Born William Heredia, MC/producer Fokis grew up with four other siblings on Manhattan's Lower East Side. His brothers' interest in hip-hop, house, and DJ culture in the '80s gave Fokis the extra push to involve himself in music. However, his career proceeded in almost an opposite fashion than many of his rapping peers. Fokis first became a producer and sound engineer; then, he founded his own label, Loyalty Records, and built his own recording studio before picking up the microphone. Issued on Loyalty, his debut LP, More Than One Way, appeared in 2005. After the album's release, he continued working the independent circuit with several street-level and Internet mixtapes, including Fully Focused (2006), helmed by frequent collaborator and Aftermath producer Focus. Alongside J.F.R., Fokis' beat-making partner in the Acoustic Chefs, the Manhattan native also kept himself busy in the recording studio, producing and mixing down songs for several other artists, like Canibus, Tru-Life, Kool G Rap, and members of Dipset. In 2007, he began running an Internet reality show called Road to the Riches, which chronicled his yearlong path to earning a record deal. The project gained some extra viewers after he leaked to the Internet the Joell Ortiz-guested "Pandemonium," the lead single for the reality show's soundtrack, Road to the Riches, Vol. 1 (2008). ~ Cyril Cordor
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