Philadelphia rising phenom Fridayy is one of a rare class of hitmakers: the genre with two top 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 – alongside some of the biggest names in 21st century hip-hop and R&B – both released before he even released his own EP.
The 25-year-old artist born Francis LeBlanc – singer, writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist – grew up influenced by both R&B and gospel, with his powerful voice, modern touch, studio skills and versatility that earned him production credits with Chris Brown and Rae Sremmurd in June. DJ Khaled called his name to an even bigger opportunity soon after, featuring him as a vocalist on his epic God made title track, a star affair that also included appearances from John Legend, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne and Jay-Z. The track, which Fridayy also co-produced, debuted at number 17 on the Hot 100 dated September 10, marking its first entry on the all-genre song chart.
But perhaps the biggest look Fridayy received in his breakthrough year came in October with Lil Baby’s Billboard 200 “Forever.” It is only me. The song, which touts Lil Baby’s passionate bars, is based on a Fridayy’s collaboration with singer-rapper Vory that the latter posted on Instagram. Hearing it, Lil Baby asked who the shrill voice on the clip’s hook belonged to – and after Fridayy ramped up his production (with help from Bizness Boi and Fortune), he became an early favorite. fans on It is only medebuting at No. 8 on the Hot 100.
Still building on the momentum of his two guest appearances that stole the show, Fridayy talks to Billboard on the different receptions of these two top 20 hits – as well as his recent debut EP Lost in the melodyreleased on October 21, and what other collaborations are currently in the works.
How did you first meet Lil Baby?
It was actually through an artist named Vory. The song was originally me and Vory – I was on the hook and Vory was on the verses – and Vory posted it on Instagram. And then Lil Baby hit Vory, like, “Who sings on the hook?” And then Vory said, “It’s Friday.” And Lil Baby was like, “Man, I need that hook.” That’s how it went: Vory showed love and helped me on this part.
Had you ever been in contact with Lil Baby before? Did you have any relationship with him?
No, I spoke to him afterwards, though. He FaceTimed me and all that stuff, we talked. And then we were just chopping it up about the record.
In the beginning, when I produced it, it was just piano. And then when I got him on the phone, he was like, “Bro, I need a to beat.” He said it was so crazy he forgot there was no beat! So I was like, “Bro, I’ll add the beat for you. And I’m going to send it back to you tonight. So I called my brothers Business Boi and Fortune – two producers who produced on it with me – and we understood.
Did he give you instructions on what he wanted it to sound like, or did you just take it from what was already there on the song?
Yeah, at first I sent him some ideas. But it was similar to trap drumming. But when I sent it to him, he was like, “Dude, I want it to be simpler. You know what I mean? I don’t want too much to happen. So he kind of explained to me how he wanted it, when it was like, a kick and a snare – just some simple vibrations, not too much of a hi-hat. Once he told me that, we got it the first time.
Have you ever been a fan of Lil Baby’s?
Sure. Like that My turn album? Even before that! I had been listening to Baby for a minute, since 2017, around “My Dawg”, like “Freestyle” days. He’s one of today’s rappers who, like everyone else, looks up to — my little cousin, my brothers look up to [him], you know what I mean? So it’s crazy for me.
How does being on a song with Lil Baby compare to being on a song with legends like Jay-Z and Lil Wayne and Rick Ross?
That’s a great question there, bro. It’s like – the Jay-Z record, it was cool, it was awesome. They the legends. But that one was more, like, a musical icon. And then Lil Baby we were like… for now. Because my little cousins don’t listen to “God Did” every day. But Lil Baby’s? It opened me up to youth.
Do you feel like those two songs prepared the audience for what to expect with you and your solo stuff? Or do you feel like it’s more than one side of you and there’s still a lot of you to come on the EP and everything after?
No, I feel like it was a good balance. Because “God Did” is really part of who I am. Even if you listen to the song, you hear the backing vocals, you hear the three-part harmony, you hear the piano. And if you listen to my EP, that’s how I move forward: with piano, choirs [and] moving notes. So “God Did” was definitely like the perfect intro for me. And “Forever” was like the perfect intro for me too. Just to show that side, with like females and all that. Which, I got like two records [like that] on my EP.
What has been the reaction to the EP so far? Are you satisfied with the type of response you received?
Dude, bro. I don’t even have expectations for my EP… So when I woke up the next day [after releasing it], I’m like, “Let me just check the charts.” I think I might be like No. 199 R&B – like, late, late in the joint. I woke up, we were like #30 R&B on iTunes! I’m like… the whore? And the shit just kept on coming! Right now, we’re at #11 R&B on iTunes! It went up to 7! Right now it’s sitting at 11.
But just to see my album next to SZA, next to The Weeknd, next to Summer Walker… it’s like, “Damn!“I watch it every day, like, ‘What the fuck?
What’s next for you? Do you have any singles, feature films, maybe an upcoming album?
Yeah, you already know. We are working on the next project. We don’t know if it’s an album or an EP, but I’m already working on it. And I produce for a lot of [people in] Industry. I have two songs on the Lil Tjay project coming out. I just produced a track on G Herbo’s album that just came out. You know, I still produce and write for a lot of people. And then, it’s like, a lot of features coming too. Expect plenty of Fridayy features, of course.
A version of this story originally appeared in the November 5, 2022 issue of Billboard.