Father and the Awful Records Crew Stayed at My Apartment for Two Weeks

We spent some time with the Atlanta collective.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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It’s supposed to be New York’s most devastating snowstorm, and I’m stuck in my apartment with half of Awful Records. KeithCharles Spacebar is trying to remove the bandage from his pinky, which he broke during a fight with RichPoSlim. I’m holding his brace in position while he manually redresses it. There’s a towel under my bathroom door, yet weed smoke somehow manages to permeate the barrier. We’re about to watch Django Unchained for what must be the hundredth time for each of us.  

“You wan I should treat him like white folk?” They’re repeating a familiar line from the movie. Everyone is holding either a bottle or a bodega sandwich.

What I discover in that time is a dysfunctional yet somehow productive family tied together loosely by mutual histories, insecurities, and ambitions, with an aesthetic palate defined somewhere around the intersection of Gucci Mane, Dragonball Z, and cam girls.

How did we get here?

Four days prior, I’m doing a standard interview in Times Square at the top floor of an empty bar. To my immediate right sits Father, the well-mannered, soft-spoken rapper and in-house producer. To my left sits RichPoSlim, the rapper, spokesperson, and physical manifestation of Drunk History—knowledgeable and eloquent, despite the filter of inebriation through which nearly all of his words pass. To my far right sits Archibald Slim, another rapper, who makes no jokes but laughs at everyone. Their personalities balance each other out.

We’re making progress. There are 15 members of the crew, and we’re going down the list of each one. Where is so-and-so from? What is his role? What are some of his defining moments?

We get through four members, three of which are the ones present, and suddenly everyone stands up. They’ve been drinking Long Island Iced Teas and buying baked goods with reckless abandon. Father looks over at me sympathetically. It appears that they are drunk. But we agree that we can continue the interview as they head over to Williamsburg to shoot a music video.

Father, or “Fat” as his friends call him, has set up to shoot with someone he found on Instagram—a girl who I’m fairly certain curved me on Tinder about a year prior, but that’s neither here nor there—and we’ve brought with us a small camera. Xanax bars and mushrooms populate the counters of the girl's apartment, which appears to have been an industrial space in a former capacity. Art supplies are strewn about. Dev Hynes is here, randomly. Fat chooses a song and some camera angles in the apartment, and then we shoot. Dozens of takes later, it’s 4 a.m. and he doesn’t know where he’s going. Two days later, seven people are sleeping in my basement.

They stay for two weeks.

What I discover in that time is a dysfunctional yet somehow productive family tied together loosely by mutual histories, insecurities, and ambitions, with an aesthetic palate defined somewhere around the intersection of Gucci Mane, Dragonball Z, and cam girls.


It all started to come together for them at a spot in Atlanta they call The Barrio. “At the end of September, two years ago, a nigga needed a place to stay,” says Father. “I found this place for the low, and it was this random ass, ratchet ass apartment complex, over in like, Zone 6, off Custer, where Gucci was like popping and shit. It was just me and my shorty, real lonely, and then eventually it get around to the spring, niggas was getting active and shit like that, and they got kicked out of where they were. Archie got kicked out of where he was, and they came to The Barrio basically. Everybody just swarmed to The Barrio.” That swarm metastasized into Awful Records.

Pre-Barrio, Father and Archibald were roommates at Georgia State University. “They’re the two cornerstones,” says Po. “If you’re not gonna go record with Father, you’re gonna go record with Archie.”

Archie moved from his place in Midtown Atlanta to an apartment adjacent to Father's, doubling the amount of square footage for their friends to crash. It became their common creative space. “The Barrio was the first time there was ample space, and we’re all in the same area, so it forces us to be on top of each other and be creative,” Po explains. “Like wake up in the morning, what are we about to do? We’re about to get drunk and make music.”

That music-making process by way of collision that Po describes is not too far removed from what takes place in my apartment. On Father’s bulky PC, with a mic attachment, they record multiple songs throughout their stay, including a remix with iLOVEMAKONNEN. Father and KeithCharles Spacebar are constantly playing around with beats.

Father says that at a certain point, he started smoking and drinking more, which allowed him to 'dumb it down,' but also slow it down. This is widely referred to as 'Pulling a Cam' among the crew.

“My shit sounds like what Keith was making a year ago,” says Father. When I ask the crew who they think is their best producer, the answer is unanimously Keith. They refer to him as the Mannie Fresh to their Cash Money Records. When I ask the crew who they think is their best rapper, no one has an answer except for Po, who says “Fat.”

Father’s come-up as a rapper is peculiar because he blew up off of a song, “Look at Wrist,” for which he really only had two bars. The origins of his style though, he says, come from Big L. “That’s how I learned how to rap.” And if you visit some of his older work, you can hear the Harlem rapper’s influence: multi-syllabic structures and fast, tongue-twisting rhymes. If anything, such is the opposite of what he has become known for today. He says that at a certain point, he started smoking and drinking more, which allowed him to “dumb it down,” but also slow it down. This is widely referred to as “Pulling a Cam” among the crew.

“I wanted to start making music that I’d actually want to hear,” he says.

At my house, he reaches his full creative form after imbibing at least one bottle of red wine, which is his primary vice. What results from Fat “dumbing” himself down is sort of a compression. He’s being just as clever but with fewer words. He makes sparse tracks and fills in the space between slaps with short, casually delivered rhymes. But what he’s doing is masking his cleverness. On “Why Can’t I Cry $$$,” he raps “Being broke not a option/I’d rather get rope and then climb to the top and jump the fuck off and kill myself if you know what the fuck I’m saying.” He lets his lyrics run on and fall off the rhythm, then off the rhyme, toying with the standard structure of a bar before letting it resolve into the next. These moments of departure from the rules are when his genius peeks through—he’s acknowledging with a wink and a nudge that he knows exactly what he’s doing.

He describes the content of his music as “sexploitation.” Graphic sexual iconography characterizes a good majority of his work, but it is all more of a channeling of frustration than a reflection of his actual sex life. “Dad is not a thot,” he tweets, a claim that is at least mathematically (his body count, he says, is lower than this author’s; think single digits) sound.


Fat’s role in the group is that of the “Chill Dad,” he says. If that’s the case, RichPoSlim would be the loquacious uncle. Half of my time with Awful involves listening to RichPoSlim wax poetic about anything from smallpox in American history to the origins and maturation of Young Thug. His notable output musically has been mostly joint efforts with other members of Awful (visit the Brawl EP he did with Father and Dichotomy with Archibald). "I might wait a year," he says, referring to his first solo album, because he wants to orchestrate the perfect storm.

Archibald Slim would be the observant grandfather. His music reflects a tortured old soul who relates most deeply to the same street torments as UGK, Freddie Gibbs, and Gucci Mane (see his most recent solo project The Other Special Guest). KeithCharles Spacebar would be the your smack-talking teen brother. He's constantly falling in love with girls he discovers on Instagram. He has a near-Freudian obsession with the female mouth, hence his song "Drink My Spit." 

PlayboiCarti would be the beloved younger brother. He's a young street prince with a song called "Broke Boi" that is rapidly propelling him toward widespread recognition. He is, however, a few years everyone's junior, so the rest of the crew has taken the duty upon themselves to guide him away from the pitfalls of rap life irresponsibility. And Abra is perhaps the under-appreciated older sister. She's a triple threat of singing, rapping, and producing (check out BLQ Velvet), who sometimes gets frustrated with the overwhelmingly male-dominated voice of both Awful and the audience mentality. She constantly fields questions from fans who assume that she didn't write or produce her own work, when in reality, her creative fingerprints can be found on much of the rest of the crew's material. And that's only half of the family.

But Awful is no patriarchy. Father doesn’t actively tell anyone what to do, nor does he really like it when people ask him what to do. His role was sort of thrust upon him as he was the first to gain exposure, or “glo,” as they collectively call it. 

And as his personal glo manifests, that of the crew begins to take its own form. Things are still disorganized. Pre-glo, it was fine for all 15 of them to be rappers. It was fine for all of them to be producers. It was fine for each of them to be the voice of the group. But what they seem to be coming to terms with is the idea that if everyone is talking at the same time, no singular voice will be heard clearly—and that might still be totally OK for what they are trying to do.

Historically, it goes like the following: Rapper 1 comes out. Rapper 1 has friends. Those friends rap too. Some are better than others. They use Rapper 1 as a platform to each roll out as the next big thing that the group has to offer, often with diminishing returns on each iteration—a Russian doll situation that requires each member to carry the weed for the guy in front of him until his turn comes.

But Father’s new album, Who’s Gonna Get F****d First?, is perhaps their most promising work yet—not just for Father as a solo artist on the precipice of what looks like mainstream awareness, but as a representation of what the group can offer as a whole.

For Awful, that kind of single-file-line organization seems antithetical to their philosophy. They’ve all been releasing music consistently and independently for a while—some of their individual fan bases are almost completely separate from one another. The difference now is that the general public is actually paying attention.

In a candid conversation between Abra and Father back at my apartment, the pair discusses quality control for what sounds like the first time. “Not everything we put out is fye,” admits Abra. That is to say, the brand of Awful has no real filter yet. Anything that anyone in the group produces will be released and supported as part of the label, be it hit or miss.

But Father’s new album, Who’s Gonna Get Fucked First?, is perhaps their most promising yet—not just for Father as a solo artist on the precipice (when he played me the album’s second track, “Back in the 'A' Freestyle/On Me,” he said, “I felt like Drake when I made this”) of what looks like mainstream awareness, but as a representation of what the group can offer as a whole. Abra performs a pettiness anthem that is somehow both cute and scathing on “Gurl.” RichPoSlim works sex-positive social commentary into his verse on “BET Uncut.” Keith made a beat in a ¾ time signature for “Slow Dance.” Awful seems to be at its best on the album, and hopefully for them, that means it is a showcase for what is to come from each of them individually.


When Awful reaches the end of their New York stay, we are all exhausted, hungover, and couch-bound. PlayboiCarti notices the logo of a thrash metal band on my coffee table—it depicts the Satanic goat Baphomet. It’s strange, he says, because he was just watching conspiracy theory documentaries on the same kind of imagery. Every great artist, or group of artists, he says, had to make some sort of ultimate sacrifice (human or otherwise) to this goat figure in order to reach their respective successes. He mentions a list of superstars who all went through the loss of loved ones before peaking, career-wise.

It’s an unsettling notion to us because while most of your mind dismisses conspiracy theory as nonsense, there’s always a small part of you that is left wondering. And in our case, we’re looking at a group of young artists on the verge of—something. Will they end up having to make some sort of sacrifice of their own? Can the Awful family withstand the pressures of rap industry bullshit? It remains to be seen. However, for the time being, we can all appreciate the fact that they haven’t yet fallen into the archetypal “new rap collective” roles, that they’re still doing things the way they started, and that they’re still fucking up and having fun with it.

Alex Russell is a writer living in New York. He's on Twitter @alexrussellglo.

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