As part of our Slumerican Cover Story (Issue #43) we interviewed Rittz, the red-haired, double-time rapper from Gwinnett County (North Atlanta). We first met Rittz in Feb 2011 (CHECK THE CONCRETEtv INTERVIEW), but since then he has dropped his White Jesus Mixtape, hit the road with Yelawolf and now has his own budding, national audience. There was a lot of new ground to cover and he was down to let us in on his career development.
Rittz: It was 2007 when I did that. Gwinnett County is like a suburb, like a Metropolitan area of Atlanta. When I was growing up rapping, it was just the suburbs of Atlanta. Now it's gotten to be so many people here, there's a movement from here. It's really the North Side of Atlanta. You know you got the East Side, the West Side, the South Side and this is the North Side. There's actually a lot of rappers reppin' from the North Side, but nobody really got it to that point yet. At that time, that's what that was. I was just trying to represent where I was from and put it on the map a little bit.The thing about Gwinnett is you get to live both sides of life. It looks like it's a nice area to live. If you're not from here you'd think it's a great place. It's just a lot of shit goes down here, cause it's a lot of people. It's a huge population, and it's a big drug area. That's pretty much where that comes from, just writing about my experiences growing up here. And just letting (North Side) have a voice in Atlanta. Everybody that comes to Atlanta that says they live here, a lot of them live here in Gwinnett.
Rittz: I met Burn-One at a Yelawolf show when he first put out Trunk Music. He was DJing for Yelawolf. He said he was a fan. I didn't know Burn One did beats. I had heard some mixtapes from Burn One but I didn't know he was a producer. Then my manager told me he produced. One night at Tree Sound (Studios) he was there and played me some tracks. The tracks he played me was the shit I love. The tracks I still like, not a lot of producer make these days, a real soulful sound to it. So it was like perfect match. I used to make beats, and I tried to make beats like that. So to find a producer that actually had the style of shit that I like was kind of strange. It was like meant to be type shit. Working with him was cool. A lot of it was done through e-mail, sending me tracks. I like that. I've had a home studio for all of my life, so I kind of work weird. I like being on my own time and doing shit on my own. I don't really get with a producer and writing a song with them and all that shit. I kind of do it on my own. I record it and send it to them and go from there and make the track what it is. It was cool. Their style, it's a team of them. It's Burn One and four other dudes. They call themselves 5 Points (Music Group) The Green Machine. It's their whole crew.
CONCRETE: On the mixtape's title track "White Jesus" at the end there's a sample from Joel Olestine (TV Evangalist). Are you a fan of his do you watch him on TV?
Rittz: Nah, not really. I'd be lying if I said I did watch him. I'm not "not a fan" of him. I was just searching. I wanted to put something meaningful on the end, like some type of sermon. I was on YouTube and was searching speeches about destiny and that popped up. The (music) video kind of portrayed it out to be kind of a joke thing, cause Yelawolf's on there interpreting him or imitating him. But actually the speech meant a lot to me as far as what I've gone through to get to this point. Just everything in a nut shell he said it in that. It was just the perfect thing to put on the end. It's funny that it happened to be one of the biggest dudes, if not the biggest dude on the country.
CONCRETE: We didn't see Yelawolf's portrayal (monk/priest) as a joke.
Rittz: You know what I mean. Not a joke. It was funny. It added an element with him joining on there that made it tight. But actually when I got (the sermon sample) I didn't even see it visually, I just liked what he was saying.
CONCRETE: You have a video out for "White Jesus". Are you planning to release more videos from that project?
Rittz: It's just a slow process as far as budgets and stuff like that, and really just not being at the point to do them yet. I really want to wait until it's going to be the most effective. There's a lot of people that haven't heard the project period. So we don't want to waste videos right now. We want to get a little bit more people into the project and then put some videos out. That's kind of the hold-up on "High 5." The plan is to shoot a video for "High 5" "Blowin' My Mind" "Nowhere to Run" and Sleepin'". Those are coming soon. I just did a viral video with 3 Little Digs here in at Tree Sound Studios for a song I've got called "Wishin'". That's going to come out. And I'm in a video with Jackie Chain, that's about to come out. That's a feature song with Jackie Chain and Jarren Benton from a SMKA Project. So I've got a couple feature videos but nothing that's just mine coming out yet. I think after this tour that's the next move is to start getting on these videos.
CONCRETE: We've heard in other interviews, you describe "Nowhere to Run" as sort of a snapshot of your life at that point. This wasn't that long ago. That song is about straddling the rap game and a 9-to-5 job. Have you been able to quit your job as a cook?
Rittz: I just quit that job. It was weird. I was touring with Rehab and my boss was letting me off work on the weekends, cause all the tour dates were on the weekends. Luckily I had gotten a new boss, because my other boss wasn't feeling me getting the time off. He was about to get rid of me.Which couldn't happen financially. But luckily I got a cool boss to try and solve the situation i was in. He was like, "Dude, this (music) is way more important." I had taken so much time off that I was always gone. So the last day wasn't as big as I thought it was going to be. It kind of just happened gradually. Next thing you know I was barely even there. Finally it was time to come and be like, 'Look this is hurting me more than it's helping me.' Cause I was always missing out on things cause I had to work. It literally just happened. I just quit my job in, I think it was August or the end of July. It just happened. It's been kind of crazy all the way up to this point just working and doing the music shit.
Rittz: I worked at Jim and Nick's Bar-be-cue (Suwanee, GA). I was a cook in the back. I worked the fry station, salad station. I worked in the back at the drive thru. I didn't work the window, but I put together orders. This restaurant where I'm at, it's a chain so there's some in the South, but the one I'm at is extremely busy. I had never taken a job serious ever since I dropped out of high school when I was young. I've never been serious about a job. I was always hustling on the side, or just doing whatever I can. I really just wanted to rap. But I got to that point where I had to pay bills and do that shit for the first time in my life. It's time to wake up. So I really put in a lot of hours there and was busting ass and kind of took it seriously. It sucked. Yeah, Jim and Nick's.
CONCRETE: For people who haven't heard you, how would you describe your style?
Rittz: My flow is obviously fast and double-time. I can do it the other way too, but it's pretty much what I do. Lyrical content is based on, I try to be lyrical on everyhting I write. I spend a long time crafting each verse. I like all my syllables to match. I don't go in and write verses really quick. It takes me a while. It takes me a few hours to write on verse. It's a lot of words. I just try retort back to when I was younger and partied and even now, and struggling. I just try and relate to everybody. Not just one group of people, something everyone can relate to. Definitely fast and lyrical.
CONCRETE: We've heard you talk about syllable matching in other interviews. Could you break down a bar for us, and show us what you mean by that?
Rittz: Man that's tough. I'm trying to think of a specific rap.
CONCRETE: How about the line from "Nowhere to Run" where you talk about the other cooks talking about you in Spanish?
Rittz: OK. Well actually that line specifically is a bad one to do, because the hardest lines for me to write and to match are things that are coming from the heart. That actually came from a real situation. But, how I break it down and how I would approach that is, 'Someone's talking about me in Spanish.' I can't just rhyme "Spanish". I've got to rhyme "Talking 'bout me in Spanish". So it doesn't rhyme perfectly, 'It's getting harder to manage, They're talking 'bout me in Spanish.' It's trying to rhyme each syllable, not just the last word. So if I come up with 'Man I hate my life, my job. Then I feel like my days dissolve.' Each syllable has got to go in, not just that word. My main thing is I'm just self conscience. What I'll do is if I want to say, 'talkin bout me in Spanish' and I say 'harder to manage', since 'harder to manage' and 'bout me in Spanish' don't match perfectly, I might spend 15 minutes thinking that line sucks, without just going with it. An average person would just roll with it like, "Man that shit's tight." But I might throw away my paper just cause that didn't match. It's kind of ridiculous honestly. Yelawolf gave me some advice like, "Dude you just got to keep going and just know you're dope." Part of that process is what makes me good anyway, but sometimes it gets a little bit ridiculous. Like if things don't match up perfectly, and that's one of them, 'bout me in Spanish' and 'harder to manage' don't rhyme perfectly, because 'bout me' and 'harder' doesn't rhyme. So I spend a lot of time. I will come up with a line and just try to fit in the pieces in between. I guess that kind of sums it up.
CONCRETE: Have you started working on music for your next project?
Rittz: Yeah. I'm starting to get beats together right now. I've got a few songs done. I don't really have a plan to put it out yet. I'm just getting stuff ready on the back burner. I'm really looking for beats, cause the next project I do, I know what kind of sound I want for it. Now it's just getting the right type of tracks that's going to make the project sound how I want it to sound. I'm getting beats together. I've been getting beats submitted to me, but I'm looking for certain things, so it's hard. I don't rap just on everything that I think is half-way tight. I want it to have a vibe, a consistently throughout the project. It's in the making though. It's getting started. I will say that. I got a few songs, so whenever it's time I'll be ready to go.
Rittz: Shout-out to the whole Slumerican crew. Especially up there in Nashville. Struggle, Jelly Roll, Shawty Fatt, ATL Twins, everybody we was with out there, the whole crew. I'm just really happy to be with a group of people like that. Just to fit in and everything matches so perfectly. It's a real exciting group of people. It's looking positive, for once. So it's a good thing. Just shouting out the crew, shouting out the people at Tree Sound Studios. That's it man.
RITTZ REVERB NATION