Music is, and always has been, a form of expression that captivates both artists and listeners. Many artists find music to be an outlet in which they can express themselves and their thoughts. Paly students Alfredo Jack (‘20), Raymond Richards (‘20) and Liam Teare (‘21) who refer to themselves as “Lul’ Fredo,” “Lil’ Ray” and “Lil’ Backwood” respectively, are now sharing their music not only with their peers, but with an audience on the internet as well.This rap trio, known as “Young FRB,” first started making music together in an unlikely location—the Paly bathrooms. They would bring a speaker into the restroom and play some of their favorite instrumentals to freestyle over. “After a while of freestyling in the bathroom, we just all thought: all we need is a mic,” Teare said. These bathroom meetings sparked their songwriting passion and they have continued to record and release their songs to the public.
With any art, there is a creative process; when it comes to music, artists will scribble down lyrics, craft melodies and test instrumentals and sound effects to use. Typically, before they record a song, Young FRB will spend around a week writing and then set a date to record. Once they feel prepared, they meet up and put it all together. Though they mostly write the lyrics beforehand, the boys are always willing to change lyrics they are unhappy with or improvise on the spot. “I write most of it [before] but if I need to add to a verse and I don’t know what to put, I try to freestyle the rest of it to see if it’s good,” Richards said.
Although there are many technical elements to the songwriting process, the most important thing to the boys is to have fun through the strenuous process,whether it be through writing humorous lyrics or simply spending quality time with one another. They describe their style of rap as entertaining and comical rather than as an outlet for emotion or serious topics. “We try to talk about things that people want to hear and get hyped to,” Jack said.
Young FRB keeps their music amusing and lively because many of their 3,000 listeners on the online platform SoundCloud are around the same age as them and interested in a similar style of music. Getting students and the community to listen to their music is not the whole purpose of creating, but it adds to the fun and it motivates them to keep releasing new material.
Even though the boys don’t usually rap about emotional and serious topics, they recognize their music to be a form of release because it gives them a creative outlet. “It’s definitely a getaway, a little break from everything else,” Teare said.
“It lets you get away from all the mess, you can just tell your own story,” Jack Said.
Young FRB’s content is featured on SoundCloud. On Soundcloud, it is “free and easy to upload,” Richards said.
SoundCloud allows artists to upload music independently from a music label and profit after paying for a premium account. “Once you pay, you can add advertisements onto your [songs] and you can get paid,” Jack said.
The appeal of instantaneously sharing music is attractive to musicians like Young FRB. Young artists are allowed to explore styles and find their niche without being dismissed by a record label. Independent musicians, that produce works ranging from singing covers to rapping freestyle, have made SoundCloud popular. In 2017, rapper Lil’ Pump debuted his first hit single, “Gucci Gang” on SoundCloud and it went viral, propelling him to the top of the rap game. Similar to Young FRB, Lil’ Pump was only 17 years old when he uploaded his song. Even after gaining fame in the music world, many of Lil’ Pump’s songs are still exclusively on SoundCloud. The prospect of becoming a solo artist and unattached from a record label is becoming increasingly common.
According to Forbes, SoundCloud has been coined the “incubator for rappers,” as popular artists like Post Malone and Lil’ Uzi Vert have also published their first songs on SoundCloud, using them as catalysts for their success.
As for plans for the future, Young FRB wants to eventually sign a record deal, but are not willing to settle. “We want full deals, all over two million. That’s what I’m saying,” Richards said.
The trio acknowledges that music is a competitive industry and wants to put out the best music possible to ensure growth of their popularity. “I am trying to graduate high school because I know that music is competitive and having a backup plan is good,” Jack said. Richards speaks for all the boys when he says, “We all gonna graduate high school, no dropouts.”
Young FRB, as a group, conveys the image of wild high schoolers and defines their goals through their music. “I like rapping about getting money because that’s what I do,” Richards said. “I’m not tripping if I don’t make it because I’m going to make it in the field.”
Young FRB has produced numerous singles such as “Hit After Hit” and “Music School” that have been released onto SoundCloud for Paly students and the rest of the world to hear. Through their strong fan base and supportive peers, there is no doubt that Young FRB is on a fast track to success.
Photos by Ryan Gwyn