Taking a chance on yourself can change your life while having the right friends and family to inspire you helps, too. Years ago, Fredo Bang was just a teen with a brother (who Fredo considered "garbage" at rap) and friends who made music. One day, his friends asked a 14-year-old Fredo to come to their makeshift home studio and record; they said he reminded them of Gucci Mane. That fateful day was the start of a career that has so far culminated in Fredo's breakout hit "Oouuh," which has been streamed 15 million times on Spotify, a Def Jam deal, and a multitude of projects, including this Friday's Most Hated featuring YNW Melly, Lil Baby, Tee Grizzley and more.
Early on, Fredo, born Fredrick Givens II, got his rap name from a close friend, who was inspired to call him the moniker after late Chicago rapper Fredo Santana. This same friend lost his life while Fredo was on the way up, which just pushed the rising artist to take rap more seriously. There were bumps in the road for Fredo, too. In 2016, Fredo was charged with attempted second-degree murder, illegal use of a weapon and aggravated criminal damage to property in connection to a shooting he was involved in. With a bond set at $70,000, he was released, and during that time, shot the video for his song "Thuggin." Sixteen days later, he went back to jail for the case to serve time for two-and-a-half years.
In May of 2018, Fredo was once again a free man, and went right back to making music. He released the songs "Shootas on the Roof" and "Father," before stumbling into "Oouuh" via a medley with viral ukelele player Einer Bankz. The version of that song in the video is part of a hook Fredo came up with in jail. Then it became a freestyle that he worked out on the spot.
The viral response to the track inspired Fredo to complete the song and drop it in 2018. The track appears on his 2018 project 2 Face Bang. Building on his momentum, he kicked off 2019 with his well-received effort Big Ape. Then in the fall of 2019, Fredo inked a deal with Def Jam Recordings. and dropped the 16-track tape Pain Made Me Numb in November.
Catch up with Fredo Bang in this week's The Break.
Hometown: Baton Rouge, La.
I grew up listening to: "R&B when I was little, and then when I got about 10, 11, I got into more gangster vibes, but starting off I was listening to Bow Wow. Everything R&B I was listening to, and then I got to listening to T-Pain, Destiny's Child. Lil Wayne, old Kevin Gates. [Gates] dropped 10 mixtapes before he got known. He just had that street grime and he had that delivery. I knew he was going to blow up."
My style’s been compared to: "I've been told I look like Yung Bleu. This happened to me twice. I came out of a hair salon. It was my third or fourth month out of jail. The lady… I walked out, she's like, 'Oh my god.' But she paused a little bit. 'Oh my god. You're Yung Bleu.' So I just stand there. I didn't walk away. And then the other time… That one just happened last month [February]. Sunday evening in Miami at Trick Daddy's spot. The chick was recording me, was like, 'Hey, look at him, girl. Look at Yung Bleu.' I just got back in the car and go, 'Oh no.' I haven't met him in person, but we talk and stuff like that. I've been telling him that he's the ugliest one."
I’m going to blow up because: "I'm never content on where I'm at. If I buy a car, I plan on buying the next year model. I've always been like that in life. I can't get content on where I'm at because I know how quick it is to get comfortable and lose it all, you know what I'm saying? I did two-and-a-half years to where I had nothing. Every breath never meant… I had no meaning in life for two-and-a-half years. So I know what it is to be nothing."
What’s your most slept-on song, and why? "'Nobody.' I feel like 'Nobody' and 'Famous Crushes.' 'Famous Crushes' because I felt like I was in more of a poetic stage because I hit you with that, 'You can be my Nia Long. I'll be your Craig on Friday.' ['Nobody'] sounded like R&B when it was in it's full, full prime. I'm talking about mid ’90s R&B, with a up-to-date bassline, you know what I'm saying? There's something about it just make you close your eyes and you just sing it."
My standout records to date have been: "My biggest song would be 'Oouuh.' I feel like the viral video just connected with everybody and it showed everybody a different side of me. Before that, everybody had only heard gangsta songs from me. When I showed them that I could harmonize a little bit, that fucked everybody up, you know what I'm saying? It just shows you that you can't put me in a box."
My standout moments to date have been: "Shaking [Lil] Wayne's hand and he knew who I was. This was December at LIV in Miami. I was there and then Wayne turned around and he made a face like, 'Oh, I know you.' He reached out and shook my hand, and his big ass ring cut my finger, but I wasn't tripping at the time. I had to play it smooth though. I had to shake it off, and then I had to walk off hard. Then I was about 10 feet later, I'm like, 'Wow. He just shook my hand, bro.'"
Most people don’t know: "I got an addiction to Dragon Ball Z. I talk about it sometimes, but you got to know me to know. In jail, when I had got my phone, I downloaded the app and I watched the whole 200 and some episodes of the new season in Japanese.
I'm going to be the next: "I'm going to be the next dark-skinned Drake it feels. I'm very talented and I feel like my music just don't sound like nobody else's. Everybody, they borrow rhythms and stuff like that, and I just feel like sticking to what I do and just creating. I mean, I'm just in a different lane than everybody else"
Follow Fredo Bang on SoundCloud and Instagram.
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