Fred the Godson is an enigma. As a rapper, his lyrics are precise, crisp, and thought-provoking. And as a personality – well; his round frame and distinct features aren’t easily forgettable. His story, a rags-to-riches saga filled with obligatory street tales and life-threatening health scares, serves as a haunting foundation for his music. Fred isn’t supposed to be here – and the fact that he’s even alive is a testament to the importance of that story.
Born and raised in hip-hop’s birthplace – the South Bronx – Fred’s tale begins with a loving family life, albeit with a distinct twist. “There was a lot of love, there was six of us kids,” remembers Fred. Infatuated by baseball, football, and basketball, Fred was a jovial kid who tried to live as normal a life as possible. Unfortunately, Fred’s body began rapidly deteriorating (he’s had asthma and kidney issues since childhood). Around the same time, the late-80’s, early-90’s drug rage found a victim in Fred’s father (he’s clean now), and the entire family was forced to move into a public shelter. Money was scarce, and soon enough, the pervasive lure of the streets welcomed another willing participant.
Dropping out of school in the 11th grade, Fred began “running around doing a lot of things I wasn’t supposed to be doing, trying to make money.” With failing health and a family whose sole reliance for income was him, Fred was knee deep in the streets; looking for a way out, but fully aware his time was running out. His tag of “God son” (as he was aptly named by a lifelong doctor mesmerized by his ability to simply survive) came handy, when an inherent ability to rhyme, and some brazen success in the music game, galvanized Fred to make a complete transition. From his XXL Freshmen cover in 2011 (which he shared alongside Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, Meek Mill, YG, and others), to his heavily –spinned radio records with Diddy, Meek Mill, and Pusha T, the relatively quick success brought on by his talent caught even Fred by surprise. And he doesn’t take the opportunity lightly, either.
“I feel like I’m lucky – getting money off doing something you love. I’ve seen my father bust his ass, and my mother bust her ass, just to make a dollar. Before, when we made money, we’d have to watch our back and pray we didn’t get killed. Now I can write a rhyme and pay my bills, and take care of my daughter, my girl, my stepson – it’s just a blessing. Coming from the shelter, remembering how hard it is to just make a dollar – to now, where people are paying me because of my skill? This is a blessing, man, and a hell of a motivation.”
Influenced by legends like Jay Z, the Notorious BIG, Eminem, and hometown hero Big Pun, Fred the Godson is a lyricists’ lyricist. “Any MC in my top 5, you can turn off the beat, and they still get busy – that’s the era I was raised in,” Fred explains. “There’s only a handful that can do that now.” Describing his lyrics as “intricate”, Fred’s confident delivery and intense variety of flows separate him from his peers and competitors. “I take every rhyme very seriously. I’m really tryna show these niggas that I’m the best,” says Fred without a trace of a single waver in his voice. “It’s the BX, it’s the birthplace of hip-hop – and I take hip-hop very seriously.”
With his latest mixtape, Fat Boy Fresh, on the way, Fred is relishing his unique opportunity, and, having come to terms with his past, is looking solely towards the future: “I just want my music to be worldwide, man. The beautiful thing about this is that the sky is the limit. In a year, I’ll be five times as higher than I am now. And in three years, five years? I’m gonna keep growing. It scares me to think how far I can go.”
As much as he shouldn’t be here, Fred the Godson has beaten remarkable odds. And using the same force and willpower that got him this far, he keeps pushing. Fred the Godson isn’t supposed to be here; but, ironically, he’s in the one place he truly belongs.