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LoveOfPharaoh Opens Up About Anxiety, Growing Up With A Gay Father, and the Death of His Brother

LoveOfPharaoh Interview

Josiah Kakish, better known as his stage name, LoveOfPharaoh is a 23-year-old rapper and producer from Columbia Heights, Minnesota.

Pharaoh took an interest in music at an early age. He attended Main Street School of Performing Arts high school in Hopkins, then enrolled in McNally Smith where he perfected his skills of songwriting and audio engineering.

Since graduating, he has been blazing his own trail in the hip hop world, releasing countless works of art while collaborating with numerous musicians in the Twin Cities.

On top of it, Pharaoh has created a movement called Sota Gang, (Going After New Goals), a collective of entrepreneurial-spirited individuals who encourage one another to achieve their dreams.

What’s most impressive about Pharaoh is not his body of work, or his level of ambition, but rather the unsettling mental and emotional hurdles he has overcome.

Pharaoh was subject to the ruthless bullying after kids in school discovered his father was homosexual.

At fifteen, a classmate lost his life in a train accident, which caused Pharaoh to develop symptoms of anxiety. Then, devastation hit his family in 2015 when his older brother Jakob lost his life to leukemia, burying him just three days after Christmas.

To add to Pharaoh’s rather uncommon life experiences, his younger brother Nikolaus came out as transexual in 2017, a decision he proudly supports.

I had the privilege of sitting down with Pharaoh for a vulnerable conversation that touches on his life so far, and the lessons he’s learned throughout the process.

We hope you enjoy this very special conversation with an inspirational human being.

An Intimate Interview with Pharaoh

Bo: Pharaoh, we share something in common where I lost my mom and you lost your brother. That was obviously really impactful to both of our lives—something we connected on right away. And another connection is that you’re a hustler.

Pharaoh: Thank you.

Bo: I love being around people who have visions and have a dream and a goal. And, through hanging out, I’ve had the chance to really get to know you.

Pharaoh: Yeah, man, it’s a blessing to be here. Where I’m at in my life right now, I feel like, is a peaceful state. If I hadn’t dealt with myself so much over the past year in who I am, what matters most to me, I might be a little bit more anxious.

Because anytime you’re not where you want to be with your dreams, you can tend to get a little bit anxious. But when you find peace with the process and the people around you in your life and the person you’re working on becoming, keeping your mind open, it’s a happy feeling.

So I can’t walk around and say that I feel doubtful about my life or feel unaccomplished because I’m working as hard as I can.

I get to meet new people every day. I get to work hard, find different ways to work as hard as possible without a budget, and without big connections.

The Music, Work Ethic & Sota Gang

LoveOfPharaoh and Realistic Productions standing on street
LoveOfPharaoh (left) and Realistic Productions (right)

Bo: The last project you put out was called The Headliner Volume 1.

Pharaoh: Yeah.

Bo: It had how many tracks?

Pharaoh: 11.

Bo: What was the process of making that? Did you have people involved?

Pharaoh: Yeah. So I only have one other person that does any of my music stuff with me and that’s Realistic Productions. Other than that, everything is completely myself.

I went to McNally Smith before it closed down and got to spend four years straight in a studio nonstop working. So understanding the whole process.

One of the reasons I wanted to come here is because I come to places like this all the time and I just sit, put my headphones on, and I’ll work on a record.

I’ll open up a session and just sit with the adlibs, sit with the verse, or alter the production. And I’m always doing something.

There’s never a dull moment. If I have a moment to myself, my laptop’s open and I’ve got Pro Tools up and I’m ready to work on stuff.

Bo: And we’re here at your uncle’s coffee shop.

Pharaoh: I’ve been coming here since I was born, so I felt like this would just be a great place. I love this outside area.

Bo: Yeah, it is great. Shout out to Cahoots Coffee on Selby.

So, you’re only 23 years old.

Pharaoh: 23, yeah.

Bo: And you’ve already done so much. I mean the amount of work that you’ve put out is one thing. But also like what you’ve created around you, which is Sota Gang. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?

Pharaoh: Yeah Sota Gang stands for “Going After New Goals”. It essentially started a few years back where we just wanted a movement to guide people that want to wake up every day and not live with the typical nine-to-five.

A creative can come to me and I see that they’re putting in work, I see that they’re honest about what they do, and we get them involved.

And then they have this huge network of artists and directors and people like you who are out working like yourself as an artist, as somebody who’s running these things.

We’re all hustlers, we’re all entrepreneurs, and we should all be working together towards a common goal. Success.

Bo: And I think there’s like this thing around entrepreneurs is where we feel like we have to do it all ourselves. We have to make it to the top all on our own because we want to prove ourselves and many other people along the way that we could do it.

And that can be a little bit of a toxic idea. And when you open it up to all of these other people who are going after separate goals, but together we can achieve them tenfold when we allow people to help us or when we are willing to help others.

Pharaoh: Absolutely. People are blinded by ego and often feel as though, by doing everything themselves, there is some greater prize at the end of it.

But the truth is finding people who are waking up every day and going after their dream, getting them on your side, they become friends in your life. They become people that advise you, mentor you. It helps you so much.

I owe everything I am to the people I surrounded myself with. It’s not that I had some weird type of access. It was that I didn’t have any access and I needed access into what this world is.

How do I make it? How do I learn this? How do I become a hustler? Because I’m just an anxious, nervous 17-year-old and I don’t know what I’m doing.

I’m just making these songs every day. I don’t know how to be an artist. And then you learn from people that are older than you that have been in different positions, been through different experiences because every human has been through something different in life.

Everybody has their own story. And you can take away from everybody, whether good, whether bad, you can take away from everybody.

Experiencing Death & Battling Anxiety

LoveofPharaoh and his brother Jakob
Pharaoh (right) and his brother Jakob (left)

Bo: You mentioned being an anxious 17-year-old. And that kind of goes into you telling me that you deal with anxiety, you battle that every day. I think our readers and our listeners would be interested in knowing how do you combat that? How do you slay that dragon?

Pharaoh: There are many different things. Anxiety is not a thing that has one single cure, one symptom. People deal with different types of it.

I had a conversation with somebody yesterday who told me that they lose their equilibrium and they blackout sometimes when they have anxiety, which is completely separate from what I deal with, because I deal with a little bit more of fast heart rate, shakiness, nervousness, I can’t really sit still.

Never to the point, really, where I black out, but it’s there and it can alter a lot of my mood. And this is something I still battle as a person. But I’ve dealt with it for so long I know how to look at it straight in the face, identify it, and then start searching for as many solutions as possible.

Because the truth to anxiety is you can’t just flip a switch and it’s gone. It’s always going to be there. It’s about finding as many ways as possible to make yourself happy. It’s all about the power of the mind, overcoming things, and just knowing that you can get through it.

Losing my brother at 19 years old, you’re forced to overcome your demons. And that’s essentially what you have to do in life.

You know what they look like, you know how they feel, you know how they sound. You learn how to fight them. You learn how to keep them away. And they’ll always exist, but there’s a lot more good. And you just have to accept.

It’s all about acceptance of the things that you can’t change.

That was something I battled for a really long time. And then, when you make peace with that, you truly can wake up every day and be grateful. Because everybody’s dealt with something worse. And we’re here and we’re alive, man.

If you were to look up close at the experience I went through of Jakob passing away, you would see that it was the worst thing I ever went through, and where a lot of my problems stem from.

If you take a few steps back, and observe the entirety of my life, you will see that it was the seventh death I had dealt with by the time I was 19. And here I am at 23, not looking for any excuses, not letting a single thing hold me back. 

Bo: Was it when your brother passed when you started to develop some anxiety?

Pharaoh: No, it was when a friend of mine passed when I was about 15 years old. It was the first time somebody close to me that I knew that was my age, that was a kid, died.

And I… You see death in the face. You’re a kid. You’re supposed to feel immortal like you can live forever. And, when you see a 15-year-old in a coffin, it changes your perspective forever.

So I started having panic attacks. Then I went into a hospital for a week for it. Then I got on pills. And then I used the pills lightly. Because you get on it, you think you’re good enough to get off. Then you get off it and it’s horrible.

Then my brother died and that was essentially the ultimate test. It made it worse for a very long time. And that was a few-year journey to genuinely find myself after.

And, through all of these hurdles, it’s like working out. Through all the shit that I’ve been through in my life, it’s gym flow, man. You get through it.

And so, when things come across, you know how to deal with them. There’s not a lot that can happen to me that I don’t know how to deal with because of what I’ve dealt with.

And you just gotta put that same energy into your dreams. Because for every bad thing that’s happened, it’s fueled me to go in and work hours and hours and hours and to write a record and to wake up in the morning and feel blessed and feel happy.

It’s just all about turning it into fuel.

Growing Up With A Gay Father

LoveOfPharaoh and his father

Bo: One thing that I do want to touch on since Pride is just this weekend, your dad is gay.

Pharaoh: Yes.

Bo: I think that also makes your story unique.

Pharaoh: Yeah. So growing up with a dad who is gay often leaves so many questions in people’s minds when I meet them. Because they never expect it. They never have any idea.

And I think that’s a testament to how much of just a normal person somebody who’s in the LGBT community is. Growing up with the gay dad was not something that made my life different because of him.

The biggest differences came from me dealing with homophobic comments made about me or my dad because of my dad. And they affected me in the same way they would affect somebody who was gay because it was your father.

When you’re dealing with kids who are bullying you and saying terrible, terrible comments about your father it affects you. And I used to be so sensitive about it.

But then you just come to realize it’s everybody else’s loss that people don’t get to understand it. I’m so thankful that God put these people in my life because I also have a transgender sister.

So I grew up with a brother and then, eventually around 2015, found out she was Alice. And so I feel like God has put these things into my life for me to just be a nonjudgmental person.

And I’m so thankful for it because at the end of the day, this person who was causing stigma when I say that my dad’s gay, he’s just a normal dad.

Somebody I argued with. Somebody that was strict. Somebody that got me my school supplies. Somebody that raised me, went to the movies with.

There was nothing different about it. There was nothing unusual about it. The only thing unusual was the opinions of others that didn’t understand it, that thought I was supposed to be a certain way.

That didn’t understand that it has nothing to do with anybody around. It’s not a disease. I grew up to become a rapper, a musician, a producer. It’s not anything near what my dad does. He’s a florist.

So perspectives like that, I feel, are important. To understand that everybody is just regular. It’s not all it’s made out to be.

The stigma really gets to me because everybody assumes something out of it. It can’t ever just be they find out my dad’s gay and it’s normal.

[People ask] “Well, how were you made?” I have a mother. My parents divorced when I was like six months old, so I just grew up and my dad was gay. It wasn’t like this thing I found out and went through.

It was just normal. And I didn’t understand that it was even something different and something people weren’t okay with until I was supposed to go into Boy Scouts.

There was a whole thing that happened with it and so I didn’t end up being a part of it. But, yeah, you learn to ignore those comments.

And, as far as my sister, I love her. That’s still my sibling. It’s still the same exact person I grew up with.

If you are interested in following Pharaoh, you can do so on Instagram or Soundcloud. If you’re interested in being a part of Sota Gang, you can find the Facebook group here.

Pharaoh is extending an invite to our readers to have a giant water gun fight at White Sands Beach on July 6th at 12 pm. There will be music, barbeque, and fun.

Written by Bo Weber

Supporting artists since 2014


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