Thouxanbanfauni wants to be like Mike. Jackson, not Jordan, just to be clear. The King of Pop's career trajectory is one that the Chattanooga, Tenn.-born, Atlanta-raised rapper aspires to achieve. "That'd be crazy," he tells XXL. "I feel like I could do that."

While Fauni and Michael Jackson's come ups are vastly different, their similarities lie in their large families (the rhymer is the oldest of his siblings) and having a passion for music. However, before rap, Fauni found himself getting "jammed up," as he calls it, as a teen. He resorted to illegal ways to get money for himself, stealing clothes ("Abercrombie & Fitch and some lame shit like that") from the mall at 15, before getting a job at McDonald's to earn his paper the right way. Then it was "Fuck, McDonald's" and all about writing rhymes.

Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco inspired Fauni early on. "They shit was fire," he shares. "I didn't know how to rap. I was like, 'What these niggas be talkin' 'bout?' You feel me? I had to turn it into what I was going through. So I'm like, Aight, this is what I'm about to do, and turned it into a flow. I had to turn all my struggles into a flow behind-the-beat-type shit."

Three years ago, Fauni began taking rap seriously. "Rhianna Wrist," a rattling banger he produced himself, is one of his earliest records on which he pays respect to his mom ("Shoutout to my mama, she raised a young man without no pops") and embraces the positive ("I'm tryna change for the better, I put that on my life"). Since then, he's dropped the 34 EP, For Christ Sake mixtape with Uno The Activist, the Heavy Weight Champ tape, a slew of loosies and joint tracks with the likes of Playboi Carti. The sunshiny vibes of "Gorgeous" and warning ode "Who You Testin?" have 1 million and 2 millions streams on SoundCloud, respectively. People are on to Fauni.

Now, the rapper, who had dreams of being a firefighter as a kid, is crafting his next project, Faith. Chinatown, Milan, DJ Young Kash, StoopidXool and SoMuchSauce are a few of the producers contributing to its sound. The effort is built on the power of belief. "Basically, you always gotta have faith, always gotta believe in yourself," Fauni asserts. "I just want people to know that if you can believe in anything or anyone, you gotta believe in yourself. I got faith. I'ma motivate, I know for a fact. I'm gonna bring hope, give people hope, you feel me? Through when they working or going to school, deciding on what they want to do, the next step in they life. Just take a chance 'cause you got to take a risk."

As an independent artist who's "winging it," Fauni has done just that. "I'm putting together all this by myself and just making everything work. So far, it's kinda been working just me. I'm kinda ready to build an empire." He's off in the right direction.

Find out more about Thouxanbanfauni's rise in XXL's The Break.

Age: 23

Hometown: Atlanta

I grew up listening to: "OutKast, Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar. Everybody. Young Thug, Peewee Longway, Gucci [Mane]. Travis Porter, Roscoe Dash, Drake, Webbie, Boosie, Savage Squad. Everybody. I was everywhere. When I was on the North side, it was a whole bunch of white kids so I got exposed to all types of rock bands. That shit was fire. Nirvana. I was skateboarding too. I had told my mom I had won skate contests 'cause I was gettin' money. Just so she don't be askin' how I get money."

My style’s been compared to: "People say I sound like all types of people. Niggas say I sound like an instrument. Comparisons? I don't know. People always compare but I feel like when it come down to it, all my music, when you really listen, like you'll hear it's really me. It's not really too much comparisons out there. I'm kinda in my own lane."

Most people don’t know: "I really like movies. I'm really into film. I ain't never have cable so I was always watching movies. The feeling that movies gave me, it was different than like watching TV. It gave you more of an edge when it come to certain things. Then like the director, the director of a movie, he just give you his full vision of the concept behind the visual arts.

"Like how Tim Burton, how his movies always look a little dark and shit. Like Edward Scissorhands and all that. It's like his swag. Like Quentin Tarantino, he got his swag too. Every director, like what they do, kinda like they twist. I could probably do some fly shit. I don't know what my twist would be. It's like the music. Thats how it is with niggas and they sound. Everybody got they swag when it comes to they tracks."

My standout records to date have been: "'Gorgeous.' Even when I play 'Gorgeous' it's always like the first time I play it. 'Cause it just make me feel so good. 'Zoomin.' I'm kinda doin' this thing where I give 'em a verse and an almost hook. I like the swag of that song. 'Who You Testin?' That's my energy. I'm just ready for anything that come my way, you feel me? I'm ready to face anything head first. I'm really prepared. I feel like nothing can stop me. I'll get over any setback, you feel me?"

My standout moments to date have been: "When I was in Atlanta last year, like December, and I had sold out a show. It was random though; it was for New Year's. I didn't think a lot of people would come out for me in my own city, you feel me? That's where you got the most haters, in your own city. I wasn't expecting that this soon. I was expecting it eventually but not this soon. It was a great night."

My goal in hip-hop is: "I wouldn't say I have a goal in hip-hop or for hip-hop. 'Cause I mean I can't say hip-hop ever did shit for me but it's not like I don't owe hip-hop shit. I feel like what I can do for people who listen to hip-hop, I can at least give them niggas something decent, you feel me? 'Cause a lotta shit, niggas is playing shit out just to play shit out. Other than that, motivate people, give people some faith, some happiness, joy. Change the spirit in the room when it's down, you feel me? Bring the light.

"My music, like it just bring intensity. The way I see it when I come onstage, people just know to get ready for that energy. It's just a certain energy, bro, and people's spirits throughout the whole area. It's hard to explain sometimes."

I’m going to be the next: "I'm gonna be the next me. I'm gonna have people saying that. Somebody next year gonna be like, 'I'm gonna be the next Thouxanbanfauni.' I just want to help mold the youth any type of way through music; I guess to where at least you can hear some type of realness. I don't know what people are exposed to when they listen to my stuff, like who they around. Everybody got some people around them who are not solid so at least I know when they listen to me, at least I know, you feel me, it's gonna get in their head a little bit. The real, not the fake."

Follow Thouxanbanfauni on Twitter and SoundCloud.



"Who You Testin?"


Heavy Weight Champ

"To the Point"

"Rihanna Wrist"

"Wish the Worst"

Thouxanbanfauni and Reggie Mills' "NASA" Featuring Playboi Carti

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