I could’ve asked her who her influences are, how she feels as a female rapper and a white one at that. We could’ve gotten into her small feature on the HBO series GIRLS or her success with her first single Dancin on the D. But rather “This interview is all about the balls”
Photography By Nina Cathrina
I met up with Emma better known as Lil Freckles/ Lil Frexxx/ Frexxx one cold evening in NYC to not talk about any of those typical things and for one of god’s greatest treasures, French fries.
The relaxed young woman with brown hair tussled into a bun and peachy skin riddled with freckles first sauntered onto my radar about 3 years ago at a show in Newark NJ. She had a good leap into music with her debut project Plan B. Her first single Dancin on the D was notable in content (obviously) but in true Frexxx fashion - that being funny and lyrically astute. All great, all important but there’s a great evolution as a being and a rapper bellowing underneath the surface for Frexxx. With occasional pauses for fries we got deeper into Lil Freckles the girl with no skin and bigger balls than you.
The inception of the name Lil Freckles was quite literally a suggestion from someone that she ran with. It’s fitting – having freckles is a pretty key factor as well. Nonetheless she has already amassed a bevy of names, nicknames and pseudo spellings for her future Diddy – Puffy – Puff Daddy Mogul-dom. As she jokingly puts it:
Thank you for bringing this up, this is a big problem. Nobody knows what to hashtag, we can never get on the same page, if we’re talking frex with a ‘ck’ or an X or a double XX? The truth is I have no control of my brand – that’s what’s going on. The brand is in shambles already. At some point when I inevitably become a more earnest artist I’ll be like you know what guys – I’m just Frex now.
If Twitter continuity wasn’t ever relevant before – welcome to 2016. Nonetheless plenty of folks are aware of the young talent known as Lil Freckles and her adjoining nicknames.
Her follow up to her freshmen release Plan B was entitled Sleep on it. A 10 track Ep that is worlds away from her freshmen foray. She notes that Plan B was a touch and go experience; she physically covered her eyes and started flailing her arms and laughingly said “literally like that” while explaining it. As someone who doesn’t have a conventional music background she considered Plan B the “training Wheels” into her musical career. She highlights Kyle Rapps “He’s my rap dad, like a rap partner really” as a confidant that played a major role in helping her as a flourishing artist, rapper, and writer. The formation of her first EP was organic in nature and she took that route for Sleep on it.
Sleep on It was not lacking in her usual satire, it in fact was even more punctuated with humorous pauses and anecdotes as you journey through the ep. She started off with her single US over Everything a track driven by bravado with a Wild West flare to it. She was roasted when it dropped on Hip Hop DX introducing a new aspect for her to grapple with as writer:
I put the video out for us over everything and Hip Hop DX premiered it – and that’s a hard crowd. Comments are like Trash! This Bitch should kill herself…so that’s like my heart that gets hurt. But I also I know if people don’t hate your shit nobody’s going to love it either, so that’s fine. It’s not comfortable but it’s necessary because if you’re not doing that than what the fuck are you doing?
I asked her how she would sum up Sleep on its tone, she sat pondering how to answer the question. Almost looking past me to explain that the EP was much more of a reflection of her life during the time she was recording it.
I would say that its so the snapshot of that year for me. That was just that time for me, I hate to use the word angst-y but in a way that’s kind of what was going on. It is kind of angst-y relationship family stuff, figuring out what you want to do, who you are which is kind of corny but like it’s real. I didn’t really pull any punches on that tape
Indicatively so the tape has a number of personal references and touchy hints which were not as apparent in her first release. The Title track Sleep On it which is quite early in the course of the track list is a true representation of that. Between Seminal self-deprecation wrapped in funny deliveries she speaks about her family, her life goals and general perils that are infectiously relatable. Now more than ever Frex realizes her power as a writer and the vulnerability that comes along with it. As she grows more comfortable within her craft it in turn is changing the content of her music leaving her open to opinion once she puts it out.
I’m a very guarded person I don’t want anyone to know anything about me. I’m so afraid, that’s my personality, and I’m totally like a shame based person (laughs). Everything feels so shameful – even when people say the facts about me (covers face) so shameful. It is not comfortable at! Plan B was more jokey and I could always be like if it was trash ‘well I was joking around I was just kidding’ even though sleep on it is funny it’s not a joke. So there’s that vulnerability of if someone says that’s trash - that could be my heart that gets hurt.
Her video premier on Hip Hop DX is a murmuring reminder of what music is in the world of the internet. While she is taking herself out of her comfort zone she has enough balls to keep going and sticking with what she’s written. Admittedly she has had those moments where she felt was too real, too personal or might have taken it too far. Granted she finds her new found love of quintessential wonky artist behavior to be extremely beneficial.
I’m like so loving stepping into this role as an artist, because I can just act fucking weird , I can freak out all the time, I just do little quirky weird behaviors that I was afraid to do before and now it’s like this is Emma, she’s an artist, she’s in her art right now.
Why not just leave a group of people to listen to a bunch of beats?! Notably she is humorous and always has a refreshing antidote to what she’s grappling with. She practices that in life and within her music. Wrapping the realness of a lyric in a comedic wrapper is a more palatable and ridiculously clever. She digresses however and elaborates more on her music and the intent behind it. Her words while they are her own can still be subjected to tantalizing opinions or online feudist’s aka trolls. But are they worth it to change your truth within your song?
Everybody’s looking at you, and there are a lot of wrong things to say you know what I mean. I would say that’s one of the big fears. You always have the ability to go back and change something and a couple times I was like ‘Kyle I think want to go back and rerecord that, might be a little too personal and a little too much. ‘ I’d get on my high horse and say “is that the message I really want to give” Kyle would be like, sure you can do that but your also going to take the teeth out of it and this is fucking rap music and it needs teeth.
Almost instantly Frexxx’s nature turned during that moment. She was serious as a writer but even more serious as a person regardless of her funny nature she was about her shit. Lil Freckles wants to make a statement and express herself, her way. There is a checks and balances system in music that is gone in regards to misconstrued statements in Hip Hop and blatantly takin it too far. If her credit as a legitimate lyricist wasn’t enough of a battle already she was solid in the fact that she may make you laugh, but she is no comedy rapper.
It’s a little bit muddy waters but I would say I’m pretty clear about the fact that my music is funny but it’s not comedy rap. I feel very clear about that. I think that anybody who listens; like if you just hear Dancin on the D or you just hear the name lil freckles, or you just see what I look like, I understand why people would be like oh she’s a comedy rapper. Anyone who is actually listening to the material as a whole I don’t think would be confused about what’s going on. I actually feel like having the music be funny and me being able to like do things in between the songs - that’s actual been really beneficial to me because its gives me just a little something different. I will be able to do comedy shows and rap shows with the same material. I guess I will always be a little sensitive about it if people only want to see me like that but fuck that who cares. If people get it then they get it. Even though the more serious part of me might get butt hurt that I’m not going to be like super serious rapper but also I have to be able to do both because I am both.
I agreed with her while dipping several fries in ketchup. I let out a big sigh and shyly asked what her thoughts were on appropriation and has she been hit with those conversations yet. To my surprise she calmly said “I have been waiting”. The argument of color when it comes to music especially hip hop has more gray areas than most would like to admit. There are white rappers that manage to permeate the stigma and gain the classification of rapper that people of color are pretty much suited with from the beginning. Frexxx however has a legion of bad examples a la Iggy azalea. Her composure was honorable considering it is one of the more touchy aspects she is facing. However this isn’t something of a “media trained response”. Misconstrued statements and ignorance are one thing but sheer honesty and knowledge is another. Frexxx is growing and following a cultural tapestry to not make those mistakes in Race and Hip Hop. That is a result of knowledge respect and strength not on the gimmick of what some can turn out to be in the industry but on her ability as a rapper.
On hip hop dx a lot of the comments were - she’s only on here cause she’s white stop giving all these white artists credit when there is plenty of equally talented black artists - which I 100% agree with to be honest with you. I would really hate to end up being a part of the problem in a sense that I would really hate for there to be an art form that I love, people that I love and a culture that I love and for me to somehow package it in a way that’s more appealing to white people and get more opportunities.
Hip Hop in many ways exceeded the expectations placed on it in music. It is one of the most profitable and quick moving mediums and music genres in our time. Frexxx feels the sense of impending doom and is fully aware there might be a time when someone asks her to essentially sell out. She firmly stated she wouldn’t, and she’s more focused on growing and not offending anyone with her lyrics or statements in ways that other white rappers have. Nonetheless for her it’s a topic that is poignant in our time and within many different strains of society. The care and concern from her genuinely exudes as she speaks about music in general. She’s dabbled in other professions or started to think of other careers but nothing has stuck with her the way music has. She beams when she talks about it which only implicates her willingness to do it in a way that’s pure to her. I asked her frankly do you feel like you’re making it?
She was flushed and smirked thinking about her answer and setting it up in her mind as best she could. The interview came to a sheer moment of ubiquitous peace as she said:
Yes and it’s been the most – I don’t want to say effortless because I don’t want to sound like I don’t work hard because I do work very hard and I do take it very seriously but it’s been also at the same time very effortless in a way that it feels very natural the way that its.
Her body language changed she sat up in her seat. It was a person knowing exactly what was right for them while still being completely in the dark as to how it's going to happen. It was and still is completely natural for Emma to be frexxx.
In a lot of ways opportunities have come to me and I haven’t once felt like I was forcing it. It gets to the point where I’m like should I hustle harder? Cause I see my friends out there and they’re working really fucking hard. Might sound arrogant but I guess I’ve been like very lucky in just the fact that it feels like it is happening very naturally and I just want to let it unfold. Like yea this is right. If you asked me what I thought I was gonna be, I definitely never thought I was going to be lil freckles. I didn’t know, it also has to do with this is the first thing I have ever stuck with.
With two projects under her belt and her third one already in production Lil freckles is holding true to sticking to it. She’s finding that more and more her music is a significant part in her happiness and progression as a person. The more she grows as a writer and as a rapper the less she cares about the fame game intertwined within music. The natural and almost nonchalant manner of her career in music thus far was just that, relaxed but she is completely present in every aspect of it. She admits she doesn’t overtly promote herself, and almost questions herself when she sees other comrades in music hit the ground running. In all truth she doesn’t have to take that approach. She was once a kid pining for attention and as a young adult chooses to make music and put it out. What comes through the pipeline is a fate based and if it’s right, its right. It works for her and she knows it.
Now more than ever she gets to have those moments where she’s proud of her work. Sometimes we forget to take a sigh of relief and give ourselves a pat on the back. She looked at me and was perplexed that today the day set aside for an interview and French fries was preceded by nothing else other than stuff she wanted to do that day. A lot of people don’t have the opportunity to wake up and spend the majority of time on their Grind – but she rested her head on her hand, smiled and said:
I use to work 70-80 hour weeks and all I had to do today was stuff I wanted to do and I for sure took a moment to say thank you universe. I know that not everybody has that and I’m really grateful for it and I know that it’s not going to last forever.
Almost three years ago when I met Emma aka Frex/LilFrex/LilFreckles she didn’t know how she felt calling herself a rapper. For the first time she confidently declared herself a rapper, a writer and creative. As she continues on as the humorous entity that can cut you with her lyricism she knows that this path feels right. For the first time she sees her work manifesting through opportunities. She was reeling over her mom one of her biggest inspirations starting to understand what she was doing – and how well it was being received. Lil freckles continues to persevere and grow as an artist and it is certain more people will start to take note. We ended the interview after a plate (or two) of fries and several hundred tangent conversations with one last question.
How Do You Feel?
I feel…I guess I feel a lot of things. I’m really into working on myself right now and going against everything that’s comfortable to me and right now I feel like I have no skin. That’s how I feel….but in a good way. It’s only going to make me better, a better rapper, a better writer, a better everything. – Lil Freckles