Over the past three years I’ve had the opportunity to interview artists from different places, however I’ve never had the chance to speak with someone with roots in New Jersey.
Felony Fame (aka Propane Fame) is originally from Newark, New Jersey and was raised in North Carolina. In researching Propane Fame for our talk, I learned that he has almost 20,000 followers on Twitter, almost 2,500 "Likes" on Facebook, and nearly half a million views on the Felony Fame YouTube page. Not bad for a "new" artist. While we were talking, like many others in the current industry climate, he admitted that the internet has been an big part of the awareness of his music, plus the main way he was noticed by Cam’Ron and Dip Set/U.N.
Felony Fame is gearing up to release his new mixtape, Dirty Laundry, in late November along with a full length feature film as part of the promotion. He has a track out with Red Cafe, "Wish List", is building his own label Music Notes & Dollar Signs, and learning how to navigate the industry as a young businessman.
Check out our conversation below (or above) where we discuss brand building, the differences in the East Coast vs. Down South fans, how not being registered with SESAC, BMI or ASCAP can make an artist "a ghost", why he prefers Amber Rose over Cherokee D’Ass, the most important thing Cam’Ron taught him about the business, plus much more.
Nanci O: With so many different jobs to select in the industry, why did you chose to become an emcee?
Felony Fame: I chose to become an emcee because when I was growing up, it had the biggest influence on me. I idolized guys like Method Man, Bone Thugs N Harmony, and the Wu Tang Clan. Before I got deeper into music, I was an artist first. And then later on I followed that with [learning] production, recording and things in other directions.
I know you’re from North Carolina, and you’ve also spent time in New Jersey as well. Do you consider yourself a Southern artist or an East Coast artist?
I consider myself a collage of both; I think they both help me break as an artist. And just being from both of those areas and seeing the different ways they go about hip hop; there’s different music, different beats, and the different way they rap and being able to put them together. I was born in Newark, New Jersey and raised in North Carolina. I’ve been back and forth my entire life so I consider myself a mixture of both definitely.
Since you’ve had the opportunity to rock crowds in both the East Coast and down South, have you noticed any differences between your northern fans versus southern fans?
Oh yeah it’s a BIG difference. Down South, every show that I’ve rocked it’s real rowdy. It’s real intense down South, they’re all up in your face. They (Southern fans) have the “I don’t care” attitude. It’s like “listen, we want to hear what you’ve got, spit it”. Versus being here (the North) it’s more cool, calm and collected, like OK, everybody’s cool. It’s just different ways of going about performances and club wise. There’s definitely a difference.
Have you ever had anyone crowd surf at one of your shows?
I always think about trying that, even at the last show I did. But I don’t know people might drop me or something [laughs], so I stayed on the stage. Even though I’m a lightweight, I just chilled. Maybe the next time [laughs again].
In the music industry right now it’s kind of rocky. Just recently, powerhouse Jive Records folded and laid off all of it’s employees. As an artist signed under a major artist (Dipset/U.N), how does that make you feel?
Aww man, that’s definitely devastating and a tragic move for that label. I definitely want them to get on the right track and keep the people that work for them employed, and figure out a way to . It’s [also] a lot of independent companies coming up right now, and it comes up to knowing your brand and knowing what you want to do with your company. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If they wanted to get everybody employed, they’d could definitely do it. But as an artist, it’s devastating to see that, and it’s a weight for the independent companies coming in right now.
I’m really glad you mentioned your brand, I wanted to ask you about it. I went to your website (www.fameisnow.com) and checked out some of your music. What does your brand “Fame Is Now” represent?
“Fame Is Now” is me, I feel like it’s my era. It’s time for people out in the whole world, not just New Jersey and not just North Carolina or New York, to see what I can do. And right now I’m in the midst of working for all that. That’s why I’m coming with a movie and a project, I really want to show the word what I can do. Because I only got one shot for a first impression. So I want my first impression on the world to be unforgettable. I want the world to see I put a lot of work and a lot of passion into what I’m doing. And I want to make sure people understand that first and foremost, and understand me as an artist and where I’m trying to take it.
I really like the slogan “Fame Is Now”, I can see that on a snapback or a T shirt. It’s almost a play on words, “Famous Now”. That’s a pretty cool slogan.
You’re affiliated with a very well respected group in hip hop right now, Dipset/U.N. Right before Cam’Ron took you under his wing, what did he tell you about the music industry?
He told me to stay humble and work hard, [and also] how the industry worked how it is now. Before you really get in the industry, you’re only working on what you know. What I knew got me to the point where I met Cam, but now I have insight. He told me to work hard and that’s what I have to do, and that’s what I did. He opened up his studio to me and I stayed there and recorded all the time. He definitely stayed on me about it and also got me into the habit of recording every day. I never used to record every day, I used to record every other day. But being with him, he was like you’ll never know what kind of tracks you’ll come out with, just keeping working at it repeatedly. And also [I learned] networking and meeting different people; that’s definitely a big tip I’ll keep with me for the rest of my career.
A lot of independent artists check out my blog and also the radio show. What’s one or two things about the business side, that once Cam’Ron took you under his wing, really surprised you?
The importance of having your paper work together! A lot of artists just make music. They don’t get themselves registered, or go through BMI, SESAC and ASCAP. And that’s very important, because if you’re making music and getting spins, it can’t get read. Nobody knows you’re getting spins and it’s like you’re working for nothing. And that’s one thing I learned from Cam too, he told me about that. That why I really had to educated myself on the game, on the copyrights, and getting registered. Because if you don’t have it, it’s like you’re a ghost; your career is just floating. You’re doing it, but nobody’s seeing it. So when you go to these labels, it’s not counting. They are not seeing it and you’re not in Google anymore. There’s no way Google is showing you have BDS or any of that. So that was the first major reality check I got when I linked up with him [Cam’Ron]. Shortly after that, I got everything together. It’s a really big thing for new artists to have that.
Some artists talk about how their life changed, and how the people around them changed, once they got serious about their music.
How have you noticed yourself grow personally and as a businessman, once you began to take your art seriously?
I saw myself transform. It went from something I did now and then to something I do 24 hours a day. I’m constantly doing something that deals with music. Every once and a while I’ll go out, but the majority of my time, this is what it consists of. It has definitely changed me; it got my work habits a lot better. And everything is showing as far as what I’m doing. Plus having discipline and doing what I have to do, to the point where I know how to execute the moves that I need to make, at the time [that] I need to make them. And I would say, for the worst part, it has changed people around me. Because now people are thinking I’m this person that I’m not. And a lot of people are asking me for favors, or money or something like that. That’s the only downfall, that everybody thinks you got something but it’s like man I’m still working, I’m working hard. I got you, but give me a chance to get there first. That’s the main thing.
In mentioning discipline, I know you have your own umbrella of label, Music Notes & Dollar Signs. When some people read interviews or a Twitter timeline, they do so to copy your moves. For that reason I’m not asking you to give all of the long term goals for your business, so can you share just one or two of them?
I plan to have my label Music Notes & Dollar Signs grow into something that’s more than just music. I plan to have it grow as far as films, because as I mentioned earlier, I’m shooting a movie, plus clothing. But definitely film, because film is the next area we [will] tackle, once we have the artists lined up to come out.
And any type of merchandising; I also see T shirts, cologne, all in that aspect.
You mentioned the acting piece, and films, and how that’s a big part of your plan. You’ve done some acting work with 50 Cent as well as on an MTV reality TV show. Would you ever consider acting full time, like Will Smith and Queen Latifah?
I see it happening in the future, it’s something I definitely have a passion for and I want to pursue. But right now, I’m focused on the music; I’m an artist before any of that. And I don’t want to put that in front of being an artist. I’ll always be an artist first and will always present myself as an artist first.
You have a new mixtape, Dirty Laundry, coming soon. I listened to some of the tracks and got an East Coast and Dip Set feel from it. Who are some of the producers you are working with on the new project?
I’m working with a lot of new producers. I worked with Cristyles and Kelz; they did the track with me and Red Cafe, off Shakedown At Bad Boy Records, it’s called “Wish List”, we have a video coming soon by the way. He [Cristyles] produced most of the tracks on the project Dirty Laundry.
Are you up for a game of “This or That”? I’ll name two things, and you’ll make a choice between one or the other. Just pick the first that comes to your mind. OK?
Jay-Z or Kanye West?
[Laughs]. Watch The Throne!
You’re supposed to pick one or the other!
Ohhhhh [Laughs again. Pauses]. I can’t pick Beyonce? I mean she is pregnant, but…..
Hahaha, fair enough. The Dallas Cowboys or the New York Giants?
The Dallas Cowboys! Definitely!
Amber Rose or Cherokee D’Ass?
I’m going to say Amber Rose. Sorry about that Wiz Khalifa man. I’ll roll up!
East Coast or Down South?
Wooooowwwwww. That’s a tough one! I can’t go with both and plead the fifth with this one?
We can plead the fifth on this one. [Laughs]. And for the last one, since there’s been so much controversy recently with the MTV Video Music Awards, Lil Wayne or Jay-Z?
I’m going to have to go with The Carter, the person with the last name Carter!
With Dirty Laundry dropping soon, what can we expect as far as promotion leading up to the release of your project? First thing, coming with the new project is the video with me and Red Cafe, off Shakedown At Bad Boy Records, the track “Wish List”. That will be coming real soon and shot by World Star Hip Hop. Next after that, I have the film coming out. The film is pretty close to wrapping up, that’s coming along with the project [Dirty Laundry]. Those are the two major things, but of course there’ll be more visuals off the project.
Can we get an official release date for Dirty Laundry, perhaps even a month?
Yeah, I’m looking at the end of November, I want to get everything right on my promotion. The project and music is done, we just have to wrap up things with the film, get the promotion and then BOOM! the project will be done!
You’re really heavy on Twitter; I checked your Twitter page and you’re almost at 20,000 followers. Just from going out and networking with other artists, there are still some [artists] that have a real heavy following in the street but feel they don’t need the internet to help them. How have you noticed how the internet has made your career really progress?
The internet has really been a big tool in my career. The internet is basically how I got discovered by Cam, back when Myspace was on, I had over 3 million hits on Myspace alone, so that really got me over the top. I had a lot of international hits and everything. Ever since the Myspace I been real heavy on the internet. Everywhere I go I have a business card with my links on it, CDs with some links, and I’m always boosting my links. And I travel a lot, I travel around New Jersey, to North Carolina, driving. So when I’m on my way I always stop, and communicate with people, other artists. I never act like I’m too big, I talk to everybody. And they always follow me or reach out on Twitter and then their friends follow me, and I follow them, so it’s like a chain reaction. I always return the favor. And that’s how I’ve grown on the internet and keep relevant. Plus I’m still in the streets and doing what I have to do for promotion. I’m everywhere I can be.
Wow. I wanted to take a moment to Thank You for your time, as well as answering every question and not saying certain things are off limit.
Can you please provider your Twitter, Facebook and website where people can reach out to you online?
They can reach me on my website at at www.fameisnow.com. It is currently under construction and will be back up and refreshed real soon. You can reach me on Facebook at Felony Fame, on Twitter @FelonyFame or Twitter.com/FelonyFame. YouTube, Felony Fame. Google “Felony Fame”, everything Felony Fame!
Nanci O thank you for this opportunity and I really appreciate it.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the listeners of the interview or readers of the site, to close out the interview?
Yes, Nanci O is the truth!
[Laughs] I did not pay him to say that!
You better get with it! If you don’t got a Nanci O interview I don’t know what you’re doing with yourself. That’s what I want to leave the readers with!