Since beginning his journey into rapping and producing in 2012, Joey Fatts has become one of the biggest emerging artists out of the West Coast. Already boasting production credits from A$AP Rocky, ScHoolBoy Q, and Action Bronson, it’s hard to believe that he’s just getting started. The Long Beach native began with the release of his first project Chipper Jones Volume 1 back in June 2012, which caught the eye of young hip hop mogul A$AP Yams. Ever since he’s been under the guidance of Yams, he’s become more business-minded and knowledgeable of the music industry. His last project, Chipper Jones Volume 2, is his most polished work yet and has been helping Joey Fatts become a household name.
We spoke with him about his start in music, his A$AP ties, gang banging, and much more. Check out the interview below.
Mass Appeal: Fatts, whats good man?
Joey Fatts: Shit, in bed right now, underneath this fan and allat, ya heard. A nigga just woke up out the kush coma [laughs].
MA: How you living?
JF: Just working bruh, recording and shit.
What exactly are you working on right now?
JF: Shit, just music bruh. No project in particular.
MA: You’ve only been rapping and producing since last year. Was this something that was premeditated or you just jumped right into it?
JF: [Uhm] I’m a strategic type of nigga, you know what I mean? I never just jump into something head first. Whether I’m in the streets or just life in general, I plan shit out accordingly. I never had any experience. I’ve never played piano, or had vocal lessons, or choir, no shit like that. I just watch YouTube videos and looked how to, you know, how to market myself. Not really market myself but how to get the music to certain people and kind of market on Twitter. You know, that shit is really false, it was telling me the run around which really didn’t work, but I looked into that and shit, and it influenced me to really pursue this shit. It seems easy if you read it online, like you can just throw the shit out and people chew that shit up but it didn’t happen that way. It worked out for the best at the end of the day.
MA: Let’s go back a little. Tell me about your childhood coming up in Long Beach.
JF: It was fun, some of the best times of my life. We were poor, you know what I mean? But that shit didn’t matter, we had each other—me, my two brothers, my sister, and my mom. My pops sold dope. I played football growing up. Long Beach was turnt up though! That was probably like the best time in Long Beach, me growing up like the early 2000s. I started gangbanging in ’99. That shit was poppin’ though! All the way live! Those were like the fun times of my life.
MA: You started banging in ’99. So was that something that you were brought up into, because I’m aware that your older brothers were Crips.
JF: I was born into it. I had no choice. My brothers had already got established in the hood before I was born, so when I was born, it was only right that I was a lil homie. Every hood meeting, I was always the lil nigga with the white rag on because I was the youngest nigga from the set. I was seven years old when I really got into it.
MA: Do people look at you different when you go back home to Long Beach? What is it like when you go back there?
JF: Like I told you earlier earlier, my brothers started the set that I’m from so everybody supports everything that I’m doing 100%. Even if they wasn’t my brothers, I’m not no fraud ass nigga, you know what I mean? Like I ain’t no type of gimmicky ass nigga that’s just rapping, you know. Everything 100. So when I go back to the hood, they welcome me back, happy to see me, want to know what’s next, listen to new music. They just like [pauses], I hate to call it this ‘cause they my homies, but they’re like my fans, you know, and that’s the good thing about it. They genuinely like my shit, rather than liking it ‘cause I’m they homie. I love my hood though and my hood show me a lot of love.
MA: As far as hustling [selling drugs], how does it feel knowing that you don’t have to do that anymore and you can bring in legit paper?
JF: The hustle never stops. I’m still hustling bro. It’s just in a different manner now. I’m not on a corner or putting myself in danger of going to jail for years, you know what I mean? Instead, I’m in the studio grinding for hours. The grind never stops. I’m still over here grinding 24/7. Actually, I grind a lot harder and I’m losing a lot more sleep than I was when I was in the streets because this opportunity is so close for my people around me and my family, that I can’t sleep. I’m constantly looking for ways to get better and make the craft better. It’s always ways to get better and that’s what I’m always up thinking about and stressing over.
MA: Tell me about Big Fatts and his influence on you. What’s one of the biggest lessons he has ever taught you?
JF: Big Fatts, that’s my real brother, my older brother. His name is Jody, my name is Joey. That’s like my dad. He basically raised me. [Uhm] He taught me a lot. Everything that you hear me rap about, the way I talk, and the way that I carry myself. He taught me everything! One of the biggest things he taught me was that respect goes a long way and loyalty goes a long way. You don’t spit in a hand that shake your hand. You never do that. We don’t get down like that. You’ll look like a funky ass nigga who shake a nigga hand and then the next day you talking ‘bout “I don’t fuck with this nigga.” Regardless of whatever, if he your homeboy, yall gon’ go through whatever. If yall stack money together, yall argue and get money together, and yall get over that shit together. That’s how that shit go.
MA: What are some of the advantages of being managed by A$AP Yams?
JF: I got a great mentor, a great big brother. [Uhm] It’s not even on no music shit. He’s more supportive in a different way and that’s what a lot of people fail to realize. Yams is like a big brother. He supports me with anything. I can say, “Yams, I want to stop rapping” today and go back to work, and he’ll support me 100% and still manage me while I’m working. You know what I mean? That’s the type of nigga that he is.
But then again, it’s a curse ‘cause a lot of niggas come to me, or a lot of labels, or a lot of fuckin’ video guys come to me thinking that I already got money because I’m fuckin’ with Yams and shit like that, because he getting A$AP money and all that type of shit. You know, we gettin’ money over here but we aint gettin’ money like that, yet.
MA: Continuing on the subject of A$AP, how did it feel to produce on such a big album as Long. Live. A$AP.?
JF: It felt good. It’s a blessing. You know, Rocky is a real nigga that I’ve built a serious relationship with in this rap industry. I always wondered [in a curious voice], this nigga is into fashion and shit like that. Why does ScHoolboy [Q], a nigga who is into cripping and all that shit, hang around a nigga like Rocky? But now since I’ve met Rocky, I’ve been hanging around him since October, this nigga is like, a real nigga. He’s a standup guy. He’s the type of nigga, like if he meet you on the street, and shake your hand, he gon remember your face no matter where he at. He could be at the Grammys and he gon say what’s up to you. That’s the type of guy he is.
In October, back when he hit me up, he called my phone and told me that I was his favorite producer, I was sleeping in a garage. I was homeless and shit, so that was a big deal to me. He hit me up, told me to send him some beats. I sent him like three beats. I knew I was going to make the album back in October but I didn’t know which beat. I thought it was going to be this other beat that was pretty turnt up and it was some club shit but he didn’t choose that one. He ended up choosing the throwaway beat, which was “Jodye.” The beat, I thought it was trash. I just made it real quick like right before I fell asleep on the couch in the garage. I woke up the next morning, I had a text from him saying “Yo, this shit fire. I just made a fire ass track to it,” but I didn’t know which beat. He just said the “Jodye” beat but I think all of the track’s names were “Jodye” or some shit like that. Then I ended up moving to the crib with Yams, I heard the track and that shit was crazy! From there, we’ve just been building.
MA: Obviously “Jodye” is a more controversial track. Rocky addressed his beef with Spaceghostpurrp on there. You’re family to the A$AP Mob so what’s your whole take on that situation?
JF: Everybody hate the nigga with the money, bruh. That’s how it always go [pauses]. That’s all I got to say about that.
MA: You also mentioned being homeless earlier. Chipper Jones Volume 1 was recorded during a time when you were homeless. Speak on the recording process of that project.
JF: I was homeless when I recorded Chipper Jones Volume 1 and Chipper Jones Volume 2. I just stopped being homeless four months ago, in March. I just got a crib. That wasn’t a phase for me. I’ve been homeless since I was 16, bro. I left my mama house when I was 16, jumping from bitch-to-bitch house, to living in my Camaro, to living in a garage, living everywhere bro.
MA: When did you see that this industry was profitable and you could pursue this as a career?
JF: When Yams hit me up. It hadn’t hit me right then but I knew I had to take it serious after that. This was a nigga who was fucking with a #1 rap artist. Like, why would he just be hitting me up. It couldn’t be for no reason. He obviously believed in what I got, to do some shit like Rocky. So, that’s when I started taking it serious.
MA: With fame comes the money and women. Tell me about your first encounter with a groupie.
JF: Oh bruh! [laughs] Bruh, my first encounter with a groupie [pauses to think]. Alright look, we not gon’ talk about the A$AP groupies, we gon talk about my groupies ‘cause I been gettin’ groupies because I was with Rocky. A lot of bitches just fucked with me because I was with Rocky but now bitches know who I am ‘cause I been dropping music, so I got a lot of fans now.
In London bruh, it was these bitches bruh [pauses]. These bitches is crazy, bruh [laughs]. Just put it like this bruh, that bitch got fucked the shit out of. Shout out to that twin bitch in London, ya heard!
MA: Explain to me how the Cutthroat Boyz movement came together, musically, because I’m aware that it was a Crip thing to begin with. How did you meet A$ton [Matthews] and Vince [Staples] to form the movement?
JF: A$ton was Vince’s homie. I never knew A$ton until like last year, in 2012 when I started rapping. [Uhm] Vince, I knew Vince since he was younger. Vince is like my brother, you know, he’s like family. He was always around so we were always kicking it with each other. But uh, Vince was rapping, I had just started rapping and this was like December 2011. I had just started recording. I had hit a lick for an iMac. I had robbed a crib for an iMac or whatever and then uh, after I was recording or whatever, you know, niggas go through notions of “fuck this shit. This shit ain’t paying off.” So I was like man, fuck this rap shit. This shit aint working. This was before I dropped the track “Cutthroat.” Actually, it was right after I dropped “Cutthroat,” I was gon stop rapping. I was like man this shit weak. So then I tweeted “Yo, who want a iMac?” Vince retweeted it and A$ton hit me up like, “yo, what’s good, I’m trying to get that.” Then Vince linked us up. We met at like a Burger King and I sold him the computer.
Then we started chopping it up, just talking about street shit and talking about what we wanted to do and our vision with the rap shit. And then we realized that we shared the same interests. We just instantly clicked. He was already telling me about all the fake niggas in the industry and I was new to the rap game. So I was like “yeah, I’m not trying to go through that.” He seemed like a real nigga, so we started to fuck around. Then we started hanging with each other real tough around, January 2012. And then, I ended up moving in with him. The garage that I told you that I lived in was his garage. I moved into his garage in July 2012 and I started recording all my shit there and ever since then, we’ve been doing the Cutthroat shit. The Cutthroat shit was already like, the vision of my hood. That’s where me and Vince from. So we just made an entertainment side.
MA: Give me a quote you live by.
JF: We was born broke. We can’t die broke.
MA: Lastly, what’s next for Joey Fatts?
JF: I got a couple tapes, man. It’s no telling what’s next. Rocky next album, I’m on that motha fucka heavy. Majority of the album is gon be me, just know that.
MA: Last Words.
Shout out to my mom, my big homie Boyie, and my niggas Thump and Fade.