EXCLUSIVE: Frenchie Talks Gucci Mane, Nicki Minaj, The Power Of Prayer & Making Universal Music
Greg “Frenchie” Hogan's journey as a recording artist consists of several pivotal maneuvers in his career. The rapper began his run of writing lyrics at the age of 10 years old, but it was his relocation from his native neighborhood of South Jamaica Queens to Atlanta that ignited his course in the business. It was in the Georgia city that Frenchie linked with his aunt Mizay Entertainment founder Debra Antney and a rising rapper named Gucci Mane.
The Southern transplant played a significant role in the construction of Gucci's So Icey Entertainment which would later birth 1017 Brick Squad Records and Brick Squad Monopoly - label home to Frenchie's cousin Waka Flocka Flame. With strong connections to both the NYC and ATL markets, Frenchie embarked on creating his own street mixtapes such as New Atlanta, Concrete Jungle, and Long Overdue.
In September, Frenchie dropped his latest collection Fukk Fame. The uploading of the 10-track project to the internet coincided with the announcement of another big move this year for the performer. That same month he helped launch Protekted Records.
Frenchie is now prepping to drop his studio album in 2015. His official debut LP is set to feature Gucci, Waka, Yo Gotti, Migos, and more. He prefaced the release with the single "Ain't Goin Nowhere" with B.o.B. and Chanel West Coast.
AllHipHop.com spoke with Frenchie to get the BSM affiliate's take on past problems within Brick Squad, Nicki Minaj's former connection to the crew, dealing with negative social media comments, and what the future holds.
You have a lot of family ties to the music industry. Was being a recording artist something you always knew you wanted to pursue?
Yes, it was like music was thrown on me from my family members.
What age did you start recording?
I started recording when I was 19 years old. The first record I recorded in an actual good studio was with Gucci Mane. I took my shirt off. That was in ‘09.
You came up under the So Icy/Brick Squad brand. Did you ever feel any sense of pressure having to follow the success of Gucci and Waka Flocka?
No, because me and Wooh Da Kid were Gucci Mane’s first artists. Waka wasn’t even rapping, so when he started rapping and blew it out of the water it was beautiful. You have to understand he’s still my blood cousin, so we’re not in competition with each other. We’re not battling each other.
Are you still officially connected with Brick Squad?
I made Brick Squad. I’m one of the fathers, main players of the squad. You got Waka, Wooh, Gucci, OJ [Da Juiceman], and Frenchie. So even if I said I wanted to leave Brick Squad, I can’t leave because I made it.
Don't get it twisted I’m standing on my on two with this one, but Brick Squad will always be a part of my veins. It will always be in my blood. It’s just with this one I’m doing my own thing.
How did the Protekted Records situation come together?
[Protekted Records President] John [Gornbein], who used to be the drummer for Kid Rock, and my uncle DJ Hurricane, who was the Beastie Boys' DJ, were working together. I got in contact with [Gornbein] through Cane.
You recently dropped the single “Ain’t Going Nowhere,” and it features B.o.B. and Chanel West Coast. Both of those artists are known for having a pop appeal. Why did you decide to connect with Bobby and Chanel for that particular track?
Actually, I like the pop sound. I feel like that’s a good route to go, because I want to elevate my music. I’m getting older. I’m tired of just doing “gang banging music.” It’s time for me to make music for everybody, to be universal.
You released your recent mixtape Fukk Fame earlier this year. One of the standout tracks was “Birds and Keys”. What inspired you to write that particular track?
It was my life. I was just in my feelings when I wrote that. That’s how I felt.
Unfortunately, you lost your cousin KayO Redd last year. As a result, your aunt Debra Antney started her “No Reckless Internet Posting” anti-cyber bullying campaign. As a public figure, how do you handle dealing with negative social media posts or blog comments?
I don’t even bother myself with negative energy. I pray everyday. That’s how I defeat negative energy. I pray and give out a positive energy. It totals out all the negative energy. I pray to block that out.
I’m sure there are a lot of young people that follow you that have to deal with that every day.
I feel like a lot of kids should be more spiritual. I feel like they should call to God more. They should pray more and never give up.
Everybody knows Waka and Gucci had their issues, but Waka announced they had squashed it earlier this year. He sent out a tweet with a picture of him and Gucci saying the beef was over. What was that moment like for you?
You have to understand the media eats everything up and just make it how they want it to be. They’re brothers at the end of the day. We were brothers before all this media putting bulls**t in the air. No matter what… Gucci has been in my life for like 8 or 9 years. Arguments don't determine friendships.
The media blew up everything, and made it have to be like that. I always knew it was going to be squashed. It was never gonna keep on going. The only reason people was thinking it was gonna keep going is because the media does not know the relationship of Waka and Gucci.
In fairness, they did make it public. It’s not like they kept it between themselves.
If you notice it was stuff that they said and then they erased it. People are loving these people so much, they're taking snapshots. [Gucci and Waka] didn’t keep it up there, they were angry at each other. The people took a hold to it and made it bigger than it was.
If they meant it, they would have kept what they said online. They didn’t keep what they said online. All of them erased their things. The people who snapshot it kept it going.
I hear what you’re saying, but if you’re an artist and you put that information out there, then of course people are going to be attracted to it.
Sometimes they don’t know how powerful they are. But other than that they’re brothers, and I knew it was going to be squashed.
You did an interview with The Breakfast Club where you talked about how you introduced Nicki Minaj’s music to your aunt Deb Antney. Nicki’s former manager Fendi did an interview with The Breakfast Club where he talked about that situation. He made it seem like Deb stole Nicki away from him, but from what you said it wasn't like that. Can you clear that situation up?
No, Deb didn’t steal Nicki away. Whatever Nicki wanted to do she did it on her own. Nicki came done there, because Nicki knew where her career was heading. And she knew what she wanted her career to be. She knew she had to grab the down south fan base, so she did exactly what she was supposed to do.
Is that part of the reason why you moved down south as well?
I been moved down south. I actually went down south for a family reunion, and it just ended up like that.
What do you have planned for 2015?
I expect the world to see me more on TV shows, MTV Jams, VH1, anything dealing with music. Prepare yourself to see me a lot.
Purchase Frenchie’s “Ain't Goin Nowhere” featuring B.o.B & Chanel West Coast on iTunes.
Stream/download Frenchie’s Fukk Fame below.