The Phony PPL should be called the realest PPL, they’re actually good folk who just so happen to be excellent musicians and gifted visionaries.
I’ve had the privilege of connecting with Elijah Rawk, Sherif PJ, MaffYuu, Elbie Thrie, and Bari Bass several times at their basement in Bedstuy, Brooklyn. Its always eventful and we chop it up about everything; from tour stories to emerging artists like Swook and Stacksz.
Its criminal that they’re the best kept secret. In an era of “Turn Up, Lit Swag Trap” they have their own lane. Its not a case of the Phonies moving with the times, its a case of everybody else catching up with the Phonies. Every successful act has had to patiently wait to get put on and figure out their own path. The Phonies stay perfecting the beat, perfecting their craft, it is inevitable they will get their time.
How did you guys hook up?
As a whole, it happened over the span of a couple years starting with junior high school to high school, myself Aja Grant went to the same junior high school then we split up and went to different high schools and he recruited some people and I recruited some people.
Elijah, it kinda feels like there’s a lot happening in Brooklyn, there’s a lot of talent coming through, who should the U.K be watching out for from Brooklyn?
Asides from Phony Ppl and everybody in Phony Ppl of course, look out for The Stuyvesants they are a group that get slept on so much and I have so much respect for what they do and I really enjoy every time I listen to their music. So that’s why I say The Stuyvesants.
What makes Brooklyn so special compared to the other boroughs of New York?
I think Brooklyn is so special because it’s supposed to be like the suburb of Manhattan, but it’s not like that at all, it’s so much deeper. I feel like everyone that’s a real New Yorker from like the older times, with the real New York accents and stuff have all started to be in Brooklyn, it has so much history. I dunno I’m from Brooklyn, I don’t really like Queens or The Bronx so I like people from there but I don’t like being there. So I like being in Brooklyn, Manhattan being there too, but everybody who comes to Brooklyn feels that vibe immediately. If you go to a concert in the middle of the summer and celebrate Brooklyn or Park Slope or Prospect Park whatever, you’re gonna see a whole eclectic, diverse group of people enjoying music and living life, and I think that’s what Brooklyn’s about and that’s why there’s so much good music and good product comes out of it.
PJ, whats your role in the group, what do you bring to the table for Phony Ppl?
Well I bring that street style and I’m more like a street rapper more than anything, I mean came in with these dudes, I see them doing Jazz and all that and they got me into that. It just changed everything, I’m here to bring that street life, and in express in the hood me being me.
you don’t have to be tied down by what anybody tells you
Elbie Thrie, I hear you’re pretty prolific on the instruments, what is it you bring to the group?
Im kinda officially the vocalist and keys, but just in general I see myself as just whatever needs to be done as far as sound, everybody has concrete rolls and for me I’m kinda on the tightrope between vocals and instruments. I just love it cos its just freedom, its flexibility. Elijah Rawk, Grizzy Blanco and myself we do most of the engineering and mixing when it comes to Phony Ppl albums. It’s two different sides to things, what you see on stage and then when we’re off stage creating what we do on stage, the hats change and everybody’s doing other things.
Elijah Rawk, what is you wanna achieve with Phony Ppl, you guys are a group that are very different to what’s going on in Hip-Hop at the moment?
I think that more than anything I wanna inspire change with Phony Ppl, I wanna inspire change throughout the whole industry. From other experiences and stuff, touring with other people and stuff like that, I always take touring with and making music with Phony Ppl over anybody else. And touring for other people just shows how much the music is not a priority to them even if they are an artist with a career in music and I just think I wanna inspire with this group, that real music can still be made. Even now we’re a group, they see us putting stuff out individually, they see mixes from me and Matt and its still like a cohesive unit, that’s like this umbrella of putting out all kinds of music that we want to and I think everyone’s starting to understand and see what that’s like. See that Dymes put out his solo thing but he’s working with Phony Ppl, who’s also doing this over here. It shows that you don’t have to be tied down by what anybody tells you, do you and you can really just make what you want and have it be quality, and I want more people to be inspired with that. Instead of going for the hits and numbers and all that kind of stuff. Cos nobody was like that back in the days of music we all listen to. The Isley Brothers, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye influences, Stevie Wonder took three years to be make ‘Songs In the Key of Life’ and I’m glad he did cos otherwise it wouldn’t have been as classic as an album as it was. So that’s what I feel like people need to start getting back into and I think that’s what we’re going to bring.
Being a Pisces, how does that fit in with the rest of the group?
So nobody else really fully gets into the signs as much as I do, but I’m trying to show them cos the compatibilities are the key, you can’t just mix me and a Leo, it’s not gonna work out, like any Scorpio’s holler at me, Cancer’s holler at me. That’s how its gotta go down, people gotta start paying attention not to like your fortune cookies and horoscopes and stuff but to the compatibilities and the people that you set yourself around. Its like a pre-guideline to what you’re probably are gonna act like. Scorpio girls are crazy, but I still love em though, my girlfriends mostly are Scorpio’s.
Maffyu how do you feel about the comparisons to the Roots, or the lazy analogies of the ‘Roots meets Odd Future’?
I feel like, the comparisons are great, I really respect The Roots as musicians, Odd Future I really really fuck with those dudes cos they’re young and they’re doing what they wanna do. I respect both those comparisons but as Phony Ppl we’re really just making music, we’re just doing what we wanna do you know. Comparisons are great but it’s not going to cloud my mind, I’ma still do the same thing I’ve been doing.
Who came up with the concept for the title of the group?
It was all three of me, me myself and I, I was on the phone to Aja Grant trying to think of a name, and it wasn’t even like this many people at the time, it was like years ago, ‘08/’09 something like that. And just trying real hard to get a name, it wasn’t working and when I gave up trying to get a name, I just said Phony Ppl and it just came from a place that I couldn’t argue with, everybody seemed to like the name so it just stuck around. It was the only thing I felt, it didn’t feel like ‘oh this is right, this is super right’ but as time goes on and you go through different things, things start to feel wrong, and ‘Ok this is not it’, and it never happened with the name, there was just no resistance with the title.
So what’s coming next?
All these shows, like everytime we do them we learn so much, cos all of us made a conscious decision not to go to college so this is our college, so experiences like shows and going on tour with the Roots with everybody, is just like master-classes with professors and stuff. So if anything all of our next moves are going to be like determined like how these shows go and how we’re influenced.