Lancey Foux isn’t your average rapper. Unlike most artists in the genre, Foux is better known among European fashion houses than by teenagers in American households. The East London native made the cover of Paris’ luxury fashion brand Givenchy before the Billboard Top 100, but his potential as a musical artist is greater than his current accomplishments as a model. Foux’s cult following made itself known early this July when he announced an NYC pop-up concert on his Twitter with only a day’s notice and he still showed up to a huge mosh pit of avid fans eagerly awaiting his arrival. The chaotic scene that unfolded outside of a Balenciaga store in Manhattan is just a taste of what is to come in Foux’s musical career.
The question for those unfamiliar with Foux is, “Why him?” What makes this 26-year-old, Rick Owen skinny-jean wearing British Fashion model such a special musician? Foux answers this question succinctly on his third studio album, “Friend or Foux,” stating, “I’m on a whole other wave.”
This audacious claim isn’t Foux bragging or exhibiting undeserved confidence; it is simply his mission as an artist. Foux explained to Nation of Billions how most British rap is considered grime or gangster rap and he expressed that his role is “to make music for the gangster’s little brother who just likes weird stuff,” to make them feel just as cool — to make kids who are not hard or masculine feel cool and bring them confidence. This “wave” doesn’t really have a place in hip-hop at the moment, especially in the sound coming out of the UK, but Foux is committed to changing this. Specifically, he wants to make others feel the way he felt when he heard Prince for the first time.
With this expectation in mind, Foux is his own biggest critic, telling Goat, “There’s a certain place I see in my mind I haven’t got to yet. Every song I make, every video I do, it’s like it’s about to get there. But it hasn’t yet.” Most musicians feel pressure to constantly produce hits and garner radio attention, but Foux is methodical with the release of every song and album. With a thriving modeling career to fall back on financially, Foux can focus his artistry on quality as opposed to quantity.
This perfectionist mindset is a clear theme among the greats in the rap game, with artists like Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West sometimes waiting over half a decade between album releases. The pursuit of greatness is a daily struggle for Foux. “When I wake up in the morning, get dressed, jump in my car, I feel like the guy that I’m seeing in my head when no one’s watching. But when it comes to my art and something that I’m working on, I never get that feeling because … I’m trying every day to figure out what it is I need to do to get to my perfection.”
What separates Foux from the Kendricks and Kanyes of the world comes down to one word — respect. Up and coming artists, especially in the hip-hop world, are viewed with tremendous scrutiny, with media outlets constantly comparing them to bigger artists with what they interpret as a similar sound. Every artist has the right to be upset when their work is dismissed as a replica or knockoff, but Foux takes these accusations personally. He makes his frustration clear on the song “Murdrr Talk” from his newest EP, “First Degree”; he raps, “Anything I do, they callin’ me (Young) Thug, Anything I do, they callin’ me (Playboi) Carti,” followed by “Who I sound like now? You dickhead.” While comparisons to Carti and Thug are high praise for most, Foux is adamant about being himself.
Foux’s music comes from his emotional responses to the world around him. Whatever he creates is therefore extremely personal, no matter what form it happens to take. Foux told Goat, “When I get around my nieces and nephews, who are young, I just want to be a kid … And sometimes, I want to be a prophet and I want to teach. And sometimes I want to be a lover and tell my girl how much I love her, and how much I appreciate her. And sometimes I want to be a talented rapper. I want to showcase my lyrics and showcase my bars.”
Take “Friend or Foux,” which mixes psychedelic rhythms with synth melodies to create a futuristic landscape for Foux to express his innermost emotions and vulnerabilities. Then you have his newest album, “First Degree,” which is filled with harder bass and staccato instrumentals along with lyrics that critique the world around him. If you didn’t know these were both Lancey Foux projects, you would probably guess they were by completely separate artists, but for Foux, this isn’t a bad thing.
In his profile on Nation of Billions, Foux reflected, “I know I’m like 100 people in one. Like today I’m Lancey Foux, but tomorrow I could be someone else.” In his latest form, Foux’s punk rock aggressive side is on display, but as he told Goat, “I’ve been talking about life and dying and self-reflection in 80% of my music. I’m from a place where it’s dark. S— happens, people die. That was my environment for a long time before I made music.” Foux may have a versatile sound but he touches on themes like life, death, sadness and mental health across all his albums.
Looking toward the future, it is almost impossible to know what to expect from the enigmatic artist. Foux has teased his upcoming album “Life in Hell” for months, but it’s clear, as with all his music, that he’ll only drop it when he feels ready. Fans should be excited to know that we can expect all the aforementioned versions of Foux on his upcoming album. “It’s magic, pain, understanding, realization and wonder,” he told Goat. What this means only Foux knows. All we can truly anticipate from “Life in Hell” is a new chance for the world to discover hip-hop’s best-kept secret.