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Q&A w/ Joey Freco (CRNR-STRE)

I first met Joey Freco at the Arizona Hip Hop Fest when I interviewed him and Yo$h. He manages Yo$h, who had just released the super dope song and video for Adida$. I wasn't sure who Joey was at that time. Now, he's kind of hard to miss.

He has his name on so many things now a day. His work includes managing Yo$h, videographer, photographer, graphic designer, and brand creator.

I interviewed him about all these things but mostly focus on his brand, CRNR-STRE, which released a couple fresh tees this year. Joey and Yo$h aren't finished either as they just announced the 4th installment of Tha Collective show being held on October 27. The show features a new CRNR-STRE drop as well as performances by Yo$h, Jake Eff, Cruise & Loh, Kapo Bravado, Ronin, Rubberbandrocko, and DJ Moe. Check out the interview with Joey Freco.

Brown paper bags with the logo, South Plaza stickers, man you’re paying homage to South Phoenix for sure. Is that where you grew up and if so, what was life like for you growing up there that it’s so influential on your brand?

First off thanks for taking interest into what I’m doing over here! Shout out to the entire Flotivity camp. Our crnr definitely appreciates it. But let’s get into it! Yeah man, born and raised in the valley, spent an important amount of time staying in South Phoenix, the vital years. If I grew up anywhere else, I wouldn’t be me. That’s for sure the city that helped me develop into the person I am today. The area is more than cool, I stayed with my mom right on the edge of the city right off of 40th street and Southern and my dad stayed off 7th ave and Buckeye which to me is its own little section. So everything in between was fair game. Coolest thing about my neighborhood was that everybody got along. I’m talking you’d see browns, blacks, and whites hanging out no problem. We were all in the same situation and we related based off that.

As for South Plaza, that spot to me is just the heart of the section. Way back when there used to be a pizza spot across the road called Pepi’s (s/o those who know) and we’d have our birthday parties there. Every time we left I’d look at the South Plaza sign and just think that’s where all the business went down. South Plaza is always booming. The city speaks for itself and through my brand I want to display what I went through growing up. Man, the Southside definitely deserves to be represented correctly, I’m trying to bring that authentic feel to it. I’m trying to keep it as real as possible. No exaggerations, nothing that isn’t true, just 100% me and my story. I got love for the entire valley, you can find me everywhere, but there’s no place like the South.

What’s your favorite liquor store in South Phoenix?

This was a tough question. Look, I just turned 21 this year so before my favorite liquor store would be whoever sold to me haha. I really rock with the mom & pop shops. I try to stay away from all the Circle K’s and shit like that. One of the most iconic spots on the south is the Drive-Thru joint on Central & Baseline. Mom’s would always tell me back in the day you’d hit the drive thru and they’d make you a to go cup. Personally one of my favorite places was in the town of Guadalupe. They would show love since we were in high school. Also one of the few spots around that still sold St. Ides 40’s. Ask Yo$h he knows what I’m talking about. I don’t want to air them out but man they were the spot. Shout out to them. If you know, you know.

Where did the idea come from to bag your tees in the 40 bottle brown paper bags?

I’m very inspired by the 90’s. In every rap video or gangster flick at the time you’d see a 40oz of OE or St Ides. One of my favorite scenes in a music video was in “Nuthin but a G Thang.” They opened the fridge and it was full of 40s. Growing up the homies never really went in on a bottle unless it was for a special event. We’d always just grab ourselves a 40, kickback and bullshit. Shit, for $3 why wouldn’t we right? Every time we hit the corner store our drinks would come bagged in the brown paper bags. It hit me, we already called ourselves CRNR-STRE, why not bag our product like they do? It gives that authentic feel to it. The people really seem to rock with it. It’s their favorite part.

Man your out here grinding. You’ve been involved with Tha Collective shows, you manage Yo$h, made music mixes with DJ Moe for the brand on Soundcloud and you’ve made videos for Jake Eff, Mav Reto and Tre Coupe. You trying to put everyone out of business - lol?

We really out here working man!! Yo$h likes to say I’m a jack of all trades, I really like to keep my hands on anything I can get them on. All the people you mentioned I seen the potential in. It only made sense I try and work alongside them. I never wish to put anyone out of business, I want to see everyone eat! I always say when likeminded individuals come together there’s no stopping them. I really like to see people win so I offer my services wherever it’s needed for little to no price. If I believe in you I’m willing to focus more on content, then some chump change in my pocket. Look at it as an investment. Why stress about $200 now when we could potentially rake in hundreds of thousands in the long run? I notice a lot of people just in it for the quick cash. It’s more to this game than a couple hundred dollars. I like to do everything myself first so I know what to expect when I ask for a service from someone else. Anything I can do to get our collective to the next level I’m going to do it.

And I almost forgot, you got fresh graphic designs….you got a team or you doing this all yourself?

Thanks for noticing! I do all my graphic designs straight from my laptop, whether I’m in class or at work. Whenever I get a chance I’m always creating. I like to pride myself on presentation. What’s going to grab the attention of others? I design some logos, covers, and flyers here and there in order to keep our content looking professional. I designed my website by myself as well as all of the CRNR-STRE designs and logos. I have to shout out Yo$h again, he knows the exact vision I’m going for so after every design I do I shoot them his way and get his feedback. So yeah I do the graphics by myself but they don’t see the light of day without the teams approval.

Are you self-taught or where did you pick up and hone your skills?

All self-taught. One thing I learned in life is that no matter what type of schooling you go through; you can’t be taught creativity. I spent countless hours reading through blogs and watching YouTube tutorials at home trying to learn the basics of the programs. Once I learned the fundamentals it was a wrap. Being friends with a lot of musicians was a big plus in learning how to do graphics - they always need some form of cover art haha.

What’s the future look like for you and CRNR-STRE?

I got big plans for the future of my brand. No matter what neighborhood you’re in, there’s always some sort of corner store. This is exactly where I want my brand to be - in every neighborhood. The next drop will debut OCT. 27th at Tha Collective SZN 4 event. We got a dope event set and are bringing some of the hottest artists in the city out. It’s a free show so I don’t want to hear any more excuses from people! I got a good feeling the city’s really gonna like this next drop. Over the next 6-months expect to see a lot more of the brand across the city. We plan to do it big and hit every aspect of entertainment. You guys will know what I mean when the time comes! For now, check the brand out at CRNRSTRE.COM.

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