As Phora was prepping for his multi-state tour Sincerely Yours to promote his album of the same name, STERYO got an exclusive interview in between his long-hours of prepping. Phora was honest about this journey and the amount of time, work, and energy it took to be where is now. If you believe the American Dream is dead, think again! Phora’s dedication is living proof that anything you believe in you can achieve with discipline, focus, and determination. One thing I admire about Phora is that he truly loves his fans and is humbled by their appreciation of his music. No matter how old you are – Phora is represents each and everyone of us through his words of wisdom. The Sincerely Yours summer tour is scheduled to launch in Anaheim, CA on June 7th, 2014 and will run across til the end of July 2014. Tickets will be available at the door. Ladies and gentlemen, my interview with Phora!
Thanks for the taking time off your busy schedule to meet with us and do this interview. It’s a great honor for us to have a few minutes with you.
There’s a saying that reminds me of you and everything you’ve done for the culture, it goes like this: “Hustle until you no longer have to introduce yourself.” Do you still find yourself having to introduce yourself to others? I ask because I usually start interviews with “Tell us about you?” and I feel like the whole world knows you by now.
Phora: Yeah, I still find myself constantly meeting new people, and of course I still have to introduce myself to plenty of people! I truly appreciate the hospitality, [laughing], but I’m nowhere near world-renowned! That takes years of work and dedication, but longevity is key… Constantly working towards that goal though!
Let’s take it back to your last two albums: Still a Kid and One Life to Live. On Still a Kid – one of the most memorable songs is Sunny California. How did that track come about?
Phora: To be 100% honest, I just wrote it and recorded it within, probably, a 50 minute span. No erasing, no crossing anything out, straight from the mental to the notepad . I guess it really just came from a time in my life that was real pure. Good spirits, good energy around at that specific time in my life, and the people can feel it in the music.
How can your fans use the power of your lyrics to improve their lives and the lives of others?
Phora: The power of the voice is an EXTREMELY influential thing. The voice, MUSIC in general, can be so much. Therapy, a scapegoat, it can even be used as a weapon. For the fans out their listening to my music, I would just say take those words, and aim them towards you. I’m speaking to you. DIRECTLY to you. Any of my music would be some of the same things I would say to certain people in certain cases in person.
Your new album Sincerely Yours sort of carries over a lot of topics from the last two albums, but the thoughts are vividly expressed, meaning that the picture has different colors aiming for different perspectives. Your single and video “Make You Feel” really sets the tone for these other colors in form of metaphors. What’s the deal on Sincerely Yours – who are the folks involved in making this album happen?
Phora: Yes, most definitely! Sincerely Yours is pretty much just an opening letter to the world, from me (Hence the title “Sincerely Yours”). Pretty much every strong emotion I’ve felt in the past few years all in one. The stories about being in love, the experiences I’ve seen and things I’ve learned from the people around me, the good times, the times where I felt like there just wasn’t anything left in the world, the anger I’ve had and tension there was against certain people, those FUCK YOU moments, so on and so forth. The world is responsible for making this happen. Friends, enemies… strangers, partners …loved ones, lost ones…
Was there a difference in process with recording Sincerely Yours as opposed to your other albums?
Phora: Not much of a difference. Still in a closet, hittin’ that record button for myself, mixing and mastering my vocals, releasing the singles when I want, how I want, and how ever many I choose (The joy of being independent!). I guess I’d say the only difference is, I got a house, and I moved FAR, FARR away from everyone I know. Me and my producer Eskupe (Who stayed with me day in and day out working on the album for weeks at a time) . Just to avoid any distraction, and really FOCUS on our goals. No partying, no random girls, etc. just hard work and dedication.
As an older cat, I honestly feel your music is bigger than music itself, it’s a combination of literature that displays your intense lyricism. Your music is truly inspirational and I feel that your song concepts go beyond cultures, age generations, and ethnicities; it speaks the realities of humanity. On Sincerely Yours you have a range of borderless thoughts – I can list your entire album. What can we learn from this album, such as the focus and spirit of your words?
Phora: Just as you mentioned “Borderless thoughts.” I’ll tell you one thing, the imagination is BEAUTIFUL. You can learn SO MUCH from so little. For the listeners on this new album, I’d really just say take it into your own perspective, see what you can relate to, because I guarantee there’s something in there, and just feel it.
For a young man your age, when did you find out – “being an artist is truly my calling? – this is what I was meant to do!
Phora: Yes sir! 19 years and counting ! I really started understanding the seriousness of what I do when I started getting multi-paragraph messages about people who’ve had EXTREMELY crazy experiences, and them mentioning that my music has gotten them through aa difficult time in their life. That means the MOST. I wouldn’t trade ANYTHING for that right there.
Do you think of yourself as the leader, or one of the leaders, of the newer Hip Hop generation with respects to your peers?
Phora: Good subject, I wouldn’t necessarily title myself as a Leader of the newer Hip Hop generation, just for the fact I don’t want to be self-proclaimed, but I see myself as a Young Leader of Younger Leaders. I’m an example to people who haven’t found themselves yet, who don’t even KNOW their leaders, but I see it in everyone. Every person I meet. It’s BIGGER than hip hop, all due respect to the greats.
Your work ethic is extraordinary – you express in Stuart Little “We figured out we don’t need a label, we don’t need a deal, all we need is love from the fans, and they always keep it real.” I know your fans mean so much to you – What are some of the challenges and opportunities you face as an independent artist? And what role do your fans play in your independent grind?
Phora: Definitely one of my favorite subjects to speak on. The fans are everything. Even in some cases my promotional team, booking agents, tour guides, info hotline LOL! It’s so great when you work with someone who truly appreciates the music, and for an independent artist, fans are everything. I see hundreds and HUNDREDS of artist who have everything it takes to become successful, and professional in ALL aspects, but where are the fans. At the end of the day it comes down to the MUSIC, the CONNECTION. There’s a difference between someone who listens to your music, and someone who’s TRULY A FAN and has a connection with you, solely through your music. Quality over quantity. That there my friend, is where the longevity kicks in. Timeless music, well, to put it pretty blunt, is TIMELESS. And I feel as though (not saying my music is timeless) the music I make, people will still be able to relate to 10 years from now. 20 years from now. 100 years from now. Can’t say the same for twerking and poppin’ mollys.
Social media is crazy right now, it’s opened up lanes of communication never before seen. Do you believe you can live without social media and push your albums “out the trunk”?
Phora: It definitely is, the internet is a beautiful thing as well. FAIR GAME for everyone. And I’m gonna say something that some people might disagree with but can NOT deny. Internet is puttin on a LOT of wack rappers. But I did my research, and figured out some ( not all ) have been grinding for years and years and years. Not everyone is going to be a great, but I will NEVER knock another mans hustle. If you ain’t that great of a rapper, but you’re up until 4AM every day, recording songs to the BEST of your potential, thinking about moving your moms out the house, I have no choice but to respect your hustle. That obviously all goes down the drain if you start talking about some outrageous shit, or something you simply aint about. But I would honestly respect that, more than the DOPEST MC alive that sits on his couch all day expecting the world to give him what he feels he’s entitled to. Fuck that. I know how hard this shit is. Anyways, could I push these albums out my trunk? Most definitely, being 6 years old and growing up watching my pops use so many tactics and strategies to get them to buy and listen to his music, it wouldn’t be hard at all. Now, would I be as successful ? Most likely not.
One of several things I respect about you, is that you keep communication with your fans. How important is that?
Phora: 2nd most important thing. First most important thing is putting the music out there, which actually ties into this, because in a sense putting the music out there for your fans to hear IS in fact keeping in communication with them.
You just announced you’re going on multi-state tour this Summer, where are you taking us to? I Name some of the cities and what fans can expect?
Phora: Just about every big city in the US. Me and my dude Isuppose working our asses off to get to every state and city the fans are requesting. 70 cities, 24 states. West Coast, Down South, Mid-West, East Coast!
What are some of the things you’re looking forward to during the multi-state tour?
Phora: Meeting the fans, hearing their stories about how they relate to my music. Creating memories. Feeling good vibes. Getting the word out there. Traveling and driving throughout the East Coast, being in New York (Big thanks to my man Baruti Libre who’s actually really helping my name spread out there) . Just everything man.
What’s the best touring experience you’ve had?
Phora: Over 1,400 in a packed out venue in my home county 714. It’s just an amazing feeling yo. Not only that but all the money made at the door of that concert was donated to the CHOC (Children Hospital Orange County) for cancer research. And it’s real crazy because a friend of mine, Bryon, just recently passed from cancer, and I feel like that concert just really meant something to a lot of people, including him.
On a lighter note, what are some of the lifestyle spots Phora likes to visits? E.g.Food, clothing, music etc.
Phora: Haha! man! I’m everywhere ! Especially WalMart and the swap-meet ! Lol! occasionally at a local taco stand! But I’m really just an average dude, I won’t be nowhere you yourself wouldn’t be!
Lastly, before we depart from this interview – any special shout outs?
Phora: Wow! Very long list. Everybody that knows they belong on this list, you’re here. But I’m gonna close this one with giving my thanks to God, wherever he is, watching over me, thank you for keeping me in good health and I’m truly grateful for every blessing you’ve put in my path. Peace family, One Love. – PHORA