Gone are the days of a music artist attaining stardom with a single musical talent. Today’s Billboard king and queens are flavorful hybrids that possess a buffet of artistic skill (ex. Drake; MC, crooner, songwriter, actor). This is why when the world receives its introduction to rapper, producer and singer Fresco Kane, they’ll realize that the latest So So Def/Epic Records signee is the triple threat of the future.
The East St. Louis native is a creative anomaly in the vein of an Andre 3000 or Kanye West, who are both not only two of the world’s best lyricists but can produce a track, then pen and sing a tune over it. Varied musicianship is where the comparisons stop, though. There isn’t an elder or novice artist who compare to Fresco Kane. It’s why Hip-Hop legends are taking notice of the 26-year-old with the rock star persona and model looks––from Jermaine Dupri insisting the rookie sign with his label just hours after meeting him for the first time to Busta Rhymes contributing a raunchily righteous verse to his JD and Bryan Michael Cox-produced buzz single “Hump Wit It,” a Midwest swangin’ ode to the well-endowed woman. Industry visionaries recognize that the St. Louis Hip-Hop scene hasn’t had a champion of this immense talent in years. It’s usually cliché when rappers claim that their region rests on their backs, but with Fresco it’s the undeniable truth. “I definitely feel like a lot of weight is on my shoulders,” he says. “But I’ve come up with so much rejection because I’m where I’m from that this kind of pressure is a blessing.”
Born in Centerville, Illinois as Greg Lawary, Fresco has been a musician practically his entire life. Encouraged by his parents to pick up an instrument, he was drawn to the clarinet in the fourth grade. An affair with the saxophone would follow until he found a passion for percussion. A natural drummer, young Greg would man the sticks for his church choir every Sunday and rock out to Jackson 5 records every other day (“’ABC’ was favorite because it had that break down.”). The prodigy even taught himself to play piano. Then he fell in love with Hip-Hop. While learning keys, he became consumed with D’Angelo’s impeccable Brown Sugar album. With the most modest of production equipment (Casio keyboard, three string guitar and Karaoke machine), Fresco began tinkling with sonic creations. A producer was being born. As he studied the tracks of various rappers, he developed an infatuation with the masterful lyricism of Nas and riptide flows of Bone Thugs and Harmony. A rapper was being born. This would be the initial years of Fresco writing his own rhymes and R&B songs to his own production. But it wasn’t until his first year of junior college at South Western Illinois College when the former high school basketball standout began taking his multi-talents seriously. Trips to Atlanta, with his then manager, to visit Young Jeezy producer Shawty Red encouraged an 18-year-old Fresco to abandon his hoop dreams. He began maximizing all of his skill, honing the rising star he is today. “I’ve got a lot of versatility,” says Mr. Kane. “I never just limit myself to doing one thing. I’m trying to spread my talent around. I’m not gonna just do rap or just do R&B or just produce. I mean, why would I? Which new artist today does all three”
Originally rapping under the moniker Genesis the Lyricist (also known as Gena), the Lou MC would later change his name for the purpose of gaining more artistic individuality. Making sure that his image remained organic, he would pair his reputation for being stylishly “dope boy fresh” with his resemblance to the lead character in the classic film Menace To Society, Cane and birth the tag Fresco Kane. Two weeks after changing his name in February of 2012, FK would meet Jermaine Dupri during a trip to ATL with his new management Starpower. The initial intent was to play JD tracks from Fresco and former St. Lunatic Murphy Lee’s unreleased mixtape. The So So Def boss was much more interested in Kane’s solo records. A week later he signed him.
Despite the fact that St. Louis’ number one contender has reached the big leagues––rapping alongside heavyweights like Busta, being interviewed by media gatekeepers like DJ Envy––he refuses to be fooled by record industry mirages. He has a clear picture of what true success is and knows he has a long road ahead to reach his destination. Thus he keeps himself humbled and his lens on the big picture. His goals are in HD. “Just because you’re signed doesn’t mean you’re on,” he states. “I got signed off of my talent––because I can sing, because I can produce and rap. I’m appreciative of being signed but it just means more work. And I’m ready to work.”