“I'm a mess, I'm depressed, but f*ck it I say it proudly,” Phora admits on “Love Yourself” from his 2019 album, Bury Me with Dead Roses. In a post-So Far Gone emo-rap era, the Anaheim, California rapper is one of the genre’s most resonant artists, infusing pain, heartbreak and vulnerability into his music. Born Marco Anthony Archer in 1994, he redirected his love for tagging graffiti to jumpstart lucrative work in tattooing as a teen before eventually turning to rap. By his early 20s, Phora’s near-death experiences—a stabbing and two shootings—and failed relationships fuelled songs like the tense, depressive “Sinner”, which dives into his nightmarish trauma, and 2016’s “Fake Smiles”. His in-the-pocket flows and vulnerable rhymes over hypnotic melodies and somber soundbeds further amplify his melancholy sensibilities. A string of self-released mixtapes under his own label, Yours Truly—most notably 2015’s Angels With Broken Wings—led to two full-length LPs with Warner Bros. Records, Yours Truly Forever and Love Is Hell. But before long, he’d return to his indie roots. A major-label deal never served an essential purpose—as long as he has a poignant story to tell, his fans are listening.
BORNOctober 11, 1994