Fridayy Feels Like a Young Legend, But He’s Got More to Prove
Show & Prove: Fridayy
Words: Kemet High
Editor’s Note: This story will appear in the Spring 2023 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
What Fridayy has achieved within the last year, many artists never accomplish. So far, the 26-year-old talent has cemented himself as a respected singer, rapper, producer and songwriter with multiple Billboard Hot 100 entries, three Grammy nominations and millions of Spotify monthly listeners. “The only n***a you can compare who came in like this is Kanye [West],” Fridayy says of himself. “Between me and Ye, I ain’t ever seen nobody come in the game like this.” While he’s a newcomer to most, Fridayy’s low-pitched brand of mystifying rap&B is already in high demand across the music industry, which is something he’s been working towards since he was in elementary school.
Born Francis LeBlanc in Philadelphia, Fridayy, a first-generation Haitian and the son of a preacher, grew up with focuses on education, faith and music. Fridayy began his musicianship when he was just 5 years old, playing piano, drums and bass at his father’s church services. By 14, Fridayy recorded his first song, a Boyz II Men-type vibe called “Flow Like,” which he uploaded to SoundCloud. Influenced by albums like Kanye’s The College Dropout and Drake’s Nothing Was the Same, Fridayy knew from the beginning that he wanted to focus on a career in music. “I didn’t know how to put my steez into the music at first,” he says. “So, when I started listening to Drake and Kanye with the melodies, I was like, Damn, I really could talk like myself.”
Upon graduating high school in 2015, Fridayy enrolled as an undecided major at a branch of Penn State University, solely to appease his parents. By the spring semester of his freshman year, he stopped attending classes, was funding his food and liquor intake by engineering and producing for artists, new skills he had picked up. Fridayy charged $20 an hour for sessions at his makeshift home studio. He soon dropped out of college and started additionally working at Domino’s and Planet Fitness to support his aspiring music career. In 2019, after saving up $3,000, Fridayy moved to Los Angeles with his brother and cousin in search of more musical opportunities.
But the struggle was real. The three were evicted from their new apartment three months after moving in and soon headed back to Pennsylvania. Before leaving California and heading back to his parents’ home in Philly, Fridayy borrowed $150 from his cousin and went to a Revolt TV event, where he connected with music executive Shawn Barron, Ty Dolla $ign’s A&R at the time and the current president of Ty’s EZMNY Records. “I was sending hooks to [Barron] every day,” Fridayy remembers. At the time, Barron was also A&R for R&B singer Elhae, who bought a $3,000 beat from Fridayy, and used it to record his record “Cold.”
Motivated by placing his first beat, Fridayy continued to hone his craft back at home, producing and recording his own music while making beats for local acts. In 2019, the hip-hop upstart met Philly producer Dinuzzo, who eventually played some of Fridayy’s reference tracks for executives at publishing company Big Noise Music Group. The track “Deep” impressed Big Noise A&R Livia Piomelli, who signed Fridayy to a $60,000 publishing deal in 2020.
Two years later, Fridayy, who had been diligently making music, sampled his own voice for beats and sent them to Timbaland, who Fridayy randomly crossed paths with a few years prior. Timbo then recorded himself on Instagram making beats around Fridayy’s samples, exposing Fridayy to Timbo’s social audience. “That’s when all the A-list producers started hitting me off Timbaland,” Fridayy says. “A-list songwriters. A-list A&Rs, like the biggest people.”
Those connections led to Mary J. Blige’s longtime A&R Eddie Fourcell, who was cool with DJ Khaled. Fridayy created a reference track for “God Did,” which impressed Khaled. The DJ kept Fridayy’s standout vocal sounds on the hook and added Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, John Legend and Jay-Z. Khaled used it as a lead single for his 2022 chart-topping album of the same name with Fridayy’s blessing.
That song earned the young artist a Song of the Year nomination at the 2023 Grammy Awards. He also received two more nods for writing credits on Chris Brown’s Breezy album. While Fridayy didn’t earn a Grammy win, he still got to perform “God Did” at the end of the ceremony with the song’s featured acts. “The performance was bigger than the win for me,” Fridayy admits. “It’s not many people that get to be on that Grammy stage with Jay-Z and Lil Wayne.” Hov personally vouched for Fridayy’s inclusion, too. At rehearsal, Fridayy said Jay-Z told him, “Yeah, they was trying to get other people to sing the song. I told them to keep you on there because you sounded too hungry.”
In addition to the Grammy nods, “God Did” and a feature on Lil Baby’s “Forever,” which was initially a demo Fridayy created that caught Baby’s ear, both cracked the Billboard Hot 100 top 25, climbing up to No. 17 and No. 8, respectively, in 2022. Fridayy also racked up coproduction credits on Rod Wave’s “The Answer Is No,” Rae Sremmurd’s “Denial” and Lil Tjay’s “Give You What You Want,” among others.
Last year Fridayy also made moves on a solo tip. After being bought out of his publishing deal by Eddie Fourcell, the upstart inked his first major record deal with Def Jam Recordings, where he’s touted as a leader of the label’s new generation, according to the label’s Executive Vice President LaTrice Burnette.
“I think that he is somebody that can’t be defined by a genre,” she explains. “And it shows through his collaborations, but then there’s also that touch of godly music and gospel music and spiritual music.”
His first release under the storied label is his debut EP, Lost In Melody, which arrived last October. Though it was upgraded with a deluxe this past February, he’s already working on a new project. In terms of legacy and impact, Fridayy, the self-described Melody God, is now known for his creative vocal abilities, setting the bar high for himself. “I just wanna be one of them greats, man,” he maintains. “I’m a young legend right now. I feel like I’m proving it, but there’s more to prove.”
Check out additional interviews in XXL magazine's spring 2023 issue, including the cover story with Lil Durk, conversations with Coi Leray, Key Glock, Joyner Lucas, Luh Tyler, Lola Brooke, Destroy Lonely, Blxst, Curren$y, Finesse2tymes, Vic Mensa, Toosii, DJ Drama and actor Tyler Lepley, plus a look at how famed hip-hop attorney Bradford Cohen helps clients like Drake and Kodak Black beat their cases, veteran photographer Johnny Nuñez tells the behind-the-scenes stories of 10 of his iconic hip-hop photos, six rappers from six different eras—Melle Mel, MC Shan, RZA, Lupe Fiasco, B.o.B and Cordae—discuss the change in hip-hop over 50 years and a deep dive into the city of Memphis becoming a breeding ground for new rap talent.