Imagine having your dreams handed to you by being on one of the biggest music competitions in the world and landing a coveted spot as one of American Idol’s top finalists. Now imagine having reached that level of fame and success, losing it, and spiraling down a dangerous path. For some, a lifelong dream could end there, but for Frankee Razor it was the turning point to reemerge as a greater artist and individual.
Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Razor, real name Justinn Waddell, has always had stars in his eyes. “Since I was a little kid I’ve always been a performer. I was raised in church, I feel like I was born on the pew in church,” he said about sparking a career in the music industry. Having worked on Broadway as a teen making “2 g’s a week,” the young musician was ambitious and ready to take on the heavily competitive industry.
Fast forward to wowing the judges on American Idol and earning a spot as a finalist, Frankee shared how everything that glitters isn’t gold. “When you’re on American Idol you have to portray a certain image, a good guy, everything is happy image,” he said.
“For the different opportunities that came after that show I kind of always felt I had to be the nice guy, be the boy next store, always smiling, show the good things that are happening in life and that’s not life. People don’t understand when you’re on a reality show you’re thrust into the limelight, instantly people want to know you and instantly people want to have your autograph and get in your business. When you’re taken from all of that spotlight and have to go back to your regular life after you’re kicked off the show, yeah it was amazing, but you go through depression.”
There was a low point in Frankee’s life and career after being booted off Idol. “You think you’re famous, so I dropped out of school. You go through so many mistakes after. I became a horrible alcoholic. I became just an awful, awful person, just destroying who I was, my gift, because I was so depressed about the show. Life after that show is rocky, it’s hard. You have to reevaluate who you are, what your purpose is on this Earth because you feel like your dreams are gone.”
But his dreams weren’t done. His determination kept him going and moving forward. After taking a break and going back to school, Razor had a new found focus to take the music industry by storm. With a sound influenced by Bob Marley and Prince and a voice compared to the likes of John Legend, the evolution of Razor’s unique talent is something to be rivaled with today.
“Coming from American Idol you have to master every genre and learn new songs from every artist [in] every field across the board. When I was young, I don’t know if you saw the pictures, I had long dreads, so my hair pushed me into the reggae market and my voice is rasping, so that’s where I kind of started out. I got really edgy after a certain point and became a rocker.”
Razor continued speaking on his evolution saying, “So for me, my music is just eclectic. It took me a while to really define my sound, but now I am R&B, I have always been R&B, I’ve always been a soulful singer. I can sing accapella in the club, I’m not that Britney Spears, auto-tune guy. It [his sound] just developed organically.”
With a new EP out, Frankee Razor: Breakup in Paradise, and a new single, “Love Rain,” this musician is coming back to the music scene strong. “In my music career, I’ve always worked with teams and labels and went with what they think I should do. They took my opinions into consideration a little bit, but I always kind of went with what my team kind of wanted and what the market was asking for. So I never put my foot down and said, ‘This is what I’m doing.’ I’m standing up for my creativity. I never did that until now, so I’m very excited this is so rewarding. This is my life in song form.”
His new music video for “Love Rain” captures downtown LA and turns “ugly moments” into a beautiful strong story line that pushes the envelope of fashion and visual art. Frankee sees Grammy awards and his music being “ear candy” for the person going through things. He wants to put out music videos for all of his music to make his artistry more timeless to marry his music with the visual.
Fearless, hopeful, and prayer are the three things that describe the Frankee Razor brand moving forward. “I got big dreams I’m banking on and I really believe God is going to bring miracles. I don’t see any no’s in my future. Action works. I’m all about action now, I’m no longer waiting.”
Keep up with Frankee by visiting his website (frankeerazor.com) and following him on Twitter and Instagram @FrankeeRazor.
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Photo: Frankee Razor