Rapper Femdot Collects Moments

Published May 20, 2021

Notre Interviews Femdot 01

Femdot is a product of Chicago, through and through. Though he bounced around the north and south sides of the city — and the south suburbs, too — it was in Uptown that he cut his teeth as a rapper, starting when he was only 6 years old. One night, in his parents’ home, Fem wandered downstairs to catch his eldest brother Kola, 12 years his senior, and his friends rapping in the living room. “I couldn't sleep so I came downstairs and started rapping gibberish in the circle, but I was on beat — the cadences were decent. And I’ve been writing ever since.”

As he grew up, Femdot’s tastes were shaped by Kola’s, and he began staying up late to indulge his new obsession and write rhymes. “My mom would be like, ‘What are you doing in the basement? It’s midnight, you’re 12,’” Fem says with a laugh. “I used to battle kids in the neighborhood and at lunch. I've always pretty much been known for being a rapper.”

Now, at 25, Femdot has become prolific. In between 2013 and the arrival of his 2018 debut album, Delacreme 2, he released at least seven projects. While he’s markedly slowed down since, citing the release of something “larger” as a reason why, he still hasn’t completely let up. In 2019, he dropped his second studio album, 94 Camry Music and embarked on his first official tour with Tobi Lou, a 24-city jaunt across the U.S. In 2020, Fem unveiled Buy One, Get One Free Vol. 1, a two-song set that boasts an appearance from Saba on “Lifetime,” and just a few weeks ago shared BOGO Vol. 2. He’s also gearing up to play Lyrical Lemonade’s Summer Smash festival in August, his first live show since early 2020 — some relief from the year-long concert hiatus brought on by the pandemic.

While he’s always been known as the kid with bars — in middle school, he used to record on a Rock Band mic and sell CDs at school — his career has recently ventured into unexplored terrain. In 2018, after graduating from DePaul University, he started a scholarship for Black and Brown college students. Named the Delacreme Scholars, he took proceeds from his Delacreme 2 album show at Lincoln Hall that year and gave it to two Black DePaul students. He’s kept the financial aid going even in the midst of a pandemic, while also expanding the organization to include other initiatives, like a grocery delivery service, and toy and coat drives.

We caught up with Femdot about how Kola became his rap music guide, his love for J Dilla, what it was like to see his face on a huge billboard for Apple’s Shot on iPhone campaign, and more.

Tara Mahadevan

Your brother was your entry point into rap music, right? Did you ever battle your brother, one-on-one?

I actually never battled him. By the time I really, really started rapping for real, he stopped. So, when I started writing everyday, maybe around fifth grade, it was more or less just sending him stuff to listen to. He’d be like, “Yo, you gotta speak up more,” or like “Okay, this is cool.” My eighth birthday, he gave me a copy of Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt and Little Brother’s The Chitlin Circuit 1.5. It was in my little Walkmen. He would always give me stuff to listen to, and I've always sent him what I'm working on, but we've never actually rapped together ever. When I was like 21, he did say that at my age, when he was there, I would have got him. That was the biggest compliment.

Notre Interviews Femdot

He said you would have out-rapped him?

Yeah. He said if we were on the same song, I probably would have got him. Granted, I still think he has one of the craziest pens. I’m probably the only one who has his old music now. I’m probably only one of the people on the planet with all his music still and I know all the words, and I’m his biggest fan.

Your style is extremely lyrical. Was that inspired by your brother?

It’s rooted in him because he's the one that got me into the lyrical content that I gravitated towards. A lot of what he was listening to became my inspirations. Jay Z's my favorite artist because the earliest memory I have of watching MTV and seeing the “Dead Presidents II” video is watching my brother rapping all of the words. That's my favorite song of all time now. As I got older, I started entering into all types of shit..

Albums have just become checkpoints of the type of person I am in my life. We just become moments.

Is J Dilla someone your brother showed you to or you found on your own?

I found Dilla on my own. Granted, he indirectly introduced me because he would play Slum Village in the house. But I found Dilla through A Tribe Called Quest — and I found Tribe maybe like fifth grade. From there, I started realizing where the beats come from and the Soulquarians and the relationship between Dilla and Q-Tip.

I was doing my whole rabbit hole of digging up old school rappers. From there, I was like, “Where are these beats coming from? Who are these artists?” And then Kanye started to pop around that time too and he brings up Dilla a lot. The Common Be album comes out in ‘05. Dilla produces on there, so it's a whole lot of Dilla just floating around in my little Rolodex. I'm just locked in. And then people started calling me Dilla as a nickname for Femdot, and I’m like, “Damn.”

Notre Interviews Femdot

You named your 2014 EP King Dilla after him. Why were you drawn to Dilla in particular?

When you hear the original samples he chops up, it’s insane. It's like how did you even hear that part? And even hearing stories about how quickly he made beats, how much he influenced all of the producers that pretty much exist today. Doing it so young and doing it with Lupus, that is just crazy. And also the fact that he was ratchet. People think Dilla was this super conscious producer because of the beats he made. Nowadays, people have co-opted that sound to be this conscious sound and because he worked with Common. But Dilla was like a hood n***a from Detroit. I love the dichotomy. I love the balance — you hear him, what he was rapping about. I was just attracted to him as a person, and it just stuck for real.

I owe the place I’m from to make it better than when I was there.

I feel like you're pretty intentional with how you title your projects.

Because it’s a story, so the title has to be something that explains what I'm trying to get across, even if it doesn't come off like that at first. I need to see the title, I need to see the cover. I need to see the track listing. All of that is very important in terms of presentation of what I’m trying to convey. Sometimes I’ll listen to the whole project with just the name on the screen or just the cover art on the screen and see if it matches. But I typically always have all of my projects planned out. So, like, I’ll have had this title for years. I knew I have to get to a certain place in my life to be able to rap about things that would then refer to this title.

Notre Interviews Femdot


Albums have just become checkpoints of the type of person I am in my life. We just become moments.

As far as your last album title, 94 Camry Music is really specific.

I was really in these streets in this 94 Camry and a lot of who I am developed in that car. I had that car since I was 16 and some very monumental moments happened in it. And songs that were playing in that car then became the soundtrack to that, so I wanted to loosely tell that narrative, but from a reflective standpoint, to realize how important these moments are to me and how important that car was. It was a member of the family.

Delacreme Scholars became an official nonprofit in 2020. What’s the goal of your organization?

I’m trying to make it a full-fledged resource. Rapping is cool, and you can help so many people with your music, and that's beautiful. But also I owe the place I’m from to make it better than when I was there. So, I focus on trying to invest in the communities I'm a part of and create resources for them. That's really what I'm about. Hopefully, I can continue to tour, I can continue to put funds in it and let it run so I don't have to be the face — it can run by itself.

Notre Interviews Femdot

You recently starred in Apple’s Shot on iPhone campaign, which was also photographed by Adrian O. Walker. How did it feel seeing yourself on a huge billboard in your hometown?

I think for a lot of people who’ve known me my whole life, to see me up on a billboard, that’s dope. For a lot of people, that’s a really large moment to see somebody you know on a billboard. It’s like, these things are possible. Plus, they got me right in the heart of downtown and Wicker Park. It’s me, a Black man with twists in my hair and a grill in my mouth. It’s beautiful. I don't take it for granted — my mom was super hype. Everybody wins.

Notre Interviews Femdot