Gov’t Name: Frederick Thomas
Reppin’: Bronx, New York
Notable Releases: Singles: “So Crazy” and “Too Fat,” both 2010; Mixtapes: Big Bronx and Armageddon, both 2010
Currently Working On: Fred and Friends mixtape, due spring 2011; next single, “Toast to That,” featuring Diddy and Jadakiss
Side Hustle: Co-owns Blok Work Studios in the Bronx; artists who recorded there include Cory Gunz, Jojo Simmons and Avery Storm
"Head Banger" ft. Vado
On Being a 2011 XXL Freshman: “Ever since things started picking up last year April, this is what I’ve been gunning for. I’ve been in the office and doing whatever I can do. And I’m like, ‘Yo, I need that Freshmen cover, man.’ It means everything. I think some people take it lighter than others, but it gets so bigger than XXL. You being on that cover with the Freshmen, the new people that’s out, it’s a privilege. It’s an honor. It’s like two million other rappers who would love to have that opportunity. I just been blessed to have a lot of success with doing it by myself, with my manager, Shawn Prez. It’s just been a blessing. There’s a lot of people in my shoes who intend to do this. I’ve been trying to do this, but in the last year, it’s been picking up. God’s been good.
I was inside the studio when I got the call [to be a Freshman]. I was hyped. I almost broke my blackberry with one hand. It wasn’t a total surprise [when I got the call because] I know I put in a lot of work. I knew it was up for grabs, but I didn’t know what were the requirements to be a Freshman. I knew that I would probably be in the talks. But who thought. I didn’t know that anybody was concrete; nobody knew. Like I definitely didn’t know, but I’ve seen people on Twitter like, ‘Fred the Godson better make the Freshmen list,’ and I was just like damn man if I don’t make this shit niggas are going to be mad. But then I was like as long as I’m in the talks man, I’m good; I’m happy with that.
[I’m] going on like my fourth single that’s been on the radio. Everybody been blasting it. MTV—the video, ‘Too Fat.’ A lot of features I been doing. [And] I’m aligned with no one. It’s like some people got a rapper who they run to, or a label that they run to, you know somebody big. [But] It’s just me. I do what I want to do, when I want to do it.
[The last year’s been] like overwhelming. There’s rappers I look up to, all these posters on my wall, playing their songs, looking at their videos, and now they’re friends of mine. They call me, and they be on Twitter like, ‘Yo, we love you. Yo, we love your music. You’re the new dude. You’re repping. You’re bringing it back to New York.’ It’s just crazy. It’s like too much to take in sometimes. Before, I used to just look at them, have all my little brothers and sisters with me looking at the TV, and now I sit next to them and we’ll have personal conversations.
[Growing up] I always could rhyme when I was a teenager like 12 or 13. I always freestyle’d, but just used that as comedy to snap on people. I’d rhyme about what you got on and I’d just make a crazy rhyme about it off the head and have everybody laughing. One of my friends would be beating on the table and I’d be freestyling, and everybody would be like, ‘Wow you’re good,’ but there was no way in the world I’d take that serious at the time. I’d be like, ‘I’m not a rapper, I’m a kid from the Bronx. This is just something that I do for fun.’ Then as time grew and I started seeing peers, like my people my age, really young rhyming and they’re rapping and I’m just sitting outside the cypher, just a big fan of hip-hop. I wasn’t really amused or amazed by what they was doing; I [knew] I [could] write something better than that. So as time went on, I was like, ‘I’m going to write me a rhyme and try to spit it in the cypher.’
Months went on and I wrote and memorized it, and then the shy phase kicked in where cyphers went on and I had this rhyme and I was like you know what I’m going to spit that. Then I got shy and first couple of lines I was skipping because I had never done it in front of that many people. Once I gained my composure I spit that first rhyme and the people were running around jumping on mailboxes [and] jumping on cars [to hear me]. I was like, ‘Oh my God, its over!’ I just couldn’t do nothing else but keep writing."
FOR MORE ON THE 2011 FRESHMEN COP THE APRIL ISSUE OF XXL, ON SALE MARCH 15.