[Interview] Rich Kidd talks about his mixtape WOSRKS Vol. 6, Producing for Jay Electronica, co signs in Hip Hop, Toronto’s industry and much more

On August 2nd 2012, Toronto MC/Producer Rich Kidd celebrated the release of his latest mixtape “We On Some Rich Kidd Shit Vol 6” at The Great Hall in Toronto. The Come Up Show was in the building to witness Rich Kidd tear up the stage on the eve of his mixtape release. Known for leaving it all on stage, Rich Kidd performed on level 10 from start to finish as his fans have come to expect. Not letting a broken air conditioner or a few stuffy spectators ruin the show Rich Kidd made sure everyone in the building knew it was his night and time to shine. Mixing things up, the MC added a live band to his set and brought out a few surprise guests. This adding a nice touch to what was already a memorable night.

Dripping in sweat and noticeably exhausted from performing for two plus hours on stage, Rich Kidd still found time to talk with us about his project WOSRKS 6, the major placements he recently received, Canada’s ‘s love/hate relationship with Drake, getting a Co sign in music, why you probably won’t see him signing with a major label anytime soon, and so much more.

Bigske: What’s up, Rich Kidd. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us tonight. For the few people out there who may not know who you are, let me know what’s up…

Rich Kidd: My name is Rich Kidd, I’m a MC, producer and sometimes director of amateur pornographic film. Um, yeah… that’s who I am.

BigSke: Ok. (we both chuckle at his answer) So, we’re at your release party for We On Some Rich Kidd Shit 6. Tell us about the project: how did it come together? What type of statement did you want to make with this release?

Rich Kidd: It’s just, you know, putting together joints I like. I make joints here and there with artists I respect. I just wanted to compile them to show people over the year what I’ve done. You know what I’m sayin’, joints [people] may have missed. They can take in new artists and hopefully become new fans and listen to some new production. It serves so many purposes.

BigSke: You’ve switched up venues from last year. You sold out Revival Bar for your last release party, now this year we’re at the Great Hall. How does it feel to perform in front of a larger crowd and get a receptive response?

Rich Kidd: It feels good. I perform here a lot, I go out of town and do shows here and there, but I perform here [the Great Hall] a lot. To see people still showing that love and still respecting what I do means a lot. Sometimes you can over-saturate yourself, you can perform way too much and people get bored of seeing you, but I feel I always try to keep it inventive. Me and Nana always try to find new ways to kind of get the crowd hyped and keep their attention from beginning to end. Even the way we ended it off tonight with Syke, when we mixed it in with Nigga’s In Paris. That was something we thought up in rehearsal and I was just like, “yo, I’m down with it.” That’s a tune we use to get hyped.

BigSke: How did the Maestro Fresh-Wes appearance happen?

Rich Kidd: He just hit me up. He was coming back from Halifax, filming a show, and he was just like “Yo I wanna rock out with you!” I’m like sure, come through. We did that joint from We On Some Rich Kidd Shit volume 5, I let him do his thing, let the legend rock for a minute.

BigSke: Maestro, it’s cool to see him still messing with music. It feels like the only time we see him is when he’s on the TV show Instant Star. We gonna see Rich Kidd TV anytime soon?

Rich Kidd: (laughs) I do a lot of funny shit on TV to potentially get an acting gig, if you seen me act a fool on TV, it’s for a reason. Whether it’s videos or Much Music or whatever, I’m trying to get my Will Smith money… without the whole Six Degrees of Separation shit, though. You won’t see me doing no Philadelphia roles.

BigSke: (We both laugh) I hear you. Times have changed though. You got urban artists coming out and openly being gay in music. Look at Frank Ocean. He recently did a sold out show in Toronto. Did you go? What are your your thoughts on that whole situation? Do you think hip hop will ever be accepting and change its view?

Rich Kidd: I didn’t go. It’s cool, whatever, it is what it is. I heard rumor before he came out… At least he came out and was real about it, everyone says that but it’s really true, like, at least he’s real about it. I feel you should really be yourself. For Frank Ocean it’s different. It’s like surprising, yeah but… not really. You’re an RnB singer, but if it was like a hard core rapper coming out it’s a whole different thing. Your image is totally in jeopardy. Like this shit with Prodigy [of Mobb Deep] and Havoc saying some shit about his sexuality, it’s not right. You gotta be real with the crowd, man. Even if its gonna jeopardize your career.

BigSke: Would you ever work with Frank Ocean?

Rich Kidd: Yeah, why not, I would work with Elton John. I wouldn’t work with that Adam Lambert guy though… the guy wears eyeliner, it’s a little too far for me. Can’t be wearing eyeliner in the studio, b. I like his music, I fuck with him musically. Music is music, I fuck pussy so… it’s not gonna affect me, I’m not gonna catch any gaydiation or something.

BigSke: Moving on, Let’s get into the music. You have been very busy these last couple years. You rap and produce for other artists, how do you decide what’s for you and what is for sale?

Rich Kidd: I pretty much shop all the beats that I make. here and there I might keep one for myself, and if I wanna record on it, I usually write the track as soon as I make the beat. Or it could be something I make, I might just have an idea that I pen down and might come back to it. The ones that I keep for myself are the ones that happen in that moment. That’s just me. Every beat can be for me but at the same time there are certain beats that I feel I can see certain people on it.

BigSke: I see DJ Nana is here supporting you on your release. You guys recently put out a collaborative mixtape Rich Kidd vs. DJ Nana 2, how did that project come about?

Rich Kidd: Me and Nana were already roommates. This is my dog. We already believe we were distant cousins somewhere down the line. It was inevitable to do a mixtape. We’ve been living together and he’s heard so much of my beats. He was like, “You need to put this together in a project.” He was like, “I will mix it and compile it and mix things up with new music and just do something different with it.” It just worked out so it’s not only my tracks but tracks from other artists too. Different singles I have done for different people over the years. I got older tracks back from like 2007. It’s like a discography. Nana definitely did his thing with it. I am proud of the project; we just dropped the video Confusion for it.

BigSke: You seem to collaborate well with other artists. You also have a collaborative album coming out with SonReal. How did that project come about?

Rich Kidd: Me and SonReal already had some chemistry from the track Already There (we performed that tonight) but it’s been based on our relationship before that. Back in the MSN days is when I first met Sonreal. He was in Vernon, BC, I was in Toronto, somehow he got my email and linked me and was like, “Yo I love your beats, I heard some shit you’ve done with other artists. Lets work?” He’s actually on We On some Rich Kidd Shit Vol 1, he has an opening joint on it. From there I just started messing with him. I like his flow, it was a whole different flow back then but since then he has grown into an artist and has found himself. He knows how to develop good tracks with hooks, stellar verses and he has a catchy flow to it. I admire his artistry. When I went down to Vancouver in 2010, I stayed with him and we recorded some joints. Already There was one of them and This One’s For You. From there we already had the idea of doing a project. But because we had so many things going on as solo artists, we said we’d wait for when the time is right. This year Black Box recordings approached us and said they want to do a collaborative EP with me and Sonreal. We were already open to it because we were already planning on doing something so… now we have funding for it and people we trust are behind it. It’s the same people who did Shad and Classified’s projects. It’s kinda destined to be.

BigSke: You recently received some major props from Young Guru [Engineer and long-time producer for Jay-Z] in the press and online. How did that come about? Did you know him beforehand?

Rich Kidd: It was cool I appreciated it. At that time I’d never met Guru, [since then] I have talked to Guru here and there.

BigeSke: That’s crazy. Did he have anything to do with the Jay Electronica placement? I noticed that you recently posted online that you got a placement on the upcoming debut album Act 2: Patents Of Nobility. When did you know you were going to make the final cut? You must have been excited.

Rich Kidd: I had a couple people connect me through to Jay Electronica. Shout out to Heshish, a.k.a Hesh, he hooked me up with Jay Electronica. He showed him some of my joints, Jay [Electronica] was feeling the joint and recorded it for his album. He recorded two and took one for sure. It’s really been just waiting on the confirmation that the album was going to drop. I knew I had the joint, I knew it was there in holding and stuff, so when he officially posted the track listing, it was just confirmation that he’s feeling it and it and it made the album. The song is more of an introspective joint, more of a deep song. I think people are gonna love it. I think people are gonna love the whole album, [I’ve heard it], it’s fucking stellar, it’s got that real hip hop vibe. Jay Electronica is one of those MCs who doesn’t have to put too many words together to get his point across. He’s a rapper that spits that wisdom… almost on that Nas level. I can see how they work together so well. He definitely delivered an Illmatic-type project.

BigSke: Any clue on when it’s dropping?

Rich Kidd: Probably around 4th quarter.

BigSke: That’s a great look and placement. Since you’re cool with Young Guru and Jay Electronica, any chance of getting closer to that Jay-Z placement you want to get?

Rich Kidd: Since I know Guru it’s like… I know they’re working on that Watch The Throne 2, so I just always submit joints and try to see if they’ll bite on something. If they ever do then it’s all good.

BigSke: Toronto doing big things on the production side of things. At one time you were trying to get on and get placements. Now your producing for some of the biggest names in Hip Hop. For an up-and-coming producer looking to get on, what do you tell them?

Rich Kidd: Fuck, I mean you already see Boi-1da doing it, you see T-minus doing it, you see me doing my thing, you see Burd [of Burd & Keyz] doing his thing, Tone Mason, 40, Midi Mafia, Ikuya, Circkut, Arthur Mcarthur, there are too many producers to name, doing their thing. You don’t need me to tell you it’s possible, you know, there are people already out there doing it. Make sure you have an artist that you trust and believe in and you feel is dope that you can push your beats and use them as a vessel to make some noise and get some buzz. Artists aren’t gonna be jumping on your beat unless they can hear somebody already on it that kills it and makes them say yo. Try and find a artist that you vibe with, believe in their talent, make sure it’s authentic and run with them, give them free beats, work, build a project. It’s gonna take hours and days and months and years to craft something, or maybe not, but if there’s something out there that someone hears that makes them say “Yo who’s that? Who made that beat?” if it’s a great song, people are going to want to know who produced this magic.

BigSke: Producers [In Canada] have been getting international recognition for their work for quite some time. Our MC’s, besides one in particular has not had the same success. You’ve been pretty vocal about your feelings towards Drake and his impact in music. You have spoken out against artists [from Toronto] who feel like he owes Canada and Toronto something for his success. Do you still feel the same way?

Rich Kidd: Yeah, the man worked and people feel he has a lot of privileges, and he might have had money or he might have been on TV. But if he wasn’t good he still wouldn’t have made it anywhere. You have to have a certain amount of talent, a certain amount of work ethic and a certain grind to get where he is at. You don’t need to give everybody in your city a handout. It’s not about that shit, it’s about representing your city right by doing what you do and living your life, at the end of the day. These people that are around you and you think are your friends today aren’t gonna be around you for the rest of your life. Five years from now you may not even know the same people, so at the end of the day, you can’t put on a whole city. You can’t put on every single rapper. you just have to worry about you and your team and represent your country right. I feel Drake brings a certain type of awareness to the younger generation. The older generation many know of Kardinal, Maestro and Saukrates and other rap artists but the younger generation grew up not watching Toronto. We have been stagnant in the scene before Drake. We had Kardi with Dangerous, but before that there wasn’t really a rapper who was really breaking through [in the U.S] and making noise. People shouldn’t expect people who get on to owe them anything.

BigSKe: I agree. The other side of the argument, however, is that some people feel that with this great look, Drake has power and influence. He sort of has a responsibility to reach back and do more for everyone, to really put the city on.

RichKidd: I feel Toronto is on, but everybody has to hustle. K’naan is doing his shit, Melanie Fiona, Tory Lanez, Shad, a lot of artists are already doing their thing… its not like we need Drake to fuckin’ give us a hand out anyways. We all have our own respective lanes where we have to build ourselves. Drake has his own lane and for him to help a next MC who’s not in his lane… you can’t expect someone to do that because it’s just not the way it rolls. Everybody works hard to get to the place where they are. We can all achieve. We all have the possibility to achieve what Drake has done. People before him said we couldn’t do it bigger than Choclair, or you couldn’t do it bigger than Kardi. There’s always going to be a next generation that does it bigger than the last. Just worry about yourself, grind, and don’t ask for no handouts. Don’t expect a nigga to give you a handout if he’s on. Do your part to get on yourself. The reward is much sweeter.

Besides, if someone puts you on, it’s only so they can get your publishing. There’s no such thing as a co-sign where you don’t owe a nigga. If Weezy co-signs Drake, Drake is signing to Weezy. if Jay-Z co-signs J.Cole, J.Cole’s signing to Jay-Z. A co-sign doesn’t come without a contract.

Bigske: Interesting take. Have you ever thought about letting someone co-sign you and signing with a major label?

Rich Kidd: I’m not ready for a major yet, man. I see the way they fuck people… I don’t know, I might. I’m just not ready for a major. I’m fucking with Black Box right now. We’re gonna put out one album and see where that goes right now. January is the set date for it.

BigSke: That’s a very humble thing to say. For someone who has accomplished some of the things you have its refreshing to hear you say, “You know what, I’m just not ready.” You still hustle like you’re trying to get on and have a sense of humility to you. What do you attribute to that?

Rich Kidd: With every opportunity, it’s truly a blessing. I can’t take my blessing for granted to try and boost my ego. I still struggle on a day-to-day with regular life shit just like everybody else. I get paper off music, but at the same time I hustle and work. I work with the community, with poor kids [volunteering through the remix project] here and there and just try and do my thing. At the end of the day, life makes me humble. 50 said something like “If you ain’t self-centered and egotistical, you ain’t rich enough.” I don’t know, maybe I’m not rich [enough] Kidd. (laughs) But at the same time the true character of a man, with or without money, is whether he stays the same. Even with the opportunities and accolades I have accomplished, to some other niggas it would properly go their heads, they would walk around with a swelled head or whatever. I know who I am and I know that everything that I have gotten has come from hard work. It’s still a blessing because there’s a lot of people that work hard and it still may not work for them, it just might not be for them. So I’m just lucky that god above is watching me and making sure I’m on a straight path.

BigSke: I can appreciate that. In Toronto some artists feel that one song on the radio or a Youtube clip makes them a star.

Rich Kidd: if you can’t retire off what you do, you haven’t really made it. Those arrogant rappers that feel gassed, they can feel gassed. If you care about them feeling gassed, you just give them more reason to feel that way and feel bigger. If you know they’re bullshitting then you just ignore it. I’ve met a lot of arrogant rappers from here early on when I was selling beats. One of them who is a pretty famous guy now was like, “Oh, I’m not spending two hundred for a beat. I can get a Neptunes beat for five hundred.” I won’t name names but it’s not Drake.

BigSke: I noticed you stay dipped in Legends League apparel, how did you link up with them?

Rich Kidd: I’ve known Brian [owner of clothing line Legends League] for a long time. Since I started the remix project about 4 or 6 years ago. We meet inside the remix project and he’s been supportive of what I’ve done. In the last couple of years he’s been taking a shine to what I’ve been doing, he even designed my Rich Kidd logo.

BigSke: Dope. so any last shout outs before we go?

Rich Kidd: Shout out to my hood Ridgeway, shout out all of Toronto, shout out Sauga city, shout out everybody that was a part of the show, my man Addy boy, Dj Nana, Mensa, Wristpect, Mekka, LowKey, Lancelot, The Flow, Jelly, The Antiheroes, Crook, Sep, SonReal, JD Era, Maestro, Adam Bomb, Tona, Q-Benjamin , Whodini, everybody that was involved in making this show happen. The Great Hall, let’s take it further and spread the love for Vol 7. I’ve also got the collaborative album with me, Adam Bomb and Tona called Natural Born Strangers, it’ll probably drop around next year, everybody is spitting, I’m making the beats, gonna be hot. Be on the lookout for that.

Words by: BigSke
Photography by: Janine Therese for The Come Up Show

Special Shot Out to Rich Kidd & Addy. Thank You.