, all them.

And what kind of producers are you working with? Have you guys recorded songs with it yet?
Yeah, we got a lot of songs for it. We got something with 12hunna, got something with C-Sick, Tarentino from 808 Mafia. A couple of Young Chop [beats], you know how it is.

So Young Chop’s still doing stuff. Are you guys still working with DJ Kenn at all?
Yeah, a little. He just sent me something, matter fact, like two days ago. He just sent me, like, six beats. I’m going to go through them and see which ones I like.

I imagine that you’ve gotten to do a lot more traveling since all this stuff happened. Do you like traveling?
Yeah, I like moving. I don’t like sitting in one spot.

What’s your favorite place that you’ve gotten to go to so far?
Got to be between New York and LA.

I know earlier you guys were working with Brick Squad. Are you still working with them?
Yeah. Waka [Flocka Flame], he supposed to be sending me something. I got something new with Travis Scott. A lot of new stuff.

What are you listening to right now, in terms of new rap?
I listen to myself mostly. My own songs. My old, old, old songs. Like a lot of old, old Keef.  A lot of old my songs. Old Reesie. Mainly a lot of old stuff.

What’s your favorite song of yours?
There’s really not one, 'cause I like 'em all. Some of them, you get tired of it, then you go back to it. It's just weird. You’ll play the song, then you would like it, then you won’t like it no more. Cause you got to not hear it for about a month or two. Then you like: ‘Damn, I went crazy on this song.’ That’s how it go. Like ‘Oh, wow, I don’t like this song no more. It’s onto the next song.’ I got a lot of unleaked music. I don’t like leaking my songs. 

What’s your writing process like?
I do a song in, like, 15 minutes, mostly.

Is there anything else that you’re working on right now?
I’m trying to work on finding a script to shoot this mini, little movie. That’s it really. Fredo Kruger and that Glory Boyz Album.

Do you have a date yet for the Glory Boyz record?
Sometime next month. Before Keef gets out.

I don’t know if you read a lot of the stuff that’s been written about you guys online, but do you feel like you guys have been misunderstood at all?
Yeah, most definitely misunderstood. But I don’t blame 'em, though, because they ain't been in our shoes, or seen what we seen, been through what we been thought. So yeah, we misunderstood.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you guys?
[People who are] thinking we just all about violence, which we ain’t. We just seen what we seen, and what we know, and what we been thorough. Coming from Chicago, coming from nothing. From nothing into something.

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