No Limit Rapper Fiend Gets Serious On Debut

Lead-off song, 'Take My Pain,' deals with shooting death of Fiend's brother and helps set rapper apart.

Rapper Fiend got what may have been one of the most unexpected birthday

gifts of his 22 years on Wednesday.

It was also one of the greatest presents he's ever received.

That day, the young hip-hopper got the big news that his first album, There's

One In Every Family, debuted at #8 on the Billboard 200 albums

chart, and it couldn't have happened on a more perfect occasion.

"I'm ecstatic," the rapper explained from his Baton Rouge, La., home. "This is

my first time going nationwide and I didn't know how the fans were going to

react. I'm very grateful."

And surprised.

That's because the serious, introspective, highly personal songs of There's

One In Every Family don't have much in common with more typical records

from his label, Master P's No Limit Records. No Limit is known for its self-

described "soldier" songs in which the labelmates team up on each other's

releases to join in on lengthy, jamming raps.

Instead, Fiend's album runs the emotional gamut, from the rapper mourning the

death of his brother on

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Fiend/Take_My_Pain.ram">"Take My

Pain" (RealAudio excerpt) to encouraging listeners to keep their heads

up on "We Survivors." On

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Fiend/All_I_Know.ram">"All I

Know" (RealAudio excerpt), Fiend takes a hard look at life in the

ghetto.

"It shook me up," Fiend said about the popular reaction to the album. "Everyone

expected a lot of 'soldier songs' that were nine-minutes long, but they were

surprised I didn't have one."

Fiend is the latest hip-hopper to come from No Limit Records, an association he

said almost didn't happen. According to Fiend, he was introduced to Master P

by frequent No Limit producer KLC of Beats By The Pound and things were a bit

tense at first. "P is very particular about who he lets near him," Fiend explained,

"and when we walked in he pulled KLC to the side and said, 'Who is this you're

bringing up here?' KLC told him I was cool and we started to hang out."

After listening to Fiend rap, Master P arranged for the aspiring hip-hopper's

"Don't Mess Around" to appear on the soundtrack to P's direct-to-video hit "I'm

'Bout It." Fiend then appeared on Mia-X's "Mama's Family" and Master P's

"Make 'Em Say Uhhh" and "Itch or Scratch" with Mac and Prime Suspect on the

"I Got The Hook-Up!" soundtrack.

"He was testing me out," Fiend explained, "but then he was like 'OK, you can do

this.' "

Born Richard Jones, the rapper started down the road to the top of the charts

when he was a pre-teen in New Orleans listening to such artists as Rakim and

Public Enemy and writing poetry in his spare time. "I was just writing poems to

myself, I wasn't trying to write any raps," Fiend explained. "It wasn't until much

later that I thought about turning what I was writing into a rap."

These days, however, all of his poetry ends up in his raps.

Fiend said he wanted There's One In Every Family -- which features

appearances by such No Limit labelmates as Snoop Doggy Dogg and C-

Murder -- to express his view of the world. "This is the underdog's point of view,"

Fiend said of the album, "a view from someone who's been through all the

mashed potatoes -- maybe with a little bit of gravy. I just wanted people to see

the world from my perspective."

A large part of his perspective, much like that of Master P, comes from the

shooting death of his brother. "Take My Pain," the first track on the album and

one of Fiend's favorites, deals with how he is coping with the loss. "The music is

a rendition of 'I Call Your Name' by Switch," Fiend explained. "I always said

that if I ever had a chance to talk something serious, I would use that song."

With lyrics such as "It's all on me to accept that I lost my brother/ and be strong

and just go on because we share the same mother," it was clear to song

collaborators Sons of Funk that the track was important to Fiend.

For group member 22-year-old Renz (a.k.a. Lorenzo Chew), the song also

struck a more universal note. "The song's actually about the problems of the

world today," Renz explained. "It's about how it is for a person in the streets and

about how we need to change how we are living, how we need to get things

going back positive."

For Fiend, the strong reaction to work that he considers so personal has been

satisfying from a creative standpoint. "I want [the fans] to hear [There's One

In Every Family]," he said, "and get into [my] zone."