Music

Interview: Phaeva Phawty Talks Being An Independent Artist, Entrepreneurship And Journey Through Incarceration

Kawin Brockman, stage name Phaeva Phawty, is an independent artist from Conway, Arkansas. He lets listeners in on his life through vivid storytelling and he made it a point to defy the odds stacked against him.

Many people are born into cycles and get stuck in their ways to the point of no return, but it takes a strong minded and optimistic individual to break that cycle and show others that what they believe is unachievable— can be achieved.

Having spent five years behind bars, Kawin Brockman, stage name Phaeva Phawty, was forced to confront his decisions, and reflected daily on his wrongdoings and the pain from his childhood. He created vivid and poetically written stories that he refers to as his penitentiary stash. Upon his release in 2013, he had a story to tell, and he made it a point to defy the odds stacked against him.

As an independent artist, Phaeva Phawty has been able to smile and appreciate his journey: he makes money off his music, performs across the country, and has shared the stage with major artists like Kevin Gates and Boosie, to name a few. His story is still being written, and he continues to let listeners in on his life through real-life raps. Despite the pitfalls and let-downs, his drive, authenticity, consistency, and willingness to be better— are commendable.

Well, there’s no need for me to introduce myself to you. You know me pretty well. So, we’ll just jump into it. Share a little bit about your background.

My real name is Kawin Brockman. I go by the name Phaeva Phawty, my stage name. I grew up in Conway, Arkansas small town, you know. Family, it was all love and we grew up close. Every family is going to go through their little difficulties and all that, you know what I’m saying, but I had a great family… great childhood.

How has your upbringing shaped you into the man you are today?

I seen a lot of wrong and I seen a lot of right in the environment that I grew up in, you know what I’m saying. The wrong— I’ve seen people suffer the consequences for living that type of lifestyle. That just formed me into a man and showed me not to go this way because there ain’t going to be no good results coming from it. I just tapped into entrepreneurship and thought about different ways to live life without running into too many crossroads.

I need to be free out here to be able to take care of my family and my kids and stuff like that. I always say you can’t be a man until you realize you never been that. When I recognized that I wasn’t a man, that’s what influenced me to become one.

Since I can remember, you’ve always been super expressive through music. I remember being little and we were always at grandma’s house and all of y’all were always rapping. And I’m like, oh my gosh they can do this thing that sounds really good that I have no idea what it is. How did you get your start in music, or… when did you recognize your talent?

I went to an elementary school called Sallie Cone and like you said, as far as you could remember we was always rapping and stuff like that. That’s how it was at school with my homies. We always used to freestyle in third grade when I was like nine or ten years old. But I’m the one in the clique that took it seriously. I always liked writing. I went to college for a couple of years and all of my essays I made like a 95-98% because I was real creative with my thinking.

I just kept writing and I noticed that the concept of my music was deeper than some little A-B-C type of rap. I kept at it and over the years I perfected it and I became a great storyteller with it. I just love putting words together and having some meaning behind it.

And we’ll touch on that later, but yes… you’re a great storyteller! Growing up though, who were your musical influences?

Most definitely the legends: Tupac, B.I.G., DMX, Trick Daddy, Snoop, you know… people like that. I started rapping around that time when they was out. That’s the people that I listened to. I like the lyrical type of music. I don’t like the mumble rap and all that, but I still do it because I like the game. I like the industry right now. You know, it’s that head-bobbing music. So, ain’t nothing wrong with tapping into that, making music for people to ride to and club to, but I grew up on the people that I just mentioned because they are real artists.

Super lyrical and that’s definitely you! Lyrical, expressive, and very authentic. How did you get your name Phaeva Phawty?

[laughing] Man, I… literally like… I was in the penitentiary and I had written a song and I said “forever forty tryna keep the devil off me” something like that, and then I thought about it. I been Lil 40 out the womb, you know what I’m saying. My daddy Big 40. I’m like Phaeva Phawty… that defines me because I’m forever 40, I’m 40 forever, ain’t no changing with me, so I just ran with that.

And I knew Lil 40, but I wondered what inspired the “phaeva”, but that makes sense. You do a great job of storytelling— this is where I said it would come back up— and letting listeners in on your life. Where do you draw from when creating the content in your lyrics?

Mainly, I feel like when you write a song the beat is going to tell you what to say. So, certain beats that I listen to when I go to the studio and link up with my producer will tell me to talk about my sister or something, the struggle that she done been through. It’ll tell me to talk about how my daddy was on crack at a young age or something, you know what I’m saying.

When I tell these stories whether it’s about me or somebody else, I don’t do it to bash the individual. I do it to inspire somebody that done went through the same thing and experienced the same type of pain; hopefully it uplifts them so they can overcome it too, just like I did. It just comes from the heart. It comes from what I done witnessed or what I done been through.

And I feel like even though people may not be able to directly relate, it provides a different perspective to empathize with. That’s one thing I do love about your talent. Are you ever apprehensive about sharing parts of your story or others’ in your music?

Not really, you know what I’m saying. Of course, there’s certain things that I won’t mention in music because it’s not appropriate and it probably could incriminate others.

We’re all human beings and we all go through the same struggles. Everything that I done been through somebody else done been through. So, I really don’t withhold nothing. I’m straight raw with it.

Excuse all the you know what I’m sayings—

Nah, that’s just you! [laughing] That’s how you talk.

[laughing] That’s just me!

…I ain’t just rapping, I’m teaching. I got a lecture in my music.

What does your music represent and what do you hope to gain through it?

Definitely success, but I want to reach people, and have a vibe for them to relate to from all aspects. As far as my music, I feel that it represents the culture. Most definitely for African Americans and all the stuff that’s going on now. I call myself a father figure of the rap game [laughing] because I ain’t just rapping, I’m teaching. I got a lecture in my music. Even if I’m rapping on a trap beat it still got a message, you know what I’m saying, my sixteen bars, my twelve bars it’s going to be about something. I can’t just rap about nothing. I feel like I’m a mature artist.

You said that you started rapping and figuring out your talents whenever you were in elementary school, but at what point did you make your first record?

I made my first record— I say I was like ten years old. My mama took me to the studio. She took my whole— we had a group called Universal Soldiers and it was I think five of us. Our moms took us to the studio and when we laid our first record, they liked it and it sounded good, so they just kept taking us to the studio over the years.

But I started out rapping and recording songs on a tape. My homeboy’s brother, my brother from another mother, he used to buy the brand new beat boxes back in the day and we used to make our own beats with a pencil [taps in the air]. He’d be making a beat, or he’d be beatboxing and we’d just be recording over the tape. We’d get a blank tape from Dollar General, you know what I’m saying, and we’d be recording over that. We was doing that at like nine and then our moms started taking us to professional studios. We went to Don Dada Studios in Little Rock. That was the first time we went to a professional studio. Then we started going to Mr. Krunky’s in Mayflower, Arkansas.

Making your own resources: you ain’t got it, make it. That’s tight! You also have a self-made brand, Hustlelooyah. Tell us more about that brand.

Hustlelooyah, that word was also inspired from a verse. I said, “hustlelooyah doing it for the love of Luther”.  I don’t know where it came from, but when I said it I thought, dang that word is powerful because I thought about hallelujah when I said it. I came up with a slogan for it— I did all this in the penitentiary— “Praise God Hustle Hard” and I was just dwelling on that word and everything I could do with it. So, I came home and turned it into a business, an LLC. I do construction under that name, I got my own clothing line under that name, and I got artists under that name, I got my own label under that. I’m just trying to branch it off and have different things with it like detail shops and maybe a restaurant and just all types of stuff. I’m going to take that word far, believe me.

What is something about you that listeners wouldn’t learn through your music?

They probably wouldn’t learn that I’m a down to earth goofy guy, you know what I’m saying. My music is so serious and I see people sometimes in the streets and it’s like they kind of don’t want to speak to me. I had to tell somebody the other day, I’m like man you can speak to me. People be thinking that I’m conceited or something. I’m really a loose dude with a great personality and a great sense of humor. People probably wouldn’t learn that through my music.

[laughing] What are some misconceptions of Arkansas’ hip-hop scene?

First of all, there’s a lot of great talent down here. I think we’re overlooked because— I really don’t got no direct answer as to why we’re overlooked. You know, we just had somebody kick the door down, Bankroll Freddie and I know a lot of different artists that’s going to follow behind that.

Okay, I’m going to say this… a lot of people in Arkansas they don’t have something we’re known for, you know what I’m saying. Like Texas [beats on table] I done came down, you know what I’m saying, talking about syrup. They got they own vibe. Memphis you know, they nookin and jookin and all that there. In Atlanta they got they own little sound, we don’t got our own sound, but if you dig deep enough, you’re going to find those artists that do have their own sound that can pave the way for the state. But a lot of people be on some copycat type of stuff, so I stay in my own lane.

I’m one of the most original artists around here and the people done told me this. The people done gave me that credit so I’m not trying to showboat or nothing like that, but we’re just missing our own sound.

I never thought of it like that, but I agree with you on that. We really don’t have our own distinct sound like these major cities. The west coast they got the G-Funk—

Yeah. Yeah. But once everybody gets in tune with Arkansas, we’ll have that. But it’s just, you know, we ain’t got our foot all the way in yet, but it’s coming.

Reflecting on where you started to where you are now, how have you combatted adversity?

You know, as I continue to go forward in life and continue to make wise decisions it keeps me from straddling the fence and going back to where I came from. I went through a lot, seen a lot, you know what I’m saying, and that just keeps me focused. And then I got kids, a family, so I just want to take care of my people. That’s what I do it for. I do it for my people.

I always say I don’t want to be hood rich I just want to get out the hood and get the hood rich. I love the hood and I go there every day. That’s where I make most of my money with Hustlelooyah. I love my people and I just sometimes look around and I see the struggle first-hand, and what’s in my heart is wanting to prevent it. That’s why I make the moves I make. Boss moves. I ain’t got time to be no failure. I don’t want to be a failure again.

You say you don’t want to be a failure again. 

Yeah, I done failed in life, man… several times.

What successes have you experienced throughout your journey?

I done hit the main stages with several mainstream artists like MO3, Boosie, Project Pat, Kevin Gates, Money Man. I make money off of my music and I do shows all around. I’ve actually created a nice platform for myself. What people really don’t recognize is I’m really alone. I do all of this alone. I ain’t got no investor or nothing, know what I’m talking about like, I done spent thousands of dollars on the studio. Thousands of dollars on beats. I do it all on my own, thousands of dollars on promotion. I ain’t got no manager, none of that. I’m just doing it by myself, but I do need a team and I brought my people together finally. It’s like these ni— they don’t be on what I’m on. I be like I got a show in Texas, let’s ride, you know what I’m saying. I done got on the bus and went to shows, eight hours away type sh*t. You know, but I’ve accomplished a lot of things with the music.

So, the next part is something that I’ve always wanted your take on because I never talked to you about it. 2008 was a prominent year because it was super life changing for you.  I also thought about it from my perspective with having an incarcerated father and then having to see my cousins, you know, my first cousins slandered on the news, teachers and classmates talking down on y’all. I’m like, these are my cousins and I love these people, but it was conflicting and I didn’t really know how to approach that. I’ve always wanted to know your take on that. What were you experiencing through that moment, to when you were incarcerated, to now?

Man, the day 2008 when that happened. As soon as it happened, I already knew, you know what I’m saying like, I’m done. I’m going to the penitentiary, accomplice whatever… I knew that was coming. But, when I was sitting in that cell the first day all I could think about was all the wrong that I had done. And believe it or not— you know I had long hair— so this guy, one of my partners, he had just gotten out of the penitentiary where had to cut his hair. So, I cracked a joke about him, he kept going to the pen. And this was like three days before it happened now, you know what I’m saying. He told me, he said “n****a that’s how you gone cut your hair” … he told me that’s how you gone cut your hair— going to the pen.

I was just thinking about all this stuff that I was doing. I used to hit a lot of licks, sell weed, I called myself doing a little pimping with women, all that. We was bad, but I never showed my mama that hand. Mama always thought I was the good guy and my sister was the bad one because she was the one going back and forth to group homes and all that.

As for what happened, I felt like what happened had to happen so this could happen [pointing to himself], so I could become this guy. I didn’t really take it as hard as people thought I did. Like, when I was in the pen, I used that time as value; I did a lot of reading and tried to broaden my horizon, increase my vocabulary and all that there.

I seen a lot of stuff on the inside that made me never want to go back again, like stabbing and men messing with men, all that type of stuff goes on in there. It’s rough in there. I ain’t get into it with nobody. I stayed in my own lane, you know what I’m saying, real recognize real. I had a couple arguments with some n****s, but it ain’t ever go to the extreme, but yeah like… that was a crazy situation. I couldn’t believe I was in it, but I felt like that was God’s way of sitting me down to chastise me, to show me that my life has more value than I thought it did, believe it or not, I didn’t realize that God was the reason I was making it out here in the world.

When I got locked up, my mama started sending me spiritual stuff and that’s what made me tap into spirituality and get to know God. He brought me to that and he brought me through that. Five years in the penitentiary, but you know without that I don’t feel like I’d be the man I am today.

So, you do feel like this is something that needed to happen. Do you feel like you would have grown in any way? Had that not happened, where would you be ?

I’d be stuck. Earlier I made a statement like when I ride through the hood, I see the struggle. I see these n****s posted on the block and they not going to do nothing else in life but that. They ain’t got no morals, they ain’t got no direction. You know, it’s going to take somebody like me to get them to see something different.

I’d be just like them. I’d be posted up trying to sell a pack here and there. Playing with a pound of some loud and all that there. I’d be stuck, man, just like the elephant. He got all this potential and all this strength to pull that stake out the ground, but he been stuck in that mentality for so long he don’t take advantage of his capabilities. I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of my capabilities if I wouldn’t have went to the penitentiary. I would have never seen what I see now.

My perspective of life is now totally different. I pulled up on my daddy one day, we had a family function. You know at our family functions, our friends pull up too. My homeboys pulling up, they beating, they riding 4’s and all that there. Daddy told me, he said “man 40 why you ain’t riding like that?” I told him n***a it’s going to come. Slow motion better than no motion, you know what I’m saying, I’m going to get it legit. Months later all of them same guys he was praising was in the penitentiary. I was the one that was free.

Not only are you a rapper, but you’re also a father. How does being a father— and especially to a daughter, a young lady— how does that influence your decisions?

It influences them to the point where— you know, like I mentioned earlier, I done a lot of wrong to women and it makes me understand what she’s going to go through and kind of accept it to a degree, but I also want to show her the type of man that she needs in life. By the way, I move she’s going to be inspired by her daddy. She’s going to know what’s real and what’s fake, put it like that. She don’t need no dope boy, none of that, because that ain’t the way. She needs somebody like her Pops, you know what I’m saying. I want to be somebody that she would want to be, not to say that she would want to be a man, but I want her to do something that I’m doing in life.

Though you’ve faced hard times you really never let it define you and you’re always super authentic and open. What advice do you have for up-and-coming independent artists who are trying to find their way?

Be original. There’s nothing wrong with being motivated and inspired by another artist, but don’t try to mock that artist. You can look at his grind and repeat the same methods, but as far as style be creative— be original. Don’t ever give up no matter how many disappointments you go through, just keep pushing.

I done been schemed so many times in this business, like for real. I just got schemed off a verse. Someone called me off of the same number that’s in YFN Lucci’s bio on Instagram and told me he’s doing verses for $500. They messaged me off of YFN Lucci’s page too.  So I paid this man $500 and I ain’t got no verse, you know what I’m talking about. But, little stuff like that. You’re going to go through all type of stuff in this music industry that you’re not expecting, but keep pushing and believe in yourself, even when nobody else does. That’s what’s major to me.

Sometimes I be like, why these n****s go to his show, but when I call they ain’t popping up at mine. Then I had to reevaluate like, okay, I don’t rap about the trap. I don’t rap about shooting n****s, killing, and robbing. I don’t even smoke weed, so I don’t rap about smoking. So, it’s just that people are going to get a thrill from certain things when it comes to support. The lack of support, don’t let it make you lose your drive, just keep going because like I said, I’ve had to jump on buses to go to a show because I had no support. That’s crazy to me that I had to jump on a bus, by myself, and go all the way to Austin, Texas to do a show with no support. All independent artists— stay focused.

You speak on a lack of support. Have you lost friendships due to this?

I understand. I look deeper than what I can see. I look at the reason why. Like I say, people are going to be a magnet to what they’re living. I’m not living like that, so they’re going to follow the hype. I’m a totally different artist and like I say, I still make that type of music’s but I’m still not a negative influence with it.

Somebody will probably hear my voice while riding and think I’m talking about some bad sh*t, but I’m not. But nah, I ain’t lost no friendships. I done confronted friends like, bro that ain’t real. How are you going to go to this n***a’s show and bypass mine? We’re supposed to be moving as a unit. We had a group called LOE and everybody was moving then, but when everybody got incarcerated, it’s like I was moving alone. It’s just crazy because I know when that bag comes, everybody’s going to jump on the train. I’m going to make them remember though. I might be goofy with it, but I’m going to make them remember n***a why you wasn’t here, where were you when I was shooting in the gym n***a? [laughing] But I ain’t going to turn my back on none of my people. I love them regardless. I ain’t have no support when I was locked up, but I still love all my people.

It ain’t no bad blood between nobody because I understand it. Everybody’s different mentality wise.

You released Sauce Age in 2019 and Sauce Age Reloaded this year (2020). What do these projects represent?

This era in the music right now everything is about sauce, dripping, splash, all that there. I took the word sauce and I really thought about Space Age. 8Ball & MJG came out with “Space Age Pimpin”. That’s the time they were living in: OutKast, 8Ball & MJG, UGK all them. Right now, it’s all about sauce so I called it Sauce Age, it’s the age we’re living in.

I always try to be creative with my album titles. I dropped Sauce Age and it did pretty good. It did some numbers. I dropped Sauce Age Reloaded, it’s still doing numbers, but I’m still not content with those projects because everything that I’ve released the sound, the quality… the production it hasn’t been right to me. I just assisted my engineer with upgrading the production, so now everything from this point on, we got that industry standard quality. It’s going to sound good— super sonic.

Considering your earlier works and new releases, what project resonates with you the most?

My first album when I got out the pen was called 40 Days & 40 Nights. It resonates the most because I hopped straight out, ambitious and hungry, so the songs on there they got a lot of meaning to them. They’re deep. I had dug in my stash— I got over a thousand songs that I wrote in the pen and I really ain’t dropped none of them because people don’t want to hear that. It’s too deep.

I was going to drop an album called Deep: Damage Everyone’s Experience Personally. I think I’ll still drop that down the line, but it’s going to be straight songs from my penitentiary stash. But yeah, 40 Days & 40 Nights is a great album. I didn’t put it on any platforms. I still have physical copies, but I sold like 1,000 units in the streets off that. 1,000 units, $10 a pop.

Do you plan on putting it on any streaming platforms?

I got two songs on streaming platforms. One is called “Now” that’s when I had got the distribution deal with Freeway Ricky Ross and I distributed that through them. I got two songs with B3, Bernard Turner from Conway and I put both of them on digital platforms. A lot of people love “Now” because it’s a real storyteller type of track.

I remember whenever you first got out, you put up a lot of freestyle videos and I just love those. You say people don’t want to hear that, but that’s like— I guess everything is perception… what we like, but it’s just so raw. I’m a sucker for a good story and something that’s real and very lyrical. So, for me… I love it! 

That’s your request? Do I need to start back doing that?

I love that! Yes! You’re a really great writer, you’re just gifted. I feel like it’s definitely your calling and you’ve been consistent. It’s bound to happen. Have you talked with any labels or had any discussions of deals?

Yeah, I done sat with some A&R’s. I actually had something on the table, but my manager said we could do it independent. I feel like the advance needs to be a little higher. I’m just moving how I’m moving right now.

What can we anticipate from you in the future?

Most definitely more music, more dope music, better sound quality, better topics, better stories. Hustlelooyah is expanding, thank God for that, better styles of fashion and hopefully I have the store that I’m aiming for in a couple of months. I’m trying to get a store.

Look at you!

Yeah, just expect greatness from me and hopefully the fam will be rich within the next year or two. I do it for y’all, real talk.

You said that you had 1,000 something songs that you wrote in the pen and you talk about all these stories. How do you find new ways to tell these stories?

[laughing] Like I say, well in the pen, I never talked about the same thing in all those songs because I had so much time to think about so much pain. So, every topic was different and I was going off of my childhood, the issues within the family. You know, I dealt with a lot of drug addiction, not on my end, but I witnessed a lot of that.

I used to snatch the crack pipe out of one of my peer’s hand and told him fight that sh*t n***a. You ain’t got to get high today. And still do it to this day, I tell n****s don’t be selling this guy nothing, real talk. I’m that type of guy, I don’t want to see my people doing themselves harm as far as their mental and physical health.

But yeah, I never talked about the same thing. In the pen, all I used to have was this [snaps fingers]… a snap and beating on the table. But now I got beats and when I hear a dope beat it’s always going to give me something different to say. The beat is going to tell me what to say.

Dang, that’s tight. I wish I had— I’m not talented in that way and I just commend you for that. I admire it. How can we stay connected with you?

On all of my social media outlets, even my music outlets: Phaeva Phawty. You can stay connected with me by that name everywhere. I don’t change it at all. I don’t feel like it’s no need, you know what I’m saying.

That pretty much sums up the interview and I thank you for getting on here with me, talking to me. I want other people to experience it. 

I appreciate you! I haven’t done many interviews and I used to be shy as far as talking. I didn’t used to know how to talk to people in a professional way. Now, people I can relate, to that’s easy, but interviews and all that, I want more so I can get better with my communication skills. But yeah, thank you though, cuz.

Stay connected with Phaeva Phawty via instagram.

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