After serving just over a decade behind bars, it’s likely that there are some changes one may encounter upon release with new technology and ways of life among the most common phenomena. Coming home to a kid brother who has catalyzed into one of the world’s biggest stars, however, is a rare one. But, such is the case for YSL’s Unfoonk.
It was while serving his bid in 2017 that the Atlanta upstart got a call from Young Thug with news that he’d secured one of the top criminal defense attorneys in Atlanta to oversee his case. Within two years, the two brothers would be reunited, kicking off a calculated introduction to a promising new voice in the South.
With the arrival of this year’s Slime Language 2 compilation, Unfoonk undoubtedly claimed a standout performance among the ranks of Young Stoner Life Records.
With all the makings of a bonafide street poet, Foonk communicates aching pain in melodic form and he’s taking his time to carefully curate a catalog that builds on a winning sound.
For On The Rise, Unfoonk spoke with The Source about the whirlwind since his release, sound advice from his brother about artistry, and the stories he can’t wait to share with the world.
This interview has been edited fro brevity and clarity.
The Source: How would you say your life has changed since Slime Language 2 dropped?
Unfoonk: It’s definitely changed–for the better. People are starting to notice me and stuff. Everybody keeps telling me that I’m giving people who are locked up hope that they can get out. So, that’s definitely a good feeling.
Was there somebody like that for you while you were locked up? Somebody who gave you that same hope?
What are the most surreal moments have you had so far?
A lady walked up to me like, “Oh my god. Unfoonk can I take this picture with you. I gotta take this picture with you.” I’ve been having alot of moments like that.
You were into music prior to being incarcerated. Who were your early influences then?
Cash Money, No Limit, Outkast, Killer Mike, the Dungeon Family, Bone Crusher, T.I. People like them.
How has your sound evolved since then? What’s changed?
Time. I’m doing it with time. I’m giving the people what they want to hear, but I’m also speaking to the streets in my voice. I don’t use autotune. It’s just me. You hear me. I’m giving y’all all raw me. I’m speaking from my heart. I ain’t changing that.
What’s been the most exciting part about being on the YSL roster
I got my own sound. I get to make a lot of music. [Young Thug] lets me do me. He lets me experience this shit. He lets me experience life. He lets me make my own mistakes. He gon’ be right there to tell me, “You aint supposed to go that way.” But, he let us make our own decisions. That’s something I love about him. He ain’t gon hold us back. He ain’t gon’ do none of that. He wants to see everybody eat.
How would you describe the sound you’re cultivating now for someone who hasn’t heard it?
Raw. I got that raw sound. I ain’t using no autotune. I got a raspy voice so I sing with my voice and it comes out just perfect. Everybody loves it.
You dropped a full length project, On The Way, in 2019. When can we expect the follow up?
Soon. I got an album dropping, My Struggle.
Who are you working with on the project?
I’m working with a lot of people. I got a lot of producers–AJ, Juvie, Turbo, Wheezy
What are the stories that you plan to tell on this project?
I’m trying to tell real life stories. I’m trying to tell a story that you going through; what I’m going through. I’m trying to make music for people like me, you. Other people that are going through real life situations. I’m trying to tell a story to them. A lot of pain.
Are there any techniques or other things that you’re learning more about to better yourself as an artist?
The other day my brother told me not to be scared to step outside that box. You have to try new things with your voice. You have to try new things in this industry. You got to try. I definitely have been doing that. It’s been fun doing that and I think they gon’ love it.
Is there anyone that you did time with together who really helped you on your journey prior to being released that you’d like to speak on?
Shout out to all my brothers. I love yall. I pray y’all beat the odds. I pray y’all make it out them bars. Make it out that system. My nephew–I love you. You on your way home regardless.