WontoWatch: Frank Leone
One of the main reasons AllWon was started lies within the premise of our newest feature series, ‘WontoWatch’. With the platform we’ve created, we plan to share unknown talent with you showing that a lot of the time some of the most promising artists have yet to be heard, and are just that, unknown. These artists we feature will all take their own unique paths with their music, some will never make the radio or enjoy any kind of fan base, while others may go onto achieving fame and fortune. Hopefully AllWon will contribute in some way by introducing you to these talents, thereby including you in their journey.
Frank Leone (pronounced Lee-o-nee) is just an 18 year old college freshman; one with big dreams and aspirations, who at such a young age has unlimited potential. Frank is a real musician. His musical taste shows his wide range of understanding for the art, and his ability to take that knowledge and express himself through his rapping is what makes the Illinois native stand out. His first full project Deep Ocean is filled with good vibes. Frank’s flow will grab your attention, his potent content mixed with calming production will keep you entertained and at ease from start to finish. AllWon spoke with Leone about Deep Ocean and why it maybe didn’t garner as much recognition as it deserved, and how it only made him hungrier to make an impact on his next project. Enter Wild is the upcoming album from Frank Leone and he says he plans on taking us on “a roller coaster ride”- and we can’t wait to strap ourselves in.
Check out the rest of our interview with the young emcee where we discuss his music, his inspirations, his relationship with the booming SaveMoney movement, comparisons between Yeezus and Magna Carta Holy Grail, and more.
AllWon: Tell the people your age and where you’re from.
Frank: I’m from the Central Illinois area, I’m 18.. I’m actually a freshman at The UofI this year.
AllWon: And still finding time to work on your music?
Frank: Yeah, it’s probably more the focus than anything in my life at this point.
AllWon: When did you realize you wanted to get into rapping and music in general?
Frank: I mean, I’ve definitely always been into music growing up. I’ve been rapping for a little over 3 years now. I think the point was when um.. it was back at the end of 2011 and I had just run into Vic Mensa for the first time at a Kids These Days concert… no sorry, at a Lupe Fiasco concert down here on campus and I was a really big fan at the time so I was kinda fanning out. I had done a cover of one of their songs “Be” that I don’t think actually got released but I sent it to him and he gave me some good words, some encouraging words, told me to keep it up and I was like maybe I should do this for real.
AllWon: You produce as well, correct?
Frank: I do, yeah. The album I’m working on right now I’m producing it all.
AllWon: And when did the production start? Was that after you got into rapping, or were you always making beats?
Frank: It started pretty soon, I think it was a couple months after I started [rapping]. I didn’t know any producers or anything, and I wanted to do some original shit.
AllWon: Do you have more of a passion for rapping or producing? Or is it just the music as a whole?
Frank: I think it has to be a combination of both. It’s really refreshing when you feel exhausted… you’ve exhausted what you have to say in one form, and then you can transfer it over to a more lyric-less form and visa-versa. I think it’s a good way to just keep going.
AllWon: Let’s get into your music. Deep Ocean was the first real full project of yours correct?
Frank: Yeah, I put out I think like 3 mixtapes before that but they were all under a different name and they had a bunch of beats I stole and stuff [laughs] so yeah Deep Ocean was the real deal.
AllWon: I have a quote of yours on the EP [Deep Ocean] where you say “This project is going to define me as an artist, and I intend to broaden the horizons of what hip-hop can sound like.” If you’ve heard the project you can understand what you mean by that in terms of it’s sound, but can you elaborate a bit more?
Frank: [laughs] I was definitely on some cocky shit when I said that truthfully. And I wasn’t trying to say like ‘I’m gonna change the way people look at it [hip-hop]’, cause I mean obviously I wasn’t very big, and I’m still not very big… but what I meant was basically like I feel like a lot of the times there’s a lot of unwritten and unnecessary boundaries that are put on hip-hop and what it’s supposed to sound like. Both with like what you’re talking about and with how the music itself sounds. I took a lot of indie rock influence on [Deep Ocean] and tried to just implement stuff that people don’t normally use in hip-hop. I would say it defined me at the time, but I’m definitely taking a very different direction with the new music that’s gonna be coming out in the next few months.
AllWon: We’ll get into the new music in a bit, just a little more on Deep Ocean… It was really a great project – In my opinion better than a lot of shit we hear today from up and coming rappers. Why do you think it maybe wasn’t heard by enough people?
Frank: Well, yeah it definitely didn’t reach as many people as I’d hoped. And I think part of that truthfully was that I released it just as I was starting to get noticed by some people in Chicago. I didn’t grow up in Chicago and I used a lot of resources and connections I made to get out there… but like I don’t even think I had 200 followers when it dropped.
Another reason definitely would be that my first music video didn’t drop till this summer. I had several plans to shoot “Moon” with Vic [Mensa] and low-key the director disappeared on us, we still haven’t heard from him. I know he’s jagged on a couple other artists too. That was really disappointing to me because that song is to this day one of my favorite songs I’ve ever made and I think it might have gotten a little more spotlight. But it’s all good though, I’m really happy with how it turned out and I think if people wanna look back at it, it’s still out there.
AllWon: Exactly. And hopefully with the new project, that will put you on and then people can go back to your previous stuff and be like ‘Damn this guys been doing it, we just only caught on now’…
Frank: Yeah, hopefully.
AllWon: Okay, what’s next musically? You have a new project coming called Enter Wild right?
Frank: Yeah, Enter Wild is the name of the new album. I’m producing all of it – I’m about 12 tracks in right now, it’s not finished yet by any means. It’s gonna be a minute before it comes out but the first song off the project is called “Monsters” featuring this guy Monster Mike from The Village. We’re actually filming a video for it with this director Peter Campbell from Chicago next week. So you can expect that out the week of Halloween. And this is probably the biggest song I’ve ever done. I’m just trying to bring in a lot of really weird influences [For Enter Wild] that I’ve grown up with that I don’t think a lot of people have. There’s a lot of broadway influence on the album, and jazz and then of course like Kanye, and King Krule and that kinda thing. I’m excited, I think people are gonna like it.
AllWon: So far your music has been super chilled out for the most part. Is that the direction you want to stick to with your sound?
Frank: Yeah, it was definitely chill… but I’m not taking that direction very much at all. There’s a couple songs on Enter Wild that could be categorized that way, but it’s gonna be loud, I want it to sound like a roller coaster ride.
AllWon: End of the summer you released the video for “Life”, that you directed yourself, will that be on the Enter Wild?
Frank: No it’s not. In the video there’s like a second song at the end called “Doom Life” and that song isn’t actually ever coming out but it’s kinda like a snippet into an actual song that’s gonna be on the album. So you’ll still be able to hear the full version but it’s not gonna sound exactly like that.
AllWon: Yeah, I was gonna say… [Life] it’s kinda split into two halves. Out of nowhere the beat switches up at the end into this cold eerie beat and that slow motion flow. What was the inspiration behind that?
Frank: Well, the song itself – how it came together was really random. A friend of mine that I grew up with has always been a really good violin player and shit but I never knew he was producing. He sent me that song in an email and I was like “What the f*ck, did you produce this?” …I’m like “okay we’re gonna make a song.” [laughs]
There weren’t any like hidden metaphors or meanings behind it. It was just trying to mesh that rock vibe with hip-hop. Kinda like a feel-good song and I tried to accompany visuals where I was feeling good that would go with it, which is where the old car came into play and shit like that. And the other song I wanted in there because I wanted people to understand that my music was changing and it’s gonna sound different so I wanted to give a little sneak peak because it was gonna be a minute before “Monsters” comes out. The video itself is a transition from like chill, happy music to a little more serious and aggressive sounds.
AllWon: Speaking of inspiration, who inspired you to start rapping, and more important what keeps you inspired and motivated to keep at it?
Frank: Definitely Kanye. The summer of 2010 I still wasn’t that in-tune with hip-hop. I was gone for a week, I forget where I was, Kansas are something with my family… and I was like ‘Yo I need some music.’ So I hit up my man Dally to give me a few good rap albums that I need to get. He told me to get Atmospheres, something else, and then he said “Yo you gotta get College Dropout.” I played that on repeat for a month. It just sounded so good. It was so unique, the sampling he used, the styles… he basically re-invisioned hip-hop and everyone was just okay with it. I think I started rapping 2 months after Kanye dropped MBDTF which is also one of my favourite albums of all time. So yeah, he was the reason I started.
And then like the thing with Chicago hip-hop, it’s getting so big. You had [Chief] Keef and of course Chance [The Rapper] is blowing up and taking over the world, but he’s shining a light on the scene that’s been building for several years now. Everyone around you is dedicated and working really hard and they’re people my age… it’s so cool. I know our generation has a lot of flaws and a lot of negative opinions on it but musically [laughs]… musically, we’re doing just fine. I just think the hip-hop scene in Chicago and in general right now, and of kids my age, is the best music.
AllWon: Let’s talk SaveMoney. I know you’re not officially a part of the group, but you’ve got Vic, Kami and others on Deep Ocean. How’d you get involved with those guys and can we expect more collabs with them on Enter Wild?
Frank: When I dropped my mixtape before Deep Ocean, I’m not gonna say the name cause I don’t want people finding it low-key [laughs], Vic [Mensa] tweeted it out and put my name out there for a couple people. And then there’s this producer who’s part of SaveMoney and I really liked his shit so I rapped over one of his beats and sent it to him and he liked it. Then he introduced me to Chukwu and Nico and the rest of em’. It’s cool, they’re really talented and they’re blowing up too obviously. You can definitely expect some more shit [with them]. I actually just knocked out a song with an LA producer I work a lot with, me him and Nico Segal have a song coming out probably within a month or something. It’s not mine, it’s his, but it’s sounding really cool.
AllWon: Nice. Nico’s crazy, I really dug that Donnie Trumpet project.
Frank: Oh ya, it’s so hot.
AllWon: So what else is Frank Leone listening too?
Frank: Let me just pull out the young iPod.. I’ll look in my recently added. I just got into Deathgrips two months ago. No Love Deep Web is crazy. I know it’s hard to listen to at first; it’s extremely loud and very dissonant, but that shit I’ve been playing a lot. Of course the INNANET tape just dropped, that’s sick. King Krule’s new album, it’s probably my second favourite album of the year.
AllWon: I like the range. Let’s stick hip-hop for a second… Yeezus or Magna Carta Holy Grail?
Frank: Definitely Yeezus. I know a lot of people didn’t like Magna Carta cause they thought Jay Z didn’t rap really well or anything, but I really do like that album, the production on it was just disgusting it was so good, “Picasso Baby” was sick. But Yeezus was just, I dunno, Kanye always takes the most epic route to everything and just over the top and extravagant and he went incredibly over the top but so minimalist with the album and it just makes so much sense now what he did, and I love it, I think it’s tight. Especially “Blood On The Leaves”, that song gives me chills every time I listen to it.
AllWon: Nothing Was The Same or My Name Is My Name?
Frank: Oh, damn. That’s tough. So, “Hold On, We’re Going Home” might be the hottest song I’ve ever heard in my entire life. But at the same time, I think I gotta go with MNIMN. I don’t think Drake went hard enough on this album truthfully. No shots at Drake, but he’s not gonna read this…
AllWon: [laughs] Hey, you never know…
Frank: Yeah, maybe…
AllWon: Last question, today’s day and age everyone’s a rapper, or at least think they are, why should people listen to Frank Leone? And why do you think people will gravitate towards your music over the next guy?
Frank: I hope people listen to me because I’m making something that’s different. I’m trying to spread a certain message that I think will become clearer as a few more singles off the album come out. I try and make something for everyone on every project I release. I would hope people listen to it because I sound different…. When it comes to beats themselves, more than trying to find a distinct sound, which of course is important, I just try and make something that is as euphoric as possible. I just wanna make people feel as good as possible and think deeply on things.
AllWon: I think it’s only a matter of time before people wake up and start listening to some good music [Frank Leone] instead of some of this other crap that they’re listening to these days…
Frank: I hope so, man. I appreciate it.
AllWon: That’s all from me. Anything else you wanna leave us with?
Frank: Stay based. Follow me on twitter (@franklynraps) and look out for lots more good music from me and my friends coming soon.