“Down south… hood baby! Make all the girls go crazy.” If you haven’t heard of KBFR, you’ve definitely heard his breakout single that went completely viral on TikTok. Not only is the song catchy as hell, but it’s his standout voice and delivery that audiences all around the world ate up instantly. To date, 3.6 million users have choreographed their own routines to the sound, including celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian, Addison Rae, Shay Mitchell, and Jason Derulo.
He states, “I’m that big guy who’s a vibe, no matter what that situation is. I’m a rapper, I’m for real with everything I do. Ain’t nothing more for real than me.”
Hailing from West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, KB adds the FR to his name standing for For Real, reminding folks exactly what type of time he’s on. Trading in dreams of playing football professionally for the studio, an 18-year-old KBFR fondly remembers using his teammate’s makeshift studio, recording songs and uploading them to SoundCloud.
Fast forward to today, “Hood Baby” hails over 37.7 million streams in the States alone—and the Records/Columbia Records signee proves he’s far more than a hit record. Most recently, he unleashed his newest single titled “WEGO” featuring Conor Matthews, seeing KBFR reflect on his childhood dreams with impeccable lyricism.
Flaunt caught up with KBFR in downtown Los Angeles, who was rocking Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses and a La Ropa hoodie with the words “Pussy Builds Strong Bones” in pink glitter on the front. Read below as we discuss his upbringing in Philly, biggest influences, NFL dreams, the making of “Hood Baby,” how Lil Gotit got on the remix, the importance in TikTok, love for fashion, the creation of “WEGO,” goals, and more!
You’re from Philly, how does that play into your life and career?
My whole life for real has been me and my mom. She definitely did what she had to do to make sure I was straight, make sure I wasn’t doing nothing dumb. I got into some dumb shit growing up, you know young kid shit, but I got through that shit. My grandma too, she’s a big part of my life because she helped my mom out a lot. Definitely rough for sure, you always got shit that challenges you throughout life growing up, especially in the inner city. It was a vibe, it made me who I am, so I ain’t mad at it.
Biggest influences coming up?
Definitely Rick Ross, always been an influence to me. Always been a big dawg to me, an OG. Definitely Beanie Sigel, I fuck with Beanie heavy. A lot of influence from them growing up, not from only being a big guy perspective but how they carry themselves.
Do you miss football at all?
Yeah. I be watching a college game or I’ll go to a football game, damn n*gga was just out there. Not going to lie, I be missing it for sure. Everybody who played football gets that feeling, they know what feeling I’m talking about. You definitely miss it. You’re like “damn, I shoulda did this back then when I was playing.” But fuck it, it is what it is. I had fun with it.
Did you have dreams of being in the NFL?
Yeah, being in the NFL was my whole dream before anything. Before rapping, music none of that. I wasn’t even thinking about music. From when I started playing up until my freshman year of college for real, I wasn’t thinking about music on that type of level. Playing in the NFL, that shit was my dream.
At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
The point I realized it was when everybody kept telling me the same thing: ”bro you got a good voice for it,” all this and all that. For a minute, I was in between football and music. Eventually I had to pick one, so I picked music. Shit, I don’t regret it.
“Hood Baby” went completely viral, did you anticipate this?
I didn’t know shit was going to happen like this. I knew something was going to happen eventually, but I didn’t know around this time, this quick. When it happened, that shit all came real fast. I’m the type, I have delayed reactions. I’m going through this whole shit like what the fuck? Shit’s different, but fucking rock and roll.
What was your first taste of success when the song blew up?
I’m seeing people like fucking Kourtney Kardashian and her kids with my voice in the back, that shit’s wild. I’m seeing everybody, especially all these big names, even people I’m looking up to 2 years ago doing this shit. Damn alright, this shit’s really real.
Bring us back to the recording session for “Hood Baby.”
One night, me and my manager were in the crib looking at beats. We looked up 10 beats, running through them. That one came on, it had that bop to it. I was fucking with it, he said “do that shit, write that shit. We’ve been going through beats all night.” Alright bet, so I laid it down. After 15 minutes, let me write something simple. I’m not gon’ try to do the normal technical shit I do. I said “down South, Hood Baby.” No cap, that shit came out of my head out of nowhere. That shit took off, I felt it was but at the same time I didn’t. I wasn’t going to drop it at first.
I didn’t like it. The shit that I make and talk about, when I rap, I rap some real shit—but in a fun way, that you can turn up to. When I rapped that, damn this shit makes no sense. I don’t know, I don’t know if we should drop this shit. He said “drop it, I’m telling you it’s going to go crazy.” Fuck it. I’m glad I dropped that shit.
What exactly is a “Hood Baby”?
A Hood Baby is whatever you want it to be, but it makes all the girls go crazy. [laughs] Hood Baby can be a lot of things, you can make your own meaning as long as it’s not stupid. Shit, Hood Baby for real.
What’d it mean to get Lil Gotit on the remix? His HoodBabies song is fire.
For real for real, that shit was random as hell. He’d DMed me at first and said “throw me a remix.” Damn Lil Gotit, yeah that shit do make sense, because he has “Da Real HoodBabies.” I’m looking at the DM, then my manager gets a FaceTime 3 minutes later from his manager. What the fuck? How’d he get your number? His number was in that little bio on Instagram.
Dereck (manager): I ain’t know at the time. [laughs] I took that shit off right after.
He FaceTimed, we answered like what’s up? He said “this Lil Gotit manager, that ‘Hood Baby’ hard, but it ain’t right.” We said “what you mean?” He said “that shit hard but it ain’t right, Gotit got to be on it. I said “what’s up then? Come on let’s do that shit.” We got him on there, turned that shit up. It was going crazy.
Nicholas Jandora is the best, talk about linking with him for the visual.
Nick bro, he hard as hell. He’s a cool dude, he’s cool as shit. For real, RECORDS/Columbia sent me 3 different treatments. I picked out one of them, I was fucking with Nick’s idea heavy. I had already seen some Nick’s videos before. Nicholas Jandora? Oh yeah, let’s turn up. The whole video shoot was live. That shit took 10 hours to make for a 2-minute song, but that shit was live. I fuck with Nick heavy though, we built that connection. That’s my dawg.
Best memory from the shoot?
The funniest and best memory was the one scene where I had to run from the side of the gate of the house, but the gate was weird. I’d tried to open the gate to run, but the gate had come right back. The little metal part hit my head so I had a lump on my head the whole rest of the shoot, that shit was crazy. [laughs] That shit hurt bad but it was funny though, nothing life-threatening. That shit was funny as hell.
What role did TikTok play in your career?
I’m the type of person who gives credit where it’s due, TikTok played a big role for sure. That shit’s so big right now, that shit reaches everybody so quick from doing one little thing. At first the trend was a dance, then that second trend came around with the looking over shit. Shit like that is creative as hell. Tiktok played a big role, I ain’t gon’ cap.
Are you active on TikTok?
I’m active, I’m on there but that shit’s so confusing to me. That shit hard as hell. I know my manager, he be navigating through that shit. I be watching a lot of TikToks but posting, I’m still trying to work on that shit. I got some shit on there though. I be on TikTok heavy, believe it or not.
What’s your love for fashion?
I love fashion, I fuck with fashion so heavy. I didn’t reach even 50% of my potential of my fashion capabilities. I always been into fashion. Even back when I was broke as hell, I’m on Foot Locker and Nike looking for what’s coming out—knowing damn well I couldn’t get it, but I always wanted to know about it. I love fashion.
How long ago were you broke?
Shit 8 months ago, not even a year. We had dropped “Hood Baby” in April, that shit really started catching fire by May. The first label hit me up 3 weeks after we dropped it from this shit catching fire, before it even really reached its peak for real.
Was it RECORDS/Columbia who hit you first?
Nah, the first label that hit me up was Capital. That shit was cool but you know, never go with what shit comes to you first. More shit gon’ come.
Is that the golden rule? Don’t go with the first label who hits you…
Where I’m from, yeah. At the end of the day, you want to know when the time’s right to do some shit. Alright, let’s go ahead and make this happen. At the same time if it ain’t right, it ain’t right. When this shit blows regardless, it’s in God’s hands. That’s how I was feeling about it, always been patient with it.
“WEGO” out now, who or what inspired this record?
It’s funny how that shit happened. We had a session one night, it was me and my dawg Conor, my boy Riley, and Evan. We’re all in there vibing, Jae Greene and Evan made the beat. We’re running through beats with Evan, home studio in North Hollywood. We ran through 10 beats till we found a beat that’s really hitting for real, that I could really rap on. The other shit was mainly pop shit, a lil too pop-y. The “WEGO” beat was the only one where “damn, I’m trying to write something to this real quick.” I had 20 minutes to write 2 verses, Conor and Riley were there cooking a hook up. We didn’t plan to make that shit sound that good, it just happened. He went in there and layed the hook, I went in there and laid the 2 verses down. We’re going crazy that night.
Do you feel any pressure to have to follow up the success of “Hood Baby”?
I don’t feel no pressure because here’s the thing: people tell me “Hood Baby” hard but the shit that I got in the unreleased catalog, “‘Hood Baby’ is nowhere near your best song.” It’s too many people telling me that. I’m the type of person who likes opinions from everybody because I be too self-conscious about my own shit. I be needing opinions: how you feel about this? How you feel about that? I definitely don’t feel pressure, there’s too many people telling me “you got some shit that’s even better and bigger than that.”
What can we expect music-wise?
I’m definitely working towards a project. I’m trying to drop some shit this year, 100%. When that shit drop, it’s gonna be crazy. Whole lot of for real shit.
3 things you need in the studio?
I learned my lesson early on in the studio sessions, my ass needs some water. If I got no water, it’s bad. That shit vital. You get cottonmouth, damn I can’t even talk no more. I need vibes in the studio. I can do a session by myself, but that’s only if that’s my mood for real. I need vibes for real. I need good energy, good vibes around me because that’s how I’m gon’ make shit that’s gon’ sound good for sure. I need some good woods, some good weed. You know the vibes. [laughs]
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
If you believe you can do that shit, then do that shit. There’s times where I wanted to quit but I couldn’t because I had too much to do this shit for. Especially if you really got a reason why. If you got a reason why, keep doing that shit. I’m a big n*gga from the East Coast who came out to the West and did that shit.
How long have you been in LA now?
I’ve been in LA 3 times, but they all was short as fuck. The first time was 2 months. I came back out here in February of last year, been out here ever since. I moved to West Hollywood in the summer of last year. This shit cool, it’s a vibe for real. Not right now because of all the shit going on with COVID and restrictions. I either be in a session I gotta be at or I’m in the crib. I fuck with the vibes though, because I’ve always loved the city. Seeing palm trees, I like that shit.
Goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
I definitely want to break the charts again, definitely want to break a Hot 100 type of vibe. That’s my next goal for real, I want to break a top 100. My goal after that, alright now it’s time break 50. Then break 25, shit. I want to break all of them at one time if I can, all in one setting. I want to be the biggest I can be, but in the most humblest way. The most disrespectful way too, for all the haters.
You got a lot of haters?
Hell yeah. That’s the thing, I’m a nice guy. I’m cool as hell but people hate because so many people didn’t expect shit. That’s what it is. I’m cool as hell, I be vibing. I don’t do all that extra shit for people to hate me.
Your necklaces say “very lonely,” are you?
That’s what I am, I’m lonely as hell [laughs]. We’ve all been there before though. I got this on a streetwear shit I was fucking with it heavy. I ain’t tryna buy no crazy chains. I blew up in the middle of the pandemic, I ain’t trying to spend $50K on some shit right now. I don’t want no other shit either so I’m rocking with this until I find something else that I like.
I’m applying pressure all 2021, on some for real shit. #Respectfully.