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Fredo’s forthcoming album, Third Avenue, is an album of firsts. It’s his debut full-length, and his first album on Since 93’ – but it’s also the first project the 24- year-old rapper worked on entirely out of prison.
The West London MC dropped his first track “They Ain’t 100” in March 2016, just before he turned 22. He wasn’t expecting anything. Three weeks later, he went to prison. The song blew up while he was away, gaining radio play and racking up millions of views, but he didn’t realise how big it had gone until he came out and people were asking him for more music. This would have spelled happy days for any artist, but for Fredo it was particularly remarkable. Not only was “They Ain’t 100” his first track, it was also his first attempt at rapping – save for one unreleased song done earlier the same day. The only time you’d catch him in a music video prior to that was in the background of visuals for the likes of Harrow Road Boyz, Rugrat and Ratlin.
Fredo’s rise over the last two years has been unstoppable. Despite setting the bar high with “They Ain’t 100”, Fredo went from strength to strength. Mixtapes Get Rich Or Get Recalled (2017) and Tables Turn (2018) established a balance of the celebratory and the realistic, success and street life, in his bars – something he’s since gone on to perfect with Third Avenue. Meanwhile, his features on tracks by British rap staples Kojo Funds, Young T, Bugsy, and Dave – whose “Funky Friday” was one of the hottest UK singles of 2018 – have established his ability to rap over a wide variety of beats.
With an instinctive feel for rap, his clear delivery and trap-influenced production have earned Fredo the title of “London’s YG”. Although he has a wide range of interests, he spent his formative years listening to American rappers like Styles P, D-Black and 50 Cent, who have perhaps had an influence on his style. But what Fredo has created is very much his own.
Third Avenue starts with a slew of tracks similar to “BMT” – trap-influenced street rap full of bravado, documenting the perks and perils of fame. The pride that comes with being in demand; the pleasure that comes with having access to all the spoils you didn’t before; the anger over changing relationships with past associates. Towards the end, though, it takes a tender turn. “Love You For That” is both a letter of apology and appreciation to his mum, in which Fredo shoulders responsibility for certain past behaviour that was coloured by circumstances he’s since found a way out of.
Third Avenue opens with a track taking stock of where Fredo is right now, but it closes with an acknowledgement of where he came from and, to a certain extent, still is. The album’s title track and closer, ‘Third Avenue” starts by directly addressing the friends he has lost. It then rolls, on a steady beat over melancholy keys, through a diaristic summary of his personal life – a heartfelt moment that brings out Fredo’s more melodic side.
Above all else, Third Avenue is the work of an artist searching for acceptance. On the broader landscape of UK rap, it stands out for being both uncompromising in its content and accessible in sound. Fredo’s intention is to represent the specifics of his area in a way that’s accessible to anyone.
“I’m just trying to find a balance between really being from the roads and really being allowed in the industry,” he says. “I want street guys to be accepted. I want people to know that we can do the right thing if you give us the chance.”
Fredo may not be the first rapper to come with that message. It’s something Giggs has been doing for a long time, but Fredo is bringing something fresh for his generation, his age, his area. “I’m just trying to do what Giggs done again, and just make a serious album that everyone can listen to.”