Part autobiography, part statement, Rittz’s song “White Rapper” is a tour-de-force of addressing the struggles of not only being a white rapper, but being a rapper…period.
We talked to Rittz to have him expand on some of the major themes from this Next To Nothing single to get a deeper perspective on the powerful track. Also, check out some of the pics we gathered from Rittz’s come-up in this exclusive Strange Music Song Breakdown.
What inspired you to write this?
Well the “White Rapper” song is just about me being a white rapper and just really trying to be really good at the art form and just at the end of the day no matter how hard I try I’m just a white rapper. A lot of white rappers have white rapper songs. It’s just the age-old “White rapper in the game,” but it was more like I just wanted to pay homage and give people an idea of when and where and how long I was listening to at this time. I start out the song “In 92 I was listening to this” and talk about being in middle school and kind of just went throughout my life. I’m telling a life story through my journey of rap and the hook kind of breaks it down too: “No matter what that journey’s like I’m just a white rapper.” It just sucks that it always boils down to that.
The first verse is very autobiographical and just deals with the act of becoming an emcee. For people who become really, really good at rapping, is there just this phase where you’re basically rapping all the time? Because it seems like in this first verse that as a kid that you lived, breathed and ate this shit.
Oh man that’s all I ever did. That’s all I ever did. From ninety-fucking-three to 2006 was just straight fucking in the studio. That’s a long time. Just constantly doing music. There were phases in between there where of course I do other things but for the most part that was my shit. I was constantly, constantly writing, making beats, trying to get on for that long. So yeah there was a long time of that.
How about before the studio when you were just a kid?
I always had a studio. That was the thing. I was always the guy with the studio because back then in the 90s, especially early early 90s – not even early 90s but the 90s period – but in the early 90s when I first started dabbling with rapping I always had the luxury of being able to record my voice on a four track tape recorder. Nobody else had that back then, I mean nobody, as far as kids go so I was always that kid. Everybody would come to my house from different parts of town and different ways to hear themselves. I helped even bring rap to – and that goes back to Gwinnett – I helped bring rap to the community. Just having an outlet. I was that guy.
In the video there’s a lot of flashback pictures. I see one of those pictures is you and a bunch of dudes just standing together. Was that at your place?
Yeah we’re all up on the back porch. That’s me and the homeboys. That was for an album we had. That was me and my crew back then.
So you were the epicenter for a lot of people because of this tape recorder.
Oh man from everywhere. At that point in time, when we did that, I had the computer and then that was a big deal: “Oh look, now we’re recording on a computer!” It wasn’t no Pro Tools, but it was like some crazy ass shit back then, before anybody was making music on computers and shit. It was before that. There were adults who had it I’m sure and people in the industry, but as a teenager to have that? It was cool. That was big man. So anybody that lived in Gwinnett period would come to my house from all over the fucking place, bringing their cousins from out of town and what not. I knew a shit-load of people.
Take me through this first verse, you’re talking about the process of becoming an emcee and honing your craft. It feels to me that a lot of people, when they decide they want to be a rapper, forget that there’s a huge training period involved if you want to be great.
Oh man, huge. My training period lasted so god damned long. People hear from my interviews “Damn, you’ve been rapping since 92? 95? You’ve been rapping this long?” But I didn’t really start getting good until about 2006, or 2003 or 2004. I started slowly getting good. You listen to old shit and you’re like “Damn, I sucked!” There’s a long time of trying to get good. I think these days motherfuckers lay shit down and they just think they’re ready. I spent years man.
To take you through the verse, the first shit is me talking about what I listened to in ’92, I say that was the year I got introduced to rap. It wasn’t the first rap I ever heard but it was the year I fell in love and really started trying to rap myself. I started naming what I listened to back then, what it was like to be in school and the teacher would kick me out for rapping. We’d be all in the gym rapping and just doing the talent show I did. I look at that video, I was so shy and such a little ass kid. But yeah that’s what that is.
In the second verse you start talking about ninth grade.
Yeah in ninth grade I slowly started getting better and I started talking about how people didn’t have a studio in their house and I was the one who did. I dropped out of school and quit and cops labeled us a gang house, because I had so many people in and out of my house. So many people outside. We used to have cops just riding by my neighborhood every day just checking out my house. This happened for a couple years straight. When we’d have some fights break out or some drama go down at my house, the cops would come over and go “Look, I know this is a gang house, this is labeled a gang house.” In Gwinnett they got all the gangs labeled and what neighborhoods and shit. It was funny. I was like “This ain’t no fucking gang house, we rap over here!” You know? It was funny. But yeah I was kind of telling that story.
Then the story of when it finally started going through dealing with people, you know you run into so many people. They’re just as vulnerable as the artists are, but there’s so many people that are trying to help you out or think that they can help you or think they can get you on or manage you and you go through so many phases of meeting people and not knowing who’s full of shit and who’s genuine and who’s genuine that can help and who’s genuine that’s holding you back. Through all the shit, just being an artist and being vulnerable, I talk about that. Through that whole process, if you’ve dropped out of school and you’re doing drugs for years, and you’re past 25 and your girlfriend starts wanting you to fucking quit and your family starts wanting you to fucking quit. You start going through that negativity so i wanted to touch on that too, because I went through that a lot.
Before reality started sinking in like that and y’all were just rapping at your house, was it a lot more fun back then?
Oh it was totally different, totally different. It was so much more fun. Man when you’re not thinking about it on a professional level, it was just so much more fun to just hang out as a crew and smoke weed and make music and just think you’re the shit and just put out CDs in your town or whatever. So much more fun man. When the shit starts getting professional, that’s when you stop writing all the time, or at least that’s when I stop writing all the time and having fun with it. Then there’s just so much pressure on being the shit. “What do I gotta do to make it?” and you’re worried about making it and there’s just more fun about hanging and making music for sure.
You’re using a lot more of your head than just feeling it I imagine.
Oh yeah man. Back then it was just total feel. You’d have 1oo songs with 1oo different people and different features and just do songs all day and all night and have a great time. There wasn’t this pressure…it was there in the background, but you thought you’d kind of come up at some point. It was totally different.
Everyone’s very aware of your story and about how you somehow kept pushing when a lot of the odds were stacked against you as far as support. What kept you going in the face of a lot of the naysayers when shit looked like “Man, maybe I should reconsider what I’m doing.”
I think that I just knew in the back of my head that I had something. I knew at some point, and I think it was around 2003, 2004, I was like “You know I think I can rap just as good” as so and so. I really started getting realistic with myself like “Do I suck like everybody else I’m hearing? Do I got what it takes?” I knew I had it. I knew I had it, there were just so many things, and another thing that kept me going was just more opportunities. Like, I had a girlfriend at the time that was giving me ultimatums to go get a GED, if not she was going to be gone and “Quit rapping by this date and time and if you don’t.” I was like “Okay, see you later.” I was in a group too so when I got out of the group it was more motivation then, like “Okay, now that I’m out of the group, there’s more motivation to make it.” When I had a girlfriend that was telling me she was going to leave if I didn’t stop rapping, I was like “Okay, she’s gone now. Time to fucking make it.” Breath of fresh air. Then that happened and then I got the radio push, breath of fresh air. Then fell off all the way and got the Yelawolf push, breath of fresh air. These little bits of breaths of fresh air came and got me when I was almost done, at all times. It was just like right when I was almost done. I guess it was just me knowing that I was meant to do this.
I guess the universe or the music gods or whoever really wanted you to do it.
Yeah and it is what you believe in. If it’s a religious thing, if it’s a spiritual thing, then that’s what it was. I directed so much of my energy knowing that I’m going to get it and I spent so much time that it was only right to happen. I kind of look at it this way: if you’re unemployed and you want to get a job and you go out and search everywhere for fucking months and you’ve applied every fucking place you can fucking apply, and there’s no jobs, then a job is going to pop up on your fucking ass for putting in all that work. Something good’s going to come. If you’re genuinely looking for a job and you’re busting your ass and can’t find one nowhere and start to feel hopeless like “I ain’t got no more gas money…” There’s going to be a job that pops up because that’s just the way shit happens. It’s just how much effort you put in and I started really, really putting in some effort in the end there.
Tell me about the last verse where it seems that you’re addressing the main topic of the song, being white in the rap game.
After all that time trying to stand out being a white guy, now the game is flooded with everybody and does it really still matter? Even after this flooded and I done all this, I was at the BET Awards, I got an album out in stores, my life is better…after all this shit I’m still a white rapper. I still gotta answer this question, and I just made it worse by making the fucking song really. But yeah, after all that shit there’s still that. The rap game is still flooded and that was my whole point, if it is going to be flooded and it is going to be that, at least everybody know that I’ve paid my dues. I know the old school…I’ve paid my dues. That was the whole point. If I am just that y’all at least better know I paid them.
“Even though a part of me agree with Lord Jamar, we are guests in hip hop, I’m appreciative that you finally let us in the crib, but I busted my ass to get respect for my craft.”
Yeah, it’s like with the Lord Jamar thing. Like I think people hear that line and it’s like “Oh, that’s a Lord Jamar diss,” and I’m like “No, it’s not.” I’m sitting there saying a part of me agrees with him. I mean this is a guy that publicly was kind of talking shit about people I fuck with, but I agree with him that we are guests in hip hop. I said that in my first interview about Lord Jamar and his opinion on that and it’s like “I agree with you.” but fuck man, at the end of the day, I appreciate that you let us in the crib but I busted my ass. It says it for itself. I’m appreciative that we’re here and that it is accepted for white boys to be in the rap game and people from all nationalities to be in it but God damn, can we drop the subject now because I busted my fucking ASS to get here.
And no one can deny that.
Yeah, there’s no way to because it’s fact. It is what it is.
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- What’s the most inspiring part of Rittz’s story?
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