F.T. has been an underground phenomenon the moment he touched the mic and started rapping. While, many industry and underground types will acknowledge him and his talent, his road like many others through the music industry has been plagues by bad luck, broken promises and tragedy. While he perseveres toward his goal of making music full time for the people, his particular story is the definition of light always being at the end of a dark tunnel.
Standout FT, F.T. (Half Man/Half Beast) is a rapper from Brooklyn, New York born in the Fort Greene section and raised in East New York and Southside Jamaica Queens. According to F.T. the initials can stand for a lot of things full time, fuck that but for him it means fuck that. He got his name from his friend Sleepy who he says gave it to him because he used to always curse. He started rapping when he was 13, writing rhymes but he started taking it seriously when he moved to Queens.
“I met this this cat named Panama P.I. who as on Onyx’s All We Got Iz Us album, worked with Method Man, Monifah, Canibus, AZ and was on AZ’s second album Pieces of A Man says F.T.
“I was younger so being around him, he was like a mentor to me says F.T.” “I used to rap for some of the people Panama used to work with and they would tell me I had the lyrics to compete and all I needed was a break.”
According to F.T. that was what he wanted because he was happy to rhyme.
“When I rhymed, I really wanted people to jump out of their seats, that’s all I cared about” says F.T. Once people reacted crazy, I was good. If I didn’t get that I would be hurt but it made me go harder.”
Around the same time he was introduced to Agallah when he was in his Queens neighborhood and ran into him going to the studio.
“I asked him if I could go with him and he took me to Chung King studios in Manhattan” says F.T. “I was startled by all the gold and platinum plaques of LL Cool J’s and Mary J. Blige, I was blown away.”
According to F.T., Agallah asked him for a hook and he didn’t like it so then Agallah asked him to spit a verse and that was his first time recording in the studio. The song Come On Y’all didn’t make the album Wrap Your Lips Around This but people who heard it asked about F.T.
“After that I just kept recording and working with different local people and then I met X1 who was down with Onyx in high school” says F.T. “X1 was Sticky Fingaz’s little brother and we got cool just rhyming with each other, writing rhymes basically 2 kids with big dreams.”
Soon after they met X1 got offered a deal to Tru Criminal Records but he turned it down because he was signed to Onyx but he told F.T. that he should take the deal. F.T. says there would be no him without X1 because he wasn’t going to take the deal.
“I felt I was too ill to be independent” says F.T.
So after meeting Lee Resnick the CEO of Tru Criminal Records and taking the deal F.T. started to work doing songs like Metal Thangz featuring OC and Pharoahe Monch and Problems produced by OC and Buckwild of the Diggin In The Crates crew respectively. According to F.T. the label put out Metal Thangz out on vinyl and it sold 50,000 copies.
“Back then 50,000 copies was just good right now that would be great” says F.T.
The song was getting a lot of airplay on Stretch Armstrong’s show and on the underground circuit but F.T. was still looking for a major to sign him. He did another record produced by Buckwild called Don’t Trust Anyone which according to him didn’t sell but got a lot of good reviews. The video made MTV and was critically acclaimed. At this point F.T. only cared about people feeling his music and things were rocky at the label and he was still grinding making music and started working a producer named Domingo who worked with Big Pun, KRS-One and Kool G Rap. The song we made was called Effortless and the underground loved it. According to F.T. it didn’t sell as well as Metal Thangz but it made an impact on the streets and was getting spins on the radio. Stretch Armstrong got a label deal through Sony/Epic and his label was called Sony 550. At this time Sony had Camron and Ginuwine and Stretch wanted to sign F.T. but he was still signed to Tru Criminal Records so everybody agreed to do a joint venture so it would be Tru Criminal/SpitInc/Sony550/Epic. Michael Kaplan who found Ginuwine signed F.T. and F.T. got a $10,000 advance. With all that F.T. says he was not going to take the deal but the deal stated that his recording budget was $300,000 so he took it and started the album. F.T. reached out to different producers like Red Spyda (before he got with G-Unit), K.O., and Buckwild and then the label told him the album was too hard and his A&R Michael Kaplan was fired. So F.T. left Sony and with half of the $300,000 recording budget spent the label did not want to release him.
“I got $5,000 and paid a lawyer to get me out of the contract and then I was in a depression” says F.T.
Even though he got out of the Sony deal, F.T. was still down with Tru Criminal Records and then he got into the studio with Alchemist. They made John F. Henessy which he says tore up the underground and got mad love. Lee Resnick went to California and got with the film company New Line Cinema which was starting a record label. According to F.T. they wanted to sign him but they had to agree to sign the label which they did. The other’s artist was Cardi 151 Proof. Also at this time F.T. signs with Riggs Morales (Current Director of A &R at Shady Records and Former music editor of The Source) to Paul Rosenberg’s Goliath Artists.
“I got a big recording budget that was close to Sony’s, got more of an advance, more creative control and other perks” says F.T.
For F.T. this new deal happened around 2002-2003 and now with more money he was having fun and as he puts it living that rap star life. “I bought a crib, I was in three different studios recording with Just Blaze, Buckwild, and sometimes in house producers” says F.T. “A lot of music was made on the spot working with Alchemist, Fred Wreck, flying to Detroit and working with Denaun Porter.”
“The song me and Denaun did was called It’s Okay and that was the most fun I had in the studio says F.T. “The story for that record is when we were halfway through the record and Denaun says he wants to make a hit record so he scraps the record makes a new one from scratch, we bought a case of Moet, smoke some weed and make the record” says F.T.
For F.T. this was the record for the clubs and the ladies. He planned for his album to have 15-18 songs but the Tru Criminal compilation dropped with John F. Hennessy and a record he did with Junior Mafia (Lil Cease and Banger). According to F.T. the compilation didn’t sell because of lack of promotion and the money wasn’t made back.
“Tru Criminal didn’t want to spend any more money because of the performance of the compilation says F.T. “So they froze the accounts and that caused mayhem between me, the label and the management company.”
Part 2 Coming Next Week