[Interview] Rich Kidd talks “Naturally Born Strangers,” learning from Young Guru, and the importance of respect

Rich Kidd @The Great Hall 2012

Interview by: Martin Bauman

It’s tough to dispute: Rich Kidd is Canada’s best, most under-appreciated producer/emcee in the new era. Having won over the likes of Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Young Guru, he’s earned the respect and admiration of hip-hop’s elite, and yet, the mass following and recognition seems to lag behind. It begs the question: for the emcee who rapped, “don’t sleep on me,” why, in 2013, is he still slept on? With the release of the collaborative effort, Naturally Born Strangers, and his upcoming solo album in the works (to be mixed by Young Guru), it shouldn’t be this way for long. In fact, it should come as no surprise if 2014 is the Mississauga native’s best year yet. We caught up with Rich Kidd to talk about his latest collaborative album, what he’s learned from Young Guru, the importance of earning local respect, and much more. Read the full interview below.

TCUS: Your latest project just came out, Naturally Born Strangers with Adam Bomb and Tona. How did this project come together?

Rich Kidd: It was really an inception of Bryan Espiritu from Legends League clothing. We’ve been homies for a while. I respect his art; I respect his clothing; his mind, poetry and everything is dope. He sponsors me; he definitely gives me free clothes and likes what I’m doing, so we’ve always been close like that. He came to me with an idea of trying to release a [clothing] line simultaneously with some music, doing a mixtape with it.

Originally, it was going to be just me spitting, and then he asked me if I wanted to do it with Tona, because he’s another revered emcee/lyricist from Toronto. I was like, “yeah, sounds dope, but what about Adam Bomb?” I pitched the idea of putting [him] on there, and he was like, “yeah, Bomb’s dope!” Bomb is an emcee that, lyrically, I don’t think there’s anybody in the city even touching him. The way his bars flow is just like, how do you do it? You wish you wrote it. And I’ve never worked with Bomb on a project before – I’ve worked with Tona on plenty of other projects like Silverspring Crescent and stuff like that – so yeah, we got in contact with Bomb and he was down.

It’s kind of known, Bomb doesn’t really give a f—k about rap anymore. He’s been through his crew; he’s been with Empire, Mosaic Music, Mayhem and them back in the day, so he kinda had the jaded mind of not really wanting to emcee [anymore], but I feel like this whole project maybe rejuvenated it and made him want to go in on it. I sent Bryan Espiritu some beats – I sent a pack of like 20 beats – and he picked fifteen or sixteen and came up with the concepts and ideas for some of the joints. He even had [ideas] for what he wanted to name the songs already.

We basically just built it around that, the certain topics and subjects he wanted to hit. We wrote tracks to those names and tried to come with those same ideas. We obviously inputted our own tracks and some of the tracks that we had in mind are on there too, but it was a real collaborative effort and [Bryan] had the vision. He released the Strangers line like two years ago in the winter, and by that time, we were close to being finished the project, but we had to put it on hold for different reasons; I had my album and the SonReal project, and then Tona had his project, so once we were done all that, we got back in the studio earlier this year, finished up a couple extra tracks, and then really tried to put it together.

TCUS: What was the process like with Tona and Adam Bomb, were you working together in the studio or writing separately and then coming together at the end?

Rich Kidd: Everything was recorded together. We were all there. Maybe there were a couple sessions where Bryan wasn’t there, but he was there like 90 percent of the time. Tona, Bomb and I were always in the studio together. The significance of Jameson in this whole equation is that was the drink of choice that we were drinking pretty much every Wednesday when we were in the studio, getting sloshed, spitting rhymes back and forth and trying to create the tracks. There’s no way I could ever do a collaborative project with anybody if I’m not there in the room with them.

TCUS: You mentioned this a little bit already. Adam Bomb is someone who, lyrically, is one of the best in Toronto, if not the best. The same goes for Tona. How much competition was there between the three of you in terms of trying to out-rap one another?

Rich Kidd: Maybe low key there’s competition, but not really. I feel like each man has their own style; there’s no style alike on that whole tape, you know what I mean? Adam Bomb has the couplets and the lyrical prowess. Tona has the lyrical ability, plus it’s the flow and the deep voice that catches people. For me, I feel like sometimes it’s the outlandish shit I say, also the voice, plus my beats too. We all add different [elements]. Tona and I were talking about it yesterday; [he] feels like lyrically, Adam Bomb is better than him, but Tona feels he can write a better song. And then they’ll always [be] on me, like, “yo, you killed it!” But I’m just like, “n—a, you guys are my favourite rappers.”

I feel like it’s less competition and more praise. We all admire what each other does, so we’re always complimenting each other to the point where it’s kinda disgusting, like, “yo, you n—as should just be battling,” [laughs]. But we admire each other’s skills that much, and I think that’s what [made the collaboration a success]. It was low key competitive, but we’re competing on the same level.

TCUS: Are there any touring plans for this project?

Rich Kidd: We’re planning for a show in January, so that’s definitely going to happen in Toronto first, but I would love to tour. It’s just a matter of the music getting out there, the videos getting out there – “Tie Breaker” is coming out soon – and that’s gonna amass people to want us in their town to perform. The demand has to be there for us to go on the road with it, right? I’m just waiting for that, and then we’ll see where it goes from there.

TCUS: Take me back to the beginning for you. What was the first record that got you into hip-hop?

Rich Kidd: I don’t know, because I was always listening to hip-hop without [even] knowing it was hip-hop and [that] there was a culture there. My dad was a deejay, so he always had new singles – he had mainly hip-hop, RnB, and soul records and CDs, but he also had indie stuff, and rock, and alternative rock. He had Nirvana; he had Soundgarden; he had all these different records. I listened to everything that was bumping in the house, so I couldn’t tell you exactly what the record was that got me into hip-hop, but I can tell you the first tape cassette I bought was probably Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life.

But I don’t know, before that I was into Wu-Tang; I just never bought stuff. Maybe it was Wu-Tang; it could have been NWA; it could have been anything, really. I never knew what hip-hop was until like maybe seven years old when I started to [learn] that there was some kind of culture, like, these are the clothes you have to wear, you’ve gotta b-boy, you’ve gotta do graffiti and deejay – learning [all the different aspects of the culture]. Hip-hop has always been a part of my life, so I don’t even know the answer to that.

TCUS: What was the first big one for you then? Would it have been Vol. 2 or 36 Chambers?

Rich Kidd: It wouldn’t have been 36 Chambers, because I never listened to the album. I heard the singles – I knew “Method Man” – but I never got a chance to take in whole albums, because at five or six years old, you can’t really break stuff down like that; you just listen to what you’re taught to listen to or what’s playing around your crib. I liked Wu-Tang, and when I saw “Triumph,” I was like, yo, this is the craziest video ever. My dad had the Wu-Tang Forever album that came with a CD-ROM video game that you could put in the computer, and I’d always play that shit and bump Wu-Tang in the back.

I guess Wu-Tang was like the entry into [hip-hop], because when I looked at Wu-Tang, they were like superheroes to me. It was like the Justice League for black people [laughs]. Everybody played their position. Method Man was my favourite, just because of his flows. I liked Ghostface at that time too. [So] maybe Wu-Tang Forever was more of my entry than 36 Chambers, but it could have been anything, bro. I can’t even remember. I smoke too much weed [laughs].

TCUS: What about Toronto rappers, who would have been the first major influence out of Toronto?

Rich Kidd: It probably would’ve been along the lines of Choc and Soxx. [I got into] Choclair when I really started to pay attention to what was actually Canadian. I never really knew [before]. I would hear tunes from different places and not know that it was Canadian; I pretty much thought everything was from the States, and didn’t know who were the people in my city doing it. I started watching TV and seeing “Let’s Ride” and [Saukrates’] “Money Or Love” and “Hate Runs Deep.” They’d flash back to older videos like “[Let Your] Backbone Slide” and then I started paying attention, like, oh, okay, these are Toronto guys. [I remember] watching Master T on Da Mix; he tried to make it known that these guys were the guys that were doing it from the city, so then I started paying attention.

It was really [around] “Northern Touch” when I started to have more of a respect for the stuff coming out of my area. I was being raised in Sauga, so it wasn’t really a Toronto thing. I had cousins in Toronto, but I wasn’t out there on my own like that; I’d just go to visit family. So “Northern Touch” was one of those tracks where I was seeing all these different guys: Rascalz and Checkmate from Vancouver, and then Toronto mans like Choclair and Thrust. The video reminded me of the Craig Mack joint, “Flava In Ya Ear (Remix).” When I saw that video, it reminded me of that, and I was like, okay, we’ve got mans on that same flavour too.

And then I heard DMX use “Get At Me Dog,” and I was like, why are they stealing our beats, bro? It kinda made me have respect, thinking like, okay, we make shit and sometimes these guys be [sic] stealing it, and that should prove that we got some hot shit up here. I feel like Soxx was definitely a good inspiration on rhythm and how I liked hearing the beats. He had a certain sound to it that just felt funky, and it felt like that was the sound of black Canada. It was a sound that I would later in my life try to either emulate or just lay my foundation on it.

TCUS: You mentioned Master T earlier. Since we’re in Waterloo tonight, I have to bring up a little hip-hop trivia. He actually went to high school just down the road at KCI.

Rich Kidd: Dope!

TCUS: How old would you have been at the time when you started paying attention to those Canadian rappers?

Rich Kidd: I’d be like eleven, twelve, thirteen.

TCUS: Fast forward a couple years then, tell me about battling outside of Loyola Catholic Secondary School.

Rich Kidd: Yeah, man. I started running with my homie Iman; we met each other in summer school and he wanted to start a little rap group. I’d come to his crib and we’d records on tapes and shit, and we’d always freestyle battle. Eventually, we wanted to battle [other] guys, [because] battling was a thing in school. We’d leave our school, and there’s a bus terminal called South Common where a lot of the schools around the area would go to that mall. There was this cat named Junia – Junia-T – who went to Clarkson Secondary School, and he’d always be at the station battling anybody. Anybody that brought it to him, he’d battle.

Mac Miller, Sonreal and Rich Kidd, Come Up Boys @ UWO

There was [another] guy from my school named Josh who was also dope at rap, and I hung out with Josh because he taught me how to sell weed and stuff like that. We were chilling, and I’d always see Josh battling. [He] had a flow that, back then, we were like, “yo, he sounds like an American cat. He’s dope!” Apparently, being Canadian was wack [laughs]. But Junia had this style where it’s almost like he knew how to set up lines before he’d say them, and I was always amazed by that. I was like, how does this guy do it? So I’d always go home and try to practice freestyling. I wanted to be in that circle of guys ciphering and making people laugh, because in high school, I was the class clown that joked around and [I wanted] that attention.

So I was like, I can eat these guys; I can jump in there. So one day, these guys are battling and I jump in there, and I’m dissing Junia and say a couple sick lines. Mans are like “ohhhhh!” Luckily, we didn’t continue past that and the line was so cold, because I didn’t have anything else [laughs]. I only had like eight bars. I had a couple bars that I wanted to say in my mind, and I had to freestyle to get there. Since then, Junia and I were good. I met his homie Crooklin through that, and that was it.

I’ve been tight with [Junia] ever since that time when I jumped in the battle. So anytime I talk about what got me into it, I always mention him, because [although] he’s not the reason I started rapping, he’s definitely the reason why I took the art and the style of hip-hop seriously. He took it really seriously, and I didn’t see anybody [else] do it like him at that time.

TCUS: What about on the production standpoint, what would have been the first sampler you ever got?

Rich Kidd: Fruity Loops, man. I’ve been using FL ever since 2001/2002, and I haven’t changed it up since. I had an MPC1000 and I use different software. I’ve used a Korg Trinity before, but everything leads back to the FL. Even when I used that stuff, I would link it to the FL. That’s what I say, I make the software sound hard. That’s what I do.

Stalley, Rich Kidd, The Antiheroes, Ngajuana @ Apk Live

TCUS: Something that’s really interesting about you is the work that you do with The Remix Project. How did that connection begin?

Rich Kidd: I had a lil’ group that I was running with called the Rotten Ones, and we found out about this studio that was down by Islington and Lakeshore area. Our homie Clipse had a clothing line called Nice, and he wanted to show us what he was working on, because he was gonna make some jackets for us. It just so happened to be in the same studio. We went there and recorded a track, and after my homie Dre Gotti recorded his verse, for some reason the computer shut down. Like, it totally shut down; they couldn’t turn it back on. It was fried for some reason, and the dude who came and looked at it was the program director, this man named Gavin [Sheppard]. [He] ended up being the founder of The Remix Project.

This studio was part of a project called Inner City Visions where drop-in kids would come in – usually at-risk youth – and record. We ended up going back there. He never had a problem with me; he knew we didn’t break the computer on purpose, but it was just a weird way to meet. We talked and grew a little friendship. It’s also where I met Soze, who’s Mayhem’s old manager and manages Raz Fresco now. He told me that he wanted to run a school, [basically] a hub where kids from all around the city could come to one school and learn different tricks of the trade. [They could] record, do graphic design, creative design, painting, whatever. I told him, “I’m with it. Whenever you start that, put me in it.” I don’t remember what year that would have been.

Addy [Rich Kidd’s manager]: 2007 is when it started, because that was when we met. Actually, the day after we met is when he brought me into the program.

TCUS: Why is The Remix Project important to you?

Rich Kidd: The thing about it is, a lot of youth in the city didn’t really have too many outlets to express their creativity. Kids didn’t have computers and stuff at that time. For a program like that to be located downtown where any kid could come through [was unique]. [Well], it wasn’t really any kid, you had to register and go for an interview, [because] they wanted to see if you were serious and determined. Year after year, it just built.

We became like a family, and I think that’s important, because with people that may not have the family support at home – a lot of them don’t – it’s good to have a family of likeminded people that come from the same background and might have gone through the same trials and tribulations just creating. That’s what it’s all about, and when you go into the program, you could be an artist or rapper, you can get your album cover designed by someone in the arts part, [and] somebody in the business part can manager you. There’s so many different angles and pieces to the puzzle, but it’s a peer mentorship kind of thing.

It’s a way for you to see your vision and aim directly where you want to go. People create goals there; that’s what I feel is the most important part about The Remix Project. When the kids come in there, they outline your six-month plan, and by the sixth month, they try to get you on that. Even after that, you’re always welcome back.

TCUS: This is a quote of yours about Toronto: “We’ve always had something to prove to the world but never proved it to ourselves first.” Can you elaborate on that?

Rich Kidd: Yeah, because I feel like we’re always aiming outside rather than trying to better our city. Just the fact that the title of screwface capital exists, like, everywhere is a screwface capital. Everywhere is hard to blow. Not everywhere is easy, man. To me, New York City is not the easiest place for an artist to bust. There’s so much competition, so what’s their excuse? L.A., there’s a lot of competition. Everywhere [you go], there’s competition.

Here in Toronto, before Drake, there were guys that were on doing it, but nobody was targeting the people. Everybody wants to make a club track. Everybody wants to make an international track, or make tracks that people would bump in New York, or on the West Coast, or in the South, or everywhere else but here. And I understand, the urban community is not that big here. We have a lot of people, but I feel like not everybody in the urban community can vibe with one thing, you know what I mean?

We all expect, “okay, if Drake comes out, everybody has to like Drake. If Kardi comes out, everybody has to like Kardi.” It’s not gonna be like that; people have their own preferences and style that they like, but there’s something to be said about respect. You’ve just gotta respect certain artists that are doing their thing, and I feel like even some artists don’t really respect the crowds that they perform in front of. They’re like, “oh yeah, just give me love for no reason.” Nah, you need to earn that love; you have to show them why you’re the best, show them why you deserve their time, why they should invest in you, or why they should even look at you. That’s how it is everywhere else.

I mean, ’nuff artists got booed. There’s never been a time where I’ve been booed in my life. But it’s not because I feel like I’ve never gave a wack performance, because there’s been horrible performances. But the whole thing about it is my attitude towards my audience. I want them to feel involved. I like them seeing me smile. I have fun, you know what I mean? I feel like [if] you have fun with the audience that’s supposed to be your foundation, they grow a respect for you, like, “this guy’s bound to blow somewhere else, but we can endorse him first and be the first ones on him.”

Mac Miller, Sonreal and Rich Kidd, Come Up Boys @ UWO

I feel like a lot of guys have [gone] directly to the States and skipped this whole [concept of] letting your city respect you first before you move on anywhere else. At the end of the day, you do it however you want to do it, because if it works and translates to success, that’s the path you were destined to go. But there’s always something to be said [for the] certain guys in the city who get respect, and that’s just the way it is, because they’ve built their foundation here, and anyone who comes to the city, they’re like, “yeah, this guy’s big, but this is that guy.” That speaks volumes, at least to me. Money is money; success and sales is whatever, but you’ve just gotta have the respect of your city before you go anywhere else.

TCUS: There seems to be a general feeling in Toronto that there’s only room for one rapper to really be blowing up at a time. When Maestro was blowing up, nobody was on the same level as Maestro. Same goes for Kardinal, Saukrates, Choclair, k-os, and now Drake. Why do you think that is?

Rich Kidd: I don’t really believe it’s been like that. There’s been guys simultaneously doing it. While Choclair was doing it, Rascalz were doing it. [DJ] Nana and I kinda had this conversation – actually it was me, Nana, and IJamesJones from Nana’s group The Names Are Known – I asked him, “do you feel like there [are] eras of music in Canada? Is there the Maestro era, then the Choclair era, then whatever?” He was pointing out, “well, what about Rascalz?” I was like, “oh yeah, forgot about them!” Rascalz were doing their thing. After Cash Crop, they started getting a lot of movement, and at that [same] time, Choclair got a lot of movement. He did his stuff on that Premier tape, and then hit with “Let’s Ride.”

That’s what made “Northern Touch” so impactful [sic], because these guys were all doing their thing at the time. Kardi was doing his thing; he had his singles out. I feel like there was more of a push for Canadian music from the labels at that time, and all these guys had their little label deals, so when they came together, it seemed larger than life. I don’t feel like it’s always been one guy; I feel like it’s who the masses are paying attention to. At the same time, Drake is definitely the biggest artist, but there are a lot of guys that are low key doing a lot of big things in areas where he’s not really at.

The mainstream is the mainstream – that’s never gonna change. There’s always gonna be more sales; there’s gonna be girls; there’s gonna be fans; you can do big concert arenas, but at the end of the day, just because that’s going on doesn’t mean other n—as ain’t doing their thing too. There’s always guys doing their thing. If one’s on a bigger level than the other, it’s all based on what that individual does, and Drake has put in that work. He’s been grinding. He did it a different way than other people, but his way was studying [from] the legends that were around him and taking it to the States and trying to connect with other people. When he did that, he got on that way.

There have been a lot of artists that are as skilled as him, but they just kept it in their area and never really spread it around, so maybe it’s just a difference in how you promote your music and where you promote your music, and that’s how far you get. But [bottom line], there’s always more than one guy doing it.

TCUS: You brought up Junia-T earlier, I want to ask you about something I was talking to Crooklin about. When he went out to L.A., he was telling me about going through the Beats By Dre studio and seeing the mixing process for good kid, M.A.A.D City. Tell me about your experience with that.

Rich Kidd: Yeah, I was trying to link up with Kendrick and his manager, and we couldn’t get a hold of him for a while, so we were out [in L.A.] doing our thing. He hit me up randomly and said, “yo, come through the studio” one night, so we went through the studio – it was right across from the Universal publishing building, which we’ve been to before, so we knew the area, but we didn’t know where the studio was. We went down the wrong alley at first, and he was like, “no, next alley.” We went down this next alleyway that took us to the back of this studio, which we didn’t know was a studio until we got inside and saw all these pictures of Lady Gaga and Dr. Dre – all these Interscope artists.

I saw one of Kendrick’s dudes that I’ve seen before, and I’m like, “okay, bless,” and we go in the studio and it’s Kendrick mixed by Ali, Sounwave, retOne, and Dave Free – who’s part of Digi+Phonics. We were just chilling there; they were working on “The Art Of Peer Pressure,” [a little] on “Swimming Pools,” and… what’s the clip with the dominoes?

Addy: The clip right before “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” where it’s his parents arguing back and forth.

Rich Kidd: Yeah, yeah, the dominoes thing. They were arguing about whether they should keep the skits, [and] if the skits even served a purpose. Sounwave was like, “why?” [He] did “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” so I guess he felt like, “what’s the point of these skits? They don’t serve any purpose.” And Kendrick’s like, “yo, it’s part of the story. It’s a movie.” They were just arguing back and forth.

Me and Crook [sic] are just rolling blunts, smoking, passing it to Ali and just taking in what they were saying. I didn’t want to chime in too much on what I thought, because it doesn’t really matter what I think. I thought everything [would] sound dope once it [was] all put together, and Kendrick seemed like he [knew] what he was doing, [even] from just listening to Section.80.

Addy: [Kendrick] was sitting on a high stool, and [he] was just perched there, taking in all the production.

Rich Kidd @The Great Hall 2012

Rich Kidd: But yeah, it was a good experience, and we were there for hours, man. I was actually there to show him beats, and we just ended up staying there for like four hours, just listening to them mix shit. I won’t even lie, I was kinda nervous to ask, “yo, can I play you guys beats or what?” I didn’t want to disrupt the vibe. But then I kinda figured, yo, if he called me here, did he just call me to listen to shit? [Laughs] But at the same time, Kendrick was starting to become one of my favourite rappers at the time, so I was just like, I’m just glad to even be here. In the meanwhile, I put some beats in a folder and gave them to Dave. They picked a couple beats that they felt and recorded a couple joints, but they never made it. But it was just a good experience being there.

TCUS: You submitted beats for that album, and you’ve submitted beats for Drake’s albums in the past. You’ve said that despite your beats not making the album, you’ve used that as a motivating tool. Tell me about that.

Rich Kidd: At the end of the day, you’re not gonna make every team that you try out for, you know what I mean? You’re not gonna accomplish every single thing you go for, but I feel like that just made me feel like my output has to be even stronger. I have to create more diverse stuff and just more output, and focus more on the art of creating a beat, even just the sequencing of a beat to make it feel like when an artist is listening to it, they can already picture themselves on it. Because they chose beats and already rhymed on them, I feel like yeah, I know how to do that already, but [the key is] just perfecting that skill.

I can never control whether a guy puts something on a beat or not, but at the end of the day, I can make it that much better if I set up the beat in the right way for them, or I make a beat where it has enough space for an emcee to rhyme on. It’s just all that little stuff. I never took it to heart – and it never made me resentful either – it just made me think, yo, I was this close; I was on the cusp; it’s frustrating, but it makes me want to do more of my own art, spit on my own shit and show these n—as how to rhyme on my shit.

‘Cause it seems like these n—as just like listening to the beats and chilling there like, “yo, this beat’s so tough,” but that’s where it stays. Maybe it has too much stuff going on in the beat, or it just sounds better with no rhymes, but I have to show these n—as how to rhyme on my beats, so it becomes a little more viable and understandable to them.

TCUS: What’s the better option in your position, getting signed to a major or going the independent route?

Rich Kidd: Well, I’ve already f—ked with the machine, and I do it independent too, so it’s just whatever kinda works for what I want. It’s always gonna be what I want; it’s never gonna be what they want – that’s my formula. It’s what we want. You’ve gotta work on our terms. If you don’t want to work with us, then we can work by ourselves and get it done. I believe in us.

And when I did f—k with the machine, when SonReal and I did that project, it was because they were like, “okay, you guys already did ‘Already There,’ we want you to create something, and we’ll put some backing behind it; we’ll get distribution from Universal. We want you to make an EP; we want you to get nominated for a Juno,” or whatever their goal was.

My goal was just to make a project that would appeal to SonReal’s fans and my fans, and still keep our essence in there, but be a fun record. When we got together and went to L.A. and did it, that was the main focus. When we got out of there, we came out with more than an EP; we came out with an album and got it nominated for a Juno, got a joint nominated for an [MMVA]. It did what I wanted it to do, and more.

TCUS: You’ve got a solo project coming out next year with Black Box. What can you tell me about it so far?

Rich Kidd: It’s crazy, I was just with Kardinal Offishall playing him some joints, and he was feeling it. I [asked] him, “what do you think I need?” He’s like, “I don’t know!” [Laughs] “You got it, it’s just more [of] what you want.” The project is personal; I always make shit personal. It’s a humanizing record. I’m not no [sic] larger than life person; I don’t play myself to be, so that’s gonna be my rap persona. But the thing that may separate me from other people is my bluntness, the way I approach shit, my energy, my attitude, the fact that I create [and produce] everything around the raps, and the quirkiness too, you know what I mean? I feel like I’m a witty guy; I can tell one or two jokes and be comedic, but then still be feared lyrically, like, “nah, he ain’t one to f—k with.”

And really, [I] ain’t the one to f—k with in person, too. Every essence of what makes me a person, I want that to bleed through the music, so it’s just pure me – and I don’t really know how to explain it in one box, because I’m not a boxed-in person. I guess it’s just gonna be the multitude of different things that I can say, and that I think of – that’s what In My Opinion is, a lot of my thoughts and stuff like that. So it’s gonna be like that, but OD’ed.

TCUS: Do you have a title yet?

Rich Kidd: No, not yet. I don’t have a working title yet, but that usually comes like three weeks before [laughs]. Like, the day before.

Addy: It’ll have to come a little bit sooner this time.

Rich Kidd: Yeah, we’ll see [laughs].

Mac Miller, Sonreal and Rich Kidd, Come Up Boys @ UWO

TCUS: You’ve been working with Young Guru on this solo album. What have you learned from him?

Rich Kidd: Really, he just gave me advice and his critiques. He helped mix some stuff – he will be mixing the record – and you know, just a little bit of mentorship. He believes in what I can do; he believes in the raps; he definitely believes in the beats, because he’s the one that called me out, and we made the effort to link up with him after he mentioned us. He really showed love before we even met him. His role is just [giving] mentorship, and he knows talent. He has a lot of different emcees and producers – unsigned or whatever – that he checks for. He doesn’t sign them; it’s not like a money thing; it’s just a respect and talent thing.

It’s mainly because of the record that I placed on Jay Electronica’s [album] – I don’t know when it’s gonna come out. But yeah, that drew him to me, and the fact that he heard I can spit too is just like, “okay, he’s dope.” So he’s playing that mentorship role and really engaging himself and trying to have some influence on the sonic aspect of it – not necessarily what I talk about, because it’s not a control thing. He wants me to be myself on the record, because he heard In My Opinion and was like, “yo, that ‘Uncle Tarzan’ thing, I love how you put your uncle in there.” He’s just telling me do more of me, which is the best advice anybody could give anybody.

TCUS: You’re also executive producing Saukrates’ upcoming album, Season Two. What’s your approach on that album?

Rich Kidd: It’s not really gonna sound like Season One, and it’s gonna sound more like updated Big Black Lincoln shit.

TCUS: Final question: when all is said and done, what do you want your legacy to be?

Rich Kidd: Just a dude that influenced a whole generation to think forward, think skeptical, and be brave and be proud of who you are, in terms of where you’re from and who you are as a person. My whole thing about this whole shit is, when someone says, “yo, that sounds Canadian,” it can’t be a negative connotation. It can’t be that anymore, bro. When you say something sounds Brazilian, or something sounds French, or something sounds Middle Eastern or whatever, it’s never a negative connotation; it just sounds like that stuff. It’s neither good or bad. But when it sounds Canadian, it sounds bad. Maybe that’s the people here saying it, but I don’t want that to be said anymore.

Drake has done his thing, and he’s utilized the American culture to his advantage and pretty much mastered the game over there. I want to be able to do the same thing anywhere around the world and say, “this is Canadian [music], and it’s f—king dope. You can’t tell this n—a nothing.” If they say, “he sounds Canadian,” that means [it sounds] good.

TCUS: Thanks for your time, I appreciate it. Any last words?

Rich Kidd: Free Rob Ford. R-Way. NBS is out right now, “Tie Breaker” video coming soon. Rich Kidd solo coming soon. And f—k Addy [laughs].