Frankie Denham aka Foreign Forest is a bedroom producer with a raw emotive style of hip-hop that’s taken him to a viral level of success. Beginning the project formally in 2014, Forest has put out two albums that have found calculable success, especially as an independent artist. His first album, Pretty Songs I Like To Cry To, housed over 17 tracks and has since ran up over six million streams on Spotify alone. A known leader in the burgeoning emo hip-hop genre, this Soundcloud artist turned low-key pop star is continuing to climb. On the 7th of this month he gave us his newest single, “Ball and Chain.”
Foreign Forest has built a comfortable empire off of turning any of his most powerful emotions into wavy and moody hip-hop. To follow up on his debut record that was brimming with features from other prominent artists in the genre, the expectations from fans were high. He took the time to really hone in on how he wanted to keep presenting his brand before releasing his second full length. Finding inspiration from his birth month of October, his aesthetic took a turn towards the spookier season. Through this evolution, he eventually put out his 11-track follow-up, Halloween, but All Year, that’s also known as HBAY.
HBAY was meant to dance back-and-forth between familiar feeling tracks for any of his OG fans, alongside experimental tracks that truly feel “foreign.” Forest has steadily built his introspective and melodic sound and found the most palatable way to present himself. HBAY has a noticeable diversity that appeals to any big fans of alternative rap, as well as indie pop fanatics or EDM heads.
Handling all of his production, recording, mixing, and mastering by himself has enabled him to keep steadily releasing content that he truly believes in. Since HBAY’s release in 2019, Forest has let loose another album and two moving singles with no intention of letting up. The progression that’s led him here is fraught with painstaking work, chance connections, young love, and organic creative talent.
Building Foreign Forest
Frankie’s been making music for over nine years, starting under a different alias in 2011. It began for him with poetry and putting words on paper before he fell in love with Mac Miller and Bones. He saw the two different paths that they took, Mac to a major label, and Bones remaining independent. The combination of Mac’s flow and Bones’ way of running his brand gave him a lot of inspiration. Starting on Soundcloud, Foreign Forest slowly came into existence with music that he’d simply post on Facebook and Twitter. Some of it was made purely to get the attention of a girl he was dating.
During the time he was casually releasing music, Forest was also doing graphic design for artists to get his name out. He cites doing design for artists such as Sir Michael Rocks and AraabMuzik. Doing several projects for free, he would ensure that his name was attached for credit on the art. This is one of the main ways, he said, that people originally found his music.
2014 was a big break for Foreign Forest with the release of his music video for “Heart Stained Wrist Icy.” This minimalistic emo hip-hop anthem got him a lot of respect in the community and eventually a post from the Astari YouTube Channel. Forest highlights this as being equivalent to getting a repost from Worldstar in the emo-rap community.
Alec Antonio Hanshaw
When Forest was just starting out, he was still putting together everything himself and dropping it on Soundcloud. He would drop songs that were derivative of Mac Miller’s earlier work like on K.I.D.S. on a more positive tip. He met a good friend through Soundcloud named Alec Hanshaw that produced “HDMI” for Bones.
Hanshaw reached out to Forest, said he liked his voice, and sent four beats. Forest cites these beats as being fundamental to the sound he continues to build today with the project. Alec Hanshaw tragically passed away at the end of February this year at the tender age of 28. May his soul live on through his unique and original music that will continue to inspire.
Lund & Max Wells
Originally from Bakersfield, CA, Frankie (Foreign Forest) has been in-and-out of living in Los Angeles. In the past, he was living with friends and fellow artists Lund and Max Wells. They were all living together around three years ago and began fostering each others’ creativity. Frankie notes Lund as being successful and teaching him and Max how to properly utilize Ableton. For a year they bounced ideas off of each other and all independently grew as artists. Max and Frankie now have a spot together back in the LA-area and are back to business as usual.
Halloween, but All Year
HBAY is where Foreign Forest really put in his all. He’s got one solid feature from Cozy Boy on the whole project. He did this just to flex on his title in the scene one-time. As a confident visual and musical artist, Forest felt like he was pushing the same face and the same music. With HBAY, he thought about his birthday is in October and began making everything have more of a Halloween aesthetic.
The album itself is his most sophisticated project in terms of both production and delivery. You’ll hear a diverse array of tracks featuring spacey guitar samples over twitchy trap drums. Introspective lyricism swirl together with melodic lines and catchy, yet dark harmonies. Some minimalist House-style production comes in at times to really contrast light and dark vibes. Tracks like “Eyes Closed,” “So What,” and the title track “Halloween, but All Year,” have become fan-favorites.
Get Me Outta Here
Get Me Outta Here was going to be this project’s last album. After spending four years with Foreign Forest being a driving force in his outward identity, Frankie felt like he had to switch it up. But, after an IG Livestream following his announcement of the final album, his fans gave him the rallying encouragement to keep at it. Get Me Outta Here has cameos from several artists in the emo-rap scene such as Ashes, Corey Slabs, 33 Life, Isaac Shane, and Jacob Sherwood.
Each track features Forest’s notorious ominous and melancholy trap beats over either ethereal piano lines or guitar he plays himself. This album gets you stuck in your feelings, but still injects hope into your veins. Three of the seven tracks notably feature production from Martin Site. He’s given Forest and Lund choice production on tracks in the past that are now hitting millions of streams.
“You” & “Ball And Chain”
These two recent singles are Foreign Forest’s re-entry of sorts into regular drops. The first single that came out is an upbeat love song in comparison to his other work. “You” is a track Forest made after finding long-distance love with a fan in New York that he asked out over a casual game of Animal Crossing. He made the track to show her how much he appreciated her and to try making an uplifting track. They’ve since united back on the West Coast and he seems truly happy.
A week and a half ago, Forest put out his second single “Ball and Chain.” He cites this one as being one of his favorites in recent times. His track “If I Die, Baby” is his second most popular song, and he feels like “Ball and Chain” has a lot of that same energy. Tap in below and get familiar with Foreign Forest as he continues to low-key thrive and properly make his way into the limelight where he belongs.
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