By Chayne JapalTommy Hilfiger-sporting rapper/producer Raz Fresco from Toronto joined forces with Tacoma, WA MC ChillxWill to release a mixtape, The Popcorn Tape, that thrives on early/mid-'90s nostalgia in its sound and subject matter. Born in 1995, and finishing his last semester of high school, it's not only his approach to hip-hop and sense of style that suggest an enigmatic sense of maturity, it's his focus.
What do you have on the go right now? Working on my next project, PABLO. I'm doing some production and recording for that, along with some production for a few different artists. And pushing this Popcorn Tape, which we put out in January.
There was buzz about The Popcorn Tape for a good while before it came out. How did you go about putting it together? We started working on it in the summer of 2011. Chill came to me with the idea; he showed me the commercial. I can't really remember but it might have just been for a song at first, then it turned into a whole tape. We did the first batch of beats and then at one point in the summer, we changed our minds. We started taking a different route with it and just kept one of those first beats, "thinkIMmike." We were sharing ideas and samples over Skype. Then there was a week where we did something like six joints. That was the core of it. Then we gradually added to it from there. Chill came over here that winter and we shot a video. We did some more and then he came back in the spring to finish the recording. Then he came back again for us to shoot more videos in the fall. We got everything ready and dropped it at the top the year.
Tacoma's so far from Toronto. How did you hook up with ChillxWill in the first place? Around when my first video dropped, he hit me up for some production. I just had a good vibe, so I sold him some of my regular beats for mad cheap. He sent me back the tracks and I was really messing with them heavy. After that, we started working together more and more. We had a natural chemistry. So we decided to do a whole tape together.
How did you gain this affinity for the mid-'90s sound and style you reference so much? From the beginning really, around third or fouth grade, as long as I've been listening to hip-hop. The '90s shit, the Golden era, just had the sounds that I naturally gravitated towards. As I took in that type of stuff as I've been growing, the elements that I like have just been carrying over into my music. The Popcorn Tape is an example of that. Me and Chill have common interests and we talk about a lot of the same stuff. That's how this came through because we wanted to evoke that era but in the way we do it nowadays. It's like a different methodology but with the same inspiration.
Is there any part of you that wishes that you could have been active in that period? It's not about me wishing I was from a different time because I was meant to be where I am right now. The only thing that would be cool is that in the Golden era there was a high quantity of dope projects just coming out back to back. So many classics dropped in such a short time span, I feel like that would inspire someone back then because everyone was just constantly raising the bar for each other. But now, there are a lot of people lowering the bar, lower and lower. There are a lot of people who are coming out and their shit is so trash, so now a lot stuff that just mediocre gets accepted. All I can do to change that is do what I do and continue to put out dope projects.
You're young but you've been rapping for a while. Up to this point, what would you say has been that validating moment where you said "OK. I'm doing this"? I've never thought "I don't really see myself blowing up" or anything like that. It's more like "How am I going to do this?" I see it as more of a process rather than an if. Everything I do, I just try to go further. I didn't have a moment where I said "It's time to get serious" because there's never been a point where it's been a joke.
You refuse to lose. Ha. Yes! And it don't stop. It's always been this.