FRTNK, LA-Based Alt Hip-Hop Group, Suavely Makes Their Way Into the Scene


This stuff is made of 14 K hip hop gold.

(Pronounced as “Fourteen K”) this band of nostalgic messes and dreamy grunginess take hip hop down an intriguing and quirky path of sonic success. This Neo-R&B and Alt-Hip Hop group is not only known for their wittiness, but also for their low-key and lax vibes. These songsters and pioneers hailing from the greater Los Angeles area, include artists Benjamin Aragbaye, Bryan Ramos and Barin Butler. They could easily be found to sound like musical influencers and notable artists such as Outkast, The Gorillaz, and perhaps, the lovechild of Frank Ocean and Kid Cudi. As you listen to them chime, you can hear those electronic and rhythmic sounds trickle into their own unique FRTNK fabrications. FRTNK has been hard at work in the studios since September with this Afropunk single “Let Go”, which made quite a noise amongst their musical comrades.


All produced in these curators’ California home recording studios, this trio completely produced the music themselves. They also recently released a humorous music video to accompany “Let Go”, which you can watch above! The record itself is about people being able to let go of the things that bring you down, hold you back, and are just not good for you.  What makes the creation of this visual interesting is how they went about approaching its artistic direction. “When we sat down with director Aaron George, we looked at the feel of the song which had a nostalgic 90’s energy, and then we looked at different ways to tell the story of letting go.’ From there the concept built itself and became interesting, artistic and left for viewer interpretation. The video is specifically shot unorthodox and at a different pace to be able to show off the song’s cinematic value”, states the avant-garde artists.


In addition, they recently released “AQUA”,which you can hear in the SoundCloud playlist below. This track still follows the roots of childish behavior that these men try to convey in their music, adding a sense of wistfulness in the cheery, good sound waves being sung and spoken to the listeners. You can listen to more of their music below as well.


These three musketeers seem to effortlessly combine the elements of the funk of 808’s with new age energy. And only as young as the early twenty’s, they’ve already added value to the music scene. Their first public studio work was a project called Operation AU, back in November of 2011. After another project later, these guys are busting out new paints to begin creating the soundscapes that they wish to illustrate with their music.

Here is my interview with the guys:

[Neelu Mohaghegh (Me: NM)]: Hey FRTNK! So, tell me more about yourselves! What are your names?

[FRTNK]: Benjamin, Bryan, and Barin, the 3 B’s we are from Moreno Valley a small town east of LA.

[NM]: What inspired the group name and how did you guys find each other?

[FRTNK]: The group name came from a lot of places. Mostly from the idea of living life impure but still golden would resonate the most. But we were all neighbors in this niche gated community haha It was an interesting place to say the least.

[NM]: What drew you to this particular genre, alt-hip hop?

[FRTNK]: Honestly we were HUGE N. E. R.D. fans and we kinda cultivated our own style from there. When we pair that up with the urge to rap and want to speak to the people through poetry as a medium we kinda ended up with an eclectic alt hip hop style.

[NM]: Tell us more about your new EP coming up and the songs, what was the song writing process like?

[FRTNK]: The new EP is dope for lack of a better word. It’s just a strong blend of music you can drive to, dance to, cry to, feel to its real emotion you know…and the writing process really depends on the source of inspiration. We can be in the living room listening to production or one of us will send each other a voice memo. It doesn’t matter as long as there is synergy there.

[NM]: What should we expect?

[FRTNK]: You should honestly expect nostalgia.

[NM]: What inspired you guys in the first place to pursue music as a career and as a passion of what you do?

[FRTNK]: It comes down to doing what you love and realizing it’s all you can do. There’s plenty a fields any of us can enter and succeed at I mean music isn’t the only skill but the music, the art, the feeling…it moves us the way it moves listeners, when you have that feeling it just propels you forward you know.

[NM]: How would you explain each of your fashion senses/styles?

[FRTNK]: Benni is like a peacock with a loud style ,colorful Dashikis and bandanas. Bryan is clean with a lotta of patterns and Barin is our choir boy who has a smooth look for his smooth personality.

[NM]: What is the music scene in LA like?

[FRTNK]: The music scene in LA is like a big house party and everyone at that house party wants the DJ to play their song. But the party is fun so enjoy it and you eventually meet the DJ.

[NM]: What is your favorite comfort snack?

[FRTNK]: Yooooooooo…depending on physical condition I have to say Target Archer Farms black and white trail mix.

[NM]: Celebrity crush?

[FRTNK]: Simple. Need every part of Rihanna…what’s her last name?

[NM]: What is your dream venue to perform at?

[FRTNK]: Coachella Stage

What do you guys consider your own individual anthem (which song is your identity song or spirit song if you will)?

[FRTNK]: Benni (Janelle Monae’s “Oh Maker”)

[NM]: Where do you see the music industry going now? Is it thriving, falling, going through a strange transformation?

[FRTNK]: Music industry is going through a strange transformation. It’s kinda reverted to the 60s in terms of everyone having their own niche fan base but there’s so much power in the individual now and labels are in this awkward middle man gambling I haven’t updated my software stage…but either way we’ll be fine.

[NM]: What do you guys hope to convey through your music to the listeners?

[FRTNK]: We hope that people hear the music and relate to it. Interpret the metaphors into their life and realize we have all have similarities in our story, common threads that tie us together.

[NM]: Now because we are a collegiate blog, did you guys go to college? If not, what major would you have taken if you did? If you did go, what did you study?

[FRTNK]: Benni went to school and studied media and cultural study. (Benni) I feel like my major should be called #wokedegree I love the way it opened me up to diversity and understanding.

[NM]: Our slogan is #ONTHEVERGE, so we always ask artists to fill in the blank, so … you guys are


[NM]:  Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview and I look forward to hearing from you! Keep killin’ it guys!

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