Fridayy’s music is his testimony. He has one of the most distinctive singing voices in hip-hop/R&B and is squarely positioned to take his career to the next level. His talent is a God-given ability that was hardwired into him at birth, something that’s inextricably linked to his upbringing in the church. In fact, it’s no surprise that he has blossomed into a rising superstar because this was the plan all along.
“I always knew God had a plan for me,” he shares. A prodigy of sorts, Fridayy taught himself how to play instruments by ear. He was intuitive and eager to learn, going the extra mile to nourish his passion. However, Fridayy didn’t start taking music seriously until he was in the eighth grade. “My cousin gave me a laptop and I would make music every day. That’s when I knew.” Cousin Mark taught the young scribe how to use the recording software on his laptop and the rest is history.
From there, Fridayy’s musicality started to take form. Unlike most of the kids growing up in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, PA, he stayed out of the mix and kept to himself. Doing so allowed him to look inward over the years and that’s when things started to change. Fridayy always knew that there was more to life than what his city had to offer. The hard part was figuring out where to concentrate his efforts next.
Taking a leap of faith, Fridayy relocated out West to LA and started demoing songs to make ends meet. He spent the next few months making connections with different A&Rs and mingling with other artists but nothing looked promising. “If you don’t got a plan, then don’t go out there,” Fridayy explains to KAZI Magazine. Struggling in the place that embodies the spirit of dreams and opportunities wasn’t in the cards, so he stepped back to reassess the situation.
Fridayy found himself back home, “making ten songs a week” until he figured out what was next in his life. During quarantine, a demo he recorded gained traction and helped secure his first publishing deal. “I was able to breathe. They gave me a little amount of money. With that money, that gave me some relationships ‘cause I was able to go back to LA and move around.”
Fridayy’s second trip to LA had a broader impact on his career than the first go-round. That’s when (and where) he became the “Melody God,” a nickname he took on while working with Timbaland. So far, the title has worked out for him. In just a few years time, Fridayy has blossomed into a four-time Grammy-nominated recording artist and has earned a spot on XXL’s coveted Freshman list. His standout performance on DJ Khaled’s “GOD DID” marked a major milestone in his flourishing career, but Fridayy happily says timing always works out for a reason. He’s grateful for what has been accomplished, but he’s bursting with excitement for fans to finally hear him.
This month’s Fridayy LP, out now, is a 14-track introduction to the next melody maestro coming out of Philly. Fridayy’s vulnerability and emotionality are inborn qualities that reveal the power in his records. The transformative release chronicles his journey through deeply personal songwriting, informed by changes in his everyday life. He takes something sacred, like his personal relationship with God, and helps listeners see themselves through their tough times by focusing on faith. More than anything, Fridayy is about getting to know Francis Leblanc on an individual level, looking inward and examining his grief, anxiety and insecurities.
Ahead of Fridayy’s self-titled debut opus, KAZI Magazine spoke to the genre disruptor about growing up in Philly, God’s grace, his version of love and what that looks like, why being vulnerable is important to his creative process, and more.
KAZI: What’s your earliest memory of being introduced to music?
Fridayy: Probably my household. My dad was a musician, a little bit. Also growing up in church and watching musicians play… seeing people play and trying to play myself.
KAZI: Is the church where you first started singing?
Fridayy: I started everything there. I started singing there and I started playing every instrument there. That’s where I learned everything. I learned how to play by ear.
KAZI: I had no idea that you are a self-taught musician.
Fridayy: Yeah, it’s like whenever they would start singing I would try to follow.
KAZI: Did that come easy to you or did you figure it out along the way?
Fridayy: I would say it came easy, bro. It was just fun. Natural, too. It wasn’t like somebody teaching me. I guess it’s a gift, too, because whatever I hear I’d just practice and try to play it and that’s how I learned.
KAZI: You’re not afraid to talk about your relationship with God in your music. Talk to me about God’s grace – what does that mean to you?
Fridayy: Shit, it means everything to me, bro. I wouldn’t be here without ‘em, bro. I just know that, since I was young I been doing music my whole life. I always knew God had a plan for me. I just believe in God, bro. Everything happens for a reason. Looking like… how everything turned out, I know he had a plan.
KAZI: Did that plan start to reveal itself as you honed your sound, or is there a specific moment you can recall when things started to change?
Fridayy: I kind of been knew it my whole life but I didn’t commit to it until like eighth grade. That’s when I started writing and producing. My cousin gave me a laptop and I would make music every day. That’s when I knew.
KAZI: Talk to me about that relationship with your cousin. Did you have a strong support system growing up?
Fridayy: My cousin, Mark, he grew up with me so we all grew up around music. He was one of the first people to build a studio and all that… take the next leap. When he introduced me to [music] I already played every instrument. I already sung ‘cause once I got my laptop it was just like… I already know how to do everything, all I need to know is how to use the laptop. That’s when I knew I was ready to do this shit.
KAZI: Where are you originally from?
KAZI: What was life like as a child in Philly? I hear the stories about what happens in the inner city but how was that experience for you?
Fridayy: It was cool. Philly’s a rough place but I stayed out the way. I was playing ball and shit. You just gotta stay focused and stay out the way. Philly definitely a rough place. Growing up there, it show you a lot. A lot of shit that you see is not normal. I normalized it until I stepped outside of Philly.
KAZI: When did you start to see different and experience new things?
Fridayy: Probably like 2019. I went to LA for the first time in 2019.
KAZI: What was that experience like for you, and what was your biggest takeaway from that trip?
Fridayy: Me and my brothers went out there, just on some like… we had 3-4 thousand dollars. We was just tryna see bro, ‘cause we looked at LA like a place where shit would just happen as soon as we get there. But it wasn’t like that. I remember we got an apartment… we was there for like 2-3 months and nothing was happening. Don’t get me wrong, we definitely seen opportunities but we wasn’t in those rooms. We would just see celebrities, hand out our flash drive, sneak in concerts, stuff like that but nothing was really changing. We ain’t have no relationships. That was my takeaway from the LA trip: if you don’t got a plan, then don’t go out there.
KAZI: Did you stay out there and struggle or did you go back home and put a plan together? What was that next step for you? Whatever it was, it obviously paid off.
Fridayy: I remember I met a few A&Rs over there and then as soon as I met them, I was like ‘This all I needed.’ I got one or two connects that would help me get money through their artists. When I went back home I was just making music everyday. On some writing and production tip, just to get placements.
KAZI: That was your hustle for sometime, getting paid as a songwriter?
Fridayy: Yeah. I wasn’t even getting bread but it was like, I finally got in [the game]. During that time, I met my manager. Bro was like, ‘It might be an easier way for you to get in if you start writing.’ At the same time, I met my manager, Edgar, and when I went back home I was making ten songs a week type shit, and I would send it to him on some writing shit. Even though they wasn’t getting placed, I had A&Rs that I was connected to, my manager was sending my music out, and that’s how I started cooking-up back home even more.
KAZI: Can you recall your first big break? That moment when everything changed for you.
Fridayy: During quarantine, I signed my first pub deal off the demos I was making. I was able to breathe. They gave me a little amount of money. With that money, that gave me some relationships ‘cause I was able to go back to LA and move around. Actually get to know people.
KAZI: It sounds like you were a bit more comfortable on that second LA trip.
KAZI: In the midst of all that, when did you become the “Melody God” ?
Fridayy: Bruh, I gave myself that name when I started working with Timbaland. I don’t know how I came up with that name. I knew who I was but when I started working with him and he was just amping me up, I was like ‘I’m really the ‘Melody God’ bro,’ ‘cause he kept telling me ‘These melodies crazy.’ So I just gave myself that name during that time. That was like 2022.
KAZI: Did you learn anything in those sessions with Timbaland? I mean, I imagine it’s hard not to.
Fridayy: I’d say work hard. When I was telling Timbaland ideas bro, I was so shocked that he was making beats so fast. He just gave me a whole new mindset like bro, he up and he still making all these beats in one day. It really pushed me to go harder in a way. I gotta go two times harder ‘cause he still going hard.
KAZI: What was the inspiration behind “When It Comes To You”?
Fridayy: The inspiration was about the instrumental. I remember it was a part of the beat that I produced with my man Kofo who plays the guitar. I just started playing that and it just gave me that vibe, like that love song vibe, but I kind of wanted to make it in my own way. I ain’t wanna go too left. I wanted it to be something where I could get what I needed to get off but in the same love vibe. That’s where the inspiration came from… from the guitar. I wanted the song to be uplifting to women instead of talking some other stuff.
KAZI: Is that what your version of love looks like?
Fridayy: I don’t got no version of love. That was just the way I wanted to express the video. That song don’t mean marriage, it’s just about that person that means that much to you. I wanted to find a way to express it, and that was just a great way to do it.
Love who you love and cherish that person. I’m not married but that song is just about not wasting time. You want to be with someone forever. This is your partner, and however people want to express that they can express it.
KAZI: When it comes to your creative process, are you inspired most by what you’ve experienced throughout your life?
Fridayy: Yeah, definitely my experiences. When I create music it’s straight from the heart. When I produce, I’m producing; when I get on the piano, it’s just whatever I feel at the moment. Whatever I’m playing, whatever that makes me feel, it just comes right out. Everything comes from me… everything if it’s not from me, it’s happening around me. It comes from a real place. Everything is free.
KAZI: Does that ever feel draining? Some people shy away from being vulnerable in their music but you’re like an open book.
Fridayy: Music is personal to me so it’s like you gotta go there. People look at music for different things: some people just want to have fun. If I’m not putting it all in there then there’s no reason for me to make it. That’s how I feel about it.
KAZI: Your music is your testimony.
Fridayy: Exactly. That’s a good way to say it. It’s me. That’s how I look at my music. A lot of people that’s entertainers and all that, they focus on everything else. You might know this artist for this reason, or ‘She’s a good look’; he’s entertaining, ‘Oh he get fly as hell,’ but it’s like when it comes to me, you can literally look at music.
KAZI: People can’t catch a sense of who you are from looking at your social media. You have to listen to the music to get a better understanding of you?
KAZI: Why do you feel like now is the best time to release your debut album?
Fridayy: I just feel like for this past year everyone has been like, ‘Who’s Fridayy?’ There’s been a whole discussion. Every album I was on, every hook I was on, I feel like I’m finally here. [Fridayy] is like an ‘I’m here’ statement. It’s still an introduction of who I am but it’s really like ‘I’m here.’ Here’s the full me and here’s my full sound. I ain’t want it no other way, too. This my first full album and I feel like I got a good amount of songs on here for you to really get the full me. After you’re done listening you’re gonna be like I know who he is. That’s really why I named it ‘Fridayy.’
KAZI: I know your rawness is an important part of your ethos as an artist, but how do you find that balance between being informative and knowing when to pull back?
Fridayy: It’s easy for me ‘cause that’s how I really make music. I’ll be in the studio sometimes, creating, and it’s like I’ll try to say something that’s going directly into my life but sometimes I pull back ‘cause I like to keep it in a way where everybody can sing it. I don’t dive too deep in but I put it in a way where whatever you’re going through you can sing it word-for-word. I’ve found a good balance of being able to tell my story but making you feel the same way and you can sing every word.
KAZI: How would you label this album? Is it rap, gospel, a combination of the two?
Fridayy: It’s Fridayy. That’s all I can name it bro. It’s me. That’s one of the reasons too [why] I named it Fridayy. When they done listening they gon’ be like ‘Damn, who was that?’ Everybody I played the album for, at the end they was like ‘Damn, who was this?’ You really can’t put a mark on it so that’s why I named the project Fridayy. It’s just me: one song I’m rapping, one song inspirational, one song a love song. Whatever is going on in my life, I put it in this project.
KAZI: Is that a common theme in your story? People have tried to find the words to describe you in the past and have failed each and every time.
Fridayy: Yeah for sure. Even early on when I was trying to make music, I didn’t even know who I was. I didn’t know you could really do it how I’m doing it. I never seen nobody do it how I did it. Once I found that I could just be me in the records that’s when I learned it’s just me. I think it was like 2018-2019, I learned how I wanted to talk in the music… say what I wanna say. Once I found that, I was like ‘Aight, this my sound.’
Everything I’m giving y’all is different. I might go to ‘When It Comes To You,’ I might go to ‘Don’t Give It Away,’ them two different songs. Then I go to Maverick City, then I go to afrobeats, then you still can’t really put a pin to it. I might come with something different.
KAZI: How have you managed your success thus far? You’re a 4X Grammy-nominated recording artist; you made the Freshman cover for XXL this year. What has this done for your ego?
Fridayy: Nothing. That’s nothing to me. I’m nowhere near where I need to be but I’m grateful for where I am at the same time. I’m not pressed to go to the next level but I want everyone to hear this album. XXL, that was a blessing; Grammy’s, that was a blessing but I’m at a place right now where I need everyone to hear this new music.
KAZI: If you had to pick a song from ‘Fridayy’ to speak to where you are in life now, what song would you choose? Why?
Fridayy: I’ma go ‘Stand By Me’ ‘cause I think that describes who I am all in one song. When I listen to that song it brings me to five different places in my life.