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[Rewind] When Art & Hip-Hop Collide, With FRKO

[Rewind] When Art & Hip-Hop Collide, With FRKO

We’re rewinding back to April 2018 to revisit our episode with FRKO, who has since flexed on some major collaborations, like with Reebok and Redbull, and continues working with some of the biggest names in hip-hop on thier album artwork. FRKO’s sense of humor and knack for capturing the essence of life on the streets has landed him on the radars of some of the biggest names in hip-hop. In fact, FRKO has drawn multiple covers for Action Bronson, including the artwork for Mr. Wonderful, and the artwork for Gucci Mane’s “All My Children.” FRKO joins Michelle on The Cultured Podcast to discuss his earliest influences and how the streets of Atlanta shapes his art.

Read the episode transcript below.

Michelle Khouri  0:01  

Oh, hello, my babies! This is it. This is our last rerelease episode. The last three have been such a ball. It’s been really special to go down memory lane and revisit some of our favorite conversations on Cultured over the last three years. Three years, yo! That’s a long time. And here we are just weeks away from new episodes of Cultured coming at the top of the year, the first Wednesday of January. But in the meantime, we are going back to our conversation with none other than the Atlanta icon that is FRKO Rico! What? He is such a character. He is an artist through and through. A creative through and through. And we had such a fun time recording this conversation in-person, in-studio, when we used to do that remember? And ever since our conversation, he has flexed on some major collaborations like with Reebok and Redbull. And he continues working with some of the biggest names in hip hop on album artwork. So this is a dude who puts in the work and puts in the creativity and knows how to start a conversation. You’ll know what I mean in just a moment. Without further ado, here he is, the FRKO.

Welcome to The Cultured Podcast. I’m your host, Michelle Khouri, and together will journey into the unknown reaches of the art world. Hola mis babies! I am so excited to be here with you again week after week, show after show! Today, we’re talking to FRKO, a visual artist, BMX biker, budding rapper, husband to Cultured guest and clothing designer, Bianca, from episode nine. And a new father to Ace, who is possibly the cutest baby in all of the land. FRKO is here to talk to us about album art. After his artwork skyrocketed into the mainstream when Action Bronson asked him to do the artwork for “Mr. Wonderful”. And then Gucci Mane for “All My Children”. So we’re going to talk to him today about the inspiration behind his very signature style, which PS in most cases is not safe for work. But first, let’s talk about what’s inspiring me today. You know, my inspiration took flight, because I’m inspired by songbirds. The spring is a comin’ my friends and with it are a whole bunch of different kinds of songbirds. But in particular, my very favorite is the northern Cardinal, or just the red Cardinal. I am left speechless every time I see this beautiful bird and I started looking up some facts about it. Because as a Latina, who grew up in Miami, we actually had little stuffed Cardinals, they weren’t real, no Cardinals were hurt in the making of Christmas at my house, but my mom would put them on the tree, she would put them around the house. And so I grew up with the idea of this cute, red, beautiful Cardinal. But I had never seen one in person in my life until, I am not kidding, a few months ago. And I was sitting at my desk, which has this beautiful window that faces this amazing tree and there, right in front of my eyes, was a cardinal the first time I’d ever seen one in my life. And I was stunned by its beauty. So I started researching it and found some fun facts. And these are kind of the trains of thoughts that I go on when I find something that inspires me. And through that path of inspiration, I found out that Cardinals were actually named after Catholic Cardinals, by early American settlers, because Catholic Cardinals were bright red robes. And, of course, Cardinals are bright red. Well the male Cardinals the female Cardinals are actually tan and orange. They have a little bit of red on their wings. But guess what? The females don’t have to dress up so much because they’re so in demand. I don’t know what happened with human society but we got to get on that train. You know, I’m saying I just hate doing my hair. That’s, that’s it. Anyway, these birds are also monogamous. So they mate for life. And if the pair is able to produce healthy offsprings, they remain together for a long time. They might even divorce if they need to find a more suitable mate. So again, like parallels here with humans, you know, been there, done that. Whatever. Anyway, probably like the most fun fact is that a flock of Cardinals is sometimes known as a Vatican. So the more you know, kids. All right, without further ado, let us talk to FRKO.

 Well, hello FRKO. 

FRKO  5:06  

How are you doing?

Michelle Khouri  5:07  

 Or should I say Monsieur FRKO? Mr. FRKO?

FRKO  5:09  

Papa FRKO?

Michelle Khouri  5:10  

Papa FRKO? All right, you know your art feels to me like a cross between comic books, Roy Lichtenstein and porn, but that’s just me. So how do you describe your style?

FRKO  5:22  

Definitely influenced by comic books. Porn, I think subconsciously. You know, you watch porn so much you start seeing it as an art form, you know, multiple figures just doing things that’s, most of the time, natural. 

Michelle Khouri  5:35  


FRKO  5:35  

So if you look at an artist, especially like artists like me, who studies anatomy, I guess it is an art form.

Michelle Khouri  5:40  

When did you get into art?

FRKO  5:42  

My mom will say since I was about three.

Michelle Khouri  5:44  


FRKO  5:45  

Yeah, my mom took it more seriously. My mom always knew I was gonna do something with it. She nurtured it. So as a kid, I was part of programs every single summer, every day after, I had an after school program because both my parents work. My mom was a teacher, my dad’s real estate agent. I always was drawing something. I always had a sketchbook with me. And then always, I was just the showman. Always showed off. I’ve been the same person since I was about fifth grade, literally. That’s when I broke into who I was. And then I got my nickname. My first name is Richard. 

Michelle Khouri  5:45  


FRKO  5:51  

So there was another Richard and so, but he was like, he was, he looked like his name was Richard. So people call him Richard. But people stopped calling me Richard. And then was calling me Rico. And I got FRKO when I was like, in the seventh grade, going in eighth grade.

Michelle Khouri  6:29  

Oh, people just started calling you that?

FRKO  6:30  

Well I had a football coach make fun of me, started calling me that. And I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. Because I was just, you know, kids don’t like talking about sex and stuff. I was open to just talk shit about it. And then, that shit got around that I was like, on that shit when I was like eighth grade. And my coaches, just were like, “What?”

Michelle Khouri  6:51  

And started calling you that. 

FRKO  6:52  

Yeah, they just called me FRKO. 

Michelle Khouri  6:54  

You’re all about breaking the norm, breaking tradition. 

FRKO  6:56  


Michelle Khouri  6:57  

To see something traditional, like the pursuit of a classical arts degree from Howard University in DC, which is a historically black university. So I want to hear a little bit from you about what compelled you to seek out that training.

FRKO  7:12  

I had a teacher, Arthur Parks, and he’s a, he’s an illustrator and a painter. That was my first like, intro to classical, you know, someone teaching me how to draw and paint. Because at first I was self taught, of course. I would have teachers that would just tell my mom, my dad, like, he’s good, you know, get him into something. So that was my first intro that so he always told me about studying black art because he was a black artist. So it was a no brainer, when, um, when I got accepted to Howard, and also had my aunt and my cousin, that was teaching the fine arts. I got ready for SCAD and got accepted to SCAD. And they offered an $8,000 scholarship, which was good. But then I got accepted to Howard and got a full ride. Especially for a talent scholarship, which is unheard of for people, you know, my freshman class when I showed up there. So they’re like, you’re going to school for free off of drawing and painting? And I’m like, Yeah.

Michelle Khouri  8:03  

Well, and it’s also unheard of, to have your parents like, stand up for your art. So that’s amazing. And it helped shape the rest of your life.

FRKO  8:12  

Yeah, my mom would get complaints about how I am and I think she had to realize that, “Okay, he’s coming from a whole other world”. And then you can’t, you know, discipline was different for me, because nothing really hurt me. I just, if you take, if you take the art away from me, then yeah, but they really — my mom, my dad — they didn’t like, they’d discipline me on a forceful level. And then I got it, I used to eat pain, and then go back and paint and draw. 

Michelle Khouri  8:37  


FRKO  8:37  

And then just come back. And then they just like, Oh, I thought you were crying this whole time? You’ve been in here. You got a whole slew of shit you just made, you know? So…

Michelle Khouri  8:46  

That’s your soul drive?

FRKO  8:47  

Yeah, it’s my drive. And it’s, uh, it’s a liberating, liberating tool. And that just, it’s just been the same. You know?

Michelle Khouri  8:53  

What I also find really interesting is the fact that you’re one of the most consistently dedicated artists I know. I mean, you create something every single day without fail. 

FRKO  9:05  

Yeah, I do.

Michelle Khouri  9:05  

And I have a friend who’s lived with you before and she has told me it’s amazing to see you, you know, at your desk, always drawing, always making something. And I think we all, as creatives, we all kind of hear you have to make something every day but it’s hard!

FRKO  9:22  

Yeah, it is!

Michelle Khouri  9:22  

The one thing about you is that Atlanta street culture is a very important part of your work. 

FRKO  9:27  


Michelle Khouri  9:27  

And I feel like your process as well. 

FRKO  9:29  


Michelle Khouri  9:29  

So what about street life inspires you?

FRKO  9:32  

Every little part of it. We just, we’re on the street, you know, we just took, took Ace for a stroll down Edgewood for the first time. I’m not from, like, the streets of Atlanta. I grew up going to the streets of Atlanta. My dad hated it. He was just “You’re always in the streets!” You know? And like, when I, when he gave me his, he gave me his car, like, as my first car. And that’s, that’s the first place I went. I went literally downtown and just drove around for 30 minutes just til my, til my gas light came on and I tried to put like five in the tank and get back. So, but I just love everything about street culture. And people, people think street culture is cool things that happen in the street. I’m, I’m talking about just random shit. And that’s what I love about street culture. It’s literally built on polarities. Like, if you’re gonna live by the law, you live by law, but when you’re in the street, the law can go either way. You know, like, if the police aren’t there, there’s no law, you know? 

Michelle Khouri  10:21  


FRKO  10:21  

So, and that’s what I love about like cities like Philly, because it’s a very lawless city you can do fuck you want there for real. I found that last — this past summer — last summer. And DC, definitely people don’t realize DC has a rich street culture, mixed with all the cultures that are there from the Eritrians, East Africans, to just people who are from Maryland that come into the city. And there’s people who literally have been in the same spot in the city. So every little aspect drives, like everything I do, period. Like I’m just a street person. I can live in, I can live in nature. But I’m just — I’m drawn to concrete. Like I love seeing concrete, I love seeing like angles and geometric shapes that are built from stuff. I just love looking at it. And that’s why I use it so much.

Michelle Khouri  11:04  

And you also are drawn to people and interactions. And it’s clear that you’re very curious about what makes people tick. 

FRKO  11:12  


Michelle Khouri  11:12  

You know? Because, because I feel like a lot of your art you put out there and a) there’s a facetiousness to it. And then it also often feels like you’re testing the limits and testing people’s reactions. 

FRKO  11:26  

Yeah, I do. I do.

Michelle Khouri  11:27  

And I love that. It’s like this constant thermometer that you’re pricking into people’s like, butts.

FRKO  11:32  

I mean, if people, and I think if people aren’t comfortable with themselves, they shouldn’t be around me. I’m not doing it to hurt you. I just do it to see what, how far you’re gonna go inside yourself to deal with me. And then or I don’t know how you’re gonna do it. You know?

Michelle Khouri  11:48  

It’s like a social experiment.

FRKO  11:49  

Yeah, everyday is a social experience. 

Michelle Khouri  11:49  


FRKO  11:51  

So — and the thing is for me, like there’s no right or wrong. It’s just the polarities of how I live. Like, I — sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong. A lot of times I’m wrong. A lot of times I’m right. And so I just love that because it gives me something to write about, something to draw about. And like, you know?

Michelle Khouri  12:05  

I also feel there’s a rebelliousness. 

FRKO  12:07  


Michelle Khouri  12:08  

Obviously, especially in the tools that you use. 

FRKO  12:11  


Michelle Khouri  12:11  

And so I want to talk a little bit about some of those tools. So what are your favorite tools to make art?

FRKO  12:16  

Since I just was showing at Wish Gallery, I did nothing but acrylic and uh, all paint stick, using the exact same brush and not cleaning it. I did that for all of my paintings. Like it was bare. It was very dirty. Very dirty, a lot of the water was disgusting. And I was talking to myself while I was painting like, Bianca was like “He’s talking to himself.” Like, because I was like, this is disgusting. Like, you know, I was like this is horrible. I love it, you know? That was my whole thing, like and I got into it because of that one brush. And I used the same brush the entire time. That’s unheard of for, for painters to do that and not clean their brushes. Keep going back in with the same colors, washing them out, like this, the technique I love it. And then as far as illustration, of course, people don’t know, I don’t use a Wacom tablet. And I use an old HP that’s from 2014 or 2013. And I use an old version of Photoshop. I don’t use Illustrator, I don’t even know how to use that stuff. You know, what I learned how to do was draw on paper and scan it. And so when I explain that to people who are straight, just digital artists that use tablets, they’re like what? And so really-

Michelle Khouri  13:19  

And you’re talking about floppy disks.

FRKO  13:20  

Yeah, and the thing is, there’s no vector. So my line, my lines that I have that I drew on the paper, those are my lines. So it freaks people out because my hands, my hand is really steady. But at the same time it’s an illusion because I go at angles that make, that make the lines look straight but they’re not straight. It’s just like when you, when you’re at a psychiatrist, you know, and you’re looking at something okay, like what do you see? It’s the same thing. It makes me want to use, you know, Crayola markers, I do a lot of Crayola marker stuff. Instead of using Copics and shit like that. I use, I use the dollar Crayolas that you get from Kroger.

Michelle Khouri  13:52  

You keep it simple as hell. And it’s like there’s an art to this simplicity.

FRKO  13:58  

Right. It’s minimal. It’s minimalism.

Michelle Khouri  14:00  

Right, it’s minimal but it’s also like, he made that with Crayola markers. So there’s no excuse, right?

FRKO  14:05  

Yeah, if you know how strong your hand is, and then how far you’re gonna go creative in your mind, then you shouldn’t worry. So that’s why I said when, so, because I know myself so well. And it does I do come off like a dick sometimes or asshole to people who don’t know themselves that well, or who have to question themselves because, but I’m not trying to push you away from knowing yourself, I want to help you. And sometimes I’m a little bit brash, I’m a Sagittarius. That’s just how we are. And so it’s gonna come off like that. And that’s just the art of it, man. It’s just, you got to play around, man.

Michelle Khouri  14:37  

So speaking of playing around, there’s a lot of graphic sexual imagery in your work. Sometimes it makes me blush. But it’s also, whether it’s in your visual art, rapping, your installation-

FRKO  14:50  

You heard my raps?

Michelle Khouri  14:51  

Uh, of course. All of them. I did my research. 

FRKO  14:55  

Thank you. 

Michelle Khouri  14:57  

And so often the situation’s depicted in your visual art are men surrounded by half-naked or naked women tons of T and A. So where does that come from? And what are you trying to communicate with that?

FRKO  15:08  

Uh, I love the female body. That’s one thing I could say. So, and I love drawing it in the way I, I love illustrating it the way I illustrate, because when I, at Howard, of course, I took figure drawing 1, 2, 3. Finger painting 1, 2, 3, which was a watercolor acrylic oil. And then I did sculpture 1, 2, 3, which was clay, wood, and, uh, some wire bullshit, we tried. That broke everybody who was in the class with me out of seeing shit, so sexual, and so you know, westernized of nudity. And so, and I really got into the art of muscle even though you sometimes you can’t really see it. But when I sketch out my nudes and stuff, I put every little muscle in there, and I might go back and erase just because I still wanted to have the minimal feel. 

Michelle Khouri  15:52  


FRKO  15:52  

So that’s, that’s why I do that. It is nothing like trying to oversexualize, but I have, I have my fun. And I think real artists who look at the work, they understand, okay, this dude knows anatomy.

Michelle Khouri  16:03  

So let’s talk a little bit about your relationship with hip hop. Highsnobiety has an article that calls you one of hip hop’s best visual artists. And when we talk about hip hop, we’re talking about this cultural phenomenon really. It’s not just a genre of music. It’s something that’s made up-

FRKO  16:20  

It’s a way of life. 

Michelle Khouri  16:20  

Right. And, and it has different elements like graffiti, like breaking and emceeing. So, aside from your work for hip hop artists, I actually think that your work captures the same themes that we’ve seen in hip hop, rap and trap-

FRKO  16:37  


Michelle Khouri  16:37  

-for the past couple of decades. So how do you see your work fitting into hip hop culture?

FRKO  16:41  

When I sit down and I do anything, I don’t have to say I want to make it hip hop. I listened to all that shit growing up, I’m talking about four or five years old. I didn’t watch Barney. And I didn’t watch Disney Channel. I didn’t watch none of that. And so because I, I wasn’t stripped of my childhood, but I have older brothers who, you know, if I’m watching that they’re gonna walk in, change the channel, and you know, put Rap City on, you know? So I was hip-hop from, from the get-go, and I don’t think they knew what they built. You know? Because now they listen to some corny ass hip-hop, and I still listen to the shit that they put me on when I was a kid. And I’m like, “Hey,” they’re like, “Why you so hard?” I’m like, “You guys kind of built me like this, playing around and you built a little monster.” So yeah, I mean-

Michelle Khouri  17:18  

The little monster was always there. They just let it out.

FRKO  17:21  

I take hip hop so seriously, like, I’m one of those people who I’m not afraid to say it. I you know, I live it. You know, I live it. And I love it. Hip-hop artists — I get, I get contacted every single day from young, aspiring hip hop artists that, um, they come to me for artwork, but they come for me, they come to me for a stamp. Like they want me to listen to their work. And they want me to give them my open opinion about, like, their raps. So me making like a rap album myself was, was uh, was odd because people have been wanting it for years. And in school I was always able to freestyle and like, joke around, I just, it just it’s natural. So I live a little harder than a lot of rappers that are coming out, you know?

Michelle Khouri  18:02  


FRKO  18:02  

I still live harder than rappers, with, with the, you know, with a wife and a child. So it’s like, you know, I know how to, I know how to struggle. I know how to hustle. And I think that is what people aspire to get from me other than the artwork. You know, I’ve had a guy who just hit me up and I did art for him. He’s like, “Man, you know, you know, it’s more than just the artwork with you man, you know, you live like you live like a rapper. But then you do artwork.” And then, but it’s still cool because “you make, you make it cool for us to like to be, be ourself.” To be yourself. You know what I mean?

Michelle Khouri  18:31  


FRKO  18:31  

 Be yourself.

Michelle Khouri  18:32  

And you just released your first album “Fat Can.”

FRKO  18:35  


Michelle Khouri  18:36  


FRKO  18:36  


Michelle Khouri  18:37  

And you collaborated with your wife, Bianca, who like I mentioned earlier, is the guest from episode nine because she has her own clothing label called Bianca. So how did you first start working with Action Bronson?

FRKO  18:50  

Bronson was like a no brainer. When I first got onto him, you know, of course you sound like Ghostface. So that’s one of the reasons, because I’m a huge Ghostface fan, Wu Tang fan. And so, but, but the lyrics were so vivid. And it just got me back into drawing and got back and got me back into illustration. And that’s what happened. I took the illustration, it started back when, when I did Action Bronson’s drawings. Bronson was reposting all the stuff on Instagram when Instagram was not so clout based. It was just loose. And 2014 he was just posting stuff. 2015 comes. Eminem had saw my work and they paid me to do like a holiday card for him and then I was just initially, they just want they they want to see if I can work under circumstances like that. So then his uh, his old manager, I dont’ think it’s his manager anymore, hit me up and was just like, we want you to do a cover for a single that he’s about to drop and he hadn’t dropped music in like a year because he was just doing, he was a mixtape artist at the time. So then it just kept going kept rolling. And I talked to Bronson on the phone for the first time for like 30 minutes. We just vibed out like, I ain’t gonna lie, the guy is that, you know, we have a lot in common. It’s odd, but we do have a lot in common, same interests and stuff. He hit me up for the album cover which blew my mind.

Michelle Khouri  20:03  

For “Mr. Wonderful.”

FRKO  20:04  

Yeah for “Mr. Wonderful” and then all the singles after it, you know? 

Michelle Khouri  20:08  


FRKO  20:08  

They hit me up for that and then it was okay, so after we did a cover, you’re gonna do three more four more single covers and we’re just gonna hit him that hard. And then you know, then you can do everyone to do too so it was cool because that was, uh, that was my first break into commercial art. This stuff was billboard, it was everything like it was on the side of a truck.

Michelle Khouri  20:27  

So crazy. That’s, that’s when your art hit that mainstream-

FRKO  20:31  

Yeah, hit mainsteam.

Michelle Khouri  20:31  

-level. And then, of course, Gucci Mane is getting out of prison. 

FRKO  20:36  

Yeah. That was weird, too.

Michelle Khouri  20:37  

And he reaches out to you!

FRKO  20:39  

That was so, I’ve seen Gucci before like four or five times and then just leading up to him get out of jail. And I was drawing all this stuff. And then, huge Gucci fan. You know, I’m talking like old Gucci, just because it just it pushed me through high school in college, you know, that was like, his mixtapes motivated me in art. It was weird. But it might when I was in DC, it just reminded me of home of how, how she just was here on the east side. And that’s all it was. And when they hit me up for that, uh, it was funny, I did the cover in two hours, and-

Michelle Khouri  21:09  

It just came out of you. 

FRKO  21:10  

Yeah, it just came out of me fast. And then I’m a, I’m a performer. When you give me the opportunity, I’m gonna take it and run. So, and, I’m gonna perform.

Michelle Khouri  21:18  

So I’m curious about the process for designing an album cover, and especially transitioning into the commercial world. So what is the process for you? Is there a process? Or is each one different?

FRKO  21:30  

It’s funny, because I’ve like now I’ve designed like, a lot of different things. And I’ve worked with a slew of like big companies, nothing’s changed. Like they have to work how I work. I’m not using a tablet, I do not have a tablet, I do not even know how to use one, you know, I have one actually, but it’s a shitty one, don’t even work really. And they, they understand that. They’re like, okay, we want, but usually they want the stuff that they already see from me personally. They’re like, we want this stuff. Like right now I’m about to be working for a big company. And they the way they laid it out, they were like, We want this kind of shit from you. The shit that you don’t do for everyone else. And I’m like, okay, cool, you know?

Yeah. That’s kind of a dream.

It is right? But there’s still, it’s still like, little nooks that you got to get past because, and how many, you know how many revisions they want sometimes.

Michelle Khouri  22:17  

How do you handle those?

FRKO  22:19  

I’m like, I’m aggressive. So on through email, I’ll just say no. I just like, you know, I had to tell a client I’m working with right now just like after, I think after like, the third thing they, I was like, Hey, no, I’m not I’m sorry. I can’t like, I literally can’t do it. And they, they understood it. Okay, you know what, we’re forgetting that he is drawing this stuff. This is not graphic design-

Michelle Khouri  22:40  


FRKO  22:41  

He is drawing this shit on paper and sending it to us.

Michelle Khouri  22:43  

Well, and also it’s so different because when you are an artist for hire and doing commission work all the time from the very beginning, then I think the work is a little bit more ready to be tweaked and to be molded.

FRKO  22:58  


Michelle Khouri  22:58  

But people are hiring you for your signature style and your reputation. 

FRKO  23:02  

Yep, yep.


Michelle Khouri  23:03  

So it’s actually a little bit different. You are more married to the outcome.

FRKO  23:06  

Yeah, yeah. And then, the time. They don’t give you enough time. They never get like I said two days for Gucci. I mean, the, I mean, the only thing I had time on was, was Action Bronson, because he’s an artist himself. He was just like yeah, just you know, take your time, we’re gonna get it right. You know, and that’s the last time I had time to do anything. Yeah, that’s usually like people. They’re like, we need it. We need it by, you know, tomorrow morning. Is that possible? Maybe? I’m like-

Michelle Khouri  23:33  

Tomorrow morning…

FRKO  23:34  

Yeah. It’s like hey, you know, I still live a regular life of, you know, taking a shower, you know? 

Michelle Khouri  23:40  

And now you have a baby.

FRKO  23:42  

Right, right. So now, yeah, it’s weird, because, you know, I mean, even this past week, and then, of course, with the Wish show, I did all my paintings in one week. I did the entire, and this was only six paintings, but they were big and a lot of labor.

Michelle Khouri  23:56  

They were big.

FRKO  23:56  

 A lot of labor into those, into those pieces. In just one week, and then it just, you know, and with me, I’m not scared to, you know, to just push myself to a limit that people, you know, go okay, are you gonna do that? Yes, I can do it. I can do it. You know, and I really want to do it. And I think Atlanta is not used to that type of laboring in arts. I think the arts is like social. And I’m so, I’m into, I’m into just full on work, you know, and like, because it comes from it comes from my heart, you know? 

Michelle Khouri  24:29  


FRKO  24:30  

And it’s a lot of artists in the city that do art to be cool. And I do because I have to do it. I will go nuts. I will go nuts showing or not showing. Like I have to do it every day. 

Michelle Khouri  24:41  


FRKO  24:42  

So it was, if I’m not showing or showing it, I’m still gonna be doing it. And having a good time. So.

Michelle Khouri  24:46  

So what are you inspired to do next?

FRKO  24:49  

Now, I definitely want to rap more. I definitely like rapping and um, I want to write some scripts and, um…

Michelle Khouri  24:56  

For what kinds of productions?

FRKO  24:58  

Like, small stuff, you know, I have a lot of dark humor, a lot of stuff that you see in that show Atlanta, um, I’ve actually lived it , you know, and like, you know, me and B, we’ve seen it, we watch it like, oh, man, we’ve seen that before. 

Michelle Khouri  25:08  


FRKO  25:09  

And, and but to a twist with a little fantasy to it. So I want to write. I want to be, I want to start writing and I want to start, and you know, writing and rapping is one in the same when it comes to that. Even though half that, half that album, I freestyled. But I have like two tracks where I actually wrote, you know, but it’s just, I love, I realized that I love writing. Eighth grade, I had the highest writing score, um, in my school, which doesn’t mean much because I went to a shitty school. But no I had, I was, 

Michelle Khouri  25:38  

The bar was low.

FRKO  25:39  

Yeah, I mean, it was, it was, it sucks, but it was. But, um, creative writing, you know, that’s what I was good at. And if I wasn’t an illustrater, painter, I would be a creative writer.

Michelle Khouri  25:50  

How am I not surprised, though.

FRKO  25:51  

Yeah, I’d do journalism and creative writing. I love writing. 

Michelle Khouri  25:54  

Good. Join me. 

FRKO  25:54  

Yeah, a lot of the interviews I have online, that people want to call and I was like no send me the questions so I can type shit out.

Michelle Khouri  26:00  


FRKO  26:01  

I love writing out, typin out my answers. Sentence structure. All of it. Even though they’ll go back and change it. I had an interview I did two months ago. And they changed everything. Because they said it was too much.

Michelle Khouri  26:12  


FRKO  26:13  

But it was for a hip hop blog. So hip hop blogs, hip hop blogs don’t like a lot of creativity. Yes, they don’t. It’s so weird man. They keep it so dumbed down. And-

Michelle Khouri  26:23  

Well, I mean, not for nothing. But when you’re a professional writer, the one thing they tell you which breaks your heart is you got to dumb it down.

FRKO  26:30  

Yeah, you can’t go-

Michelle Khouri  26:31  

You can’t. I mean you have to write, I think it’s for a fifth grade reading level.

FRKO  26:36  

Yeah, no, yes. That’s exactly what they said. They were like, okay, the way your sentence structure is perfect. But you use, you was rhyming in between shit, and it just was too much. And I’m like, yeah, like, I’m having a good time. You know, like, intellect here. You know, I think it shouldn’t be this it’d be it should be cutting edge, pushing people’s brains, you know? And especially-

Michelle Khouri  26:56  

I agree. Yeah, I agree. But you know what, that’s what you’re doing with your artwork. You’re pushing people’s brains, pushing people’s heartbeats. You’re doing it all. And and I just appreciate you for coming on the show today. This was really interesting. So thank you, FRKO!

FRKO  27:10  

Thank you. I appreciate you having me. Yeah, you — you’re one of those people who, you get it.

Michelle Khouri  27:20  

I mean, are you not totally in love with FRKO now? Yes! I am. Alright, well if you want to learn more about FRKO and see some of this outrageous artwork of his and listen to some of those rappy-raps, you can check him out on Instagram @freakorico. F-R-E-A-K-O-R-I-C-O. See, I can rap too. And you can also go to to buy some of his prints and learn more about him. And y’all don’t forget it is not safe for work. So don’t be pulling this up at Coca Cola headquarters. Okay, because people is gonna not be okay with it. All right, y’all. Until next time, you know what to do? Keep it classy. Keep it curious. Keep it cultured. Visit cultured podcast dot com for show notes and subscription. The Cultured Podcast is a production of my podcast production company FRQNCY media. I’m the host Michelle Khouri. Enna Garkusha is our fabulous producer. Becca Godwin is our wonderful associate producer, and we’re recording in Atlanta, Georgia.

Weekly Inspiration: Cardinals

Michelle’s inspiration this week sings sweetly outside her window. The Northern Cardinal is making its vibrant debut as spring approaches. Growing up in Miami, Michelle’s house was decorated with stuffed cardinals during Christmas—her only experience with cardinals until just a couple of months ago. Since her first in-person spotting, she has fallen in love with these crimson creatures and her fascination grows as she learns more about them. She shares some interesting facts about cardinals for her listeners.

Exploring the colliding worlds of art and hip-hop with FRKO

What do you get when you mix comic books, hip-hop, pornography and figure painting? You get the signature style of the one and only FRKO (born Richard Montgomery). FRKO joins Michelle on The Cultured Podcast to discuss his earliest influences and how the streets of Atlanta shapes his art.

FRKO’s sense of humor and knack for capturing the essence of life on the streets has landed him on the radars of some of the biggest names in hip-hop. In fact, FRKO has drawn multiple covers for Action Bronson, including the artwork for “Mr. Wonderful,” and the artwork for Gucci Mane‘s “All My Children.”

In a time when technology commonly drives art, FRKO goes against the grain by hand drawing and scanning his line work to create his famously graphic illustrated work. Equipped with crayola markers and boundless imagination, FRKO is making a name for himself at the intersection of hip-hop and art. The raw nature of FRKO and Michelle’s conversation mirrors the candid, no-holds-barred style of his artistry.


Action Bronson

FX’s “Atlanta”

The Gallery by Wish

Gucci Mane

Howard University

Mr. Wonderful