It was Gonerfest ’18 when I first crossed paths with AWFM. I had just made my way up to Murphy’s and was making a bee-line to the nearest bar when a pair of pink bunny ears began to cut through the crowd. They stuck out in the sea of pompadour hairstyles and beanies, but my beer was more important, so I moved on. Unbeknownst to me, he was there to perform and I would later lay eyes on the red-eyed, pink-eared, gold-grilled character as he took the stage and delivered a sweat dripping, vein popping performance. He goes by the name of A Weirdo From Memphis, and on the surface, he’s not as weird as he seems.
“It’s funny. People hear that name and think that I’m supposed to walk on stage and eat a bird or something, but that’s not weird,” AWFM says. “It’s gimmicky. The weird stuff comes out in spurts. I’m not ‘come in walking on my hands’ strange, but if you sat with me for like a week, you’d walk away thinking ‘yeah, there’s a lot going on with that one.'”
…and a lot there is, and I’m not even talking about the weird parts. Our story begins with AWFM, pre-big boy bunny ears. We’re talking kit-AWFM who was listening to “Hot 97” and “K97” and whose first cassettes were TLC’s Crazy Sexy Cool and Fan Mail.
*FYI, kit is the name for a baby rabbit*
“I have wanted to rap since I could talk,” AWFM said. “Luckily I had an open minded mom who would let me listen to songs that were ahead of my time. My first CD was Tupac’s greatest hits and I would put that shit on repeat. I was that kid running around and playing hide-and-go-seek with headphones on and CD player in hand. Rap felt good. Music felt good.”
Fast forward to middle school, high school, and college where, like many of us, there were years of self doubt coupled with self discovery that eventually led to a swift self-kick in the ass to get something going.
“While at the University of Memphis, I was on my greek shit, parading around the University of Memphis with some fake school spirit, but I started to realize I wasn’t happy,” AWFM says. “On the last day of my internship that turned into the job I have now, I was on my way home and I almost started crying because you know… I had this job on lock once I graduated and I could do this for 50 years, get married, make some kids, and die. That’s just not what I wanted. Everything that I was doing just felt goofy, so I took my whole refund and spent it on a plane ticket to see Tyler the Creator, Kid Cudi, and Logic. I was in a field full of kids that I had never met and it was so fulfilling because it felt like I knew them because we all knew the music; we all connected souls for that hour. I walked away knowing that I didn’t want to just sit in the crowd. I wanted to be the one up on the stage giving everybody that feeling.”
And from that point forward, it was go time. He returned to college “broke as shit,” but that didn’t stop him from hitting the ground running. He set his eyes on some goals: 1. Close the chapter on college, graduating with a degree in computer engineering. 2. Use whatever “cheese” he made from working/selling anything he could to buy himself time to start recording.
“Rap is a weird game of perception because people don’t really rock with you unless it looks like you’re already doing it and killing it. That’s why some rappers are dope dealers or have some other sort of illegal finesse. *laughs* I didn’t think I’d be very good at that, so I got out of school and used my degree to move at a pace that everyone around me couldn’t in terms of financial risk. I did it on my own for a while, but in 2015 my friend Skip Fearless invited me to record at Dirty Socks.”
It was at Dirty Socks where AWFM would connect with IMAKEMADBEATS, founder of local record label and production company Unapologetic.
“I think some of the most important moments in my life have been moments where I’ve been around important people but didn’t know what they did, so I’d just be chillen. I knew Mad produced results for Preauxx but other than that I didn’t know anything about him. All I knew was I went from recording in trapped out living rooms with people smoking everywhere to a studio with a secure booth where everybody’s super serious and hungry- no one was high or drunk or lit. You could just tell that these people were serious. Mad told me that I could come around and record whenever I needed to, so that’s exactly what I did. I spent every moment and every penny possible to make it happen. I would sell stuff, I’d pull up to the studio with lunch or dinner and sit there for hours. It didn’t matter.”
And just like that, we’ve caught up to the present. The grown bunny man who’s sound is influenced by Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, MF DOOM, Kid Cudi, SpaceGhostPurrp, Lil B, Curren$y, and more is now one of the OG members of the Unapologetic label. He released his first EP, You Goin to Jail, in January of 2019 and will be performing at his first “AWFM” show this Friday, May 17th.
“I taught myself to disregard my own disregard for the fact that I could actually make this happen for myself. It seems so farfetched when the voice in your head says you can do this, this, and this. That voice is intimidating and scary, especially being from Memphis- it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. I ignored that voice up until I just couldn’t anymore.”
“I’ve learned that the good times have to come to an end if you’re not actively doing something to keeping the good times going. Rapping feels like a door that if I can open and get through, I can do whatever I want and kick that door open in a way that allows other people from where I’m from to walk through as well. Take Blocboy, for example. After he’s done what he’s done, there are a lot of young people in his lane with a similar style that are currently getting after it on some very ‘Where did you even come from?’ type swag. That’s what I mean by kicking open that door.”
- What: A Very Red Show
- When: Friday, May 17 @ 8:30 PM
- Where: The CMPLX (2234 Lamar Ave, Memphis)
- Cost: $10