Whether it be the phrases engraved in the sidewalk or graffiti tagged on the walls, the concrete emulates the pulse of any hood in America. Those stone-cold expressions ring out as warnings, epitaphs, and tributes to the streets.
When Roddy Ricch raps and sings, his words carry the same weight, cauterizing pain as poetry. That’s how the 21-year-old Compton native turned caustic confessions such as “Die Young” and “Every Season” into RIAA platinum hits within one year since the arrival of his 2018 breakout mixtape Feed tha Streets II. That’s how he racked up over 1 billion total streams across his own output and blockbuster collaborations such as “Project Dreams” with Marshmello, the late Nipsey Hussle’s “Racks in the Middle” also featuring Hit-Boy, Meek Mill’s “Splash Warning” accompanied by Future and Young Thug, and the multiplatinum remix of “wow.” alongside Post Malone and Tyga. That’s how he ended up nominated for “Best New Hip Hop Artist” and “Best Mixtape” at the 2019 BET Hip-Hop Awards, wound up on the cover of XXL as part of the coveted Freshman Class, and graced “Artist To Watch” lists by Amazon Music, Billboard, and BBC 1Xtra. That’s how he emerged as the talk of Made In America Festival and Spotify’s Rap Caviar Show during the Final Four Tournament.
Acclaimed by everyone from Pitchfork to The Fader, he offers a perspective from inside and outside of the hood on a string of projects slated for 2019 and beyond.
“I’ve learned you sometimes just have to take a step outside of yourself in order to evaluate who you really are as a person,” he exclaims. “I most definitely do that these days. I’m not only looking at myself from the inside; I’m looking from above as well to see where I can eventually go in my music.”
Roddy’s experience covers all angles as well. Born and raised in the heart of Los Angeles, he grew up between his mom’s place in South Central and grandparents’ house in Compton before adopting the New Wilmington Arms projects as a second home during high school. After his mom’s second re-marriage, he started “getting into trouble” and would be kicked out at 16-years-old. He spent a few months with dad in San Diego before returning home, because “you can’t really do music in San Diego.” Following a year in private school where he studied the work of Shakespeare and completed a rigorous English and Fine Arts curriculum, a fistfight with his stepdad caused an irreparable rift.
So, Roddy moved out on his own.
Inspired by everyone from Meek Mill and Young Thug to Future and Zapp & Roger, he dove into making music. Roddy uploaded his first single “Ricch *****” to Soundcloud, and it caught fire— generating 200K streams within two months during 2016. He signed to Bird Vision Entertainment and independently dropped the Feed tha Streets mixtape in 2017. The music video for lead single “Fucc It Up” put up serious numbers, eclipsing 2.8 million YouTube views and 840K Spotify streams within a year.
Everything set the stage for Feed Tha Streets II though. Not only did “Die Young” and “Every Season” cement his place among rap’s upper echelon, but the likes of “Down Below” and “Cream” illuminated his dynamics. After the one-off single “Out Tha Mud,” which Pitchfork named among “The Ones,” he dove into crafting his 2019 Atlantic Records debut EP, Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial.
Roddy introduced the project with the single “God’s Eyes.” Sweeping and soaring piano underscores tense verses before he delivers a soulful refrain, lyrically closing in on his struggle like an aerial tracking shot in a gangster classic.
“When I was recording the song, I was basically just talking about my life from a bird’s eye view,” he says. “It’s God’s view of the situation from up above.”
Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial forever etches Roddy’s own unfolding story in concrete as well.
“I’m all about sharing what I’ve got,” he leaves off. “I hope to give back and motivate everybody in the hood. At the same time, I show the outside world life is all about choices, decisions, and consequences. I want to tell every side of the story.”