Atlanta's hip-hop scene these days goes beyond the usual suspects. There's Young Thug, there's Rich Homie Quan, and Migos, Metro Boomin, and so many more artists under the "New Atlanta" umbrella. And then there's the other side, where artists like Key!, ILOVEMAKONNEN and now, Father, are taking off. The 24-year-old, Mississippi-born artist is already running his own indie label, Awful Records, and has a record that is slowly creeping into the hearts and minds of rap fans everywhere: "Look at Wrist"
Father is cultivating sounds for every artist under his imprint, and most notably his own. His style is bouncy and melodic, peculiar and druggy; he rarely uses samples, and his flow is effortless. His raps about drugs and girls float over smooth, head-nodding production from himself and in-house producers KCSB and Ethereal. We were curious about the up-and-coming artist after playing "Look at Wrist" on loop for the last few weeks, so we spoke to him about creating his own sound, his new album, Young Hot Ebony, and the independent label he's building from the ground up.
So, to properly introduce you, is it Father or Father’s Liquor Cabinet?
It was originally Father’s Liquor Cabinet, but I shortened it to Father because some people would actually call me “Father Liquor Cabinet” like all the way, and I’m like why would you say the entire name...
We've been fucking with your music heavy. It's definitely got a weird sound. Is it purposely like that?
I’m a weird nigga, it’s how it comes out really. I didn’t grow up on the same wave as everybody else, I kind of came into music differently. You know most people remember shit from when they was little and loving it then, but I don’t know, I think I picked up on shit differently, so I kind of learned in a weird way how to do things. I have no training or none of that stuff, so really it’s just me, channeling me into my music.
So you just got an MPC and started fucking around?
First I started with Fruity Loops, but I was like, "Nah I’m terrible at this." But then a couple years later I picked up on this program called Reason, and then you know from there, I started getting into Ableton Live and all that. I learned myself basically.
A lot of sounds co-exist here but a lot of sounds don’t get love here. I feel like something in the water makes everybody make some different wild shit, just because I don’t know, I really can’t explain it. I guess it just roots from being down South.
What part of Atlanta did you grow up in?
I grew up in Mississippi. I spent my first 10 years there, then I moved to Georgia in like 2000. I stayed out West, like West Metro area. I came to Atlanta in like 2008, and I’ve been living in like every part. Pretty much every year I’ve lived somewhere different. I’ve lived downtown, I’ve lived in Buckhead, I’ve lived in the West End, I’ve lived in Southwest, and now I live in East Atlanta near Bouldercrest.
Atlanta and Chicago are probably the two places in the country where multiple sounds are able to peacefully co-exist. What is it in Atlanta that helps that?
A lot of sounds co-exist here, but a lot of sounds don’t get love here. I feel like something in the water makes everybody make some different wild shit, just because I don’t know, I really can’t explain it. I guess it just roots from being down South. Everyone tends to make different shit, but there’s usually only one thing that poppin’ at a time. I really can’t explain it myself. It's a phenomenon.
You've got a ton of artists on your Soundcloud page, too. Like, PlanetsBeyondNeptune's "White Privilege" is wild. It sounds very '80s, like old Salt n Pepa.
Man, the story behind that song... . It was on some crazy '80s shit. My friend came over, and she pulled out the song, and then some other shit... . It was the middle of the day, and we was just in here going in, and I came up with that song. I have never done anything else like that since that day. I was on some other shit that day.
You were geeked up?
It was geeked up in here that day. We were mixing all kinds of shit, in the middle of the day. It wasn’t even night, we was just in here chilling like, “Let’s make a song!” Then somebody was like, "I got some of this, I got some of that, put it together crunch it up, and just snort it man."
Is that how “Wrist” came about?
Nah, “Wrist” didn’t come out like that. “Wrist” was called “Look at God.” The best part, it started off as one song, and they were like, "Yo I will not allow you to put this song out," so I stopped making that, and it ended up turning into “Wrist,” and then I went on to that.
Actually like 15 minutes before the beginning of that video, Key! was wrapping up his verse, and they’re like, "Yeah, let’s go ahead and shoot the video," and I’m like, "What are the chances that we’ll be in here chillin' again because we all just be doing our own separate shit, so it’s like we might as well while we’re all here. We just made the damn song, we might as well and go ahead do this damn video." So that's why I’m just sitting in the chair chilling like, “Okay, run it."
Then there's "Fake AF," which is just minimalist; it's simple, there's really no production. That video was effective. That’s when you were in NYC when Makonnen came down here?
Yeah, it was that same week. We’re just in between places up there, and we were just chilling in the hallway and were just like, "Let's just shoot a video in this colorful ass hallway."
Have you, Makonnen and Key! known each other for a long time?
I’ve known Key! for quite some time. We hadn’t directly interacted probably until this past year, but I seen him around the city and shit. That’s the thing, most people that are artists here actually know each other even though they don’t interact that much. Even though they don’t know each other, all of us, we tend to have been out on the scene and seen one another. Maybe not spoken, but like I see you, I know who you are.
I worked with Makonnen around the time that “Nokia” came out, but I met him for the first time like a year prior, when Awful used to throw these parties called "Shade" on Edgewood. But Makonnen, he had a Southside song. He popped up at one of our "Shade" parties and you know, we’re all like, “Come through, come through,” and we’re all drunk as hell, so we ain’t really get to talk that night, but that was like the first time we met. Then like a whole year later, he hit me up like, “Aw man, I’m doing verses, get on these verses right now, send it to my email,” and I’m like, “Hell yeah,” because it had been a minute since I like really heard him do the record shit.
You brought up Awful Records. You own that?
Who is all on the roster?
You got me, you got Rich Po Slim, you got Ethereal, KeithCharles SPACEBAR, Lord NARF, that’s one half of Planets Beyond Neptune. Slug Christ, Archibald Slim of course, Stalin Majesty also, the two of them together are a group called A&R. There's Gahm, he’s on the roster as well...Micah Freeman, Abra, Lui Diamonds, and Pyramid Quince.
You've got a whole fucking label.
Yeah, our numbers are supposed to stand at 13. Unofficially, 13 unofficially. We recently acquired Micah Freeman.
I’m a nerd. I’m a creator. I like different looking shit. I grew up on '90s cartoons, like "Rocko’s Modern Life," all that shit. The people that made art cartoons were on acid all the time.
So, both producers and rappers?
Yeah, producers and rappers. A lot of people produce themselves, actually a couple people don’t produce, but most of us produce themselves. It really kind of drives the indie label feel, like everybody can really do for themselves for the most part. Abra is also one, she’s a singer. She hasn’t had any releases through us yet, but that’s coming. Then there's Louie Diamonds and Pyramid Quince. A lot of people are on it, and some of them haven’t had any big releases yet. We all interact from each other and kind of learn things from each other, but everybody is pretty grounded, everybody always grounded in style, and they know their reach, but they’re grounded in their certain style.
You said you're a weird cat, so what cultivated your style as a whole?
Off the rip I knew that I’m an art nigga first, before the rap shit, so really the origin of that whole thing, you know, I’m a nerd. [Laughs.] I’m a creator. I like different looking shit. I grew up on ’90s cartoons, like Rocko’s Modern Life, all that shit. The people that made art cartoons were on acid all the time. I don’t know about now, but all that shit, niggas was definitely on acid or some other shit. Like cartoons like Adventure Time, Adult Swim got shit on lock right now. Have you seen Rick & Morty? Rick & Morty is the greatest cartoon currently out.
Let's talk about the project. Who does the artwork for everything?
I do all my artwork because like I said before, I’m a art nigga first, so I make sure I handle for the most part anything I can do for myself, I do for myself. The only thing I haven’t done is my logo.
Who did that?
Monster. That was guy you saw dancing in the iLoveMakonnen video, "Lightning Man."
I was gonna ask you if Booty Math and Lightning Man are the same person. That’s a mystery to everyone.
Yeah, they are one in the same. I hope he doesn’t get mad about that.
His Twitter is so fucking weird. He just says random things...that make sense.
Honestly, I’ll be sitting here with him as he's doing the stuff, and I’ll be like, "What is going on in your mind?" Because he doesn’t project it out, you know? He doesn’t physically project it out when you’re with him, so it’s like, "How are you doing this?" He hands all my logos and shit. We’re trying to get him to work on a couple more items so we’re probably gonna see a little bit more Booty Math x Awful.
How long has Awful Records been in existence?
Awful Media Group thing, that began in 2011. The Awful Media Records, my first release Pretty Boy Satan when I dropped that last year, that’s when like the record label kind of got started. But Awful Media Group, as a creative entity, began in January 2011.
What else do you guys do besides music?
Anything, man. We come up with short films.There’s no short films out right now, but we’ve just been waiting on more time to do it. Scripts, films, commercials. For the longest, I was doing a lot of commercials, just like weird quirky shit for the parties we throw. There’s a lot on the YouTube channel you’ll see random ass commercials that I shot.
When you made “Wrist,” did you expect for it to get this big?
Yes and no, I made it hoping, slightly expecting, but not completely sure. That shit does things to people.
Who were some of your musical inspirations when you were younger?
When I was younger, I didn't really listen to music that much. I didn’t really become interested in artists, finding stuff I fuck with until the end of high school. Before that, I don’t know what the fuck I was on honestly. Like I said, I was an art kid, I like to draw, read comics that’s all I really cared about when I was younger. But I would hear the music that my mom played, and she liked a lot of that [New Orleans bounce music]. I’m from Mississippi, and that’s real close to all of that, for Freaknik, all that shit, she played a lot of bass, a lot Miami bass, that Daytona music, I heard most of that when I was little.
So in the "Fake AF" video, you're doing the Lil B cooking dance.
Yeah, a little bit of cook action.
Does Lil B have any influence on what you're doing? Internet-wise, promotion-wise? His music is a little weird, but I think he gets overlooked on how genius his marketing is.
It is overlooked. It’s wildly overlooked. If anything I said this once before, that’s where I got the influence for my name, to call myself Father, Father’s Liquor Cabinet. Lil B, Lil B the Based God. Fuck My Bitch Lil B. Like all those campaigns that he came up with, it’s something you created, you portray yourself as this entity, so who can tell you that you’re not
So that’s where you got Father from?
Yeah, it’s like placing myself by name in a position of influence. I mean who do they blame for fucking up the child? The Father. Father wasn’t there. This, that, and the third, and it’s like anybody’s life who has the most power in mine? Apparently it’s the father they think, I don’t know.
Like strippers have daddy issues…
Yeah, a girl told me one time, "I’m not gonna put you in my phone as Father because my father isn’t there so you’ll be the first one."
You’re daddy basically?
Yeah. That shit’s hilarious, man.
What are your favorite tracks off Young Hot Ebony?
All my favorite shit is on the last end. I like all the cool shit as the beginning, but I really like the joints on the end that are overlooked because naturally people start from the top and start to get weeded off before they get to the bottom, and they’ll be like, “Well, that was hot, that was hot.” Probably one of my favorite joints on there is “Why Can’t I Cry $$$” That’s probably like my favorite shit I made. I feel like I was on my Beach Boy, singing in band and shit. Towards the ending of the song I just started to wail on some Beach Boys type shit. I can’t explain it... . That’s another thing I like, surf-rock. I don’t listen to it as often as everything else, but when it comes to, like, anything other than rapping vocally that I would try to do it would kind of be on that wave.
At the end of the day, what are you trying to accomplish with all of these projects?
I do it for the beauty of the whole thing and generally to make more. Like that’s why the album isn’t free because I want to continue to do this. If people want me to continue to do this, it’s going to have to cost. Like the labor that I put into it has to have a price. I do it to make more. To make more of it because I do enjoy it. This is what I enjoy doing, you know? People be like, "You just in it for money." Hell yeah, I’m in it for some money. I want this to pay out so I don’t have to do some other shit and do this for free.
What are some of your future plans in terms of music and the label?
I want everybody to be functioning individual artists. I don’t want them to be anything like current bigger labels operate where it’s, “This is the hot artist that everybody is talking about,” you know, I don’t want it to be like the tier effect like you have this Top 3 and everybody else is just there. I want it to be like an individual person and adding their own individual piece.
What's your creative process like on a day-to-day basis?
It’s not a machine. Sometimes I wish I was a machine. For the most part it’s just us kicking it here, doing what we do, everybody can drink and fuck around. But when it’s time to do work, we shovel out whatever we gotta do.
In terms of other Atlanta artists right now, like Thug or Sonny Digital or Metro Boomin, are you guys cool with them?
I just recently met Metro at the Drake vs. Lil Wayne concert in Atlanta. It was tight, Makonnen popped up and did “Tuesday” that night. I actually met Drake. He seemed like a cool dude, you know.
There's the whole idea of "New Atlanta" and then you and Makonnen have this weirdo Atlanta scene going on, too.
It's not like we all were like, "We’re not going to come up at the same time," like we made that decision. You’re gonna get grouped together, it’s gonna happen. Everybody that associates with each other is going to get grouped together under some stupid fucking category. The last time I checked it’s been like four “new Atlantas.” They do it every year in Atlanta because last time I checked niggas was running shit for a hot little second.
Everyone always want to put something in a box.
It doesn’t happen in other genres, a lot of it...it’s rap. When my shit dropped I even said, "This isn’t an LP, it’s an album." But I still see shit on blogs like, “Father releases new EP,” “Father releases new mixtape.” I’m like, "I at no point said this was a mixtape." I’m like, "This wasn’t meant to be no new mixtape, don’t call it that." But it’s whatever.
It’s like when people called Kendrick Lamar's good kid M.A.A.D City, his first studio album. Like what the fuck was Section 80? That was an album.
Exactly man, like FKA Twigs, she released a 10-song project, all original music, that would be called an album.
Interview by Angel Diaz