The Break Presents: Phora
Genuine honesty is still one of the most important factors for a rapper to succeed longterm. The ability to have fans connect on a personal level with an artist is what helped the likes of J. Cole, Logic and Kendrick Lamar, among others, become stars. One artist who's gradually building momentum and strong fan base by keeping it real is Phora.
The 22-year-old Anaheim, Calif. native has had a long journey to get to where he is now. His positivity and ability to tap into a listener's emotions are what make Phora stand out from the rest of the new crop of artists. The rapper pulls from his own reality—the good and the bad—to deliver rhymes of substance.
Since 2012, Phora has been putting in work, gradually finding his sound along the way. Things started to click when he dropped his 2015 project, Angels With Broken Wings. He followed that up with 2016's With Love, which landed at No. 1 on iTunes' hip-hop/rap charts upon its release. The project was pushed by the breakout single "Sinner," which has collected over 2 million plays on SoundCloud and 6 million views on YouTube.
Now with his newest album out, Yours Truly Forever, Phora—who signed to Warner Bros. Records this past April—is looking to make another jump from internet star to household name.
With over 100 million total YouTube views and his Yours Truly Clothing brand having over 220,000 followers on Instagram and generating a buzz of its own, it's safe to say that Phora's fan base is expanding exponentially. "Yours truly is a movement," he explains when discussing the meaning behind his brand to XXL while in New York City. "We started it five years ago and it’s like a cult, as far as like fan base-wise, Wu-Tang Clan and the Bielebers with Justin Bieber. We actually branded it to an actual clothing brand but behind the music, it’s a movement."
Get to know Phora on The Break.
Hometown: Anaheim, Calif.
I grew up listening to: “I actually grew up listening to Snoop Dog, Nas, Common, Dr. Dre, I was kind of in the middle between coasts. I’ve been around music since maybe like, 6, 7 years old. My pops made music all his life. The earliest memories are me when I was 6, 7 years old with my dad in the car and I would try to freestyle [laughs]. He made rap, I been around it all my life.
"I started to take things seriously probably like four, five years ago. I really had to separate myself. I was actually in a weird time in my life, a transition and I wanted to kind of do my own thing in my life and kind of find myself and also express myself some way or another and it came with the music and I just went full force with it.
"I was going through a lot of things. I got in some trouble with the law and got arrested and spent like two years in juvenile hall in Los Angeles. I actually ended up getting stabbed and I moved from California to Reno, Nev. I had to separate myself from everyone and get my mind right and that’s when it happened. I was maybe 15 and that’s kind of when it all happened.
"I think the biggest thing [that’s changed] is the wisdom and the things I learned over the years. When I kind of first started, I was 17, kind of wild and reckless and really didn’t know who I wanted to be. Over the years, I found myself."
My style has been compared to: “I say I share a lot of similar paths to artists like Logic and J. Cole for very personal, really fan-driven, they are really driven to their fans. I feel like my sound is just me being myself. A lot of positivity but at the same time telling a story and not just a story in a song but an overall journey of this person that they are becoming."
Most people don’t know: “I actually recorded my first song when I was 7 years old and it’s out there on YouTube. I know where it’s at [laughs]."
My standout moment to date has been: “I released this song last year called ‘Sinner’ and I was going through a lot of stuff really emotional stuff; everything you can think of, family, friends, my life was changing drastically because of music and me wanting to be this person but not wanted to do certain things. So I put all my emotions into this one song called ‘Sinner.’ It’s real different, it’s really passionate and to me that song means the most to me out of any song. Number-wise, it did the best as well. I just kind of poured my heart out to that track."
My goal in hip-hop is: “To be legendary, longevity is what I’m seeking. Longevity is kind of a rare thing to find now."
I’m going to be the next: “It’s hard to say. I would say I would be the legend. I just feel the passion in my music is different and these days it's rare. I have a story to tell. I’ve been through a lot and even outside the music. The story behind the music and the authenticity and how real the story is, I feel like that solidifies it. I feel like there’s so much more to come."
Yours Truly Forever
"Angels With Broken Wings"
"I Think I Love You"
"Deeper Than Blood"
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