Brooklyn drill finds itself in a state of flux. At a crucial time in its ascendency, the life and career of one of its breakout stars has been prematurely brought to an end. Garlanded as the new “king of New York” by some, the untimely death of Pop Smoke has left both the emergent subgenre and hip-hop as a whole reeling from the news. Slain just days after he released his official debut album Meet The Woo 2, the man that’d seemed destined to shepherd the genre to new heights of worldwide visibility has now been forced to secede the reins to another.

Although there’s no shortage of talented artists that seem capable of picking up the mantle such as Sheff G, 22Gz and, in recent times, Jay Critch, it seems as though there’s a clear frontrunner for the movement’s next breakout star. Positioned neatly alongside Pop Smoke on his final project, Fivio Foreign has all the attributes to supersede the borough that’s already heralding him as a top-tier artist to make the rest of the world take notice. Packing a seemingly endless array of boastful yet imposing bars, Fivio’s punchy, ad-lib laden delivery has made him a real standout among a progressively crowded batch of prospects and resulted in a star-making turn on Meet The Woo 2’s “Sweetheart.”

THE MUSIC

Riding the assortment of invigorating, AXL Beats productions that have helped make his name, Fivio has experienced a meteoric rise that took him from guesting on tracks alongside other notable names within the scene such as Fetty Luciano, Ether Da Connect and Mr Swipey in early 2019 to making in-roads towards the promised land of viral exposure by the midway point of the year.

“Big Drip,” released independently in June on his debut Pain & Love EP, was a more energetic take on Brooklyn drill than the ominous, UK-influenced “Welcome To The Party” that took his fellow woo affiliate into the world’s glare. Initially emerging to little fanfare, the arrival of the accompanying visuals on August 28th would renew interest in the song and at, time of writing, it’s gone on to garner over 19 million views.

"I started seeing mad IG videos, everyone was putting it in their stories," he said of the track’s explosion in popularity. "I thought my other song was better than that song, 'Pop Out.' That's on my EP. But when I put the songs out together, they liked 'Big Drip' more."

MAJOR LABEL DEAL

As is often the case, this organic momentum catapulted his name onto the lips of those in the boardrooms and back offices of the major labels. Wasting little time, Columbia put pen to paper on a deal with Fivio in October that, if the reports are to be believed, was in the seven figure region. "Yesterday was a day I will neva forget," he said via Instagram. "Now we give em hell."

With Def Jam and Universal allegedly in the race as well, a November interview with Power 105.1 saw him vocalize a desire to start his own imprint that’d house some of his fellow Brooklyn MC’s. Naturally, this leads to speculation over whether Columbia had perhaps thrown this clause in to sweeten the pot and gain his signature.

THE CO-SIGNS

Ascribed with plenty of upside potential, a whole host of modern-day titans have rushed to endorse and connect with him. Back in October, the late Juice WRLD brought him out at Rolling Loud NYC to deliver a rousing version of “Big Drip” to a hometown crowd. Another enviable co-sign would come from the Dream Chasers CEO himself, Meek Mill. After they appeared onstage together at Powerhouse 2019 to perform Fivio’s breakout track, the Brooklynite was quick to disclose that there’s a collab waiting in the wings. "We got somethin’ in the stash," he revealed. "You know how it go. I’m new to all the industry stuff so I guess it gotta be cleared or something."

While this collision between the drill movement and one of Philly’s finest has yet to materialize, recent months have seen Fiv team up with some other high-profile artists. On the characteristically brooding banger “Richer Than Ever” from December, Foreign secured a Rich The Kid feature and signified that he wasn’t here to play in 2020. Five months after tapping Tory Lanez for the “Big Drip” remix, the Canadian would return the favour while dipping his toe into drill with January’s “K L O K.”

With close ties to incarcerated 6S9 originators of the New York-based brand of drill, Fivio informed Ebro that Bobby Shmurda would be releasing a new mixtape from behind bars in the coming weeks.

Who is Fivio Foreign?

Fivio Foreign and Casanova in NYC - Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images

NEW MUSIC

Despite being a fleeting 2-minute conversation on his Beats 1 show, the January interview gave the rising star a chance to provide a rundown of the plans for the future and the heightened pace he’s working at. "It’s coming fast," he proclaimed. "I said I wanted to do an album, they [Columbia] said a mixtape first and a couple of singles. An album will be coming around April-ish, but I’mma do a mixtape as soon as possible."

Provisionally titled The Bible, what’s slightly more disconcerting is that if his remarks to XXL are to be believed, its release will also signify his exit from the game.

"Even when I be telling people like I'm only dropping one album, they be like, 'nah, bro, you gotta keep going,'" Fivio says. "One album, one and done, I'm outta here. I ain't tryna be rappin' for mad long. Shit's mad work. It’s something I really love. So, if I feel like I gotta rap, I’ll keep rapping."

Although there may be doubts around his own predetermined longevity, one thing that’s become clear from his social media is that his new single in the works. Initially teased via a brief cell phone clip, “Wetty” is an ode to the object of his affections and stills from the video shoot have been unveiled via his Instagram.

In case you needed any other accolade to convince you that he’s on the rise, Fivio has already been embroiled in one of 50 Cent’s innumerable online skirmishes. Apparently involved in a deal with Mase’s Rich Fish imprint, a visit to Cigar Talk saw the G-Unit mogul take aim at his one-time signee for purportedly withholding Fivio’s publishing.

In an effort to rectify the situation, the show’s host Naji reached out to the former pastor and proclaimed that “I spoke to Mase today. He called me & showed me paperwork saying he took 0% of Fivio Foreign’s publishing rights. Fivio & Mase do have an existing agreement which I won’t disclose. We will have clarity soon, on a lot of issues."

Between his major-label backing and the prodigious manner in which the young artist has imposed himself upon the game, 2020 is sure to be a massive year for Fivio Foreign. Undoubtedly one of the stars of New York’s drill movement, expect him to continue to expand beyond its ranks and turn in some high-profile collabs in the months leading up to his debut album.