Southern-born lyricist Rome Fortune is shaking up the rap game by following a four-word formula (that’s also a track title from his most recent EP Drives, Thighs & Lies): being “Damn Good, Damn Different.” Lauded equally for his strong yet silky flow and his ability to think outside the box, it’s no coincidence that Rome shares an area code with iconic innovators Outkast. i-D caught up with Rome about his hometown’s Hip Hop heavyweight history, the unexpected spots in his iTunes library, and his affinity for Acne cowboy boots.
Does Atlanta have a distinct spirit or energy?
I would say Atlanta definitely plays a big part in everything I do because it’s such a strong culture, you know? But spending time in different places like New York and LA and all of that stuff means I find different ways to infuse that with all of my sound and style from the South.
Whereas Beautiful Pimp saw an incredible roster of producers, your follow-up Beautiful Pimp II was produced solely by CitoOnTheBeat. What motivated your decision to work with one producer on this record?
With this record, I really wanted to create a cohesive story, sound, and feel, whereas the first Beautiful Pimp was kind of a concept project, but it was more loose in the sense that I had certain types of songs, like this one is the turn up or this one is slower. With Beautiful Pimp II, it wasn’t really big spikes of energy, it was just a real story. And working with one producer and being in the same atmosphere and headspace means that you can really be on the same page and understand the story you’re trying to tell.
Beautiful Pimp II listeners might be surprised to find that the jazz instrumentation throughout the record is actually played by your grandfather! What sort of sounds did he or your parents raise you on?
I was definitely exposed to a lot of jazz growing up, but I’m the only one in my extended family from the South, so I also grew up on Wu-Tang and Busta and all of that when I was super young. And then in high school, that’s when I really started to get into the Gucci and all that type of stuff. So with my family, it was a blend of my grandfather’s jazz influence mixed with the up-North culture. As I got older, I just listened to stuff that made me feel good.
Who are some artists in your iTunes library that might surprise us?
I’ve been pretty heavy on a lot of SoundCloud producers, like the Soulection group. I also really dig what Ryan Hemsworth and Sango do. It’s really just been instrumental stuff right now because I’m in a period in my career where more eyes are on me so I have to start focusing on what type of music I’m putting out, I can’t be influenced too much by other vocalists.
You’re a fan of Japanese designers like Visvim and Yohji Yamamoto, but still have love for a clean pair of adidas shell toes. What are some of your closet’s highlights? What did you grow up wearing?
Growing up it was like Jordans, sportswear, all of that stuff. When I started high school, I was really into sneakers and streetwear: A.P.C., Supreme, and Undefeated. Over the past couple of years, I’ve grown to love Acne, they’ve got a lot of stand out pieces, it’s all really solid design. So right now, my favorite pieces in my closet are my blue velvet Acne cowboy boots, my red Acne cowboy boots, and these shiny patent leather Acne cowboy boots.
In addition to dropping your own single Ice Cream Man, you’ve collaborated with Gucci Mane, one of the most famously chilly dudes in the game. What’s your favorite ice cream flavour?
How about vanilla!
From anywhere specifically? I used to work at Ben & Jerry’s so that’s where my allegiances lie.
The Mister Softee truck, for sure!