When the tracklist for A$AP Rocky's new album, A.L.L.A., came out, the Internet collectively wondered, "Who the hell is Joe Fox?" With five guest credits—two of which are shared with M.I.A. and Future, and Kanye—he shows up on roughly a quarter of the album, an impressive feat given this is the first time his name's been featured on any tracklist ever. Now that A.L.L.A.'s finally dropped, learning exactly who Joe Fox is, what he's about, and where the hell he even came from is among one of the highest priorities alongside processing Rocky's intriguingly psychedelic project. We finally caught up with him during A$AP's New York press rounds—he goes where Rocky goes these days, after all—and the conclusion is, quite simply, he's still very much enjoying his air of mystery. He definitely isn't lapping up the abundant attention that's been pointed his way in the past week. Everyone wants to know his story and what's next, but Joe's just taking it one day at a time. Here's where his head's at currently.
Frazier Tharpe is a staff writer at Complex. Follow him @The_SummerMan.
You’ve mentioned that your influences are John Lennon, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix. Is that the kind of music that you grew up on?
I grew up with all sorts of music.
Did you stay in London for most of your childhood?
I didn’t grow up in one spot. It was all over the place.
How would you describe your sound?
Truthful. I hope. [Laughs.]
Do you still have the mixtape that you tried to sell A$AP Rocky the night that you met him?
No, but I’m sure a few people do.
What was that night like for you? You had no idea who he was. You just got into a stranger’s car and went to the studio.
That night is...still going. [Laughs.]
What was the first song you guys made together?
Did you know about Max B before hanging out with Rocky?
He explained Max B's situation to me.
What kind of new music has he exposed you to?
The sounds of the underground.
Are you into more rap these days?
I always liked rap. My comment about modern music—I don’t listen to the radio, but I listen to new music. I just don’t listen to music that’s on the radio. I always listen to new music.
What’s it like hanging out with A$AP Mob and Ian Connor?
Rocky recently talked about taking psychedelics. Did you partake too?
I’m just trying to protect myself...from the things that everyone else has to protect themselves from.
What’s your recording process like?
There’s no process. You just do what comes naturally. Music comes naturally to me.
Did you meet any of the other artists featured on the album?
I met Kanye. He was an incredibly kind person. When we were in the studio, he wrote this line about Saint Laurent and Zara and then he stopped to think of his next rhyme. I suggested “Che Guevara” and he went [snaps fingers] “Ye Guevara!” It’s kind of cool that Kanye used a word that I said. He was really open to suggestion and collaborating with new people. He’s a really nice guy.
How long had you been making your own music before you met Rocky?
I’ve always been making music.
Are you worried about the way that people are going to perceive you now that you’re getting attention?
I’m just trying to protect myself...from the things that everyone else has to protect themselves from. [Laughs.] That's a good answer, isn't it?
You’re living with Rocky now. Do you travel everywhere with him?
It’s weird because we’ve been to a lot of places together. We’ve been to Miami, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and a bunch of other places. Tokyo is one of the best places I’ve ever seen. It’s so different from anything I ever knew.
How long have you been hanging out with Rocky?
About a year now.
What’s it like to experience such a drastic change in lifestyle?
The way that I approach every day is exactly the same as it has been my whole life.
Take it as it comes.
So you’re not in a "Hollywood" mindset?
What’s a Hollywood mindset?
Well, has your lifestyle become more celebrity-esque and glamorous since the album dropped?
Well...hmm...I just hope that the album does well. [Laughs.]
How have you been processing the attention that you’ve been receiving lately? Is it annoying?
I like journalists and stuff, I like writing. I don’t know, it’s just been...a thing.
Do you have a favorite memory from the past year?
Oh god. My head is full of crazy secrets. I feel like I know too much now. I don’t know if I can say.
How about lessons, industry and life-wise? What have you learned from Rocky in this past year?
Stay true to what you are and don’t compromise.
Are you open to working with other rappers now?
I’ve already worked with loads on this project but hell yes. I would definitely work with another rapper on another project.
How would you describe your album?
Psychedelic. Similar to A.L.L.A. but with different influences. If people liked how I sounded on A.L.L.A., then they can expect more of that.
What’s your favorite track on A.L.L.A.?
Ooh, that’s a great question. “Fine Whine.” I like Future, I like his part. I like Lil Wayne’s verse on “M’$” as well. He sounds like a young Wayne. I [used to be] really into Lil Wayne.
What songs are you listening to right now?
“Grief” by Earl Sweatshirt. I fucking love that song. Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.” “Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan. I’ve got Rocky’s Spotify. We have a playlist. There are so many songs that I like, but I kind of feel guilty for liking them.
Where do you see yourself next year?
I don't think that far ahead. I just hope that I’m happy. [Laughs.]
What’s been your favorite part of the album promo so far?
Meeting Sway because he’s a legend. I’ve met a lot of legends actually. I met Busta Rhymes. I remember buying “Gimme Some More” when I was a child and feeling badass for it. We met Denzel Washington. That was amazing. We were both starstruck.
I read that Juicy J called you a rock star when you walked into his house.
That was the first thing he said. It was a pretty good feeling.
What’s one statement that you want to put out there?
If you’re young and into music, just do music. Start a band, rap, whatever. Go and play music. The world is too boring and full of hateful people. We need more young artists.