All Photography by Far Fetched Future (@MrFarFetched)
“Get me a whole tray,” Fat Trel said when his manager asked him how much Alfredo fettucini he wanted after he was done laying down the adlibs for an upcoming track off his next mixtape, Nightmare on E Street. A week before Trel crushed five pounds of Parmesan slathered pasta, he talked with RESPECT.‘s Toronto based correspondent, Peter Marrack, about his two-timing former manager, his family tree and how getting shot by his best-friend taught him an important lesson about how to make it in the rap game. We even got him to pick up the phone after the interview and call his pops to find out exactly where his great-grandma was from. Tatted from his cheek to the bottom of his belly, the Fat Foolio is giving NorthEast D.C. a reason to stand up. Fat Trel smells like the product Lil Boosie and Young Jeezy would cook up if they were stirring out the same pot. So yesterday’s release of TM103 couldn’t have been better timed for D.C.’s SluttyBoyz artist. After finishing off the Alfredo last Thursday at the photoshoot, Trel slipped us an unheard track – On Top of Your Girl – for you to bump while you read.
Catch the complete interview after the jump.
Awesome verse on “Rollin”, man, with Rich Hil. I’m a big fan of Rich, and you nailed your verse as usual.
Yeah, man, I appreciate it a lot. I’m a huge fan of Rich too. That shit was wonderful. I had to take my time and do what I gotta do.
I heard the unfortunate news about the Nightmare on E Street delays, as a result of your manager cheating some money from you. That’s fucked up. What happened?
Yeah, yeah, that’s correct. It happens all the time to be honest. Some people who know that they are smarter than others- and in my case my manager was smarter than me. I guess some of it was my fault. I put too much trust in him, and I did tell him I didn’t want to do too much of the business. Yeah, that’s how it happened, man. I fired him, and then of course he had most of my music, which was ready and prepared for Nightmare on E Street, the majority of it was in his email and he told me he wasn’t giving me my music, you know, go record another Nightmare on E Street, shit like that. It is what it is.
When you do release it, will it be the same music?
I got a couple songs back, but a lot of it will be new. It won’t be the same Nightmare on E Street that would have been released.
At least you can take out some of that frustration and channel it into your music.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s the plan. That’s how the world works, so it’ll be coming soon.
You never know who you can trust. Do you think the dude deceived you from the beginning, did he change, or did you detect any warning signs?
I detected the cockiness. Things did change, but I thought it came with the lifestyle and moving on up. Because he discovered me and I discovered him at the same time. When I first started rapping it was new for me from the beginning, and when he started managing me it was new for him too. It was his first time that he ever managed an artist. I figured we both got the same amount of shit to lose if it all falls down, so I figured we’d be good together, but as soon as the money came he started dipping. It just got ugly.
That’s unfortunate. With Nightmare on E Street, what kind of sound are you bringing? It is keeping with your previous mixtapes, or are you switching things up?
I mean, just because it’s called Nightmare on E Street doesn’t mean the whole tape will be about nightmares and shit. Basically I’m describing my life through this tape, and how I feel my life was a nightmare, even when good things were happening or even on a night when I had a Kool-Aid smile, I still felt like I was walking down a nightmare. That’s basically what it is. Everything that’s happened in my life, up to this point, will be poured out on Nightmare on E Street.
I thought it was funny that it was named after a horror movie, because you don’t like horror movies. [laughs]
Yeah, I don’t, I don’t. That’s the truth right there.
What’s your heritage? Not so sound weird or anything, but you have pretty unique eyes, green with a yellow tint…
It’s funny. I have to be honest, you’re the first person who’s asked me that. When I say it to people they think it’s ridiculous, but my father’s grandmother was actually Indian and white, not black at all, and my father’s grandfather was 100% black. A lot of people don’t know but I’ve got blonde hair in my hair, I got blonde hair all over my face, and I got these crazy eyes because my great-grandmother on my father’s side was Indian and white.
It comes down that far in the family tree, huh?
Yeah, yeah. Dude, if I were being really honest, I’d say I’m Indian, black, and white.
That’s interesting. Going back, where does your family come from? When did they come to D.C., or where were you born?
Honestly, my great-grandmother on my father’s side- that’s funny you ask me that, because it’s going to make me call my father when I hang up to actually find out where my great-grandmother’s from. I honestly don’t know. I never asked that question. It never even dawned on me to ask that. That’s a good question, so I’m going to ask that. I was born in Danville, Virginia. I think when I was about four, maybe three, my mom moved to D.C.
Why did you guys move there?
My mother has a soul of a go-getter. Down in southern Virginia, Danville, Gretna, Blacksburg, Chatham, all that, it’s filled with people who graduate from high school and then stick around. My mother couldn’t do it. The money wasn’t enough for her, and I think she had a girlfriend who stayed in D.C., and she was telling my mom how the economy was up here, and how easy it is to get a job. As soon as my mother moved to D.C. her first job was at KFC, you know, then she worked at CLC, Computer Learning Center College, and she graduated from there and then never looked back. She never ever thought about moving back home, and I’m glad she didn’t.
When you came do you remember being a little bitter about the move, leaving friends behind, or how old were you again?
Naw, I don’t even remember that. Like I told you, I moved here in first grade. The friendship situation didn’t even dawn on me. I just remember growing up here and then we’d always go back home for Thanksgiving. I would always go back home for the summer, my birthday in the summer, the Easter holiday, and family reunions. I would always love to go down there to visit my family, but I always wanted to get back up to D.C. as soon as possible.
Switching topics a bit, you like to walk around shirtless, and you’re very open about sex, the Slutty Boyz thing, and you have all these tattoos. Have there been any moments where you’ve frightened someone?
Unfortunately I do. I do scare a lot of people. That’s part of the reason I like to go out and I like to talk to people because a lot of people have the wrong perception of me, by listening to the music and taking a look at me. They think I’m like this 100% douchebag, this ‘don’t give a fuck about nothing’ type nigga, but that’s not the case. I do like to go out and let them know. That’s part of the reason people love me so much, because it ain’t what they see, it ain’t what they thought it was going to be. I like it that way.
You think that’s ever helped you, maybe in business, people are afraid to say ‘no’ to you?
It has its pros and its cons. Off of my music alone, certain people won’t allow me to perform at their venue. Let’s say for instance, I put out the No Secrets tape and I had shows booked, shows booked, and by the time I dropped April Foolz, when they heard that type of tape they weren’t expecting that, so when they heard that a lot of people cancelled. It is what it is, you know. I knew it was going to happen. We roll with the punches, man. Like I always say, this line about a bitch, either you gonna fuck me now or you gonna fuck me later. That’s how I feel about shows and shit like that. You going to book me now or you going to book me later. I never worry too much about it.
I wondered about the flip-side too. Does anyone frighten you? Does LT [Trel’s publicist] whip some fright into you ever?
Oh yeah, most definitely. That’s what she does. That’s the role she’s playing, and I need that. I guess she could feel the vibe that we can all speak how we feel, like, “Let me know what you think is best, why I should do it, why I should not ignore it.” I listen, you know. I listen. Like I said, I’m not a douchebag, it’s not, “It’s my money and I need it now and I want to carry it this way and this is the fuck how I’m going to do it, and if not then fuck it.” It ain’t like that. Because it’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than the artist at the end of the day. Out of all the people who’ve helped me, it’s bigger than me. I have to think about a lot as far as everyone else is concerned, how they can benefit off of it, off my music. It works both ways.
Growing up in your neighborhood, who were some of your mentors, not so much role models, but people you dealt with everyday?
A lot of people don’t know this, because music-wise people think that I was a mentor to the Slutty Boyz, but to be honest, when I was out in the streets the Slutty Boyz were my mentors. Of course my big brother Kel, he was my mentor, my mother, and the OGs in the hood. You look up to them, you listen to them. They tell you what’s right, they tell you what’s wrong. They might not say, “Man, go to school, listen to your mother.” They might tell you to go to school and then skip out. They told you ways to go about it without hurting your mother’s feelings, and that’s what it was about, because they knew we were going to do what we wanted to do at the end of the day. They just showed us how to do it in a better way, to cause less harm to your parents, because your parents don’t want to know about the shit we’re doing. Shit gets ugly, and that’s how parents get evicted off not even knowing what their children were doing. It’s honestly not fair, but as knuckleheads we didn’t really know that that was possible. So the old heads would let us know how to do it, because they were doing it since we were babies.
What about enemies? Have there been people you’ve had beef with, but then they taught you something valuable, something you couldn’t learn from your friends?
Of course. I was shot by a friend I grew up with in my hood. That lesson alone taught me so so much. I never understood the saying, “people who smile in your face are your friend”, because around my way that line don’t exist. I loved them, and they loved me, and we’d do anything for each other, but as time went on and we got older and older and older, certain people were deceiving and certain people were suffering. That’s where it all came out. You knew who your man was because muthafuckers stopped helping each other, and niggas started robbing niggas they grew up with. It got ugly. So my best friend shooting me taught me one of the biggest lessons in the world, period.
Speaking of getting shot, you have a lot of Twitter pics of guns. Recreationally of course, what’s your favorite gun?
Yeah, I do have a favorite gun. My favorite gun is a .40 Smith and Wesson. I love .40’s. I love all .40’s. I like .357’s, but I love Smith and Wesson .40’s. That’s my favorite.
Growing up in the hood, before I really started rapping rapping, Lil Boosie always rapped about .40’s. I was always like, “Why does Lil Boosie love .40’s so much?” The bullets were big. The bullets were big, if not as big as a .45, they were like bigger. In the hood everyone wanted extended clips on their guns, so you might have been the shit in the hood if you had a .40, but if you had a .40 with 30 in it, you were like ‘that nigga’. In a certain neighborhood, if you’re in hostile territory and you had a Mustang you’re the shit, if you’re in my hood and you had a .40 with a 30 you were that nigga. That’s why it’s my favorite.
It’s too bad about Boosie.
Yeah, yeah, man.
Why does a rapper need to have guns around?
Rappers need guns because it’s a certain kind of music we make, I mean, you got 100% knucklehead assholes who have nothing to prove at the end of the day. It’s just hate. It’s just hate, for real. Like I told someone the other day, I’ve met a man, a man who I knew was older than me, he had to be between the ages of 25-28, asked me was I Fat Trel, I told him, “Yeah.” We in the club mind you. He was like, “Ah, man, I love your music. He bought me a drink.” After that he asked whether I could take a picture with his girl. I said, “Yes.” Two hours later, I’m leaving the club, that same man tried to rob me at gunpoint. So if you’re in the club and you meet a huge fan who tells you they love your music so much, buys you a drink, and then they got so much pride that they ask you to take a picture with their girl, but then they don’t have the courage to do it, and you leave that same night and they try to rob you, it’s like, “Who do you trust?” At the same time on the outside looking in, the dude’s looking at it like, “He got it. I don’t. When I get it from him he’s just going to do another show tomorrow and get it right back.” So I feel it’s very urgent, and I let people know that I’ve been rapping for about four or five years, and during my first three years I was riding nowhere armed, and with no armed security, but after some of the new music dropped shit started rolling around. Shit got real. My birthday on June 26, 2011, I got shot at, going into the parking lot of a club for my birthday.
You never know.
Yeah, I’m always on the defense, man. I mean, our job is to perform, our job is to take pictures, our job is to do interviews in front of the camera, in the V.I.P., that’s our job. People who are less fortunate, not being funny or anything, but people who are less fortunate, or those 9 to 5 workers who look at our lifestyle as so glamorous, they’re like, “Fuck that, what does he got that I don’t? If he can do it I can too, fuck that. I need that. You see that pinky ring he worked so hard to get, I need that. I need that bracelet, I want that. Those shoes, I want that.” It’s just ridiculous.
Defense is the important factor, right?
Yeah, most definitely defense. For judges and police to not look at it in that type of manner is just crazy. I’m good here and in Virginia, but if I’m in Miami, I’m fucked with a gun, technically-speaking. I had a show in Nashville, I was fucked. Ain’t no way around it. I can’t even 100% know that I’ll be safe. I can’t trust an arms officer to shoot for me, I don’t know what the fuck he’s going to do. I didn’t grow up with this nigga, I don’t know his background, I don’t know if the promoter’s setting me up for something. I don’t know if you know it or not, but a long time ago Biggie and E40 had a slight problem. A lot of people don’t know that E40 booked Biggie for a show in Oakland and when Biggie got there there was absolutely no show, period. Shit like that, you just never know. You’re trusting a promoter with your hotel information, address and the hotel room. That shit is risky. People don’t know the risk that we take.
You have a daughter and a son too, right?
How are they doing?
They’re doing wonderful, man. My daughter is actually participating in a talent show at her school today. It’s crazy, my daughter’s four years old and she can really sing. It’s crazy. The first time she sung for me I cried, but they’re doing fine. My son, I love him to death, his name is Harlem. He just got all the swag in the world. He’s just like his mother. He’s adorable. I love him. I love him to death.
You got to get him a pair of those lime green North Face pants. [laughs]
Yeah, I know, I got him the whole blue North Face suit. The North Face letters are written in the lime green, like the pants that I got, so it matches what I got on. He’s good money. We’re going to take more pictures of him, because all of the Slutty Boyz have kids.
He’s got to be the flyest kid at school.
He is, no question.
All the labels are coming around now, trying to sign you and shit, which is great. It’s great to know you’re in demand. What kind of contract are you looking for, or waiting for? What would do it for you?
I always say this, the kind of deal I’m going to get is the kind of deal that I deserve. I won’t settle for less. I know what I’m worth. I’m not going into the offices of all these labels with the attitude that this is what I want and this is what I deserve. I let the numbers speak for me, the amount of shows, the fan-base, everything counts, and I feel like I’ll get what I deserve. I can’t really tell you what I’m looking for. I’m looking for an equal chance, an equal opportunity to do great without being fucked, just because you think I’m a hood nigga who doesn’t care about the business aspect of it and the money situation. I just don’t want to be fucked, that’s all. If I’m going to go into a situation and give you my 100% as an artist, and I’m going to rep this label, then why not be fair?
– By @petermarrack
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