As the saying goes, hard work eventually pays off. This seems to be the case for Haitian-American born singer, Fridayy, who’s been making waves in the industry since his big breakout in 2022. The moment came in the form of a feature on DJ Khaled’s track, ‘God Did’ – a title track on album that also featured the likes of Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z and John Legend. VIPER sat down with Fridayy, real name Francis Leblanc, to discuss co-signs, his first break and influences from Gospel music that live to prove that there’s still a market for devout music. 

How did you get on DJ Khaled’s track, ‘God Did’? 

I was originally a songwriter before I became an artist. I just sent out my music so other artists can sing it instead of myself. My manager and A&R could see Khaled on ‘God Did’. I mean, he kept saying, ‘God Did’ on Instagram, so it just inspired me to make the hook. My team sent it to Khaled and when he heard it, he decided to keep my vocals on the song. 

Funny how a meme on the Internet inspired such a massive song! 

Yeah, it just kept touching my heart. I like making anthems, catchy music. So, when I heard it, I was like, “I’ve got to make a hook to this.” 

I first came across your music when I heard your hook on Meek Mill’s ‘Don’t Give Up On Me’. 

For real?

Do you think the Meek Mill also co-sign helped catapult you from small town success into a globally recognised rising-star?

It was like ‘God Did’ was to the world; this was the biggest song! With me and Meek being from the same city, it was a co-sign. With ‘God Did’, nobody really knew who I was. I was just a songwriter, with probably 3000 followers. Then all of a sudden, the world knew me; there was no come up. A lot of artists have come up in their own hometown first. I think the Meek track was really just getting co-signed from my city, then he brought me to perform it too. 

For those who don’t know your origin story, can you tell us about where you come from and share any early experiences that influenced your trajectory into music? 

I’m from Philadelphia, PA. Growing up, my dad was a pastor so I learned a lot of music and the church from being around him a lot. Growing up in Philadelphia, being a fan of people like Meek and Drake, a lot of R&B too; I was just blending that all in, coming from a soulful place. That’s how I created my music – from church to R&B, my own life, the likes of Meek, Kanye West – I just put it all in one. 

Where you in the choir? 

Yeah, I used to lead the choir. 

Let’s talk about Gospel music. There’s a massive US market, however in the UK, the genre often exists in a niche. If you’re not devoutly religious, you probably don’t get put on to the big artists making moves across the globe. However, you’ve managed to hit the mainstream in a very short period of time, and I think part of the reason for that is your propensity for modernising the genre by fusing it with sounds of Hip Hop and R&B. Where you get the idea to do that? 

A few people did it, PNB Rock did it, A Boogie did it. I was coming up when Drake did it. They were the first people I heard that could bridge melodies and Hip Hop, but I always knew I had more singing ability than them. So I felt I could take it to – not another level – but I can do it in my way, in a real R&B way; just put my own little twist to it. 

We seem to be in an era of where Hip Hop and Rap is in a very anti-religious space. There’s so much symbolism out there in music that’s pushing quite dark religious themes under the guise of being edgy. Do you think that your Gospel influences might have even contributed further towards you cutting through? 

I feel like I’m touching a subject a lot of people are not speaking on, but I’m not doing it in a crazy way. It doesn’t sound like Gospel music; it doesn’t sound like Christian music. Everybody believes somebody. I just put it in a way where anybody can sing along. I don’t put it in the same box as church music. I put it in a way that any n***a, any girl, can sing along to and believe it. That’s how I put it. 

Let’s talk about your debut self-titled album ‘Fridayy’. It features so many anecdotal stories that connect listeners with your story so far. Talk us through your creative process. 

My first EP was more of a story, more raw. ‘Fridayy’ still had a story to it, but I was focused more on sound for this one; It’s a more polished version of what my first EP was. If you want to listen to the story of Fridayy, go listen to my first EP. The likes of ‘Don’t Give Up On Me’ was on there, ’Empty Stomach’, ‘Blessings’ with Asake. It featured more personal, raw records and the ‘Fridayy’ album is well written but I was more focused on polishing the sound and creative.

You had three Grammy nominations with DJ Khaled for ‘God Did’ before you released your debut album. Do you feel like the Grammy nominations put any added pressure on you to deliver with your own debut project? 

No, I wasn’t worried about the awards and all that, I just made good music. I’d say the song put pressure. That’s why this album meant a lot to me because I got to show them who I am, not just ‘God Did’; the feature guy. I want to create my own fanbase and that’s what this album did.

What’s the significance of the red balloon on your album cover? 

I wanted to stick with it, my first EP cover was meant to be me as a kid and I had a balloon. It was like my birthday and I just stuck with it.

What’s the best advice you’ve received from someone in music? And what would be the advice you’d give to someone wanting to start in music today? 

Just create art freely. When you create don’t create what people want to hear. Create what you want to make. That’s why I think my music is so special – because I’m creating what I want to create, putting all the things that I want to put into it. That’s how people receive you better more. As a painter, you create what you want, you’re not creating what people want to see. You know what I’m saying? So that’s like, the best advice I had: to create freely. In terms of advice, I’d say work hard. There’s no shortcut in this, so really do the work. Every day perfect your craft. 


Interview by Tahirah Thomas

Photos by Eddie Cheaba

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