It’s time for another exciting premiere here on VENTS and are pleased to team up with an awesome rapper that enjoys putting his own spin into the genr:
FNX (pronounced Phoenix) is a rapper and hip hop artist of unique style and origin. At the core of his music is a story of perseverance and positivity; overcoming life obstacles amidst a journey of selfdiscovery. He was born Kenneth Shuler of Norwalk, Ctlong before would he would turn to music as an outlet for his teen anger and depression. Faced with childhood homelessness, surviving abusive experiences in a shelter with his young mother, the atrisk teen found solace and selfawareness in rhyme. Yet with so much of rap culture based on boasting and bravado, there aren’t many other rappers of such humble beginnings that could boast of a Bachelor Business Degree from the Southern Connecticut State University and a Master’s Degree of Science in Organizational Leadership from Southern New Hampshire University. FNX is an artist unlike many of his peers.
Distinguishing himself early as a rapper of technical skill and lyrical intelligence under the adopted stage name Symon Feenixxx, his early work “Young Black Males” garnered the attention of industry veterans. That early persona, adopted from the 1993 film Demolition Man, was reminiscent of rappers Ghostface Killah and Method Man, whose own names were inspired by comic book and movie characters. “I took on the name [alias Simon Phoenix from the movie Demolition Man] because Phoenix was a villain who was ruthless and vulgar – which was my approach when I first got heavily into writing my own music,” said Shuler.
Finding the persona limiting however, the maturing artist thus found the need for a new name to define his growing artistry. With this came “FNX,” pronounced “Phoenix,” which he identifies as a sharp turning point in his life and career.
Yet even with a more focused handle on his music, the artist found himself facing unexpected challenges. When asked to write a song to promote a friend’s health club, which he happily agreed to do, he became very aware of how reliant he was on using curse words in his rhymes, including the obvious use of the “N Word” so often used in hip hop culture. Rising to this challenge, however, he completed the song “Pushing Heavyweight,” which FNX fans can expect to hear on his first full album in Fall 2016.
Now embracing his ability to rap authentically in a style free of profanity, shedding another stereotype of hip hop culture in the process, FNX hope this will allow his music to positively impact on listeners of all ages. This change in style will heard in his new song “Rubber Bands,” that will be the first single released worldwide by FNX on May 30, 2016, in association with Factory Underground Records.
Yet even as his own personal phoenix rises from the ashes of his poverty stricken beginnings, FNX has his eyes set firmly on goals that go far beyond hip hop music. An advocate for the George Washington Carver Foundation of Norwalk, which he credits with keeping him off the streets and pushing him to graduate from high school with honors, FNX isn’t waiting for musical success to give back to the community. “For me the music is a vehicle it’s the message that is important to get out there,” he says. That message, one hip hop fans may also find surprising, as yet another stereotype of the culture is discarded, is financial literacy.
“There is so much flaunting of money in hip hop imagery,” he say. “Making paper, acquiring wealth and showing it off. This what we are teaching our kids in the socalled underserved, inner city communities. Who is teaching them how to take care of their money, how to stay out of debt, how to stay clear of crime, and not go to jail? Questions like these have helped fuel an educational course in financial literacy FNX started teaching in 2015, which he hopes to expand at the Carver Center to include working with children and families in the community.
In many ways, working with the Carver Center, one of the largest providers of after school programs in Norwalkserving up to one thousand children dailyis FNX coming full circle in his life. “Working with these kids is important for me because I am one of them. It’s a chance for me to show them what music and education can do. I want them to say, “If FNX did it, I can do it too.”
We recently had a chat with FNX about the single, new album and more!
Hi FNX, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Great, thanks for asking! I have been doing well, working hard to get my next mixtape done. It’s going to be a dope look.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Rubber Bands”?
“Rubber Bands” is a different type of song from me, as it’s not your typical “make you die” barfest. I have been doing cyphers and freestyles for so long, I think people overlook my ability to create music, and that’s why this song is so dope. “Rubber Bands” has an upbeat, feel good vibe yet its still gritty enough that you can get money to it, dirty or clean. It’s also unique because I purposely didn’t curse in the song. I wanted a clean track they could play in strip clubs too haha.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
My experience throwing parties to drive my music inspired this song. Overall, I think the hustle to make things happen is what motivated me. As an independent artist, moving my own merchandise is an essential part of my business as well. That grind of investing in my brand and flipping the merch also heavy influenced this song.
Can you talk to us more about your upcoming video?
The video is going to be dope. I can’t give you too many details yet, but just know we are going tie in some of my previous videos to give this entire project a more cinematic story line. Stay tuned.
How was the recording and writing process?
In and out, bro. I actually found this beat online from EmanOntheTrack from the UK. He’s a dope producer; don’t be surprised if you hear more from us.
In what way has your life struggles have influence your music?
Every challenge I have ever faced has helped build my character today. The things that I’ve been through, whether as an at risk youth overcoming poverty, or battling depression as I go through life, it all bleeds over into my music. My craft is about the human experience.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?
I have tons of music on deck. I have features with Arsonal, Chris Rivers, Chino XL, Kidd, Che-Val and few others. Don’t blink, we are on deck!
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
Fall 2016, we should be good to go.
Any plans to hit the road?
Well I am participating in Team Backpack’s MUNY 2016 event in Brooklyn this year, and then look for some college shows in the fall.
You also support some charities and campaigns – what led you to give back others?
Currently FNXMusic, The Factory Underground, Joel’s Barber Lounge, and The George Washington Carver Community Foundation are going to hosting the “Hometown Love” Canned Food Drive and Basketball Tournament on June 26th in Norwalk, Ct (Carver Center, 7 Academy St, Norwalk, Ct 06850). Uplifting the community is apart of the mission statement of FNXmusic, but I recently learned that many at risk youth who depend on hot lunch during the school year miss those meals during the summer. I also understand that many food pantries across the country run low on food during the summertime, as people traditionally like to donate around Thanksgiving. We partnered with the Person to Person Community agency to address both of those needs, and raise awareness for child hunger. It’s all about the “Hometown Love” for Norwalk.
How can people help?
We are trying to raise 500 canned goods, so if you are close to the Norwalk area, you can drop off donations of cash or food to Joel’s Barber Lounge at 71 Cedar St Norwalk, Ct. We will also be starting a GoFundMe for online donations as well. Whether you donate money, food, play in the basketball tournament, or just share the flier on social media – you can help us by raising awareness for this event and our cause.
What else is happening next in FNX’s world?
New single featuring a surprise guest dropping soon. Visit www.FNXMUSIC.com, follow me on Instragram @Barsondeck203, or follow me on twitter @FNX_Music to stay tuned.