If you haven’t yet heard about Pardison “Pardi” Fontaine, that will soon change.
Born Jordan Kyle Lanier Thorpe, the New York native has been the mind behind recent hits for big names like Cardi B and Kanye West. Though the rapper, 29, has been in the business for a while now, he’s most known for his 2018 single “Backin’ It Up” featuring Cardi B, which reached the US Billboard Hot 100 at No. 40.
After helping co-write songs like Cardi’s “Bodak Yellow,” West’s “Violent Crimes,” and even Ed Sheeran’s “South of the Border,” Pardi is ready to come into his own. His first mixtape and Atlantic Records project called UNDER8ED, which consists of 14 tracks, was recently released on Nov. 15, and for any and everyone who listens to it he can “guarantee [they’re] coming away with 10 records that they like.”
Here’s what to know about the confident and charismatic rapper.
He got inspiration for his stage name from watching Back to the Future
Ask him how he came up with a name like Pardison Fontaine, and Pardi has quite the intriguing backstory. He was initially inspired by Back to the Future’s Marty McFly, and wanting to do a mix of something similar. Then, he came up with “Pardi,” which ultimately led to Pardi McFly.
“Then, I thought to myself, ‘JAY-Z is not going to do a song with somebody named Pardi McFly,’” Pardi tells PEOPLE. “So, I just dropped the McFly and I kept the Pardi.”
As for the latter part of his name, it’s all thanks to his days working in retail at a Saks Fifth Avenue. “I used to walk past this Anne Fontaine store all the time, and I didn’t know exactly what it meant or what it sold, but I just knew Fontaine sounded hella important,” Pardi recalls.
He looked up the name “Fontaine” and came across Jean de la Fontaine, a famed French poet and fabulist from the 17th century. The storytelling aspect of Fontaine resonated with the rapper, and thus, Pardison Fontaine made his social media debut on MySpace some 10 years ago.
The first time he rapped was in 7th grade
Back in the 7th grade, Pardi was classmates with another kid who happened to be a rapper, and asked him to “get on this song” with him one day. The “Backin’ It Up” lyracist happened to have a “little Macaulay Culkin walkman where you could record yourself” (a Talkboy, which was made famous by Culkin’s character Kevin McCallister in the second installment of the Home Alone series).
“He gave me this beat and I wrote a little verse to it and that was the first time I ever rapped,” Pardi said. “That was like, ‘All right, I can do this.’ That was my real intro.”
He is a self-proclaimed sex symbol
The artist has been dubbed somewhat of a sex symbol. Both by himself and others.
“I mean, the title was projected upon me. I just graciously accepted,” the songwriter says with a laugh. “I feel like I carry the title well. And I was accepting and gracious to receive it.”
He loves the opportunity to create
One of the biggest reasons Pardi decided to become a rapper was because the profession allowed him the capacity to constantly create, which he thinks is one of the best aspects of the rap game these days.
“Even a record like “Backin’ It Up” is something I’ve thought about in my own mind. I thought about it in my head,” the rapper said. “Now it plays in people’s cars, while you’re in the shower, while you’re in the club.”
He adds, “Something that I thought about affects people’s days.”
His favorite thing about Cardi B is that she’s “really passionate”
The first time Pardi met Cardi was actually at Sue’s Rendezvous, a gentleman’s club in Mount Vernon, New York, where he discovered that “she took a real liking” to his 2013 song “Oyyy.”
When he was putting together “Backin’ It Up,” he knew the beat was “a smash” and needed “the cherry on top” for the record, ultimately deciding Cardi was going to be the last piece of the puzzle.
“Every time we work together, it’s amazing,” Pardi tells PEOPLE. “I decided she was going to be my home girl. So, it was like a perfect match.”
“She’s really passionate about her music, you know what I’m saying? She takes a lot of time to do things right. Repetition, repetition — she wants everything to come out perfect. She’s a real perfectionist with it all and a real hard worker, too.”
He wants to work with JAY-Z, Beyoncé and Adele
Though he’s already worked with the likes of Cardi and Kanye, Pardi has a long list of artists he yearns to collaborate with, including power couple The Carters (JAY-Z and Beyonce) and Rihanna. He also mentions a slew of surprising candidates such as Adele, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran.
“I love Adele. I love everything she does. I feel like there’s nobody better at expressing themselves and getting emotions out through music,” the artist told PEOPLE. “Whenever she goes in on a topic—whatever the song may be about—you feel like you’re in the moment.”
He adds, “Not to mention, her vocals are amazing, but just the writing that goes into her songs is always so elaborate and so relatable.”
He loves the opportunity to give back
Born and raised in Newburgh, New York, Pardi is not one to forget the community he grew up in. Recently, he participated in a turkey drive, did a book bag giveaway to assist children in their schooling and supported the local football team, where all the fans and kids were going “crazy” at the sight of him.
“Right now, the crazy thing to me is that I’m in a position to help other people. I always wanted to be able to be that figure we didn’t really have in Newburgh,” the rapper said. “We got guys that put in the work, but not on like an entertainment level, not somebody that was relevant, and somebody in kids’ everyday life, like in the pop culture.”
“So, that was one of the biggest things — important things while I was doing this music.”
UNDER8ED is available on Apple Music and Spotify.