38 and a mix of Puerto Rican and African American heritage,
talks openly about four stints behind bars on drug-related
charges before he finally got his act together and started
living positively. But he also credits divine serendipity for a
series of opportunities put before him since he got out of
prison five years ago. He draws heavily on those life
experiences in his music, recording under the name F1.
joined WIMX-FM “Hot 97.3” in September 2018, hosting an
evening show 6 to 10 p.m. urban radio station plays mostly rap,
hip-hop, and R & B. The station aims at 18 to 34 year-olds.
voice for the felons. I’m the first felon ever hired there,” he
said. “I try to give positive messages from someone who’s not
your typical, trying to tell somebody to do what’s right. I come
from a broken home. I come from poverty. I come from everything
that is negative. I come from that and turned it into a positive
and I try to let people know that they can do it, too.”
even tries to pay it forward to other local musicians by
inviting them into the studio to host the “Hot 8 at 8,” which
also gives them a chance to promote their own material locally.
“I try to
just give local artists that are aspiring to do better, I try to
give them a platform to get out to the people, let the people
know doing so that they have a little inspiration,” he said.
readily admits he “fell into” the opportunity to become a radio
host, crediting a lucky break while doing an interview at the
radio station to promote his music. The radio station’s program
director approached him and gave him “45 seconds to explain”
what he’s doing, “a conversation that ended up lasting two
hours,” according to Phillips.
has started a group known as Felonation, what he
describes more as “a movement.” He and other songwriter/rappers
have previously released other songs and music videos regionally
under that name on digital platforms such as Apple Music.
Phillips promotes the effort on his show, stating Felonation is
what drew the attention of the station’s top brass.
“Felonation is a movement that is not only for the felons, but
for the families of felons who are most affected by the person’s
incarceration,” said Phillips. “It is a network of support for
those felons and those families of felons who want to do better
or help someone do better and not give up on them. It’s a way of
thought it was something the young urban youth needed to hear,”
he said. “I didn’t even want the job at first. But after
speaking with some of my people, I realized we had a chance to
reach 80,000 to 100,000 people each night. We have a prison here
and it was an avenue for me to give some encouragement to the
guys who are actually doing time in the prison.”
stated he split his childhood between Toledo, Findlay, and
Fostoria, as well as Tacoma, Washington, where his mother’s
family lived. His parents divorced when he was just two years
old. He was first locked up for a year at age 15. Between the
ages of 19 and 33, Phillips spent more than a dozen years in
prison—sometimes serving three adult sentences just months
prison sentence lasted eight-a-half years. But he spent time in
five different lock-ups on that drug conviction, because he
enlisted the help of corrections officers, nurses, and other
prison staff to smuggle in music equipment.
kept moving me, because they didn’t have studios in prison and I
was making music. I found ways,” he said. “I wasn’t using my
abilities to bring in drugs, but I was using it to bring in
things I could use to make music, which has always been my
got into constant trouble for running an unauthorized
business—“making, releasing and selling music on iTunes and
other digital media platforms while locked up in prison in a
place that had no studio.” He stated there were music videos
made within the prison’s walls with an iPhone and a $4,000
keyboard he had smuggled into his cell.
making moves and doors continuously opened because people
believed in the music I was able to make and wanted to help,” he
said. “It’s kind of a crazy story, but it’s paved the way for
everything that I have going on now.”
“crazy story” likely will be retold in a documentary on
Netflix, which Phillips stated is in development, along with
some other prison-based stories involving other inmates and
hard-headed. I think I’ve got some type of OCD going on with
me,” he said with a laugh. “If I believe in something, I go for
it. Felonation’s motto is ‘We do what we want, they do what they
can.’ No one can tell me ‘no.’ If I’m trying to do the right
thing, you can’t stop me. The only person who can stop me is me.
I believe we manifest our destiny, manifest our reality.
Everything I’ve wanted to be, I’ve done. I just wanted the wrong
things when I was a kid.”
second chance made all the difference once he was released from
prison for the final time in 2015. There’s plenty of time to
think about all of his mistakes during an eight-year term.
up to the dope. I looked up to my uncles and cousins and all
those dudes in prison. I wanted to go to prison. I wanted to be
the tough guy. I wanted to be the one that everybody looked up
to and respected and was afraid of. I became all that,” he said.
“By the time I matured enough to understand who I really was and
understood that I am everything I ever wanted to be, now I just
want to be free. Once I got free, I was off and running and
couldn’t be stopped.”
Working at the radio station
stated that working at the radio station “opened a lot of doors”
for him, “not only locally, but nationally.” He now has a
manager, who forwarded a couple of singles he had recorded to
music industry representatives and “got their ears perked up.”
That led to the recent record deal.
very positive situation happening right now,” he said.
“Everything is just lining up.”
flew to Los Angeles to shoot a music video for his first single
just before the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. He has since
been furloughed from the radio station, like a lot of his
competitors and colleagues alike. Radio stations lost a lot of
advertising revenue as a result of the pandemic and the
resulting decline in the national economy.
has given him some free time to be more involved with the
post-production of the music video and help plan the release of
his first single “We Don’t Belong,” which features a
catchy, street-smart beat and a very strong message within a mix
of singing and rapping the lyrics. Even before its release,
Phillips said the song is being used in the raw, gritty HBO show
says our country is extremely divided and the way that we are
living, we don’t belong this way,” he said. “We don’t belong
divided, we don’t belong neglecting each other, not having
empathy for each other and understanding for each other. This
isn’t the way we’re meant to be as Americans, as human beings.”
has taken down the Felonation website and removed many of
his original recordings from the Internet and digital music
platforms like Spotify. Only a handful remain. He hopes to
re-record and remix some of that work to clean it up and reach a
wider audience by releasing it through his new record label.
While he admits such moves are intentional and purposeful, he
still credits divine serendipity or divine intervention for all
of the good things happening in his life.
believe anything just happens by chance. I think things happen
for a reason and I believe God puts people in places to help
others,” he said. “We may be helping others we don’t even know
we’re helping. I think it was a blessing and part of my
he does with those newfound opportunities, Phillips readily
admits, is up to free will, a human factor—and his eventual
success depends on making good decisions with a clear head.
still got a way to go, but I’m on my way,” he said.