Every so often, a teenage rapper emerges out of nowhere with a forward-thinking sound that gets everyone talking about how they’re “next up.” Right now, that rapper is SoFaygo.
If you ask him to explain how he’s earned all the buzz, he’ll attribute it to being a kid at heart. And that much is true. The 19-year-old Atlanta rapper has vivid memories of middle and high school, and just like anyone who was a toddler in 2004, he has some trouble recalling the title of Usher’s single “Yeah!” off the top of his head. Plus, he may or may not have slept past his alarm for our scheduled interview time, but you can’t blame someone who has watched their whole world shift in the past year.
The combination of his breakout single “Knock Knock,” his Lil Tecca-produced Angelic 7 project, and his featureless eight-song release After Me has earned him feverish buzz. He’s even received co-signs from Travis Scott, who shouted him out on Instagram Stories multiple times and even played Faygo’s music at Stormi’s birthday party. Faygo’s legion of fans now speculate he’s ready to sign with Scott’s label (if he hasn’t done so already) thanks to some cactus emojis on Instagram and a “Cactus Jack” credit under After Me on Spotify. Yet when I ask Faygo if anything’s on the way between him and Trav, he keeps it simple: “Who knows what to expect.”
A loyal internet following of over 270,000 on Instagram and 2.5 million monthly Spotify listeners is something to be proud of at only 19—especially when those numbers were only something to dream about a few months back—but Faygo knows he’s only laid the groundwork for even bigger things in the future. He insists that what separates him and his peers is that he’s just “being himself,” so it only makes sense that he represents a new generation of musicians whose main goal is to make fun music and enjoy themselves. His sound is carefree, his melodies are addictive, and the party-ready 808s provide a sense of escape.
When Faygo, born Andre Burt, hops on a Friday phone call for one of his first interviews ever, he sounds noticeably excited. We’re clearly in the very early stages of his career, and he promises he’s “nowhere near” where he wants to be. He’s still carving out a path of his own as listeners jump to comparisons, many likening his music to that of Playboi Carti. And to be fair, there’s a lot one can attribute in Faygo’s music to artists like Carti and Lil Uzi Vert, both of whom he says he has great admiration for. But Faygo knows that once listeners really give him a try, any and all comparisons will quiet.
“It doesn’t impact anything I do,” he says. “It doesn’t. It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t change how I make money. People always want to compare you when they don’t know who the fuck you are. I’m saying, like, walk into school. You could be a new student at school and everybody’s gonna compare you to whoever they know.”
Faygo is one of hip-hop’s newest students, and his aspirations are vast. He’s got plans that reach far outside of music: creating an anime, purising acting, and forging generational wealth for his family after growing up with parents who struggled to put food on the table. That’s where his passion derives from. “All that shit, bro,” he notes. “That’s what motivated me to go and get my own, so I could build an empire. You know what I’m saying? Take care of my people.”
Now he’s following that passion to hopefully earn his place as someone whose presence can be felt the moment he enters a room. Faygo feels like that might be a long way off, but with his unrelenting ambition, he might soon find himself at the opposite end of any comparisons.
On Monday, SoFaygo unleashed his long-awaited, Cole Bennett-directed music video for “Knock Knock,” the 2019 single that got much of his fanbase hooked in the first place. It’s still his biggest release to date, with over 32 million Spotify streams, and with the backing of Lyrical Lemonade and more industry eyes scanning to see what’s next, Faygo is correct to think that his career is headed “nowhere but up.” Our interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.
Hey, Faygo. What’s today looking like?
Today’s looking great, man. I woke up, smoked a blunt, had some breakfast. Back here with you guys.
That’s a ritual?
Something like that, yeah.
What’s the first thing you want people to know about you?
I’m a kid at heart. That’s really what I want my listeners to pick up from me. I’m really a kid at heart. I like to have fun with my music. I like to get creative.
Do you remember the first time you ever rapped?
Yeah, I do. I was in the fourth grade. We had this crib, and we had a studio set up in the basement. My cousin was over there one day recording, and I just went down in the basement and shit to see what they were doing. He was just like, “Yo, you want to record a song?” And I was like, “Yeah,” and that was my first song that I ever recorded. I was proud of that.
What do you rap about in the fourth grade, man?
Kid shit, you know what I’m saying? Girls.
You’ve already got a lot of artistic endeavors under your belt, even dabbling in drawing. What came first?
Yeah, I wanted to be a dancer when I was younger. I remember signing up online for auditions and stuff to be on dancer shows and everything like that. But I was mad young, so I didn’t know what I was doing.
Did you watch videos to practice or anything like that?
Yeah, of course. I got into wanting to act. That came around middle school. I had signed myself up for this acting audition. I didn’t make it, but that’s coming in the future.
I know you’re big on anime. What do you think your love for anime does for your music itself?
I used to take samples from anime series and use them as melodies for beats. For my songs.
What are your favorite series?
Right now, Attack On Titan is my favorite show. Parasite is an amazing anime. I got into One Piece. The story of One Piece is beautiful. The Promised Neverland. And I guess that’s pretty much it.
And what type of storyline attracts you?
I look for mystery. Like, when the main character has a motive, if it has a deeper motive behind what other people can understand.
“Drake is a big influence. Wayne, Chris Brown. A lot of new generation GOATS: Chief Keef, Carti, Uzi. Everybody who wasn’t afraid to step outside the box and be themselves.”
You said previously that you want to make your own anime someday? What type of storyline do you think is missing in the stuff that’s popular now?
I feel like Black culture is missing a lot of our top animes. I feel like if I try and put my creativity behind a Japanese anime or something like that, it will go crazy. It would be top five.
As for your own story, what do you feel listeners have been able to pick up on you?
I let my listeners pick up that I came from something and I have a motive behind everything that I do. Even when you see me, you can see the passion behind everything that I do, as far as music goes. And not only music. Just toward everything, bro.
Where does that passion come from?
That passion comes from just growing up and seeing how my dad was and how my mom was, and how they struggled to get us shit. They didn’t have much money. They did everything they could to put clothes on our backs, food in the fridge, and all that shit, bro. That’s what motivated me to go and get my own, so I could build an empire. Take care of my people. Build generational wealth.
When did pursuing music professionally start to feel like a reality for you and your family?
Right after high school. I just graduated and my parents knew I wasn’t going to college. I had no plan on going to college at all. Music is all I wanted to do. I was already catching the bus, like right when I graduated high school, I was already catching a bus. Over the summertime, I just kept riding that wave and I followed it all the way to 2021. Now I’m here.
What inspired your name? I know you had a couple iterations.
Nothing in particular. I really just thought of the name and it looked really cool. So I was just like, “OK, I’m SoFayo now.” But my name changing never took away from who I was in my music. And how I came off and loved music.
Was WAR the first project that sort of solidified things for you? Or was it more-so Angelic 7?
WAR really did something for me in the underground scene, and got a lot of underground fans on me. But Angelic 7 really put my face out there and got a lot of industry people watching me.
You met Lil Tecca through FaceTime?
Me and Tecca had FaceTimed. He knew a couple people that I knew. And then he found out about me and he texted me. Then we just FaceTimed and we got cool ever since.
“I stay out of the way. I focus on the music, the creativity, the craft. I focus on getting money.”
What makes Tecca so special as a producer compared to everyone else?
Tecca’s beats are very unique. They’re very unique. I can’t really explain it, bro. Tecca, the way he comes off on the 808s, bro, he’s just different with it.
I know synths and 808s are big for you. Especially something like “Off The Map.” What separates a good 808 from a bad 808, and how do you know if a track is a fit?
It just gotta hit, bro. Like, I can tell when an 808 is sounding kinda dull or whatever. But when that motherfucker really, really hit, I can tell the difference.
Does that go for any track in general?
It automatically clicks in my head whether it’s the one or not.
Who do you look at as influences on your work, all time or even currently?
Drake. Drake is a big influence. Wayne, Chris Brown. A lot of new generation GOATS: Chief Keef, Carti, Uzi. All of them, man. Everybody who wasn’t afraid to step outside the box and be themselves, bro.
Who would you sound the best in a collab with?
I keep saying this. I keep telling everybody. Me an Uzi would make a dumb track.
What was the first record you remember buying, or the first track you remember really enjoying?
What was that song? It was an Usher song. Usher, Lil Jon…
I forgot what that song’s called.
“Yeah,” I mean it’s called “Yeah.”
Oh that’s what it’s called? [Laughs].
Do you think people box you in sometimes?
Yeah, of course. I expected that.
Do you think it’s natural for people to throw out comparisons or say, ‘This sounds like that?’ Does that impact you?
It doesn’t impact anything I do. It doesn’t. It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t change how I make money. People always want to compare you when they don’t know who the fuck you are. I’m saying like, walk into school. You could be a new student at school and everybody’s gonna compare you to whoever they know, you feel what I’m saying?
That’s a fair point. Do you feel it just takes more diving into your catalog for them to get to know you?
Yeah, bro. People come around, bro. People always come around. So you just gotta keep going and keep putting yourself out there. They can’t deny you if you keep putting yourself out there.
How would you describe what you’re bringing to music right now?
I’m just bringing myself, bro. I’m just being myself. I’m just doing my own thing, bro. I stay out of the way. I focus on the music, the creativity, the craft. I focus on getting money. Just staying out the way.
Where do you think things are headed right now?
Up. Nowhere but up.
I’ve seen a lot of talk around the cactus caption you posted on Instagram. How big of an influence is Travis Scott, in particular, on your work?
Travis is a legend, bro. One of the best entertainers in the game.
Can fans expect a Travis collaboration? Or is that something you’re dreaming up for the future?
I will hope for it. There’s a lot of love there with me and Trav. Who knows what to expect.
Where do you want to be in the next 5 or 10 years?
Where I want to be in the next 5 or 10 years, bro? I want to be looked at as him, you hear what I’m saying? Like, when I walk into a room, people know who they’re in the presence of.
Are you almost there?
I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near there.