Earlier this month, Friyie’s anticipated project “Never 2 Late” was released, and he gave the Sidedoor team an exclusive interview at the end of his memorable listening party. Toronto-born David Afriyie Obeng is a tenured singer, songwriter and rapper. A lover of music, travel, and with a gift of hard work, Friyie has been making his mark in the industry for over five years. Against the hardships of comeuppance from one of Toronto’s toughest neighbourhoods, Friyie demonstrates that his path to greatness is forged through consistent work and limitless musical talent.
Hosted at Eglinton Grand, the listening party is a black-tie event, elegant and sophisticated. The sultry sound of a piano welcomes you at the door, and a string of black balloons take you from the red carpet outside into the tall and opulent ballroom. The authentic 1930s furnishings are in striking contrast with the modern tracks we are about to hear – and yet, somehow it’s only fitting to listen to Friyie’s most anticipated project to date in this opulent room. Friends, family and industry insiders all watch as Friyie, dressed to the nines, walks up to the theatrical stage.
“I eat, sleep, breathe this music” Friyie states, the audience in the room taking in every single word. With thousands of hours poured into each track, the project is two years in the making, and the patience and attention to detail is evident. Each beat is perfectly crafted, with melodies unique to the stories told. Behind him, projected onto the ornate wall, are photographs taken on set of Friyie and his team during the making of the piece de la resistance of the event: an Uncut Gems-esque music video for track #5 titled “Brainless”.
We catch up with Friyie at the end of the listening party. With a smile that never quite left his face all evening long, he tells us everything about working on the album, his travels, and what is next for him.
S: When you woke up this morning, how did you feel, knowing your album is coming out?
F: I was anxious, actually. I had an interview with Gavin – that’s going to come out real soon. I appreciate everybody popping up tonight. Your whole team was amazing.
S: Tell me about your road so far. You have been around for a while – tell us about your journey so far – when you started, where did you think you would end up?
F: When I started, honestly I didn’t really think about where I would end up. I just had a passion for it, you know? It led me to where I am right now. Now I’m looking at a broader scale. I’ve travelled a lot. I got to see a lot. There is so much I want to accomplish, but first and foremost it’s music. I want to make sure people take in the music, sit with the music, and listen to what I have to say – to stay in tune with the journey, because there is a lot more that I have to offer.
S: Earlier, the travelling topic came up – where was your favourite place you’ve been to so far, and why?
F: Costa Rica. Costa Rica was a memorable location, because it was about the people I was with. I was there with family. We shot a video out there. That was the first time I really travelled away from North America.
S: How long were you there for?
F: I was there for about a week. Costa Rica was definitely one of the top spots. Would 100% go back.
S: Wanderlust is strong. Is there a place you would never go again?
F: I don’t ever live with regrets. Everywhere I go, I learn something. I wouldn’t say there’s a place I’d never go.
S: That’s amazing. Was there a track on the album that was inspired by Costa Rica?
S: That is your favourite one, isn’t it?
F: Yes. There was a moment in time where I was on the road, really going on late night drives. Felt like nobody was with me, I was by myself, and that’s what the record was about — it was about sticking to myself, and making music, and being close to home.
S: Everything felt personal and it sounded like it came from your soul. What is your process?
F: I go into the studio and just go. No matter how much time it’s going to take me, I just spend hours and record.
S: What was your favourite part of the studio recording process? You mentioned the record was built over the course of two years.
F: My favorite moment in the studio would be locking it in in Toronto. A lot of projects I recorded overseas, but in Toronto I locked in. We got “Cinderella” done. We got “Anniversary” done. A lot of the records I actually engineered myself.
S: The production quality on the record is amazing. Do you work with other artists as well?
F: 100%. I have some collaborations with Tory Lanez, it’s out already. And I have another one coming out, currently unreleased, with Rick Ross and Bun B. I have another one unreleased with Roddy Ricch. I’m open to artistry. I love this music thing. I’m always open to talented individuals and to creating good music and good vibes.
S: Your talent speaks for itself – these features, you’ve earned them. But let’s switch gears for a second – I want to take you back in time a little bit. It’s 2017, it’s the summer. You know exactly where I’m going with this. Big fight happening — Floyd Mayweather walks out, and your song is playing. How do you feel?
S: Did you know that would happen?
F: No! I was actually locked in with him — a year before he came to Toronto. I used to go to Vegas and chop it up with him, be around him. When he told me he’s coming to Toronto, he said “feel free, pop out.” So I came out, walked with him to the stage. I didn’t know he would play my music. When he played it, I was like “that’s crazy!”
S: Talent knows talent! Anyone else you dream of working with?
F: Man — I just hope that God grants me time to live, to be able to create more music, to be honest. I feel like I have a lot to offer, and do collaborations with artists at the top I wish to work with, but right now I’m focused on my craft, proving my craft, and I always want to level up. As long as I level up, whoever comes and realizes that, it’s a blessing. The Drake’s, the Lil Baby’s, the Kanye’s, the Kendrick Lamar’s, all those guys I look up to and I want to be where they’re at. With time, and with work, God will bless it and pave the way for it.
S: You’re already on your way there. You already opened for Cardi B in Vegas. What’s next? When are you touring?
F: So, I actually have something called ANF Weekend. I’m going to do a headline show in Toronto, so look out for that. It’s going to be around first week of December. Christmas gift, you know what I mean? We’ll do ANF Weekend and also have a lot planned. I was on tour in North America, but this year I’m excited. We got a lot in store.
S: You have to bring your album around a little — the world needs to hear it.
F: For sure. They gotta hear it, 100%.
S: Thank you again for your time. Congratulations on the album, and we’ll see you in December.
F: Yes! Shoutout Sidedoor. You guys have supported me from day one.
Friyie’s newest album Never 2 Late is available on all streaming platforms. Keep reading for a quick track by track review:
Each song is unique in its own way, although they all share a certain element of confidence. ‘Superstitious’ is a strong opening track, a reminder of Friyie’s bold lyrics, vibrant beats, and incredible production quality. ‘Back on Road’, the energetic second track, continues the momentum. ‘Sorry Not Sorry’, one of his most anticipated singles, comes with a story of high-risk-high-return. In the middle of a $37,000 Cee-lo game, Friyie leaves to hear the beat of what would be his first Drill record – a bet that is now paying off in full and then some as he confesses he feels “super hungry — still hungry” for more, for better.
We shift gears with track #4 “Hand in the Rim”. Friyie calls out to Vince Carter’s iconic 2000 Slam Dunk. “Eating soufflé, I remember Toonie Tuesday” he muses. Now in his bag, he reminds us of where he comes from, and how far he’s come. We continue ahead with “Brainless” – an anthem that bleeds self-confidence. With a cheeky attitude, he got “the mass appeal” – this is his game, and we play by his rules. “Cinderella”, the sixth track, is Friyie’s favourite. Written on his trip to Costa Rica, the song opens with a soft guitar intro and subdued vocals, we’re transported to a sunset on a remote beach, listening to Friyie’s musings.
The EP wraps up with “Anniversary”, where Friyie confesses he is married to the game. The song elevates his Drake-inspired vocals and lyrics reminiscent of 6lack and Roddy Ricch, and closes out the project not with a bang, but with a profoundly satisfying musical poem.
Be sure to stay on the lookout for more from him and Sidedoor as we await for his Toronto ANF Weekend in December of this year.