Lorde Fredd33 is a persona constructed by Cameron Henderson, 23-year-old hip-hop artist and member of local collective New Age Narcissism, a creative group that embodies self-expression through music, film, and performance. Over the past two years or so, Fredd33 has made a name for himself locally, leaving a true imprint on Milwaukee’s arts scene. There is simply not enough that can be said about his high energy, almost mesmerizing shows, and of course he’s also garnered notoriety from his releases. After a couple short EP’s, he released his longest project to date last March, a 7-track EP entitled ‘33: The Education’. Just over two months ago, after much anticipation, he released his debut full-length effort, ‘Dead Man’s View’.
The 10-track LP was initially released as a cassette (still available) via independent Milwaukee label Gloss Records and on Bandcamp, before eventually becoming available on Spotify and Apple Music. Other than some production from Pixxr on the LP’s final track, ‘No Time’, it’s entirely a collaboration between Lorde Fredd33, vocalist, and Q the Sun, producer. The two have a longstanding musical relationship that continues to grow.
I had the chance to sit down with Henderson, and he touches on it in a small part of the divulging discussion we had. I won’t say much more because our conversation says so much, but I will say this: Dead Man’s View does not sound like a debut project. I’m not claiming that it is a debut project either, because it’s not, but it really, really doesn’t sound like one.
Why the title? What is the “Dead Man’s View”?
It’s how I see this chapter of perception. It’s just how I see how I see things. It’s like you’re not really here, but you’re seeing the experience for what it is, how it is in your own way, and you relay that message. Because to the rest of the world, you’re pretty much already dead. If in theory we’re already dead, or we’re guaranteed that, this whole experience is a view of a dead man, so to speak.
So would you say sort of looking at yourself outside of yourself?
I don’t know, I guess so. I just accept that my present is, as a collective, my best hopes and worst fears for the future matched with my past experiences/reactions to past experiences and actions. The only thing I got besides my past actions are my future aspirations. Therefore, that all collectively is the dead man’s view. When I’m gone from this planet, my actual life will just be a collection of memories from people from the outside looking in. That’s why the cover is just facing me as I’m being guarded by two reapers that owe me a little something.
There's a lot of laughing on this album. Is that just a part of your flow, or where does that come from?
(laughs hysterically) Life’s just funny as fuck, dog. A lot of things you hear me say in these songs are not so much first time realizations, as opposed to ‘that was the first time that actually came out as a full sentence’. Being able to verbalize how I see something going down, that epiphany is what makes me laugh a lot of times. I don’t know, I just be tripping, it’s funny. Life is just funny to me, every aspect of it. Even the sucky shit is hilarious. What can you really do besides laugh at it? You could cry, but (laughs again) fuck it.
I feel like that observation is interesting because this album to me for sure sounds like a second album. I know it’s your first full length, but I think you’ve already established who you are/what your sound is, and it’s almost like you’re taking a backseat and stepping back and looking back, and I feel like the laughter comes out with that. You’re not fully in the experience, you’re dead, so you’re just looking over the experience, stepping back, seeing what’s going on. I would say a lot of these tracks are talking to someone or something. You say ‘they’ and variations of it a lot. You’re kind of addressing something, and I’m wondering if you have any ideas about what that might be.
I don’t know, when do I say ‘they’ in there?
Pretty much every song. ‘They can’t buy karma’ (Cycles), ‘hit them with the yikitee' (SOS), ‘these heffers’ (SSGS).
(bursts out laughing) Oh yeah, yeah yeah, for sure. Heffers is such an underutilized word, we used to use ‘heffers’ so much in elementary school. It’s funny. I like to use a lot of old terminology from when I was a kid. Me and my closest homies still hold on to that shamelessly. It’s not like we’re trying hold on to childhood because we missed out on so much or anything dramatic like that, it’s just, that’s when shit is all good. Like, maybe you knew a little something going on with your family or something, maybe everything wasn’t the best, but back in those times, you didn’t feel it as much what was going on in reality, and we appreciate that. We don’t wish we were back there, hell naw, cause we’re all basically getting what we wanted when we was that age.
But, yeah, they. “They” is real, like, I say “she” a lot, a lot of things in my music refer to her or she, and I’m not even talking about like a physical woman. I see the spirit as a feminine energy, period. I have a she, you (Evan) have a she, you (Quinn) have a he, just that duality of life and just our human experience being capable of so much and so little. Not much of what I say is literal except for the outro, that’s as literal as the whole album gets.
I’ve heard you talk about creating your own words when something is just... so you, so your experience, that you can’t use regular language to describe it. When you listen back, does everything still mean something to you?
Yeah, I guess, in a way. Even my terminology is describing most of the same experiences, like conflict and love and resolution and things like that. The way I might take a term and slant it to fit my own description of an ideal or something, that’s just my spin on it. Not so much even like a full-on language. I do have some terms that are just between me and certain people, and those are all made up. I really admire the great societies of our times that no matter what it looked like from the outside looking in, you only understood what you were supposed to. You only felt you understood what you were supposed to feel you understood. Being comfortably in the dark on certain things is a very good part of it as well. All you need to know when you’re listening to Dead Man's View is that I’m talking to you, and whatever language you understand out of that, that’s where you’re at. I admired that growing up; that there was just certain shit in a room, like I used to hate it and I used to feel so bad cause I wanna be in on everything and I don’t wanna be in the dark on things. I don’t like being blind, I can’t even do backflips, I got trust issues.
There’s people that come up to me and they don’t have a word to say, like “bro, I heard what you were saying on that song, I heard that shit and I feel you” and like straight-up, I can’t do nothing but laugh, cause I don’t know what it is they’re talking about. But, I know there’s a lot encrypted in there, so if you say you caught something, I wouldn’t be surprised, cause I definitely throw a lot in there.
Can you explain this line from 'Track 7' to me? ‘That true blue is cute, you too.’
Blue, the color, represents tranquility and the calm for me. It’s always been that for me, it’s always been a soothing thing for me. But for others, when I was growing up, it was always such a sad thing, like “I’m feeling blue”. So it’s just a perception piece. It’s just me being like helpful, but dismissive of the alternate way of seeing blue. Your definition of ‘true blue’ is just as cute as you are.
The whole concept of truth in general is a very cute thing, when people start talking so definitively about things and make it seem like they have an answer, or somehow got privy to some answer that’s beyond your understanding. That shit is cute, it’s hilarious. So it’s definitely poking a little fun at people who think they know certainty in anything. I used to talk to people when I was like 15 when I started claiming I was an Atheist. I was like “bro, how can you tell me that the sky is blue, who the fuck told you that the sky is blue?” and they would laugh, and deep down inside I sort of felt like I was just talking shit too, because it’s pretty unfounded what I was saying, but at the same time, it was just like “but really though”? Why is blue blue and not this or that? Who said that, how did it keep going? So that’s what went into that line, and it sounded slick. It reminded me of some funky ass shit.
Does working with kids affect your writing, your music? Do they listen to your music? I’m sure they’ve looked you up.
Of course, hell yeah. In the sense that I wanna make sure, just like when I started music for the first time, that I was heavy in my spiritual practices. So it’s imperative that I pay close attention to the spirits that I put into my music and the messages. It’s very important to be aware and mindful of that. Even if what we’re talking about might not seem the most positive, your message still has to be clear. Or at least your entire delivery and presentation has to be so open and without bias that nobody can mistake you for glorifying something.
As far as listening to my music, they’ve seen some stuff here and there, they’ve slipped on some performance videos. I let a couple of them check out the SOS video. They were like in awe about it, so that’s hilarious. But, yeah. They’ve looked me up. They definitely respect it.
What kind of role do you want to play for these kids, knowing that you’re a musician that they’re obviously looking up to?
Well, to them, I’m not a musician. I’m Cam. I’m their teen group leader and I’m their mentor. I compartmentalize very well. I bring them to FREESPACE and they love it. They know that I’m in the arts community. The blabbermouths that have seen the performance videos and whatnot, they’re like “man he be getting ‘em crazy!”, but they don’t know what I do. They know I make music, they know I have an effect on people, they know I bring them out. They see that people respond to me and people fuck with me. I haven’t performed in front of any of those kids I don’t believe. Not like last time, at the other location I was at, a lot of them were like 17, close to 18, so they got to see Locust Street Days, stuff like that. I’ve seen the effect that it can have on the kids but the kids I’m working with now are way younger, so I don’t impress anything upon them at all. They don’t need to see any of that.
Is that hard for you to do? Take those two different halves and wear them separately?
Nah, cause that’s all I do. All I do is music and work with kids and I’m a father. So I just keep my triangle very secure. There’s no need for different faces for anything. When I’m Cam, those kids think I’m the sweetest asshole that cared about them in the world. Anybody out there in the real world who really knows me feels pretty much the same way. Keeping it consistent, being real to yourself and understanding who you are, that’s what it does. It relieves you of the duty of having to be so many different people at once. Like, I’m Cam or I’m Lorde Fredd33, there’s no if ands or buts about it.
I think you’ve made it pretty clear, but there are two different personae. Lorde Fredd33 and Cam are two different things.
I’d say. Well one of them is fake. Well, like, both of them are fake in a sense, because a persona is just a collective of so many personalities that you come in contact with. You take the good ones and then you have your true spirit and you have all your predispositions since you were born. Whether you got your two parents, and then you branch out, new personalities start to impress on you, you do the same, y’all question each others existence, and then you become these personae.
So has Lorde Fredd33 changed?
I don’t know. I would imagine that Lorde Fredd33 will be ever changing so long as the world is changing. Like, to you, what do you think the main difference in sound is from 33: The Education to Dead Man's View?
I think you’re vocally cleaner, pronouncing better, and that comes with the engineering that was done.
Well sure. I guess I should have been more specific - not so much the technical side, but more so like the mood of it. To me, it seems like the same old, same old but in a different delivery. I’m saying more words for sure. If you listen to 33, those lyrics are very limited. I don’t say a lot, it’s more about the feeling. I set the mood with everything, I guess you could say. It was an education of sorts.
This is technically your debut full-length, but it feels like a sophomore album. You have really already established yourself. Now, you’re exploring what you’ve established and that’s more refined in itself. The things that you’re addressing are clear and your wordplay is more complex.
It had to be, there’s more words.
33 was more psychedelic I guess.
Yeah, definitely. There were a lot more feels and thoughts. There was a lot more contemplation than DMV. I chose to be more simplistic in coming with a first impression (33). So I did it very simple, very rudimentary. Like, c’mon. “Nacho Girl” and shit like that… (laughs). I like the music, I dig it, if it comes on now, if I just randomly hear it, I’ll be like “man I like that, I actually like that a lot”. It was more feeling, I just didn’t know what my demographic was.
Even today, I still don’t really know who is listening to Lorde Fredd33. A lot of different people have come up to me. Older people have come up to me, younger people have come up to me. I don’t know, I think because I put so much emphasis on my performance, that’s what opens up such a wide array of different age groups and whatnot. You can’t knock a good performance, it you felt the performance, there’s nothing else to say. Especially if you see me perform before you hear my music, which a lot of people do. I’m happy about it, but it’s still a little weird. I’m more so finding that balance of creating music so no matter when you check in to Lorde Fredd33 (musically), you’re always right there, especially if you’re coming off a high of a performance before you hear my music.
It’s a huge difference if you watched me perform over the course of last summer and the only thing you heard after that was 33. You’d be like, “What the fuck? What songs was he performing there? Because it sounds like none of this.” I feel like all my music is just gonna speak for itself, that’s why I’m confused on what to say about it. I felt that and I did that and I’m pretty sure somebody’s gonna feel that just because of how much feeling was poured into it. How can you not feel something if I felt it so much? You have to feel something.
It feels very authentic. You’re not even necessarily fully aware of what you’re doing. I feel like that’s how most really good music is. They’re like “oh, okay cool, it says that”, but they’re not fully aware of what they’re even saying because they’re accessing this voice that… I don’t know, who knows where it’s coming from, I guess?
What’s on your agenda this summer? Show-wise?
Summer is gonna be a lot of NAN gigs. We’re going to be doing hella sets, the main gigs around town. We are doing the NAN Summerfest (opening for The Roots) and that’s gonna be cool as shit. I’m just gonna be moving around, trynna get outta here as much as I can.
Do you have anything you would wanna say to The Roots?
I grew up listening to The Roots, that shit’s dope. But really, I never have anything to say cats like that, The Roots, I really don’t have anything to say to those guys. They’re dope. They know that they’re dope, they’ve been told they’re dope for decades. I grew up listening to them, meaning at this point in time, I know where I wanna be, and I wanna wow them one day. Who knows if they’ll be watching? I just don’t look at it that way, I just perform.
I’ve seen The Roots perform before and they’re legendary. They are The Legendary Roots. Their band is second to none, they’re a tight unit and they’ve been that way, and they’ve always brought the soul. So I can’t wait for them to possibly see us or something. I can’t wait for us to get more exposure and more recognition and get more offers which equals more money.
At the end of the day, it’s a touch souls and count this dough type of thing. We just wanna show love and spread love and we wanna be paid for our energy spent because you can’t ever really repay us for that energy spent. We want to be paid for our time because no matter what, we’ll always be letting y’all lowball us, no matter if it’s millions, it’s lowball man. Put your whole life for something, no price is really good enough, I guess. But we can settle. We’re not there yet, to the point we’re getting like $100K shows. Until we get there, I’m not gonna pleased with what I’m doing, I’m not gonna pleased with what my homies have done. Let’s keep going. We should be rehearsing more. We should be talking less. Well, we should be talking more in the sense of communicating what we need to do, but there’s no need for all that artsy fartsy bullshit politics. We already know we’re homies, we already know we’re like brothers and sisters. Cool. What’s the work looking like?
Are you working on new stuff right now?
Of course. So much stuff.
Is there anything we can expect?
Some off the wall shit. I’m about to take over some genres.
I just got done working with Kweku [Collins] out in Chicago. He sent me something before and like, I don’t know, I dug it for sure cause it was off the wall. But I hadn’t really heard much of his music before, which I’m happy cause I don’t like to judge people off of their past work. He told me to come through the studio, the beat was bumping, he was doing his thing. He blew me away cause I honestly just assumed that this guy was like… I don’t know, I’m gonna be completely real bro, just off of seeing him and not really knowing him, and hearing that song 'ChillyChilly' where they was using my lingo, I was like “alright cool, I don’t even know this dude”. It’s Web’s guy but I was like, “I really don’t know this guy”. I met him once and he was cool but he was just sort of standbackish. So I just assumed he was some kinda pretty boy, trendy, some shit like that. I didn’t really think too much about his talent.
But then when we stepped in the studio… usually the response I get when I’m done doing something, usually the process is come to the studio, something gets played or something gets made, start going in, we start writing. I finish my verse before everybody, I go and record, mothafuckas just be looking stupid. That’s usually the process, literally, no matter who it’s been. They’re like “oh shit”, trynna figure out what just happened, but I just move like water and not everybody is used to that.
But this guy… soon as I do that, I lay that shit down, everybody’s like “aw man that shit’s dope”. And then he finished writing, he starts doing his thing and he goes into the booth and starts recording and it’s like “Ok, it’s cool at first, I see what he’s doing, I’m digging it” and then like, he’s such a perfectionist with it which I respect, and he just kept going and kept going, kept saying he knows, he feels it, and the lyrics just start stacking up and really at that point it just blew me the fuck away. So much respect for him. His process I really dig, and I respect any homies. Those some cool dudes [Closed Sessions], they damn near live in that studio, you can just tell. It’s admirable, I dig it. Much respect to Kweku.
I noticed you used the line ‘meat no nothing’. Everybody used to play the game back when I was in high school. My friends and I still do, really.
Hell yeah. You make a mistake, you jump the gun publicly, you think you know what it is, but you got something wrong… “meat no nothing”. If you call “meat no nothing” before they call “no meat”, they get to slap the back of your hand, and if they say “world wide dibs”, that means everyone in the general area that hears it gets to smack the fuck out of you. That shit’s hilarious. I’m glad you caught that.
Another line I'm hoping that you can explain to me [from SOS]:
I saw on Genius that you referred to that as your 'mantra'. To me, it’s just like gibberish, I don’t know what you’re talking about. But it’s not gibberish right?
I know what you mean, I’m saying words and you can hear the words but to you the words don’t lead anywhere. You might be right (we all laugh). I had some fun with SOS, SOS was a fun song.
“Talking to myself cause I get me” - I think you know that people just don’t understand you.
That’s why I don’t like talking to people. I was very clear on this album. My first full-length project, in my mind, was a good time for me to let people know what it is, people that swear they know me just cause they like my music and they like my performance, and they’ve talked to somebody who’s talked to somebody who knows me, something like that. All these goofy ass people who play into all these social politics and don’t understand that most of the animosity comes from the fact that I don’t play into these politics or anything like that. I step into a room and I don’t talk to anybody, not because I’m an asshole, but because I only went into that room to handle something, or to get something done. And so once I’m done getting that done, I leave.
It seems like Q the Sun is more than just a producer to you. How would you describe his role in this album?
He is more than a producer, he’s a good fucking friend. He plays his role. Everybody in my life that’s close to me, they know their role in their life. They know their vision and where they wanna go, and they have no problem playing that shit right next to me, playing mine and living mine out. When it comes to us musically, he is just a producer. He presses record too. In that sense, he’s part engineer as well. He’s older and I respect my elders, period, so he’s more like a big brother than anything. But, we come from two way different walks of life, I teach him a lot of the time about certain things when it comes to life.
I just bank that on no matter what, overall, with him, and most people older than me that are around me, that I trust to a certain extent, I just trust that they actually know, paid attention and analyzed their life experience. So I just know that he has experience more so than me. So no matter what I’ll always listen. Now, we’re both very prideful and stubborn when it comes to the creative process, but we don’t run into any hiccups. It’s very simple. I can be very sensitive about it because we really create, it’s all creation when we’re in the room, so there has to be give and take, there has to compromise at all times.
But your response isn’t always no?
Oh, no, no no. Sometimes it’s just straight up, I’ll say no. If I know that I was way too closed off about something, I’ll wait and then be like “alright, fuck it, let’s try it then and see”. If it doesn’t turn out, he’ll end up seeing it too. “Alright, well it was good this way”. Or vice versa. We’re ideal brothers when it comes to that shit in the sense that we listen to each other and when we’re really strongly against each other, it’s not rooted in pride.
The process though is more than him just sending you a beat.
Well no, he doesn’t send me beats, we live right down the street from each other. It goes without saying that NAN as a whole, none of us have the typical artist-to-artist relationship. Q and I met in a basement jamming, he saw potential and energy in me and and I saw the same in him. I literally found my dangermouse when I met him.
The stakes are much higher, the success of you is the success of him much more than a typical producer.
I don’t know, I suppose you could say that. His work with me and NAN in general is his first real attempt at being a producer, and not a musician. You gotta understand his clock is ticking, he’s been making music for a long time and you could make music forever. He was a composer for a band.
It seems like there’s a play between his beats and the way you’re rapping on top of it.
The main difference between our relationship and a lot of other rapper-producer relationships is the love that is there, it’s not just in the art. My love for Q is for him as a person, I love that man. And he loves me.
Musically, Lorde Fredd33 sounds like he should be rapping over Q The Sun’s production, and I think what you just described can sort of explain it, having that sort of relationship with an inherent close connection. It only makes sense.
Right. We sound like we know each other. It’s a conversation.
It’s a mutually beneficial situation.
Oh, hell yeah. We both got too much at stake in life for it to be anything else. We’re the only two people we know in the room who are just like, not fucking around.
Why should we hail Lorde Fredd33 [a recurring line throughout DMV]?
(laughs) Shit… (laughs hysterically), that’s a good fucking question. You’ll have to ask yourself in the mirror. I wouldn’t tell you anything. Lorde Fredd33 is Lorde Fredd33. Cameron, he doesn’t pray to a godddamn thing. So… (laughs)... I wouldn’t hail a goddamn thing if I were you. I don’t encourage people to not think for themselves. It was just something cool to say probably.