Fun Fun Fun Fest: Phranchyze phinds his voice


I’ve listened to a lot of Phranchyze over the last couple of years. In fact, since February 2012, I have listened to Phranchyze more than I’ve listened to the Beatles (thanks,!), and that’s saying a lot considering how much I love the Beatles. Partially, this is due to Phran’s prolific nature. Since we started this site, I’ve reviewed two Phranchyze mixtapes – S.T.A.R.S. and French Phrantana – and that’s only some of the material that he’s put out.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Phranchyze. He’s clearly talented. He can bust out a witty couplet with ease, and is almost always entertaining, but he’s too often unable to put together a consistently good track. And when he gets some magical tracks (as on “Back on my Shit” or “(A Song That’s Not About My Current) Girlfriend”), he couldn’t keep that up over an album. He was relying too much on his rap battle theatrics, and not enough on his songwriting voice.

Ah, his voice. On 3, Phranchyze’s album that came out last Thursday, my first thought was, “Phranchyze finally got some good beats to rap over!” My second thought was, “Man, but something about his voice doesn’t sound like the rest of the rappers I hear out there. He’s just never going to fit in.” This was on the track “Igloo,” the first proper track on the record.

Soon, though, Phran addressed my concerns. “Oreo” is an affecting track where Phran, after all these years, finally bares his soul. The title refers to the slur that can be directed at black people that act “too white” (black on the outside, white on the inside; see also: twinkie), and Phran takes us on a journey through his own discovery of identity. Starting back in the mid-90’s he describes his relationship with his parents, his middle school crushes and how he never really fit in. The chorus says, “He don’t sound like the black people you know,” and I had to admit that he got me. Without realizing it, all these years I’ve been holding it against Phran that he doesn’t sound like the other black rappers I “know” and he finally called me on it. “Oreo” doesn’t sound like a lecture. It’s not a guilt trip. It’s an invitation into Phranchyze’s experience that refuses to compromise, and it changed my own experience of listening to him.

The rest of 3 loosely follows this search for identity. Once Phran let those floodgates open with “Oreo,” it allowed for more honesty and depth of feeling than he’s ever achieved. “Weirdo” takes a humorous (somewhat exaggerated) approach to his out-of-place feelings. “#TMB” (short for “tonight might be”) shows Phranchyze getting real as he details his pursuit of artistic success. The album closes with “Can’t Change,” an epic rap ballad in which Phran earnestly explores the downsides of his creative pursuits on his romantic relationships. In it, he raps about writing to his girlfriend, “I put all of my soul into every letter,” and it finally feels like he’s giving that all-out level of dedication to his music too.

It’s not all a therapy session. There are still bangers on here, most notably “Doper,” which sounds like the radio song that Phran has been waiting his whole life to record. 3 is a tremendous step forward for this talented young rapper. Phranchyze has some great beats over which to showcase his impressive skills and burgeoning songwriting. He has embraced his “weakness” of sounding different than most rappers and is using it to his advantage. As a longtime follower of his work, I couldn’t be happier.

Phranchyze kicks off the Blue Stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest at 12:10pm on Friday afternoon.


– Carter Delloro