It was an early sticky humid Minnesota summer morning on July 4th, 2012 when I received a call from artist manager/booker Zack Chazin (Chazin Ent.) who invited Villa Rosa Music to celebrate a day of fireworks and bikinis on a boat with him and his close friends on Lake Minnetonka. With the sun beaming, a jar of coconut oil, Puerto Rican rum and a new bikini to break in I was off to party and experience this massive lake fest full of boats, privileged Minnetonkians, and good blaze. By noon, I had arrived from my uptown apartment to a Minnetonka residential dock set up like a traditional Hallmark American 4th of July gathering. You had the red and white checkered picnic tablecloths, the horseshoe games, miniature US flags picketing the dirt road pathway, and white kids running around in shorts and patriotic t-shirts. Zach led me to the boat and while boarding we clowned about how I felt like I was strait up in an Adam Sandler movie.
"Yo, Ms SotaRico this isn't where we're chillin'. I'm taking yall to Big Island which is like a MTV summer beach party today," assures Chazin.
It was my first time on Big Island and where I first learned about the hip-hop group Kids Like Us formally meeting 2 of the 3 members Eli Fhima and Sam Wayne. Right away Eli introduced himself as Zach's younger brother and that he was not only interested in jumping into the music industry but born to do so. At the time, both Eli and Sam were 18 years old and charmed me with their respect and eagerness to go in on a full freestyle rap cypher. Without hesitation rapper Muja Messiah and I spit a few bars with these 2 recent Hopkins High School graduates, observing their personality and positivity while they beat-boxed and we continued to rap funny references about them being the Minnetonka white boyz on the scene. After choppin' it up for a few, Zach continued to express to me that Eli was very passionate about his writing and putting out a collaborative album with his boy Sam and vocalist,songwriter and friend Lizzie Fontaine.
KIDS LIKE US at the Anti-Bullying Event
3 years later, since that 2012 purified-boat, cypher-session on Lake Minnetonka, Kids Like Us released the album "When the Going Got Weird," in May of 2014, dropped several of videos, performed at several festivals in and out of state in front of thousands of people, collaborated in the studio and have rocked alongside many of their favorite MCs Muja Messiah and Alex Wiley.
I met up again with the fellas of Kids Like Us and Zach Chazin this past Wednesday in Lowertown St. Paul's Faces, which is owned by Eli's father, Twin Cities restaurant entrepreneur and chef icon David Fhima. With a cup of fresh coffee followed by a phenomenal burger for lunch flavored to perfection, I was able to catch up and talk to the Hopkins/Minnetonka rappers about their individual influences, upcoming projects, travels to Israel and their farewell concert celebrating the end of the Kids Like Us era into an introduction to their new music as Future Fossils.
MI: What has influenced your music and style? Where do you get your inspiration from?
Eli: My creativity first sparked from writing poetry as a kid. I won a contest and had to read my poem in front of the school. I was 10 studying a lot of Literature and got into Poe. The vast notion of the unknown poetry hit me. It was around 4th grade. Before that I was always a fan of classic rock and the Minneapolis music scene. My mom's first cousin is Bobby Z who's more like an uncle. During the holidays my cousins would jam out and it really got to me. My dad also influenced me to be a hard worker. I was motivated very young to get into the entrepreneurship side of things from his grind. As far as rapping, growing up I was really into Lil Wayne and then My older sister also introduced me to Eyedea and Abilities and it opened by eyes to a whole other side.
Sam: I get a lot of my inspiration from classic movies. Movies since a child have influenced my way of thinking and helped me to create more metaphors and references. Eli inspired me as a friend in high school. advising me to be more out there with writing and rapping and it helped pave a way for me to deal with my hardships of helping my dad deal with being sick from MS and my parent's divorce. So being a part of Kids Like Us allowed me to creatively deal with the BS in life that was fucking with me. With us transitioning to Future Fossils.
MI: Lizzy is the other 3rd of Kids Like Us. Tell us how she got into the group and what she's up to now.
Eli: We met Lizzy at the Depot in Hopkins where we would play some of our very first gigs. The Depot is where we made a name for ourselves. I had a lot of melodies and one night after a show we were in the parking lot and asked a circle of people if any of them could sing. A few of Lizzy's friends were like "Yeah Lizzy." I hummed a melody and she sang it and it was like "yup, get her in the booth, get her in the booth!" She joined the band and we were complete. Love to Lizzy. She's a powerhouse Feminist who's traveling all over studying her voice. She recently studied different vocal styles in Costa Rica, Spain and Puerto Rico.
Sam: She's got a lot of talent and co-writes as well.
MI: Most memorable shows?
Eli: One of our top fav shows was opening up for rapper Tech Nine in his hometown of Kansas City. It was sweet to perform and introduce our music to a massive crowd who partied the whole set with us. ... I would say our release show for our album was pretty amazing too at the Entry. It was sold-out and a huge ass party.
MI: Eli, I heard you're heading to Israel? What are you doing out there and when are you coming back?
Eli: I am. As far as coming back, I leave this winter on a one way ticket. I plan on glancing at other perspectives of life and being closer to my family. Writing and looking towards bringing my group to rock out in Israel.
MI: Sam what will you be on and how can we keep up to date with you all?
Sam: I plan on doing some solo work, but mainly focusing on getting more music accomplished before Eli leaves and like collaborating with Jordan to create more crazy shit. Check out our links:
Links to music:
Check out the FAREWELL KIDS LIKE US tonight!!!! At First Avenue's 7th Street Entry with DJ ABILITIES , Alex Wiley and more special guest. 18+ $8 Advance $12 at the door . 9pm.
Aug 7th @ 7th Street Entry
Aug 15th @ Summer Set Music Festival