It wasn't long ago that 22-year old rapper Joey Fatts was living out of his car. Now, the Long Beach, Calif. rapper is signed to Waka Flocka Flame's 36Brickhouse label and is charting Billboard hits.
Fatts placed two entries on the Billboard Twitter Emerging Artists chart thanks to the release of his new mixtape, Chipper Jones 3. Its title track and "Keep It G, Pt. II" reached No. 3 and No. 15, respectively, on the chart dated Aug. 23.
In time for the release of his music video for "Keep It G Pt. II," featuring A$AP Rocky, Billboard caught up with Joey Fatts to talk about his life before music and the impact of social media.
Billboard: How did you first get started in music?
Joey Fatts: I grew up in Long Beach, Calif. When I was in the fifth grade, my father was incarcerated so it was just me, my mom and my sister. When I was in high school I slept in a car, because I wanted to stay in Los Angeles to play football. I slept in cars and garages for years and years until I realized that a career in football was not working. I met A$AP Rocky after I started producing -- I now consider him to be one of my brothers.
Once I released Chipper Jones 1 in 2012, it catapulted me to where I am now. I suddenly went from 300 Twitter followers to 5,500 followers off my first release. It was perfect timing because right after the release I joined A$AP on tour. When I got off the tour I dropped Chipper Jones 2, which catapulted me to 15,000 fans on Twitter. After touring with A$AP Ferg, I dropped Chipper Jones 3.I'm finally about to embark on my solo tour, starting in Australia.
You've charted on the Trending 140 and Emerging Artists charts. How important is it for you to connect with fans over social media?
Twitter plays a major part in the music industry.
I recently made a private iMessage account where my fans can reach out to me and ask me for advice. When I was homeless and living on the streets, I literally had no one to turn to. So I know first hand how having someone there to talk can make it so much better. I want to be there for my fans.
What made you decide to sign with 36Brickhouse?
I signed with Brick and Waka because it is all about loyalty, and they believe in my craft. Waka said to me, "One day you're going to be the reason I retire, because you're that good." They believe in my ability.
You mentioned on Twitter recently that you feel that the Chipper Jones 3 mixtape could have been an album. What made you release it as a mixtape?
Right now I don't feel like charging for my music. I want to be here for the long run, and I would like for people to get to know me and to know my sound. I feel like the support that you get from your fans that way is much more valuable.
Can your fans expect any new music soon?
I'm dropping a project with 9th Wonder in the next year.
Lately, I've sat down and been building my sound. I'm going to produce a lot more on my future projects. I’ve been working on a lot of beats for other artists.
Tell us about working with 9th Wonder.
9th gives me good life lessons as a man. He's someone I look up to, as an established African American man. He's not looking for all the light. He just loves music and enjoys being able to provide; that's why I like working with 9th.