One of St. Louis’s most promising acts. It’s bigger than rap.
We made our way up steep stares into, in a drafty apartment where, 24-year-old PHONZZ lives, a rapping, graphic designing, world aspiring, working artist and the mastermind behind the long time contemporary goliath FORTHEWHEN. On an early May morning Phonzz lets us into this humble abode it looked like a hideout from the live action Mutant Ninja Turtle movie from the 80’s, pizza boxes, collectibles, and studio setups in far corners of each room all state of the art and existing solely for himself and a select few to create with on daily. Amidst the typical bachelor pad ruins sits graphic design reference books, exclusive vinyls one titled bodly PURE BEAUTY in a window sill, “Oh, that right there is an album by Shirt he’s one of my biggest inspirations musically, something about the way he illustrates the NYC lifestyle”. Born on the Southside of Saint Louis then later moving to West County and back again to Maplewood Phonzz was raised by his Mom and Stepdad whom both reside in Miami, Florida and kept what he calls a worldly household, “My Mom is black of course but my Step Dad is white, I think that gave me a different outlook on the world growing up, especially in Saint Louis which is considered racially behind oroup member himself. Fast forward and now he and Byron have been working together seamlessly mostly via the internet to craft songs over the past few years. “A lot of people asked me why I had management and no business to manage but I had to realize they weren’t on the ground floor”, he and Byron joined forces to do more than the typical artist manager combo, Byron’s history dates back to the early STL music scene when Nelly, Ching, the St Lunatics and various others were popping he’s worked with Bad Boy, he’s done his own thing under his current label Urbz Lyfe, and he’s currently popping into Warner Music Group offices here and there now that he’s Los Angeles based and working with various LA based acts constantly.
PHENOMENON is a braggadocious, self-aware, no fucks given, anything is possible anthem album. It’s aware of the times while not being consumed by them. In the earlier years, Phonzz was ultra inspired by rappers such as Lupe Fiasco, Charles Hamilton, XV all the internet legends but not necessarily artists who obeyed the confines of modern music or cared, but two ZZ’s cares. Maybe too much it seems. His greatest flaw on this project is he may have dropped the moments of transparency for hits, but if you’re not looking for heavy conscious filled records this may be the project for you. This project feels a void it’s not top heavy with cutting edge conscious lyricism but it’s not bottom heavy with brain dead jargon either. It’s a happy middle ground, it’s in the rap twilight zone, it’s something you pretty much won’t find often. The name PHENOMENON might just be fitting.