Exposed Vocals: How did you hear about Exposed Vocals? What made you decide to sign up?
Richie The Rapper: Well, I heard about Exposed Vocals on twitter a short time after I had just signed up on SoundCloud and I followed the Exposed Vocals account on twitter, which led me to eventually sign up simply because I could understand how they could get me more “exposed” to a wider music audience. See what I did there? ’’Exposed”.
Exposed Vocals: So tell us your story, where did you grow up? What made you decide to become an artist?
Richie The Rapper: My story is quite the journey hey, I think we would need a live interview for that one, however to keep it brief I grew up in the suburb of Roodepoort , west of Johannesburg-South Africa where I spent most of my childhood living with both my parents and younger brother. That was until I was about 12 or 13 years of age when my parents decided to separate and go their own ways and I went on to live with my mother and younger brother in the neighbouring township of Soweto. Now coming from the suburbs and moving to a place like Soweto as a teen who has just experienced his parents separation was quite a difficult transition. Soweto was not the nicest of places to live in until quite recently due to the crime & social inequality, which was mainly due to the after effects apartheid left on the people of Soweto and I was just starting to find myself as a teenager. I did not relate to the people my behaviour was different coming from a more privileged surrounding and I was becoming a rebellious teen who just couldn’t understand why his parents could not live together and I was being forced to live in a place where I was just an outsider. However there was always one thing made me happy and that was music and writing. My father was a huge music lover and collector and I would always listen to his music collection as a child .I think listening to his records and putting my emotions down on paper is what helped me become the artist I am now not realizing I was becoming a better writer in the process.
Exposed Vocals: How did you come up with that name? What was your inspiration behind it?
Richie The Rapper: Well, the inspiration behind the name “Richie The Rapper” is quite interesting. My second name happens to be Richard which I was given by my mother which also happens to be her father’s name, my grandfather. I never really loved the name cause most second names are quite embarrassing and I’m sure people can relate and understand why but there was a girl named Lindy who happened to live in my location and I had a major crush on her, and she just started calling me “Richie” which I found quite cool cause of the way she said it. Hence I embraced Richie as a nickname, the second part of it came when I decided to take rap as a career simply because rapping was my primary art form but if I could have had it my way I would’ve been a singer. Now me deciding to go professional and take music as career was in 2012 when I turned 18 and decided to embrace everything about myself as I was now an adult and this was my musical journey to self discovery. This was also around the time Tyler The Creator had just released the song “She” and it happened to be one of my favourite jams at the time. So I kept on asking myself why that name. Why the Creator? Then that’s when it hit me, I was inspired by that, like my real name is Richard and in short I’m Richie and rap is what I do best , so that makes me ‘’Richie The Rapper”.
Exposed Vocals: What do you think about online music sharing? Do you ever give your music away for free? Why?
Richie The Rapper: Online music sharing is one of the best things to ever happen to the internet & music industry for both music fans and artists until it reaches a certain point. There is only so much music you can give away until you need to start making money off your craft. Yes, it should not be about the money however how long until you need to maintain the process of making music in order to deliver a high quality product? I used to give away loads of free music especially in the early stages of my music career simply because I wanted to be heard , however I did not realize that what I was giving away was not of a high quality. I did not know about mixing and mastering hence giving it away for free was a not an issue. I was fortunate enough to learn about those things very early on in my career and now I know what it takes to give music listeners a high quality product, because let’s face facts to give high quality music you need to spend money and how will you maintain that process if ever your not making money? Unless you have a 9 to 5 or sponsors to help you make the kind of music that will compete in the industry. I believe fans still deserve need to be appreciated as well and at times high quality music should be given away for free as long as there is a proper plan behind the entire give away.
Exposed Vocals: Since everyone was a start up once, can you give any smaller or local bands or artists looking to get gigs and airplay some tips?
Richie The Rapper : My advice to upcoming artists is that this music career is not easy but the rewards are worth it , I still regard myself as an upcoming artist as I am still working towards my dreams and goals but my tips to others such as myself is that nothing beats hard work and creativity. For you to get gigs you really need to learn how to network and make connections with the people who have access to the gigs and places you’re looking to get into. Technology has really made things even easier now; I think artists can use my strategy of getting gigs and important info and events. What I do is ,I find their social media pages ,websites and event organisers profiles and at least once a week I go to their profiles and look for any upcoming events they may be having or organising and I send them direct messages requesting them for any opening act slots or any spots they may have available to offer. I also make them aware that in case of any further events they should try to notify in advance as I am always willing to perform for any acts that may not be able to make those events. In terms of radio airplay , that all starts with high quality music and sending your music to the relevant radio station and NOT posting them everywhere on peoples social media conversations and profiles. If you want to do that, make a facebook page, website etc and post your music there where people are there for your music. Remember your trying to get on radio not on people’s profiles.
Exposed Vocals: Do you ever make mistakes during performances? How do you handle that?
Richie The Rapper : Oh yes I do, I’ve had some very embarrassing moments on stage but what matters is how you come back from those mistakes. When your on stage there is NO time to breakdown and cry , you just have to soldier on. As a musician your an entertainer so your job is to be creative and quickly hide your mistakes. The best way to avoid mistakes is simply to practice hard and long before performances to ensure that your every move is natural on stage.
Exposed Vocals: Do you tour? Anything interesting happen on tour that you think our readers would enjoy hearing about?
Richie The Rapper: Unfortunately I am not a touring artist just yet, hopefully I will get gigs that allow me to travel the world and go on tour. Event organisers and promoters hit me up if you got something Richie is always down to tour and put in that work.
Exposed Vocals: Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration? What is your usual songwriting process?
Richie The Rapper: My song writing inspiration comes from everyday experiences and sometimes it’s just stories and situations I imagine myself being involved in. Yep, that’s right I said it IMAGINATION. My song writing process is pretty simple, whenever I have and idea or line I quickly type it on my mobile cell phone and that’s just how I accumulate ideas and lines for a certain song or songs I’m working on. Then the second part of completing the song is finding a beat that would go with the idea I already have in mind .Once the suitable beat is acquired I take my pen & pad ,sit down with my laptop and put the beat in a music software so I can visually see the beat construction then I transfer whatever I had on my phone onto my pad and then I complete the song by writing according to the waves of the beat and that ensures that I write according to the flow of the beat and create flows in between the beat. Pretty simple I tell ya.
Exposed Vocals: Do you have a band website? What online platforms do you use to share music?
Richie The Rapper: I am currently working on creating an official Richie The Rapper website where everything about me will readily be available to the fans. However I am still in the process of registering myself as a business and so forth as you need to be registered in order to earn royalties from your website and so forth, which is something most upcoming artists don’t know and understand. However I do share my music on reliable platforms such as SoundCloud & Kasimp3 (South Africa).I’m really trying to move away from sites such as Datafilehost which have no reliable statistics for artists downloads and data capturing. Anybody could be downloading your music without knowing what it is they are downloading.
Exposed Vocals: What are some really embarrassing songs that we might find on your mp3 player?
Richie The Rapper: Well the most embarrassing song you may find is a song I recorded titled “Can’t Help Myself” where I go onto talk about a celebrity crush and all the things I would do to her if she just gave me a chance, it’s just me expressing some thug passion. Either than that you may find some jazz, soul, R&B and a little bit of everything nothing embarrassing really.
Exposed Vocals: If you were given half a million dollars a year and a year off, what would you do? How would you spend it?
Richie The Rapper: Well half a million dollars in South Africa is like, let me quickly do the math; U$500 000 x R15 a dollar, which gives me something like R70 000 000.00 , damn! That would instantly make me a multimillionaire here. Well back to the question I would buy my mama a better house out of the ghetto. Buy myself a house as well with a nice home recording studio so I can continue to record during my year off just to keep the skill up to par until I return. I would also fund my other business ventures and simply invest the rest of the money in more property and businesses. Oh! and I would go study music production during my spare time.
Exposed Vocals: Any planned studio upgrades? What are you working with now?
Richie The Rapper: Definitely ,there is always plans to upgrade the studio especially with the ever increasing technology in music ,we have to keep upgrading in order to deliver the best sounding music one can produce. I am currently working with an HP laptop with a version of Windows 8 and my music recording software of choice is definitely ProTools 10 with a Samson condenser recording mic. It’s not much but it gets the job done.
Exposed Vocals: How do find ways to promote your music? What works best for you?
Richie The Rapper: I find social media as the best place to promote my music, however I don’t believe in shoving music down people’s throats ,well their ears rather. I believe if your approach is professional and appealing then people will be more than willing to get your music. I believe artists need to learn more about marketing as promotion is just one aspect of it but if you market your music to a specific target market then you can get more done than you would just promoting to uninterested people.
Exposed Vocals: If you could perform anywhere and with any artists (Dead or Alive) where and who would it be with? Why?
Richie The Rapper: I would definitely like to perform with Kendrick Lamar simply because he is one of my idols and he happens to be one of the best live performers in the game right now and I was fortunate enough to have seen him perform live in South Africa. I would also like to share the stage with Michael Jackson simply because he is the greatest entertainer of all time and he is one of the best dancers ever and like M.J I was once a dancer and I would like a dance showdown with him. Lastly I would take Kanye West because his creativity is simply amazing and he would bring something visually appealing to the stage and production. We would perform anywhere in the world and it would be a sold out show guaranteed.
Exposed Vocals: So, what’s next? Any new upcoming projects that you want to talk about?
Richie The Rapper: What’s next for Richie is just to continue working hard and work towards taking over the game .I am currently working on my second EP which will be titled Epiphany simply because I realize its time I tell my stories even more now more than ever.
Exposed Vocals: If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
Richie The Rapper: If I wasn’t doing music I’d probably be a soccer star simply because that’s one of my first loves and if I wasn’t that, I’d probably be a lawyer, engineer ,linguist or something to do with academics.
Exposed Vocals: Do you remember buying your first album? Who was it? What was going through your head?
Richie The Rapper: I remember receiving my first album for my birthday and it was Nelly’s Nellyville sometime in 2002 if I remember correctly. Then the first albums I bought were South African artists , AKA’s debut album Alter Ego & Zola’s uNyezi in 2012 .I was quite happy and I felt like a grown up since this was the beginning of me starting a journey of buying music CD’s.
Exposed Vocals: How do you juggle the rest of your responsibilities while trying to stay ahead in your music life?
Richie The Rapper: Juggling school, family and music was never easy especially if your like me still studying at college and you have to maintain good grades while trying to make sure your music is on point but what I always tell people is that if you truly have a passion for something nothing can ever stop you from following it and making sure that you succeed at it no matter what obligations you have.
Exposed Vocals: What should fans look forward to in 2016?
Artist: First and foremost fans should look forward to more great music. Music is the main focus for me and that’s what they should support first and foremost. They should look forward to my music on their radio stations. My new single “Baby Mama Drama” has just been released and they should look out for that as it’s bound to make waves and as I said my second EP is on the way that is also bound to give people a closer look into my life through some great and powerful music .Otherwise I really don’t want to jinx anything but 2016 is the year I make my mark in the South African and international music scene. A huge thank you to everyone supporting me I appreciate all of you and thank you to Exposed Vocals for giving me the platform to tell my story to the world #RichieTheRapper.