Birmingham’s Ascending Star Fox Delves Into His ‘Isolation’ Mixtape & More!

We took a deeper dive into the ‘Isolation’ mixtape + we spoke to Fox regarding the current climate, mental health and more.

June 28, 2020 Elle Evans

Today, one of Birmingham’s greatest lyricists dropped his highly anticipated mixtape titled, Isolation. Supporters have been waiting eagerly for Fox to drop a full-length body of work for quite some time. Known for his lyrical prowess, ability to captivate the listener and all-round quality work, including his most recent release of This Is Abdul 1-3, Isolation takes you on a journey through 14-tracks of undeniable talent.

Spread across 14-tracks with features from D Knowledge, Nicole Rose, Praise, Jim Gotti and Ddroid, Isolation see’s Fox showing a more vulnerable and honest side of himself. From hard hitting up-beat tracks such as Titan to the summer-infused single Sticky featuring Ddroid, this body of work also touches on the current climate, mental health and more. Kick starting the project with Letter 2 My Fans, Fox bares all, setting the tone for what’s to come. Touching on his ambitions and dreams in music as well as the struggles and tribulations he has faced, Letter 2 My Fans only highlights the determination and hunger within him.

Delving into the mixtape further, Fox gave us insight behind 5 tracks on Isolation…  

Track 2. Hells Kitchen 

This track is probably my personal pick off the mixtape. I feel like this one touches on some of my experiences, and some of the things I believe, and some things I’ve learnt as I’ve moved through life. If you soak it up you can probably feel the emotion on it; ultimately it’s a song that reflects my growth. I put my soul on this one, so it’s meaningful for me.  Sometimes it’s about being your own inspiration and that’s what this one is to me. 

Track 3. Paranoid 

Yo! This track was just fun to make!! Not just that actually, it was quick too which is always nice. Shout out to my boy Kid who gave me some inspo for the melody and it was just a wrap from there.  And it is a track that doesn’t take too much explaining.

Track 7. Death of Me 

I laid this track late, at like 2am. The hook just came to me, I laid the hook and I had some bars just waitin’ to go on it. The video for this one is a watcher too, I’m not going to lie; the song really comes together with the video. I feel it shows how quickly things can go sour. But I hope the video gives a redeeming element that shows you, that if you are still here, and still okay, then every single day is a chance to do something new and something better. It’s a reflection of when life’s got a bit techy, when anything can happen any day. I was in the zone that day and I pretty much laid down 3AM right after.  

Track 5. Brum2Manny 

This one was a spontaneous one!! My boy D Knowledge came through to my bits from Manchester, generally I don’t let people record in my yard, buuut…. he’s bro so we just got it crackin, our energy matched and I think you can still feel that Northern energy and connection on the track heavy. 

Track 13. Voicemails

Boy, this one I wrote off the back of a break up, I’d just got back from  a casting in London – I went studio and pulled up on Coatse – who executive produced the project, the beat was playing when I walked in, and I just gave him the look and he said he’s in there for one more hour before he bounces.  I think it covers my energy when things change in relationships – I still wish the best for people even if they aren’t around anymore, when I play it now it takes me back to that time. 

Your supporters have been waiting years for a project from you, why did you think this was the right time to release one?

Truthfully I’ve been working on my craft for the last 2 years, I feel confident with where I’m at now, so I feel this is the perfect time to drop, especially with covid-19 and isolation going on so people will have time to soak it up properly. The fans have waited long enough!

This mixtape paints a clear picture of your journey so far, from when you were in school and your music teacher believing in you, through experiencing trials and tribulations, to suffering with mental health and more – What was the main message you wanted to convey with this mixtape? Was it about allowing your supporters to really get to know you and your story on a more personal level?

Yeah, I’d agree this project will take the fans on a journey into me and my experiences the good and the bad. The pain and the joy. From the jump I’ve been honest with the fans and put my heart on my sleeve and never really held much back. Anytime I speak on the mental health stuff it’s purely to motivate, in a time where 1 in 3 suffer I feel I almost have to fly the flag to let people know its possible to rise from depression and adversity and come back stronger. However, while I am open in many ways there is much of the project that will be interpreted by the listener, for example the line you picked talking about school, that music teacher was actually in my prison music class, which is where I learned to play guitar, so while you will get some insights about me, I also feel like music is there to be interpreted, let listeners take what they need to from it.

On ‘Introspection’ you raise a lot of awareness around the current climate and various political issues from education to racism – What do you feel needs to be changed?

That’s a very broad question. And there isn’t really anyway I can do it justice. Things are changing but we do need more change and it needs to be done faster. Education is so important, and getting the taught real history, not what we are taught in school. You leave school with an education about racial equality, that makes you think racism is over. Come on. I feel if the white population worked with black population (and other ethnicities) in a more equal way and without unconscious bias, and with an awareness of their privilege, things could get better. We can’t improve things that we are in denial about. Before things change we must hit rock bottom and I feel like we have arrived at that now. Time for us to build I guess, we definitely need to see more black CEO’s and real diversity in organisations not just box ticking. Respecting what a diverse work force can bring to an organisation. And also see more black people in jobs where they are decision makers, that would directly allow black people to make decisions that would empower more people and ensure more equality.

Picture the UK with a Black prime minister how does that picture sit with you in your head?

For me I actually couldn’t picture it and that’s the problem. Have you ever heard the saying “you have to work two or three times as hard as the white man to get on in life” from a black person? Well that saying is really real. 

And from a public services perspective think about funding – maybe building more youth clubs and libraries and funding schools, instead of closing them and cutting funding and instead building more prisons and pushing funding to police, maybe then we could give kids something to do instead of aspiring towards a life on the streets. And also talking of the police, they’ve lost a lot of legitimacy in my eyes, when you see how racist policies like stop and search are and how much they over police the black population. I could go on all day. So I’ll stop here. 

Sonically, this mixtape goes down various avenues, from piano-led backdrops to hard-hitting Drill instrumentals, to more old-school inspired and ambient beats – What was the vision when picking out beats or working with producers? Did you want to experiment with your sound more?

I definitely wanted to become an artist not just a rapper hence me learning guitar and piano and that involves experimenting with my sound more and I’m still doing that, also doing things like trying to learn to read music. That’s mad hard to do by the way. I think producers take it personal when they play beats and I don’t jump for the ones that they might like but generally I use beats I can hear myself on and ones that pull certain vibes and emotions from me. 

I used to shy away from the melodic style of beats but I had to learn to make stronger hooks and kinda get in my bag with all that. 

ANYTHING WORTH KEEPING IS ALWAYS HARD WORK TO GET!

In ‘Paranoid’ you touch on the struggles with life on the road, in the hook it says “I wish I had a choice / Dodging the sirens / Dodging all the violence” – What advice would you give to younger people who struggle to escape from the streets and turn things around for the better?

I would definitely say environment and friendship circles play the biggest part in that sort of stuff. And it’s always important to be around people that your motivated by, that you look at and think you wanna be like them. Because their behavior rubs off whether you notice it or not – vice versa if your chilling around the wrong people.

I think Instagram has just made it easier for people to beat themselves up about their situations but perseverance and hard work do pay off, so don’t watch other people too much, the school system doesn’t help the situation at all either really. I didn’t take anything from school that I apply in my everyday life now if I’m being honest. Where were the money management lessons, learning to prioritize, lessons on paying bills on time and dealing with proper real life situations? So I guess it comes back to education in that way as well.

You are known for your ability to story-tell and really captivate the listener with your bars. I feel with you especially, you put quality of work before quantity – Is this something you have always believed in with your artistry?

The way I see it, to be honest you have two types of people in life, either passion driven or money driven, I try to stay passion orientated, but having a balance of both is probably the best kind of way to be. I was just always passionate about being better and connecting deeper with the fans.

The thing I came to realise later down the line is that music production and releasing is expensive, especially when your doing it all independently and I think I just got caught in-between wanting to release loads of music but then understanding that songs connect better with videos and promotion, videos are usually any where from £500 – £2000 for a decent video. And so I have a fat catalogue of songs but it’s about picking, refining and pushing the best of them, that kind of forces a quality over quantity approach.  So yeah its been a balance between making music then raising the money to release it properly and not just throwing music out there. 

One stand-out track for me was ‘Suppressed Depression’. On this track you talk about your struggles with depression and mental health and on the previous track about toxic relationships. With men, this subject is still very stigmatized and you opening up that vulnerable side of you is good for others to hear – Why did you feel it was important to share your struggles so openly? A few artists find it hard to open up about topics like this…

I feel fully comfy in my own skin and what I came to realise later in my life is you can be sensitive to certain things without being soft or taken for an idiot, so yeah, I just put my life in my music and see how it connects – seeing how the music connects is all about trial and error.

I’ve never been scared to talk from my heart, and depression has been something that’s stayed with me throughout my life to be honest. But, going to prison taught me different coping mechanisms and I know when I’m slipping and how to pull myself back. There’s not enough rappers talking about their actual life. Writing is a release for me, and if that means setting an example about what is or isn’t acceptable to speak about I’m prepared to do that.

You have got a few collaborations on ‘Isolation’ – Tell us how these came about? Why these artists in particular?

When it comes to features I don’t ever force them, if they happen they happen, and once they are completed you always make the decision on whether the song is strong enough for release – some are, some aren’t. I just keep it simple but I’m not down for jumping on songs with just anybody or for money. Sometimes somebody can bring something to a song you can’t bring to that song yourself and for me those are always the best kind of features.

Listen to Isolation below and on Apple Music here. You can keep up to date with all things Fox via his Instagram here.