When Not Making Rap Hits, Harry Fraud Surfs With Manatees and Rocks Out to Sublime
Editor's note: In Tweets is Watching, Phillip Mlynar asks local artists questions based solely on the contents of their Twitter timeline.
Hit man Harry Fraud dropped his new Adrift project today, which the hip-hop producer has teased on Twitter to be a mix of "stuff you may have heard and stuff you may have missed as well as a few others things I been holding on to." Adrift will be followed by a soon-coming EP with Brooklyn spitter Eddie B, and then a further collaboration with his blunt brother Action Bronson. Taking a minute out from his hectic production schedule, we hit up Harry and asked him to explain away his timeline references to Sublime albums, Danny Brown's rapped reaction to MTV's hottest MC list, and downtime spent surfing with manatees.
Where was the photo on the cover of Adrift shot? It was at Sag Harbor which is in Long Island. It was taken by a childhood friend of mine -- he's somebody I grew up surfing with in the summertime and now he's become a big surf photographer -- and I was looking through his pictures and that one totally caught my eye 'cause it just translated what I was feeling.
I surfed with a manatee yesterday...it wasGod— Harry Fraud (@HarryFraud) February 21, 2013
Did you really surf with a manatee? Yeah, that was actually a week ago when I was down in Florida surfing. It was pretty small, like waves about waist high and it was pretty calm out there, and the water in Florida is pretty clear and I was out there with three other guys. This is not the first time I've seen a manatee in the water, but this guy was so friendly. He popped his head up and one of the dudes I was surfing with unleashed his board and swam over to him, 'cause manatees are like the most gentle creatures. Then he hung around for like 20 minutes! He kept popping his head up and kept floating around! Somebody was later telling me they come into the shallow water when they're trying to mate.
Manatees are huge, right? Yeah, they're pretty big. They're like cows; they're like cows with flippers.
Do you know any rappers that are good at surfing? Nope, I've never met a rapper that's good at surfing!
So is the new song with Action Bronson, "Morey Boogie Boards," from Adrift? Yes.
When did you first hook up with Action Bronson? It was probably like about two years ago. My close friend and artist that I work with, Eddie B, he put me on to Bronson and kept telling me to check this kid out. I'm not very up on current stuff -- I haven't even listened to anyone's albums or any of that shit -- but he was like telling me about Bronson for a while. Then I heard "Shiraz" and it was like wow. I started putting it out there; what I do if I like an artist is I'll put it out with my friends that are rappers and tell them if they're ever around the dude to tell them I want to work. We exchanged contact information, started talking on the phone, but I had to hound him a little bit at first! I had to hound him to come over to the studio, I think because he was a little trepidatious because of the type of producer I was then -- I had really been doing things like producing French [Montana] and people probably thought I was very one-dimensional. But we ended up making a bunch of stuff and "Morey Boogie Boards" was actually one of the very first songs we did together.
If yall like this stuff wait for #SaabStories!!!— Harry Fraud (@HarryFraud) March 7, 2013
So what's Saab Stories going to be? It's going to be an EP that me and Bronson put out sometime probably early this year, hopefully before summertime. It's the combination of me and him, doing what we do, my beats and his raps.
You also just produced the "Hottest MC" song with Danny Brown. Yes, and I really really really like that song a lot.
What did you think the first time you heard Danny Brown's voice? Ha ha, it's weird 'cause the first time I heard it I thought, "Who is this?" Then the second time I heard Danny Brown's voice I didn't know it was him, 'cause he's got so many different styles. He has such a wide vocal range. Me and my buddy were just talking about that. He's got something that's lost in rap where a rapper will really use their voice more like an instrument and go into all different types of pitches and flows and styles. Danny's not trapped by his voice.
What do you think about MTV's hottest rapper list? I think it is what it is. I think that first of all it's cool that at least this is the type of dialogue that's being had where it's about the hottest MC. I think that's a positive for rap music. As far as who they're judging for the list, would that be my list? No. But it's a subjective thing -- there's not going to be one definitive list. They can have their list and Complex can have their list and Pitchfork can have their list and Village Voice can have their list. It just so happens that they're MTV, the big bad wolf of music television. If you really look at it, I don't think they have some huge impact on the culture, it's just their list. And the other thing I will say is Sway is somebody that's super good for hip-hop. He's always been good for hip-hop and he's always done positive things for hip-hop and he's just a super man. Anything he fucks with, I fucks with.
Who would you have for the top three spots on your own personal hottest MCs list? Oh, I have no idea. I'm the type of guy that it changes every day. I mean, obviously I'm partial to people like French Montana and Action Bronson, people like that, 'cause they're my brothers. I think there's so many talented rappers out there and they're so different; for some it's about bars, for some it's about delivery, for others it's about their perception and their image. It's so many different ways to judge people these days, I don't think you can have a definite list that these are the hottest MCs out today.
You posted up a picture of a Sublime album the other day. Yes, I love Sublime.
What is it about Sublime's music you like? Well, I feel like first of all, Brad Nowell was an incredible song writer. He could write the types of songs that could stand being fully produced and could write a hit, but he could also write the song that if you just played it on an acoustic guitar it would sound incredible. And what a talented voice, man! He had an unbelievable voice where it wasn't the perfect voice by any means but he had that real human quality in his voice that the best singers have like Hendrix. When you heard Hendrix you felt like, "Damn, this motherfucker's feeling this shit." That's the same thing you felt with Bradley when he's talking about a girl or about drugs. His feelings translate so well in his songs. And I also think the great influence of Sublime was that in a time of quote-unquote hybrid bands they were the shit -- they had reggae, they had rock, they had rap, they had blues, they had Spanish music. They had everything totally fuckin' infused. I think they're one of the greatest bands of our generation one hundred percent.
Have you ever considered sampling Sublime? Definitely and I have an idea for something but I don't want to give it away right now.
You mentioned Eddie B earlier. You have a couple of projects coming up with him. Yeah, there's an EP coming soon and then a full-length project. Me and Eddie have been working together for at least 10 years so I really think we have developed a good chemistry. It's very well put together, our records, and there's a good cohesiveness. It's a more traditional-feeling sound from me when I work with Eddie, but at the same time really hard-hitting beats and hard-hitting raps, super technical stuff from both of us.
Finally, who's the most entertaining person you follow on Twitter? Jody Highroller a.k.a. Riff Raff. He's a crazy fuckin' hilarious person to follow on Twitter. He is so entertaining, oh my god!
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