See.Francis has seen it all, from contract issues to getting locked up, hanging around the slithering snakes in the grass, and having a pandemic stop his momentum. When it comes to the music industry, you have to figure out how to have patience. It needs to be ingrained in your mind and soul, otherwise, you will take every non-response and business decision to heart. Francis had plans to go on tour and have his moment in front of big crowds before Covid halted that occasion. But he’s been through the waiting game before, his mindset is different than others.
He grew up in Newark, New Jersey, but bounced around a bit between Queens and Newark. Francis has seen it all, from his father passing away, to the streets of New Jersey to his grandfather taking him to Tacoma, Washington for a visit while he was on the run. His childhood couldn’t be more riveting from a story-tellers perspective. After bouncing around, his mother moved Francis to the suburbs in New Jersey where trouble arouse. But one thing always kept his mind straight; music.
Francis’s family lived in the church, with members in the choir and his uncle playing the guitar. Another uncle is a famous producer, The 45 King, from the Bronx who produced “Hard Knock Life” with Jay-Z and “Stan” with Eminem. He grew up surrounded by people who loved music, not just hip-hop. It was Francis’s one getaway from the environment that surrounded him. As he came into his own as an artist, he was under some shady contract situations that wouldn’t let him create. He found himself writing and producing for others, but once that bubble popped the music he wanted to make finally became accessible.
“People will tell me ‘Yo this shit hard’, I just respond like thanks, good looks, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just being self-sufficient with my back against the wall.”
In March of 2019, five years after his last project Flat.Lux Francis dropped his first single and has consistently dropped a song since then enough to fill two EP’s in the past two years. The Newark artist is born to test the boundaries within his music, whether it’s a self-reflection of his past mistakes on “Crash” or an enjoyable get-away with a fine woman like “Fashion Week” that experiments with his voice inflections like a scientist pouring some crazy chemical into a beaker to see what can be created. For every instrumental, there is an examination on how he can break new barriers with his music.
It’s not just a direct correlation between him and OutKast on the self-titled song after the greatest hip-hop duo ever, there are years of studying from the best of musical geniuses thrown on the canvas. And as the years have gone on, Francis has been able to perfect the craft that he strives to make on his own accord and has been able to get emails on working with Grammy-award winning artists on his newest work. Patience gave him these gifts in life.
“I don’t want to be just my cousin’s favorite rapper or the rapper who shows up at parties in my neighborhood. I want this to be global.”
For Kazi Magaine, I sit down with See.Francis to speak about the state of New Jersey as a whole, his mother saving his life, his newest single “OUTKAST” and his vast music palette.
B: We have been trying to get this going since 2020 man, now we’re here. How are we doing man?
SF: I can’t call it man, I’ve been good. No complaints.
B: How has the start of 2021 been for you so far, given how bad the year prior was?
SF: Honestly, it’s as best as it can be. Lot of preparation and analyze. A lot of running around with texts, email, tweets, so much shit. All that stops when once niggas start coughing on each other. Deadass though. Gave me extra time, traveling is super business only.
B: With this artist life, it’s always moving 24/7 which comes with the territory. Did you feel like you were enjoying that down time?
SF: For me? Yeah. Me as a person, I enjoy it. I know a lot of people that are fucked up from it, I’m just thankful for the situation I’m in.
B: What was the one thing you found out about yourself during this quarantine as a person?
SF: It’s weird for me, it reminds me of jail with lack of movement, seeing the same people and doing the same thing over and over. So sitting down at the crib didn’t freak me out. My brother? He bugged the fuck out. And he doesn’t even go out. Now that he can’t though, it turned into a thing. What I learned though, is that I can do a lot on my own. Like everything.
B: It’s very interesting to see the talent you possess when you ain’t got shit else to do. I locked into music journalism when we got stuck inside.
SF: Yeah bro you’ll surprise yourself from time to time on things you can accomplish.
B: You just dropped your newest single “OUTKAST” with Trizz. What was the making of this track like?
SF: I got the beat from Match McCray, homie from Jersey. He sent a batch of beats and heard this New Orleans sound with all the horns and it gave me that same feel from “Spottieottiedopaliscious” and I just thought how can I flip that and be fun. I thought of another Outkast record, “So Fresh So Clean” and I fuck with that record. I want to have fun with it. So Andre 3K, 3,000 on the Jean’s. Cool. I feel like a Big Boi, riding in the Cadillac’s, some big shit. That’s how that came about.
B: When it comes to that versatility factor, how much has Outkast influenced you?
SF: Saying a group like that wasn’t influential to me would be a skew from the truth. Here’s the thing, musically not so much. But just the way they attack the music, who they are as artists, what they respect and what they are willing to compromise and not that’s beautiful to see. Their business acumen is second to none in the music and movie industry.
B: You’re from Newark, New Jersey and sadly the reputation around the world is the state as a whole is not great. What do you say to those people who keep throwing that at you?
See.Francis : Sadly reputations carry over. And they carried over so many times. Like the riots in 1964 with the Panthers and National Guard with tanks creating a war zone. The reputation of Newark is crazy, and it carried over to drugs. It was bad for a while. But now, it’s beautiful. Don’t get it twisted you could take a left turn and walk into the jungle, but right now Newark takes pride in itself. The school system is fantastic, the athletes are crazy. The talent has grown, it’s kinda cool now.
B: What was it like for you personally growing up in Newark?
See.Francis : For me I was a little all over the place. I was born in Newark, but before my father got killed I was back and forth from there and Queens, New York. I got that exposure from both sides. After he passed me and my mom moved around a lot. But my mom saved my life, we moved out the ‘burbs for a few years somehow I still got into the most trouble out there. One thing I can say about Jersey is this; it has every piece you might need if you put it together correctly. It has a lot to it, it’s like a melting pot and we fight for a lot of terminology. We’re in the armpit of everything but we fight for shit we want because of that mentality. It was everything for me.
B: Where did the love of music come for you? The path to finding that love is always my favorite to hear because everyone’s story is so different.
See.Francis : Music for me has always been the key points of my life. I come from a musical family, except for my father. But he was an immigrant, didn’t speak English at all. He liked one club song, “Follow Me” that’s all he would play. But the rest of my family was in the church. There was the choir, my uncle played the guitar. But when my father died, music was always there for me. My uncle, who was my father’s brother, was an artist and he was in a rap group and all that. I gravitated towards him and his music taste, and it was all over. Nina Simone, Peter Tosh, The Beejee’s. Like I can’t play on the aux.
B: Now as your father passed away, your mom stepped into that role to raise you. How monumental was she to you as a person and your growth as an artist?
See.Francis : My mom is everything. Great person, a nerd, always on my ass. I get it now. I didn’t back then. Basically, I just wanted to do dumb shit to fuck my life up, but I look back and to deal with me and the hood she was fucking strong. She made me a man, that’s how strong she was. She created me. I’d be fucked up somewhere if I didn’t have her.
B: What was one lesson that you learned from her that sticks to you to this day?
See.Francis : One I implement in my everyday life; shut the fuck up unless I know what I’m talking about. Unless I know the answer I’m not saying a word. I literally only speak up on shit that I know. If you want to talk about some quantum physics, I’m going to bow out. But other shit I learn and soak shit in.
B: You dropped two projects, one in 2012 and 2014. You’re going on seven years without an album. What has been the hold-up with making full projects?
See.Francis : I went through some career legal things that made it hard for me to get shit going. I did a lot of work for other people in terms of production and writing. I was musically figuring it out, and then I just started dropping random singles here and there. But I was testing the waters. Now I’m preparing for an album in June or July. So we’re coming back.
B: Did Covid ruin any plans you had for 2020?
See.Francis: I was on my way to perform on tour with a good friend of mine. 30 nights on the road in front of 15,000-20,000 people. It was a lot of shit set-up. South by Southwest in 2020. Get the fandom to grow, then March happens. Had to re-adjust. Like, “OutKast” wasn’t supposed to be the single, but you have to adjust to the times. If you need to get in your car and drive somewhere, you throw this song on. You have to re-focus your energy to the times you’re living in.
B: It seems like a lot of times in this industry, you personally have been given the run-around a whole lot. Whether it was specific music industry people or horrible timing from things out of your control. How does one even keep a positive mindset? Do you hold grudges?
See.Francis : It goes both ways. What I’ve also realized is that I haven’t been in a bad situation is a long time because I’ve learned throughout the years. I put the pieces in place to set myself for positive things to happen, I never looked for the short-cut. I put myself around better people instead of before where I was surrounding myself with snakes. For a while, I wasn’t ready to win. I couldn’t stay out of jail. I had to beats ready for Rihanna’s second album that they wanted, but I was in county so I couldn’t even sign. That’s my fault, I put myself in better situations, all things shall pass.
B: You seem to have a lot of patience in you man, when something goes sour you figure it out calmly.
See.Francis : This is my passion man. This isn’t a get rich-quick scheme. I know I’m going to be doing this forever. That’s what makes the heartbreaks easier.
Check out his music below!