Who’s Your Daddy?
Father and the Awful Records crew are keepin' it weird in the A.
Photos by John Francis Peters
A shadowy figure rests in a corner booth behind Webster Hall’s Studio stage, appearing to guard the complimentary bottles of alcohol that lie within arm’s reach. The room is densely overpopulated, filled to the wall with New York natives that seemingly have no connection to the show’s headliner, Awful Records’ breakout star Father. Clad in all black with the exception of a pair of white Chuck Taylors, the Atlanta by way of Mississippi rapper has his hood hoisted above his head, hiding his eccentric dreaded mane from view.
In an instant, the venue’s security swoops in and clears the room of strangers unknown to Father and his Awful counterparts, Richposlim and KeithCharles SpaceBar. Father sighs in relief and grips a bottle of wine, taking a few swigs before heading out to perform with his fellow ATL comrade in musical obscurity iLoveMakonnen. To the delight of the sold-out crowd, the pair run through their essential hits like the remix of Father’s “Nokia,” “Young Hot Ebony,” and last year’s certified banger “Look at Wrist.”
Performing to a packed house has now become habit to Father. Following a remarkable 2014 campaign, the 24-year-old’s latest album, Who’s Gonna Get Fucked First?, has him poised to swipe some significant shine from the trap-consumed Atlanta music scene. Alongside his 15-deep Awful Records roster, Father stands at the helm of esoteric gold.
While attending Georgia State University, Father flip-flopped from major to major: originally with the intent of earning a degree in Pharmacy, but not before transitioning to Art, followed by Film, and finally dropped out altogether. However, his three years in college didn’t prove to be completely useless. Aside from realizing art as a calling and sharpening his skill set, it was the place where Father would meet some of the integral figures that helped propel him to pursue a rap career and formulate the Awful Records collective.
During his second year, he dormed with then-roommate Archibald SLIM and began his exploratory foray into music. “That was around the time that I decided I wanted to rap. Even though I was still in school, I hated that shit. I figured I would keep going, but also cultivate some other shit I’m into,” reminisces Father. The two would ditch class regularly to not only smoke weed and drink malt liquor, but more importantly to learn production by fooling around on Fruity Loops.
All the while, Father put his filming skills to use by developing Awfully Creative, a production company that he created with his manager Morian Thomas. The media group would shoot videos for artists, rappers, and even commercials for local businesses.
Frequently switching majors had detracted the lyricist from a traditional graduation path. By the Fall of 2010, he had three years left to go in pursuit of his Bachelor’s degree. Archibald SLIM and Father yearned to go off on their own and pursue creative careers. “In September, we was both like, ‘Man, what the fuck we doing?’” says SLIM.
Before leaving school, the rapper had gotten his first apartment in Buckhead. While it’s located in a primarily upscale neighborhood, the Darlington complex is the lone project building located in the area. This was the beginning of what an Awful house would come to be, as Father roomed with KeithCharles Spacebar, Ethereal, and Morian.
While living at the Darlington, Father performed throughout the city, even though he had yet to formally release any of his music. He performed under the guise of Father’s Liquor Cabinet, simply to throw potential fans off. “I wanted to go by Father of Father’s Liquor Cabinet so people would think it’s like a band, but it’s just me. The liquor cabinet was supposed to represent like oh this is my producers, like a team.”
Additionally, Awfully Creative threw monthly parties throughout the city where the collective would perform. Throughout this stint, Father kept a slew of odd jobs like driving transportation for a local hospital, nightlife photography for the W Hotel, and even delivering sandwiches for Jimmy John’s. “Jimmy John’s was just like I’m wearing this awful fucking outfit, stupid-ass shirt tucked in, delivering sandwiches to fancy ass people in Buckhead. You know, delivery is terrible.”
Then in 2012, Awful Media Group truly became Awful Records. At a New Year’s Party, the close friends of Father and Ethereal came together and hit it off instantly. Although not all who were present made music, it formed what was to become the quintessential core of Awful. Throughout 2013, the group would become a family. They would spend days making music at Father’s crib and generally causing disarray wherever they went.
The characteristics of an Awful house are quite complex. As the crew runs deep (firmly set at 15 members), at any given time you could expect at least three people present. Throw a bunch of vices like liquor, weed, and all types of other drugs into the mix and you have the recipe for a perfect storm of chaos. It’s caused proprietors of the apartments to kick them out, and neighbors to generally abhor the crew.
Antics aside, the group found self sufficiency by way of its diverse spectrum of members. Practically every member possesses production skills, and if they don’t, they have a number of producers at hand to work with. Father just so happened to step into the leadership position because his music caught on first, and he is capable of conducting himself responsibly.
Weeks after the show at Webster Hall, Father is opening up for Theophilus London’s “Vibes” tour at the Bowery Ballroom. This time around, the scene is much different. Although the show is sold-out, he is stowed away in a private room upstairs concealed from the general public. His choice of style is very much representative of his general bizarre nature, sporting adidas soccer sweatpants with a perplexing graphic t-shirt and a black utility vest that could pass as bullet proof.
The cast of characters filling the room are very much familiar: Richposlim, Keith, who is DJing Father’s sets on the tour, and Makonnen once again, although this time around, he will not be joining his friend on stage. It is Father’s first official tour, as well as the first time he will be performing cuts off his new album. Once again, the Awful Records frontman is huddled in a corner, scarfing down slices of pizza and guzzling tequila in the hazy hotbox of a room.
Oddly enough, there are two polarizing sides to Father. On one hand, he is aloof and observant, you would almost guess that he’s anything but a rapper. Richposlim didn’t even know he rapped until four months after they met.
In stark contrast, there is Father’s wild side, one that stems from the inner workings of his reserved mind. This side of Father can be exemplified by the time he got drunk and decided to destroy everything in his own apartment, seemingly without reason. “He was throwing tables off the balcony and chairs and shit. I tried to stop him, but he’s too big and he’s kicking shit over, breaking guitars, and all kinds of crazy shit. He just got drunk and decided to do it,” remembers Archibald SLIM.
Both counterparts of his psyche are equally represented throughout his work. When he began making music, he was a big tequila drinker and practically yelled on tracks. He substituted the tequila for wine, and his voice settled into a drowsy murmur. “I kind of like being in a drowsy turnt state.”
Earlier releases like Pretty Boy Satan and Lil’ Diddy merely set the stage for 2014’s Young Hot Ebony, a project packed with infectious production and catchy hooks, making for an optimal summer album. His chemistry with Atlanta colleagues iLoveMakonnen and Key! on “Look at Wrist” catapulted Father to the mainstream eye. Many expect him to go “pop” following the track’s success. “I’ve never been afraid of somebody telling me I’m pop. You mean pop-ping? That’s the point, to get heard and make popular music. I’m not trying to be underground forever.”
Father feels that Who’s Gonna Get Fucked First? is his most realized effort to date. Compared to Young Hot Ebony, which he admits was a stoner project, this next album is representative of the various drugs he’s recently dabbled in. Instead of upbeat fun, it explores the perverse and vile emotions Father harbors in the darkest crevices of his mind, set to the soundscape of his own celestial production. “This one is a little bit
more serious. I’m not as fucking high and jolly. It kind of transitions from that period at the end of the summer going into the winter.”
The subject matter is still the same, kicking off with upbeat fun tracks like “On Me,” before transitioning to lusty and perverted love songs highlighted by “Spoil You Rotten.” Father’s knack for the overtly carnal is no accident, it is derived from the South’s censure of sexuality. “Being in the south is a way more sexualized because we’re in the Bible Belt. Everything is taboo as fuck so you tend to internalize a lot of that fucking sexual fervor.” The album takes a sharp turn from love to a morbid suicidal end.
While the rest of Atlanta’s breakout stars sign to major labels, Father and Awful Records remain independent, due in large part to the collective’s D.I.Y. mantra. “My whole thing is like people just want fast money, that’s why a lot of people sign. There is no right deal for me at this point, especially because I’m trying to make sure Awful Records can stand on its own. Do it yourself, you might as well cause that’s how businesses are
Father ultimately hopes to remain multifaceted, dispensing his art through various mediums aside from music. “I don’t wanna be out here every year trying to make the next hot album of the summer. If I have this cool-ass idea for this film, I’m gonna get the funds together and make a movie.”
One thing is certain, the artist has come a long way from delivering subs at Jimmy John’s. A younger version of Father would be very pleased with the way things have shaped up. “WHAT?! I’m turnt? I got hoes? That’s crazy! I’m afraid to talk to this bitch in my class right now. You’re telling me you don’t even gotta speak to them no more, they just wanna kiss you? A younger me would be amazed.”