On a Friday afternoon in January, I attempted to FaceTime UnoTheActivist and Thouxanbanfauni, ahead of the Complex premiere of their new project, For Christ Sake 2. I called them both at the scheduled time, only for Fauni to pick up, but not Uno. We shot the shit a little, until I realized Fauni was in a house full of people and he had conversations to carry out—in front of me or not. On attempt number two, after minutes of awkwardly tagging in and out of being visible on video, they both finally appeared: Fauni phoning in from Atlanta, and Uno from L.A.

Their new joint tape, For Christ Sake 2, sounds like a pair of young, but experienced, MCs who are concerned with one thing: making heat. According to Uno, that’s exactly how the tape series (which began when they released the first iteration, For Christ Sake, in 2015) got its name. “I think we made For Christ Sake ‘cause we was saying that shit was too hard,” Uno, 22, explained over FaceTime. “We was like, ‘For Christ’s sake, goddamn.’”

In a perfect world, both Uno and the 25-year-old Fauni would be treated as influential veterans when it comes to innovating and popularizing distinct styles of Atlanta hip-hop that have impacted rap writ large. In Fauni’s opinion, they haven’t been supported enough on rap sites, like Complex, considering the contributions they believe they’ve made. “I be feeling like the blogs be trying to troll us,” Fauni explained. “Everything we work hard for, our whole careers, and y'all be thinking this shit a joke. Y'all really be taking everything we work hard for as a joke.”

In addition to airing their grievances with Complex and other publications, Uno and Fauni spoke further about For Christ Sake 2, which you can stream below, why internet beefs are never worth it, what really inspired their names, and what they learned after experiencing ego deaths while on acid.

When did y'all meet?

UnoTheActivist: Shit, I think we met at the beginning of January 2015.

Thouxanbanfauni: What? 2015?

Uno: I think we met January 2015.

Fauni: Yeah, like, end of 2014, beginning of 2015.

Uno: Yeah, I had my own crib and shit. Nigga just popped up at my house one day. Literally, I met Fauni 'cause he walked in my house one day.

Fauni: I pulled up on this nigga. I knew this nigga made music.

Uno: I didn't know he made music, though. We had this little group chat going on. He just called me, like, “Where you at?” and the rest is history.

The title of this project is For Christ Sake 2. How did y'all come up with the title of this series?

Uno: Yo Fauni, how we come up with that shit?

Fauni: I'm not even sure. We were in the studio. We was just working, honestly.

Uno: Yeah, we was high as fuck.

Fauni: We was in the studio working. We was making back-to-back... Even when we made the first tape, I think we made in like, a day or some shit, bro.

Uno: Yeah.

Fauni: Yeah, “Let's make this heat.”

Uno: I think we made For Christ Sake ‘cause we was saying that shit was too hard. We was like, “For Christ’s sake, goddamn.” I think that’s how we came up with it.

Y’all work together a lot, obviously. When did you decide, “We both make a lot of sense together, musically”?

Fauni: First off, y'all said we was a duo. The internet said we was a duo. Alright? Me and Uno, we know we fire. Uno fire by his damn self. Fauni fire by his damn self. Everything, bro, the internet made all this shit up. You feel me? As far as beefs, as far as, “Oh, dynamic duos,” as far as, “Oh, them niggas click together when they make songs and shit.” You feel me?

We know we fire. But as far as the people who are on YouTube and who make they own little playlists and everything—who make certain shit seem like it ain't—that's what the internet do. This is the thing with me and Uno: When we first linked up, bro, we did hella work together, but we was also doing hella work solo. He was working on his solo project; I was working on my solo project. But at the same time, we was like, “We can make some shit together, too.” You feel me?

Uno: It was a project, yeah.

Fauni: But, we not on no boy band shit.

Uno: We just wanted to see how it sounded.

“We solo artists, but we gang, you know what I'm saying?” - thouxanbanfauni

Fauni: Yeah, we wanted to see how that shit sounded, and that shit was fire. So now, we just like, “Bro, we can keep doing this shit.” But the thing is, we our own artists. He his own artist. I'm my own artist, but we do get together and cut some shit up.

Uno: It's gang.

Fauni: That's just some shit niggas love. You feel me? Niggas can't help but love that shit. You feel me? On everything. We solo artists, but we gang, you know what I'm saying? He one of the artists who I definitely fuck with, who I can say out loud I can vouch for this nigga, ‘cause he a real nigga and he a solid-ass nigga. You feel me? Brightest nigga in his age bracket, period, point blank.

How do you try to bring out the best in each other when you work together?

Uno: Oh, we don't try. It just happens tight. Like, we don't want to be on the track and then be like, “Ahh, homie verse whack.” We want to complete the track. We try to come for each other neck every track. When we do something together, it's friendly competition ‘cause that's what makes the song fit in: feeling it. That's what makes you feel something, most definitely.

Fauni: Yeah, it makes it fun. And regardless, any tone I set for the track, Uno energy gon’ match it. Any tone he set for the track, he know I'mma match his energy. So it's like, “Bring that same energy,” you feel me?

Fauni, I watched a video that you did with XXL about your name and where it came from. You made it sound like you shouldn't have survived that shit, taking too many pills and nearly overdosing. When did that happen?

Fauni: Oh, that never happened, bro. I lied to XXL. I was trolling them the whole time.

Are you serious?

Fauni: I'm deadass, bro.

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Thouxanbanfauni via Eric KLX

What the fuck?

Fauni: I don't fuck with XXL like that. That lady had the audacity to tell me I need them for my career. I looked at that bitch like, “Y'all tweakin’.” That's why I'm like, “Alright. Since y'all gon’ tell me whatever, I'm gon’ just tell y'all whatever.” They really told me that. She told me I need them. I was like, “Y'all got me fucked up. I'm over here ‘cause I want to be. I don't need y'all niggas.”

I'm a type of nigga that like to do social experiments. I like to see what the people eat up, just ‘cause I like fucking with people. That's just me, personally. I like fucking with people ‘cause I know people only care about bullshit. So, I'll give people bullshit. I'll give them niggas a goofy-ass story and I'll see if they fall for the shit, ‘cause I know niggas don't even care about authenticity no more. Niggas just care about shit that sound lit or shit that's this, that, and the third. You feel me?

I can tell people how I honestly came up, but don't nobody give a fuck ‘cause hella niggas is homeless, hella people been in the trenches, and they had to get it out the mud they self. At the end of the day, everybody got their own personal struggles and if you respect it or not, it don't really matter. People only care about it when you up, you know, when you actually get something and you gain something from your struggles—and all of your oppression that you been through. People don't really care about what you’re going through until you made it count, and until you got something to show for it. Whether it's millions of dollars, whether it's the latest designer this, that, and the third, people don't care about what you gotta say until you actually got something to show for it. I just want to have something to show for it before I give people all of me.

So, in the meantime, you're trolling?

Fauni: Yeah, I'm trolling, because I feel like the blogs be trolling us.

Uno: Blogs be trolling.

Fauni: Every single second, every hour. I feel like y'all be trolling our careers. I feel like, like Akademiks and No Jumper, I feel like y'all be trolling everybody’s whole career. Bro, this nigga has a whole rap career now.

Uno: Niggas said I'm the No. 1 most underrated rapper. Complex: “UnoTheActivist is the No. 1 underrated artist.” [Editor's note: the list was unranked] What type of shit is that? You know what I'm saying?

I understand your frustration.

Uno: It don't even make sense. If somebody so underrated, why would you promote ’em, if that's how you feel? It’s like the bloggers be trolling, so, we got to subliminally control the messages.

Fauni: Yeah, I be feeling like the blogs be trying to troll us. Everything we work hard for, our whole careers, and y'all be thinking this shit a joke. Y'all really be taking everything we work hard for as a joke.

Don't put me in that. I'm not one of them.

Fauni: Not saying you, specifically, but a lot of the people you work with, your colleagues, they be taking this shit as a joke. They don't know, it's a lot of niggas who out here dying over this shit.

Uno: I almost died, yo. I got shot twice over this shit.

Fauni: You feel me?

Uno: Shit is for real.

Fauni: That shit be a joke to y'all niggas. A lot of y'all niggas ain't in the field, or y'all don't got to be in the field. You feel me? Not saying you, but when I say “you,” we just saying like, it's too many blogs and shit.

Uno: Nah, we not talking ‘bout you.

Fauni: They be taking this shit as a joke, and the worst part about it is we just trying to get our music out. So we fucking with some of these niggas, just because we want to grow, too. But the reason [other artists] grow is because all the biased shit gets more play than the authentic shit. You feel me?

What do you mean “biased shit”?

Fauni: By “biased,” it's more so about the controversial shit, all the lame shit, all the petty shit. People will post that shit before they post...

Uno: Before they post their favorite artist.

Fauni: Before y'all post your favorite artist donating $100,000 to charity, or before y'all post an artist who’s out here trying to feed the streets, they'll post just some dumb shit before they post any of the authentic shit. Most of the time, they'll never even post the authentic shit, you feel me?

Here, we post everything. But when you look at the numbers, it's the “biased shit” that people click on. We post the articles about the good stuff being done, but nobody clicks on it. It's not just us. It's everybody as a whole.

Uno: That's what we saying, yo.

Fauni: But that's the thing, though. Y'all letting it come to that because y'all posting it so much. If y'all post more generous shit, and people being great and trying to better humanity, then it's not gon' be as much troll shit. You'll see young kids trying to feel like they need to better humanity instead of being trolls, and they'll be trying to figure out how they can do that more. Trolls get more clicks because y'all promote so hard. You feel me?

Y'all promote it so hard 'cause y'all see it get a lot of clicks, but if y'all don't promote that shit as much and y'all promote more authentic shit, young kids who see what's going on, they going to want to be more authentic.

Completely fair.

Uno: No doubt.

Fauni: Kids is only going to do more of what they see is being posted, you feel me? And, right now, we know as adults, we see the numbers and the stats. We know the troll shit, it gets more clicks, but it's like, bro: the click bait, all of that, that shit's just lame. We don't got to do that.

We do it because, when we trolling, we can be genuinely trolling on some shit. It's funny to us. It's a lot of things that go on between artists that be inside jokes, you feel me? And a lot of people who looking from the outside in, basically, don't understand it, or they try to make it seem like it’s something it's not. It's just 'cause y'all not in the circle. A lot of these folks ain't in the circle when we joking, we trolling each other.

Sometimes, y'all make it seem like it's beef and it was never even beef to begin with. We can just joke and troll 'cause we know each other, personally, or we grew up with each other here, on that block, that corner, on this street, whatever. You feel me?

“I made my first stack off of pills, so that's why niggas call me ‘Thouxan.’” - Thouxanbanfauni

Well, thank you for clarifying the fact that your name did not come from nearly overdosing. But how did y'all come up with your names, if you want to be honest?

Fauni: My name was given to me for real, bro. Fauni Figueroa, 'cause niggas was like, “Oh, he a smart ass little boy. That nigga just think he got this shit figured out.” Fauni Figueroa. That's it. “Thouxan” just really came from, like, I was fucking with pills a lot. Don't get me wrong. I was fucking with pills. Where I was at, though, I was one of the only niggas who actually turned that shit into something, ’cause most niggas was geeking off pills. I was geeking off pills, but I was also getting money off pills. I made my first stack off of pills, so that's why niggas call me “Thouxan.”

Uno: I was my dad’s first son, so that's where the “Uno” came from. “The Activist” just came from... I was just always positive, like, on some preacher shit. Me always trying to enlighten something, you know what I'm saying? Just me always on the type of topic, trying to get somebody to another level of consciousness. You know what I'm saying?

I want to apologize to you because I thought the “Activist” part was tied to Actavis.

Uno: See, that's why people always get confused. Y'all just need to take the time to actually spell it out. It goes both ways. I don't mind it because it attracts people. People like “Activist,” even though they don't know how to spell it, they like it, you know? It just sounds fire. But I have an actual meaning behind it. That’s what I do with all my music: I try to put a message in it. You can ask my fans. We always try to give them a message of positivity.

What’s a key difference between For Christ Sake 1 and 2?

Uno: When we made For Christ Sake 1, I ain't gon’ lie, we was on a lot of pills.

And what about this time?

Uno: I don't do pills no more.

uno
UnoTheActivist via Publicist

Fauni: It’s not like I’m a pill enthusiast. Yo, it's just life. I try to work every day. I try to be at the studio as much as I can, so I don't know how I'm gon’ feel the next day. Depending on my mood, it’s gonna depend on the drugs I'm taking, too. Some days, I might be happy as hell and I might be sober for that day. Then tomorrow, I might be a little down and I don't want to feel down. I don't like to feel sad. I'd rather feel happy.

Uno: You want to know what made me stop doing that shit? It took acid, for me. I had a super ego death, and I really realized that shit is all trash.

Like, the high that you get from pills is trash?

Uno: It's just man-made shit that they killing us with. I'm not for it.

You said you had an ego death, of sorts? This is an aside, but I feel like I've experienced something similar. I'm bipolar, and the first manic episode is often described as a collapsing of the ego. So, I feel like I understand what you mean by coming to a realization that a lot of this is manifested man-made trash.

Uno: Once you feeling that enlightenment, that mind-opening sensation, you really break down in your head what it does to your body and what it affects. You really start thinking about that shit. You really start wondering, “Why did they make this shit?” It's all for the cash. Shit crazy. That ego death really, really, really made me become what I am today.

Fauni, have you ever tried acid, like your friend Uno here?

Uno: Oh, me and Fauni did our first tabs together.

Did you have a similar experience?

Fauni: I wanted to see if it was gon’ destroy my life or make it better. I'm just a risk-taking ass nigga. I was down for all the bullshit. I was like, “Bro, if I really care about what I'm doing, then drugs is not gon’ take over.” That's how I felt. If I really have a passion for this music shit and I want to take the shit to the next level, then I'm not gon’ let this shit take over my life. ‘Cause being on LSD and shit, that shit is intense. That shit is super intense, but it's good.

Uno: I think that's when we became brothers, though, like really, real, real-deal.

Fauni: Yeah, ‘cause I seen you could handle it and you seen I was good. We was both in our right mindset. A more elevated mindset. And then, the niggas around us slick couldn't handle it. And these niggas was older than us. That's why that shit was, like, “Oh, these niggas don't even know what the fuck going on, man.” 

Uno: Some people take that shit just for the high. That's not really what you're supposed to be taking it for. Every time you take LSD, you're supposed to unlock something in your mind. It's supposed to change your outlook on life forever after that. People get lost in their mind for being weak-minded and all type of shit. I will say it’s not a drug for everybody. If you know that you're weak-minded and you got an addictive personality and you ain't in the best place, mentally, then don't take that shit. Please, don't.

Thank you for that warning.

Fauni: [Laughs]. Nigga said, "Please, don't." For real. My senses is just way too on-point, bro. I can just sense fuck shit. I can sense what niggas even thinking 'bout just by looking at a nigga expressions, bro, I swear to God. Envy and jealousy, bro, I can point that shit out quick, in a room full of niggas.

Y'all have both been rapping for quite a few years, now. Do you see yourself rapping in five years? In 10 years? In 15 years?

Uno: Nah.

Why not, Uno?

Uno: ‘Cause I'm not a rapper. I'm an artist. I’mma always be dealing with music, but I'm not gon’ be rapping forever. I might drop an album with straight instrumentals—live instruments and sounds. In 10 years, I don't want to be having to goddamn prove my point to these motherfuckers. They need to know what's going on. I'm gon’ be on some CEO, boss shit. Music is more than just words and rapping and shit. I never considered myself a rapper, though. I mean, I know how to rap, but I'm an artist. I'm a visionary. You know what I'm saying?

Fauni: Yeah, a few years from now... I mean, rapping is fun. I could see myself touring. You feel me?

Uno: Yeah, I could tour forever.

Fauni: I like traveling and shit. But, as far as being a rapper, I never considered myself a rapper just 'cause I feel like anybody can do that. That's like being an employee to some shit. Anybody can flip burgers and shit. Anybody can rap, but [you have to also have your own] artistic style, and artistic expression behind words. Also, even the cover art we put out, that's the work of artists, you know? Also, I feel like being old as fuck and rapping, that shit kind of weird.

Uno: Exactly.

Fauni: I can see myself directing films and shit, 'cause I'm really into movies. Me and Uno just did a video where we was slick acting in that bitch. I think we gon’ do some more shit like that. Also, even making sure other artists and their families is good, ‘cause the more I'm in the industry and I just peep what's going on, the more I really want to make sure that all the new artists have the information so they can hold their own in the game. 'Cause it's really just some snake shit going on. It's really a dog-eat-dog world. You can be hype, buzzing, popular, all that shit. But all the industry niggas see that shit and they swoop you up. Then, you think you that fire nigga, but it's like five other niggas they done swooped up. They looking for three other niggas. You think they done found the one, but they still looking. 'Cause it's just money for them. They gon' drain everything they can out you, and then...

“When motherfuckers try to count us out, we keep going, ‘cause we the vibe. We the ones who make the vibe.” - unotheactivist

Uno: Take a style, take a flow, take a fan, take an aura, aesthetic.

Fauni: All that, yeah. They gonna drain everything they can from you, they gon’ make you record all day, make you record forever. They still gon’ own all your recordings. They just gon’ sell them for more money. Feel me? They won't help your family get none of that. So, I feel like helping young artists just be more independent, that's something I'll probably get into when I'm older. I know I'mma be on some humanitarian shit when I get to that age. I'm just on some selfish, wreckless, me shit right now, ‘cause I gotta be. I gotta at least do that, right now, so later on I can help people.

Uno: It's just a fact: Before you can take care of everybody how you want to take care of them, you gotta make sure you're good. Fuck all that.

Fauni: You got to take care of yourself first.

Uno: Self-love. Most important. I dreamed about this shit, man.

Fauni: And it's happening, that's why it's lit. It's fire. It's like, “This is my job.” I go out, I turn up every night, and they pay me off that shit. What they be trying to do to poison the fun, they be trying to make it a competition with other artists. They be trying to be like, “Well, who sold the most tickets on their day?” They be trying to take the fun out of it. The politics always be trying to ruin shit.

Uno: Fuck the politics.

Fauni: We having fun. We been trying to do this. It's niggas who dream about doing this shit who still in the hood. You feel me? And they trying to make a sports game out of politics. If I'm just doing it for politics, I’mma forget why I did it in the first place. I want to have this type of fun, ‘cause I could see myself doing this when I was young. It was impossible and everybody in my family told me there was like a one-in-a-million chance. And we doing this shit. So now, I'mma fulfill this shit, man. I'm having fun, the time of my life. I'm not gon’ let niggas ruin my fun.

Uno: Who cares about that shit, man? As long as you personally satisfied. Everybody always want to shit on the next man. It's not good 'cause you don’t want that energy upon you. You want to be the vibe. You don't want to be a part of the vibe. Everybody goddamn throwing dirt on each other, shitting on each other. They just being a part of that negative vibe, they're not bringing their own vibe. They just falling victim to a negative vibe, and that's not how we coming.

Got you. Uno, you mentioned earlier that you've been shot behind this rap shit before. As of today, are y'all good? Is the air is clear?

Uno: I forgave them niggas, bro. I'm gon’ be honest. At the end of the day, I got shit to live for. I can't spend my whole life trying to kill some niggas. Even though I did want to kill them for a minute, it was going on for a minute to the point where it's like, “Bro, it happened already.” There's really nothing else to do about it unless a body get dropped, but that's what it is.

Fauni: And we not finna go and promote all that shit. Niggas already was on the internet trying to take us out over some lame shit before we had a chance to even respond, for real.

Uno: I never responded to none of that shit because I'm not giving energy to that shit.

Fauni: Exactly. A bunch of niggas on the internet with beef, it's a wrap, bro. It's already an investigation just 'cause niggas start it. And then, if he go missing, the first people they gon’ look for is the niggas he mentioned in his videos, you feel me? We already know how that shit go. We ain't finna get involved in none of that lame ass shit. If it's real street beef, we can handle it in the streets.

Uno: They already protected themselves, doing a fake ass interview, basically admitting to the shit. They put themselves under protective custody type shit. On some weird shit, but I'm not even worried about that. 'Cause that's not what makes me or breaks me. I'm the only nigga that can do that. I don't even pay it no mind. It's just what it is. Let God be with them. I hope He forgive them like I did.

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Image via Eric KLX