Compton’s Roddy Ricch on his new mixtape: ‘I needed to give myself the time to regain my spirit’
Roddy Ricch grew up about 10 miles from Inglewood’s Kia Forum. But the Compton-bred rapper never stepped inside the fabled venue until last Thursday night, when he hit the stage to perform in front of 17,000 people as part of Post Malone’s Twelve Carat Toothache tour.
A few days later, he ambled into a poolside cabana atop the Peninsula in Beverly Hills, his neck burdened with a chain that featured a diamond-laden dinner plate sandwiched between a fork and knife. He downplayed his emotions about his first night at the Forum, saying just that it was “cool” despite suffering through sound issues. But he admitted that performing at the former home of the Lakers was not in his plans when he set out to make it in music.
“Growing up, I never thought we’d be doing the Forum,” he said. “We’re doing Staples Center too. I never thought that far ahead.”
For the last two months, Ricch and Malone have traveled the country, performing individual sets while also teaming up onstage for their 2022 collaboration “Cooped Up.” As the tour comes to a close, Ricch will release the third installment of his “Feed the Streets” mixtape series, returning to his comfort zone via the theme that thrust his name into the spotlight.
It’s a welcome return to form following last year’s “Live Life Fast,” which failed to live up to the lofty expectations set by his chart-topping debut album “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial,” featuring his Grammy-nominated breakout hit, “The Box.” Just two weeks after the album’s release, he tweeted that “Feed the Streets 3” would arrive in 2022, and after taking a break to recalibrate, he got back to making music.
Talking with Ricch, it’s clear he’s done the necessary introspection to get back on track. The 23-year-old speaks with a thoughtfulness beyond his years, taking long pauses before giving answers.
We’re in the midst of Grammy season. You won for rap performance for “Racks in the Middle” with Nipsey Hussle in 2020, but you’ve had a lot of other nominations come up empty. How did it feel seeing “The Box” get all those noms in 2021 but not the gold?
If I could be honest? I feel like they wasted my time. Why would you nominate a 21-year-old Black kid six times, sit him on the front row, and not give him anything? Jay-Z pulled me to the side and helped me out. They did him like that, and he never went back.
Did you put a lot of stock in the Grammys before? Do you now?
I don’t feel like they’re the end-all, be-all. I just feel like, if I put the work in, did all this s—, and then I get to the championship and just scored 60 points? And I’m sitting here, and I ain’t get no chip? You would be hot too.
These days, whose opinion do you value the most?
My mom, that’s more than anything. I used to value my dad’s opinion ... I still do. [Laughs] But I’d tell her anything, she knows everything about me. She don’t care for the “Roddy Ricch” thing, but she knows where I came from.
You’re dropping your new mixtape right before Thanksgiving, and you’ve been doing pop-ups to “feed the streets” food before the holiday. What does Thanksgiving mean to you?
“Feed the Streets” is surrounded by my mother. She always gave food away to less-fortunate people when I was growing up. We’d give pizzas to people or she’d cook spaghetti, stuff you could put in a big pot. That’s something that stuck with me.
What was your mind-set while making “Feed the Streets 3”?
It’s me getting back to being comfortable and thriving in my environment. Over the last few years — transparently speaking — you go through things and life changes. Sometimes people don’t have a soft heart for that. As a man, you gotta know where you’re at and understand where you’re going and continue to be great regardless of circumstances. So that’s where the music is. We’re working on the next album while this one is coming out.
You’re speaking to your 2-year-old son on the last song, “Letter 2 My Son.” What made this feel like the right time?
I feel like those songs [about family] live forever. It means the most to me. I just tried to lay it out. Obviously we’ll have more conversations if God allows me to be here for that, but I feel like people, especially young people, don’t value time. So in my time, my son may not be able to understand exactly what I’m saying now, but I can leave this token of thought [for later]. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of people go before they get to say what they want to say to their kid.
You mentioned trying to raise him the right way despite not having a father in your own life growing up. How old were you when you learned the values you’re telling him on the song?
It’s an ongoing process for me. I’m a young father. I don’t do everything right, I said it in the song. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve taken time for separation, I just needed space. I’m not painting a picture that I’m the perfect father, but I always make time. If his mom call about something going on, I’m on the first jet. I’ve canceled things in the middle of things.
But you can learn from your kids too. I feel like it’s a back-and-forth relationship between me and him. I want to learn as much from him as he’ll learn from me.
How long were you working on the mixtape?
After “Live Life Fast,” I knew I had to drop another album for my fans. But I needed to give myself the time to regain my spirit. I was thinking to actually drop pretty close after that album, but [everyone involved] wanted to take our time with the process. So we sat with the music, we lived with the music, we let the music minister to us so we can affect the people in the right way.
You mentioned “Feed The Streets” being your comfort zone. Were you out of your comfort zone on “Live Life Fast”?
I wouldn’t say out of my comfort zone necessarily. But I knew my fans wanted that album while I was making it, and where I was at in my life, it just didn’t line up.
Sometimes you have off-seasons, where you may not feel as inspired. You’re focused on other things. I feel like we’re in a great space now. That was the time we were in, and we learn from things.
Did you step away from music to get back to that space?
Yeah, I was recentering my energy and finding my happy place. On some everyday life s—, just trying to live. When you’re waking up and it ain’t right, you gotta shake back. I feel like I just had to find my peace. My family, getting back to me and what I had to do to stay inspired.
After PnB Rock was killed in September, you posted about L.A. needing to stop the senseless violence. What was your first reaction when you saw the news?
I know that area well, too well. [South L.A.] My mom used to get her nails done in that shop right there. Those people saw me grow up. The El Pollo Loco, the McDonald’s and that little burger stand [where] they keep changing the name. I know that intersection.
We know what comes from certain areas. Not that “we scared of the area,” we just know it too well. Growing up going to school, we’d be at the bus stop seeing the memorial candles, purple balloons, right at the intersection.
That’s no fault to nobody, but we don’t play with that. Grandma been moved out of there. We been gone.
Did it make you move any different? Or you were always moving smart?
I’ve been doing this for like five years. I know that’s not a long time in the span of life. But five years of having to move like this ... all my cars been 5% tint since I was 18 years old. People can’t drive my cars through the hills because they can’t see through my s—. I just move like a ghost. I don’t advise everybody to move like that, we just take our precautions.
But prayers to his family, his girl, his kids. I wish this thing didn’t happen. But I just know that area too well.
Rapper Roddy Ricch says L.A. has to chill out with all the gun violence: “Before you know it, it’ll be nobody left to take from or kill.”
What’s your view on the state of L.A. hip-hop right now?
I feel like we’re in a pretty good place. Doing more collaboration, working with each other more, dealing with each other more. That’s all I can ask from my city. It’s still a lot of division too.
I’ve seen a lot of artists complain about not getting enough support within the city.
As artists, we have to take responsibility for ourselves. My dad taught me that nothing was given. I never looked for nobody to give me anything.
If I could speak on being from the West, my success came from venturing off to New York, Philly, D.C., Atlanta, Texas, Florida, Chicago. I ventured off so I could bring it back home. A lot of people from where we from, we got it so made out here, that we feel like “this is it.” That’s the mentality a lot of us be stuck on: “I’m from L.A., I’m this, I’m that.”
Did you have that at some point in your early career?
Never. I went to Chicago when I was 12, 13. I did Summer Night Lights. I saw the whole Chief Keef, Lil Durk wave. I got to see the other side. I don’t wanna blame a person for having their mind-set. You just gotta open up your mind.
Hip-hop trends and sounds move quickly. How do you deal with that?
I don’t really pay attention to it. All these things are exactly what we say, they’re trends. I'mma be honest with you — when “The Box” came out, I didn’t really know what that was. That “ee-er” s—. It’s probably hard to believe that, but I didn’t even know what “The Box” going viral looked like. I just knew it was a song people listened to and liked the little sound.
People explained it to me, like, the internet took the “ee-er” sound and did all this crazy s—. I’d seen some of it, but we don’t follow trends. We make them.
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