Fredo Santana was an American rapper best known for his successful debut mixtape, ‘Trappin Ain’t Dead,’ in 2013. He was the older cousin of rapper Chief Keef. Born and raised in a poverty-stricken black neighborhood in Chicago, Fredo ventured into drug trade very early in his life. He continued trading drugs for a few years before he joined hands with his cousin, Chief Keef, and embarked into rapping. Fredo was introduced to the world of rapping with the release of Chief Keef’s song ‘I Don’t Like.’ He contributed to its vocals and appeared in its video. In 2012, released his debut mixtape, ‘It’s a Scary Site,’ and following its independent success, released several more mixtapes and established himself as a successful rapper. He rapped about the struggles he faced as a kid and then as a teenager. Despite all the success he attained, he could not stop consuming drugs and eventually died at the age of 27 in early 2018.
Childhood & Early Life
Fredo Santana was born Derrick Coleman, in Chicago, Illinois, on July 4, 1990, into a poverty-stricken black household. His parents did not care about their children and spent most of their time selling and consuming drugs. His father was part of a local gang. Fredo once shared a picture that showed his father holding a gun in one hand while holding Fredo in another.
Fredo grew up in the neighborhood of Englewood, which is one of the most low-income neighborhoods of Chicago. Struggling with poverty, he was highly influenced by the life of actors and musicians. However, in order to emulate them, he needed money. At the age of 12, he ventured into drug trade and started selling weed on the streets.
By the time he was a teenager, he had already been arrested for drug trade several times. He indulged in violent assaults on people and also beat up his school teacher once.
The life of crime was something Fredo wanted to escape at any cost. He had a natural flair for music. After his younger cousin, Chief Keef, ventured into music, Fredo thought music was a sweet escape.
In his late teens, he started indulging in rap battles. Most of his raps during that time were, however, self-deprecating in nature. He rapped about his struggles in life and his desire to create a better life for himself.
By 2012, Chief had begun making music and Fredo joined him. He found the rap genre Chicago drill to be his forté and began his music career soon.
During the initial few years of his music career, Fredo was not too keen on making music and just took it up as a hobby. He made excuses to skip studio sessions and kept himself busy with drug trade and street fights. However, when he noticed Chief was doing well and working hard to attain fame, Fredo became conscious and started getting serious about music.
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The world was introduced to Fredo Santana when he appeared in a brief role in Chief Keef’s breakthrough song, ‘I Don’t Like.’ The song became a chartbuster and was played on the radio and in clubs throughout Chicago. Fredo later appeared in the music video for the song, too, but it was not enough for him to gain a large fan following.
Fredo’s parts in the music video were shot in a room where Fredo was held under house arrest at that time. The song’s success compelled him to create his own music.
In 2012, he released his debut mixtape, ‘It’s a Scary Site,’ which was released independently in the month of September. Following this official foray into music, Fredo became a famous rapper. His unique style of blending trap and drill music exuded fresh vibes. Additionally, the lyrics were dark and violent, giving a glimpse into the life that he had gone through as a kid.
In order to produce his debut mixtape, Fredo hired several small-time producers such as Young Chop, C-Sick, 12Hunna, and Paris Bueller. In addition, several rappers, such as Chief Keef, Gino Marley, Lil Herb, and Lil Bibby, appeared as guests on the tape. The mixtape turned out to be a success, allowing Fredo to immediately start working on his second mixtape.
In February 2013, Fredo released another mixtape, ‘Fredo Kruger,’ which was also released independently. It was made available on ‘iTunes’ the same year. The second mixtape was more successful. Although he had begun to make decent money by then, he chose to live in the same poor neighborhood he had grown up in.
Drake listened to his music and asked him to feature in the music video of his song ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home.’ The video featured Fredo as the “bad guy” who kidnaps Drake’s girlfriend. After appearing in Drake’s music video, Fredo’s fame went beyond Chicago and he soon began to be recognized nationally.
In October 2013, Fredo released his debut album, ‘Trappin Ain’t Dead,’ which was released independently by Chief and him. The cousins began a label of their own called ‘Savage Squad Records.’ Although the album was critically appreciated, it failed to get enough publicity and could not make it to most music charts.
He was not as good a rapper as his brother Chief, but his style of fearlessly incorporating stinging truths about American ghettos earned him massive respect among fans of rap music. His music was a hard-hitting mixture of trap and drill. His brutal honesty became his selling point.
Over the next few years, Fredo released several mixtapes such as ‘Street Shit,’ It’s a Scary Site 2,’ ‘Walking Legend,’ and ‘Fredo Mafia.’ He kept his musical style more or less the same, even with the release of his sophomore album, ‘Fredo Kruger 2,’ which was released in 2017.
Personal Life & Death
As described by his peers, Fredo Santana was a highly sensitive person. In one incident, he came out from a Chicago nightclub and was immediately surrounded by dozens of fans from a poor local neighborhood. Fredo had only $100 in his pocket, as he was not rich at that time, but he distributed the money among them.
Even after he became successful, he did not quit drugs. He was addicted to lean, which has a heavy concentration of cough syrup. He consumed it heavily. He did not quit drugs despite several health warnings by his doctors.
In late 2017, he was hospitalized due to some health issues. After being released from hospital, he tweeted about joining a rehabilitation facility and urged his fans to do the same. However, he could not keep his promises and continued to consume drugs.
He said that drugs helped him forget his tragic life of his younger days. He was found dead in his home in Los Angeles, on January 19, 2018. His son, Legend Derrick Coleman, was barely eight months old at the time of Fredo’s death.