Where others bristle at the term, rapper Fokiss (Stewart Peters to his family) has based his worldview around embracing his “inner weirdo.” The emcee has channeled a lifetime's worth of social observation, personal angst and joyous celebration into Fokiss on Music, his debut album that shows an artist unafraid to take chances and welcome risk. “A weirdo is 100% you,” says the rapper. “Anybody in the public light that tries to get ahead always feels like they have to do what the guy in front of them did. Everyone says, "I should do it like Biggie did it." Biggie was great, but I should do it like Fokiss does it. And if that takes me to superstardom, then I did it the best.”
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It's this combination of confidence and individuality that has allowed Fokiss to endure and thrive where others have failed. As a teenager shuttling between his mother‟s house near Minneapolis and father's place in Wisconsin, the fledgling artist would constantly write in his journal while listening to rap heroes such as Biggie, Redman and Outkast. A lifelong hip-hop fan, the journals quickly became rhyme books and Peters found himself the continual winner of local freestyle battles. The admitted “smart troublemaker” had found his calling. “When I was 17, my dad told me the bigger the risk and sacrifice, the bigger the gain,” recalls the emcee. With that maxim in mind, the rapper moved to Los Angeles with no connections and $100 in his pocket, perfecting his fierce battle rhymes and learning the art of songwriting. It was here that the emcee went through your standard industry machinations, with executives acknowledging his talent but, as one put it (immortalized in “Writing my Wrongs”), “Thank you Mr. Peters, you don‟t quite fit industry.” An inadvertent compliment if ever there was one.
Upon returning to Minneapolis, the rapper hooked up with producer Shaka Adres and went about recording Fokiss on Music, a diverse and powerful opening shot that combines myriad genres under the umbrella of hip-hop. “Break Heart” updates Common‟s extended metaphor of “Used to Love H.E.R.” with tympani drums, piano and mournful strings. The appropriately named “Elektrokution” channels the early electro-hop of Afrika Bambaataa‟s “Planet Rock.” And “Red Pill” and “Long Road” sees the rapper spit impossibly fast rhymes (Think Busta Rhymes on speed) over hard rock beats, the latter an appropriate metaphor for the rapper‟s whole career. With Fokiss, one hears the intensity of M.O.P., the confidence of Jay-Z, the wisdom and motivational teachings of Talib Kweli and the gruff, storytelling vocals of Buck 65 in one emcee. If a weirdo is someone who is wholly original and sees his influences as guideposts rather than Xerox machines, Fokiss is the most unusual emcee you know.