Interview: We’re right here with up and coming rapper Riz. How’s the New Year treating you?
Riz: It’s been a good year; I’m out of New York (relocated to Atlanta) and out of my element. It is all
good and it is a fresh start. I left the past and the people behind for greener pastures. It’ a different look
but this is a journey that I’m on. I can’t complain with my life right now.
Interview: No doubt. Where were you born?
Riz: I was born in Charlestown, South Carolina but moved to New York at age 6. I’ve left New York and
currently live in Atlanta. It made sense and it was time to do it. I started to see that the lifestyle in New
York wasn’t for me. I moved to Atlanta and I’ve given my daughter a better life here. I reached my peak
in New York and things weren’t going as planned. It started to go sour as friends turned into enemies. I
couldn’t trust people anymore.
I basically had enough of New York; I moved on and left it behind. I’m on my journey to success. I’m 23
years old and I didn’t think twice about leaving. For my four-year-old daughter, this move to Atlanta was
best for her. I have a clearer mind and a better quality of living.
Interview: And how has the Atlanta scene affected the content you make?
Riz: It was crazy; like a divine connection. I don’t specifically know why I choose Atlanta because it was
strange; there are so many places I could have gone. I didn’t come to Atlanta for the musical aspect. But
in that process, I linked up with A&R Chris. Gene Nelson who works at Atlantic Records introduced me
to A&R Chris. I was in some talks with Atlantic Records for a while, they were thinking about signing me
and we’ve stayed in contact. A&R Chris now works with Hip-Hop Since 1978 and he introduced me to
the hottest producer I’ve worked with, Juvie. We had a vibe; we really clicked. I feel like it was a divine
connection that led me to him. We began talking and building. Three months later, we started creating
music together. We hit it off. It wasn’t about the music at first, but it is now.
Interview: Cool. You were young when you left South Carolina, but what was life like at that age?
Riz: Although I only spent six years in South Carolina that was involved with a lot of growth. My father
left when I was 2. My mom was into the street life. She was young and lost both of her parents at a
young age. She got out there and she hustled to take care of her older sisters.
That hustle lifestyle, she continued it after she had me. That was the way she knew how to provide
for me. She moved to New York and I actually stayed in South Carolina for a bit with family. I grew up
different than most kids because I had a lot of responsibilities placed on me. I had to find things out the
hard way. I learned a lot of life lessons so to speak. I was very observant as a kid.
Interview: That’s deep. How did your move to New York influence your love for hip-hop?
Riz: When I moved to New York in the 1980’s, the first hip-hop song that really registered with me
was “Top Billin” by Audio Two. That was killing New York at the time. That’s when I first realized how
powerful music was. I wasn’t into making music at this time yet, but I started to realize.
I started making music at age 14. A couple of guys from my neighborhood got a record deal and I used
to hang out with them at the studio. I observed that whole environment, as I would mess around at the
studio with them. I never took it serious at the time but it started to develop.
I began realizing hip-hop was a form of expression to me. I didn’t talk to many people. I started spending
my own money on studio time to invest in myself and develop my own style. I started taking the proper
steps to become my own artist. I took my time with it.
I started taking it serious in 2005. I was in the streets living my life and I got arrested. At that point in
my life, everything was going down hill. Music was my outlet; it was my way to turn a negative into a
I put together a mix cd called “Young King of New York.” I pressed up hard copies and took it to the
streets; specifically 125th Street in Harlem because that’s where I was at the time. I bought a radio and
started laying posters down on the ground. Me and a friend of mine, we sold my mix cd for $10 in the
streets. That was a hard summer because we didn’t have much money as a result of investing most of it
into my project.
People liked the CD and I started realizing that I could really do this. Nobody in my neighborhood knew I
was capable of rapping until that CD dropped. They along with myself began to understand that I could
do it. I sold about 5,000 CD’s that summer.
Interview: Wow. And do you think by being in New York, you were at an advantage?
Riz: In New York, it’s very different for an artist. A lot of great artists have come out of New York; the bar
to be considered a good emcee is set very high. Everybody is rapping about girls, drugs, money and cars.
At the end of the day, you have to find a way to separate yourself from the pack. It’s hard to do that
when you’re living that street life. It’s not about glorifying that life, it’s just reality. People don’t wanna’
hear that stuff anymore because it’s not interesting. They hear you rapping about the drugs, but they
wanna’ see that in you; otherwise, they don’t believe you.
I look at like New York artists have it hard actually. They wanna’ see you living that lifestyle first hand.
They don’t wanna’ come across somebody who’s rapping about it but not living it. If you don’t come
across as that authentic type of person, you get judged and critiqued differently.
Interview: Very true. Thanks for looking at it from a different perspective. What project are you
currently working on?
Riz: We’re working on my “The Blindside” project. We’re 12 records in actually. It’s a dope concept that
nobody saw coming. You never see that blindside coming. That’s why we named it that. We’re also
having some episodes developed to give the fans a better understanding of who I am as an individual.
We’re calling that webisodes series “Before the Deal.” People understand an emcee better when they
can register with them. I want them to listen to my music and see it in me.
The majority of artists today, they don’t connect with people on that level anymore. I want people to
understand who I am, my struggles and my flaws. I don’t want them just to see some sort of polished
artist in front of the camera. I think that’s lacking right now. Everyone is doing what everyone else
is doing. The fans aren’t relating to that; they relate to poverty, struggle and reality. That’s what I’m
bringing to the table. That feel is gonna’ change people’s perspective of hip-hop, period.
Interview: I agree and I like that. Does the project have a release date?
Riz: We don’t have a release date as of right now. We’re prepping the release of my new image within
the next couple of days. The first record we’re gonna’ leak is called “War Call.” That’s gonna’ be for all of
the blogs; it’s my re-introduction to the people. We’re doing this the right way. I’ve been doing this for 6
I’m actually signed to an independent company named Diamond District and we did a joint venture with
my own company, Self Made Inc. We’re building this project from the bottom up. We have a great cast
out here; I have a real staff with me. It’s all working out and coming together nicely.
Interview: So does that mean (label deal) that the project won’t be for free download?
Riz: We may sell the project; we’re leaning against giving it away for free. With this situation, we’re
trying to show the majors that I have what it takes. We need that big machine behind it because the
whole world needs to hear it. We can’t give it away due to that.
The whole free music thing has been taken out of context. At the end of the day, this is my life I’m
putting into my music. People now are just doing music for the heck of it. I believe music took a turn for
the worse with all this free download stuff. Fans now expect you to just give away free music. As long as
I’m giving you quality music, I think people will be interested enough to purchase it. There’s too much
free music out there nowadays. We’re not gonna’ be apart of that.
Of course will be giving away singles and videos away for free to give listeners a taste; But we’re really
trying to get this to the major labels so we’re treating it like a CD. We’re spending our own money to
complete this project.
Interview: Again, an interesting take from a different perspective. I can totally see where you’re coming
from. What videos are you shooting?
Riz: I’m shooting two videos next week; one for “War Call” and one for another joint titled “Can’t Stop.”
Boomtown from Boomtown Productions will be shooting those videos for me.
Interview: Oh wow, Boomtown has quite the extensive resume. What’s next up for Riz?
I‘m meeting with the video people and web designers. I’m hands on. Every day, I wake up and look at
footage. I’m really in the midst of making sure this project is done 100% the way I want it to be. This
will be what I want people to see and know about me. I’m playing my own road manager making sure people
for “The Blindside” and making sure it won’t fall on deaf ears.
Interview: That’s great. I really appreciate your time Riz. Do you have any last words before I let you go?
Riz: Thank you to everybody who supports me. Thanks to the entire Boomtown Productions staff and
Ken. Thanks to Diamond District. Thanks to Juvie for being so great. And finally, thanks to everybody
who supports and stands behind me, for helping seeing this vision come alive. Without my team, this
wouldn’t be possible.