Baptism [bap-tiz-uhm] noun
(in the Christian Church) the religious rite of sprinkling water onto a person’s forehead or of immersion in water, symbolizing purification or regeneration and admission to the Christian Church.
Rittz is just starting to see the light. After over a decade of living as a struggling (yet elite) emcee, he nearly gave up until Yelawolf put him on. Tech N9ne saw one of Rittz’s performances in Nashville and the rest is history: Rittz is now signed to Strange Music, released a successful debut album with The Life And Times Of Jonny Valiant and sees nothing but opportunity in front of him.
What it took to finally get to that point is another story, and one that he tells in his verse for “The Baptism” on Stevie Stone’s 2 Birds 1 Stone.
We had a chance to talk to Rittz to discuss his inspiration behind the verse, how he came to adopt Stevie Stone’s style to help him write his verse and most importantly what it takes to keep pushing no matter what the circumstances.
Tell us what this song is about and how you got to be on it.
Well when I got it I kind of got it in my e-mail in time. I didn’t have a conversation with Stevie like “Where are you coming from on this type of thing?” I had to just listen to his verse and listen to the chorus and guess where it was going and then do my interpretation of it. To me it was just like going through a baptism. It’s like, I’ve been through all this, and I’ve been through all this and all this negative shit and all this evil shit that’s happened and how I used to be and through all this, but at some point in time I found the inner strength and I’ve been baptized. Now I’m stronger and back and I’m here now. That’s what I got from it and that’s how I did my verse. I just rapped about “The devil never been a stranger to me” “I prayed everyday but my days are gloomy” and just going through things that happened to me when I was younger and having kind of a dark side and an evil side, but one day I saw the light and I was baptized and now I’m coming out the water and I’m here now.
To me personally it’s like the spirit of God’s in me now. Not to be on no crazy religious tip but that’s what I took from it. The spirit of God’s in me now, everything’s going my way now because I’ve been blessed, I’m coming out the water and now I’m baptized.
What do you think is the reason that you were able to have that chance for redemption?
I think with me it’s just hard work and dedication but at the same time I am a religious person to a certain degree. I pray a lot. You pray about one thing and you put off, I don’t want to sound hippie-ish or “You put out positive energy, good things are going to come,” but I think that it’s true that if you stay positive and if you are a good person – and being a good person doesn’t mean “Yeah I’m a good person.” If your heart’s in a good place like the feelings in your heart come from a good place and what you’re trying to do comes from a place that you’re passionate about and it means a lot to you and you’re trying to better your life, I think if you pursue that enough, something’s going to happen. It might not even be the thing you wanted it to be, like if I pray all my life “Please let me get a record deal, please let me blow up,” and that did happen, something might happen in another way that might give me those things that I really want out of life. I think it’s just being positive and that’s what I wrote about in the song. I used to be a negative person and do bad shit and at some time you try to release because there is a good heart down in there and that leads to a lot of good things happening to you.
During a lot of those times where the chips were down, were you always persistent in going through good motions or having somewhat of a good attitude?
I mean that’s what I told all my friends, even myself now, no matter what you do in life, life always finds a way to kick your ass. Even if you’re rich and whatever, there’s something that always seeks out to beat you up or down a little bit. Like I said, it’s just staying positive and knowing deep down inside you’re heart’s in the right place.
I had a homie of mine who always did bad shit, he liked to fight and he was always angry and pissed off at the world and was wondering why everything wasn’t going good for him. It’s like man, you gotta stop all the negative shit and get a little bit more positive. Start liking people a little bit more and having more of a positive outlook, instead of saying “Fuck everybody” and “Fuck this” and “Fuck that” and life makes you so angry all the time. Ignoring that anger and ignoring all the shit that you’re beat up by and trying to be positive out of it, trying to dig deep. I think that helps, if that answers the question at all.
We all hit a point where it’s nearly impossible to feel enthusiastic about anything.
I got everything I want right now. I have a record deal, I have an album out but I’m still struggling. You’ve got to stay positive man. You’ve got to think what the positive alternative could be. Always. Even if you’re broke, hey you could be dead, or you could be in jail, you could be this, you could be that. You’ve got to think about the positive things that are going on and go off that. Let that be your support system.
What do you think about Stevie as an artist?
Stevie’s dope man. He’s got one of the most stand out voices period. I’ve seen him perform one time and I could tell he was a great performer on stage and everything else, i think he’s real dope. And he’s a cool ass dude. I wish Stevie nothing but the best. I was really glad he reached out to me and put me on the album.
Out of all the artists on Strange you two represent Southern sound in your music and obviously have a lot of that Southern flavor in your personalities. Do you guys click on that level?
Yeah man. When I first met Stevie, he came out to Nashville with Tech to watch my show and he’s a Crown drinker like me so it’s like, that’s my drink, that’s already a good start. We just chilled man. I got a lot of homies from St. Louis and around that area and the way of life and style is not too different from the south. I think there’s a lot of similarities there. His music and the type of production he kicks, all that shit comes through in the music.
What do you think about the way he puts his verses together?
From what I’ve been hearing, especially on “The Baptism” song, you could even hear in my verse how purposely tried to emulate some of the way he did in his verse because he does some cool, unique things with harmonies and carrying out certain lines and then throwing some other lines and then carrying out another line to match the line like four lines before it. So he’s got a really cool, unique way of writing and spitting and in my verse you could see that I would try to emulate that purposely just so it would go with his. His style helped me create my verse.
What was it like to delve into a different style like that?
Oh it was dope! I try to do that a lot of times. If I’m on a record with Tech I’m going to know what type of, and it’s not like trying to be like them or anything, it’s just trying to make the song go together right, you know? It’s just like when Eminem did the song with Snoop Dogg and he’s like “Aw, naw, big Slim Dogg.” You kind of show that you’re on the same page as the and it’s kind of like paying homage to what they’re doing, their style and then just put that a little bit in your and then come back with your shit. It was really dope.
For you it seems more important to serve the song instead of just say “I’m Rittz and I’m the dopest rapper on this track.”
Yeah it’s definitely about the song. It’s funny that the song we’re talking about with “The Baptism” I ended my verse too like “Heyyyy” and did what Stevie does on his ad-libs and shit like that, I ended my verse like that. It was really cool. It’s like the perfect example of that. Just trying to make your verses fit the song. If I’m doing my songs I try to pick people that will fit those songs. If I have Stevie on a record I’m going to make a record that sounds like something for Stevie. Same thing with Tech, if I do that or if anybody I’m going to try and do that.
What did you think of the production?
The beat is hard. It was a perfect song for me. Who did the beat? You know who did that beat? I don’t know who did the beat but it was really dope. I like dark songs. Anything that’s kind of dark and a lot of people send me records to get on about chevys and cutlasses and bitches and hos and shit and it’s like, me personally I like rapping about deep shit and real shit. So that was the perfect record. Not only that but the beat was extra dark and just went perfect with the song. So yeah, whoever did that track killed it. Super hard.
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