We talk to Lil Skies about growing up in a small town, putting his own spin on The Sauce, and making music for the world.
Intro: Hello and welcome to What’d I Say, where Atlantic Records talks with artists about songs that they made, songs they like and songs they’d like to have made. It’s an inside look into the craft of songs from the artists themselves.
Waynesboro, Pa. does not come to mind when you think of contributions to hip hop, but Kimetrius “Lil Skies” Foose may be the rose to spring forth from the concrete. Skies spent his youth between Chambersburg and Waynesboro, where his father planted seeds of rap success in his mind. He knew what he wanted to do with his life at four years old. Not many people can definitively say they knew their purpose before kindergarten, but Lil Skies is not your ordinary nineteen-year-old.
Thinking back at the time, he said, “I don’t fake relationships, vibes, or anything with people. I just keep it real, and some people think I have a cold heart for that.” The devil’s in the details, as Skies recently released his mixtape, “Life of a Dark Rose,” featuring the single, “Signs of Jealousy.”
Lil Skies was in New York City at the Atlantic Records Studios and we got to talk to him about his latest mixtape.
Zeena Koda: So, you gotta let me know. What was your first favorite song?
Kimetrius Foose: Of…?
Zeena Koda: Of life! Of being alive.
Kimetrius Foose: Of life, it was probably Lil Wayne; “Tha Carter II” album. It’s a track called, it’s a track called…
Zeena Koda: Better be good!
Kimetrius Foose: It’s a track called, “Best Rapper Alive.” That one, sorry, I almost forgot it ’cause it’s so old. But he has a track called “Best Rapper Alive” by Lil Wayne, it’s just a track that stood out to me as far as me coming up as a rapper and stuff like that. He really influenced me and played a big part in me and my career.
Zeena Koda: What was the thing about the song that made you the most drawn to it at that age?
Kimetrius Foose: The sound at that point in time, it had a lot of rock; it sounded like a rock song a little bit with rap — the way that the beat was made, the instruments and everything was playing, so I just liked that. And the fact of how he attacked the beat was just amazing to me, and he was somebody I looked up to coming up, him and 50 Cent.
Zeena Koda: When he was writing with Kevin — what was that guy, Kevin Rudolph?
Kimetrius Foose: Yeah, that guy! Oh yeah, oh my gosh.
Zeena Koda: Bringing it back.
Kimetrius Foose: I forgot about that, that’s crazy. Whatever happened to him? Shout out to him, shout out to him though, man. I liked his stuff while he was there.
Zeena Koda: He had a domination on the market.
Kimetrius Foose: Yeah, for sure.
Zeena Koda: What was the first song that you memorized?
Kimetrius Foose: The first song that I memorized was probably a 50 Cent song, I’m pretty sure. It had to be a 50 Cent song, ’cause that was the only rap I was listening to when I started listening to rap music. It had to be…
Zeena Koda: “I love you like a fat kid love cake.”
Kimetrius Foose: It would probably be the “Many Men” song.
Zeena Koda: Oh.
Kimetrius Foose: I probably memorized, like, other songs before but that was song that really stuck out, would say like stuck to me, stuck to me.
Zeena Koda: That’s like a struggle banger, yeah.
Kimetrius Foose: Yeah, yeah. For sure.
Zeena Koda: That’s a good one, actually. That’s still on my workout playlist, I feel you on that.
Kimetrius Foose: Oh yeah.
Zeena Koda: What was the first song/album that you remember actually purchasing?
Kimetrius Foose: The first album I purchased; I believe was the G Unit album.
Zeena Koda: Yo, you ride! You ride for ’em!
Kimetrius Foose: Yeah, the G Unit album with Young Buck and all them on there. All them, all his whole crew.
Zeena Koda: You still got it?
Kimetrius Foose: I don’t think I have it, but I remember when I got it for Christmas, I bought the Walkman because the MP3s wasn’t out yet. The MP3 players and all that stuff wasn’t out exactly yet.
Zeena Koda: Now I feel old, ’cause I know a lot of generations of that.
Kimetrius Foose: That wasn’t even long ago either.
Zeena Koda: MP3s came and fucked up the game right there.
Kimetrius Foose: Yeah, for sure.
Zeena Koda: Was there a specific song of yours that took you to that next level? You’re like, “This is the song that I wrote that’s amazing writing.”
Kimetrius Foose: One of the songs was a song I did called “Lonely.” It was a song I made when I was sixteen years old. It was just a song for me; it was testing my creativity. It was a different type of beat, too, and the beat had a lot of singing and stuff. It already had a chorus on it but I added more to the chorus and made it more. And then I had a song right after that though, the song that really, I felt like did it for me and really showed me what I could do was this song called “Da Sauce” that I dropped. It was just very different and I knew at the time it was a trending topic type song. You know, rappers, people talk about the sauce-
Zeena Koda: Gotta be relevant.
Kimetrius Foose: -and the swag, and all this. So at that time, I didn’t want to make mine like too what everybody had but this is really when the sauce and all these other terms were being used so I just took advantage of it at the time and used it to the best of my ability and incorporated it with all of my life.
Zeena Koda: So that was like your crowning achievement right there.
Kimetrius Foose: Yes, yes.
Zeena Koda: Who would people be surprised to know you’re a huge fan of and who was a big influence on your music?
Kimetrius Foose: Who was big influence on my music?
Zeena Koda: Someone good?
Kimetrius Foose: Yeah, someone good. I mean, I told you the majority of mine like Lil Wayne and people like that. I like, of course, Beyoncé. I definitely like the girl artists too, like Rhianna’s and stuff. Mary J. Blige is a big one, though, that I really love, just me coming up. My grandmother used to listen to her a lot.
Zeena Koda: Aw!
Kimetrius Foose: And that just stuck out to me because she was older, you know, but she was really rockin’ with her and she just believed that Mary J. Blige is a powerful black woman and I seen that in my grandmother. It was just cool, so I just heard that in the car a lot and that she always just stuck out to me. And I felt like she was so real; when she be rappin’ and singin’ it just felt like you was kind of at the church again.
Zeena Koda: Yeah, you could feel her heart breaking.
Kimetrius Foose: Yeah, you can feel it, everything, every note. So yeah, shout out to Mary J. Blige, man.
Zeena Koda: “I’m goin’ down.”
Kimetrius Foose: Yeah, I love her man. She’s awesome.
Zeena Koda: That’s a good one; that’s a good one for sure. When you’re recording a song or writing a song, is there anybody specifically that you see in your mind listening to that particular music? Like a certain audience, you know?
Kimetrius Foose: Yes. I would say the world, my fans. Just in general, everybody that I’m targeting as far as that song, because every song I write, I’ve felt like it can be for everybody. But every song that you make, obviously, is not for everybody, you know what I mean? At the same time. So, you gotta make songs that the world’s gonna like, but that you’re gonna like too. So, I always think it out when I’m creating the song, “Is the world gonna like this? Are people gonna like this?” But also, “Am I gonna like it too?” To where I can go out and perform it in front of everybody and you know what I mean.
So as far as the thought process and how that goes, when I sit there, I basically put my style in with, of course, what other people like and stuff. ‘Cause I know a lot of people who relate to my music, so I use a lot of my experiences from my life and incorporate that with my music now. Especially now, you know, with everything blow- I wouldn’t say blowin’ up, but just getting my deal and stuff, and coming from my small town. And now people are, like, singin’ and they like to hear what’s going on with me ’cause I don’t talk too much on the internet.
Zeena Koda: We had that conversation before. Yeah, just letting them interpret it for how it works for them. No, I totally feel you; that’s awesome. Is there a song that you heard recently that you’re like, “Yo, this song is so lit! I need to be put on with the song,” that you needed to show all your friends? And what is that song?
Kimetrius Foose: It was probably that Chris Brown song; I don’t know what it’s called. It’s called… it’s something, “I just wanna change your life.” Do-do-do, with the beat. Chris Brown wet, yeah, it’s that song. I know it’s a more mainstream song, and I’m not too big into the radio music but I love Chris Brown, as far as the artist and stuff. And yeah, I really enjoyed the song and the beat; I just thought it was dope. It’s Chris Brown, just you know he was rapping and he was singing; I was like, “This is cool, this is fire.” But I felt some people think I was corny for showing him-
Note: The song is “Pills & Automobiles.”
Zeena Koda: No!
Kimetrius Foose: -But I’m not corny, man. Shout out to Chris Brown.
Zeena Koda: He’s mad talented!
Kimetrius Foose: Yeah he is, man!
Zeena Koda: He’s been around for a longass time.
Kimetrius Foose: Shout out to Chris, shout out to Chris.
Zeena Koda: Shouts to Chris, shouts for Chris. When you listen to other people’s songs, what is the first thing that connects you with that song?
Kimetrius Foose: If it’s real, if it’s genuine, as far as if I can relate to what that person’s talking about or if I can just see where they’re coming from ’cause I feel like every artist has their own type of music. Even though we all make hip hop, everybody’s making their own sounds; they’re coming up with their own stuff. You know what I mean? So I just appreciate, I take time to figure out the artist, listen to more of their music, and see what they’re about. You know what I mean? And that’s how I figure out if I’ma rock with ’em. So me, I guess it’s more different because I do music and I have an ear for this stuff, I pay attention. But I’m just more like, I appreciate music. It could be the most different thing but I’ll like it but somebody may think that song’s trash. But I’ll still like it.
Zeena Koda: Still on your playlist.
Kimetrius Foose: Still on my playlist, regardless.
Zeena Koda: How do you know when you’ve made a banger?
Kimetrius Foose: It was a feeling for me just like “Red Roses,” when I get that feeling how I got for “Red Roses.”
Zeena Koda: It tingles.
Kimetrius Foose: Now that’s what I’ve compared it to. Especially with everything recently that I’ve been making and coming up with and the tape that’s about to come out, it’s all my creativity and everything I feel like it’s been taken to a next level where I expanded my mind and I’m not so scared. I was never scared in the studio; I’ve always been comfortable around people but now it’s just like testing myself and expanding and making my last song different from what my next song is gonna be. You know what I mean? I always test myself to try to make different songs; slow songs, fast songs, party songs, songs that can just relate to the world. I got mainstream songs, I have a category, a folder of just mainstream songs, I got the SoundCloud songs.
Zeena Koda: Club hits?
Kimetrius Foose: Yeah, I do stuff like that. I pay attention to stuff like that ’cause I wanna target everybody. It’s not just about the hit. It could be a hit, but it’s a hit to a different crowd and the world. You know what I mean? That’s what I aim for.
Zeena Koda: So you talk about your hood, your area, all the time. Who is an artist from your area that never got put on, that was fire?
Kimetrius Foose: Really, I was the only one. I’m really like the only one. Now we got, there’s a couple more people, I believe but as far as coming out of there? As you know, every town has their local little couple artists and stuff. But as far as like, everybody knows I was the one — no being cocky, no anything like that, but I was the one, I really took it seriously. I really take it serious as in my everyday life, even when it wasn’t serious to most people. I was doing this stuff still every single day, regardless of a deal or anything, so I felt like people see that and they respect it and they know. There had to be somebody that was gonna do it and I felt like I was that somebody. You know, the people chose me but as far as artists coming up, like to all artists that are coming up, if there is any more artists coming up out of my area, yeah keep grinding. ‘Cause if I could do it, you could do it.
Zeena Koda: Stay in school, man!
Kimetrius Foose: Hey, stay in school though. For real, Lil Skies does approve of that message. Stay in school. At least graduate.
Zeena Koda: Alright Skies, thank you so much. Excited to see what happens with you in 2018.
Kimetrius Foose: Yeah no problem, thank you for having me. Appreciate it.
Outro: Thanks to Lil Skies for coming on What’d I Say. Find more about him at lilskiesofficial.com. That’s L-I-L-S-K-I-E-S official.com.
Our theme music is by Max Frost. Be sure and catch up on all of the Atlantic Records podcasts at atlanticpodcasts.com. Thank you for listening.