An Interview With Candice Freeman: Rittz’s Secret Weapon

Oct 9 2017

Part of being a successful artist is building the proper team and support system around you.

Managers, publicists, producers, etc. can all contribute to an artist’s success and an album’s sound.

For Rittz, one of those people integral to the success of Last Call, is Candice Freeman.

Rittz has called her his secret weapon, deploying her vocals on, The Life and Times of Jonny ValiantNext To NothingTop Of The Line, and, most recently, 15 of the 21 tracks on the digital deluxe edition of Last Call.

Though they are frequent collaborators, their relationship extends well beyond that–they have been friends for over 15 years!

Whether in the studio or out, very few people know Rittz better than Candice Freeman, making her the perfect person to get some insight into Last Call.

How did you originally get linked up with Rittz?

I’ve known Rittz since 2000 or 2001. I met him through a mutual friend that we had when I worked for Wal-Mart. He was doing music out of the basement or a room in the garage. We’ve been linked together for a really long time. We’ve always stayed connected. He’s like family.

When did you first record with him?

Our first recording…it had to be…probably 2001. Before he was signed. We worked on albums like 77O and After Morning, it was a little mixtape that came out a long time ago.

What were your first impressions of him as an artist?

Well, when I first met him he was really chill and laid back. He still is.

When I heard the music….first off, you know, I’m from Arkansas, so when I moved to Georgia, the music was totally different, but I knew who a lot of his influences were Georgia rappers like Outkast. He likes MJG and 8-Ball. He liked all types of music. So when I first heard a lot of his stuff I really liked it.

I’m an R&B artist and I love R&B also but I have always been a fan of him. I’ve always felt like his music was more than just the normal music that you hear on the radio. It was his life speaking through the music.

How do your studio sessions with him work now, since you’ve been working together for so long? Do you just go in and do your thing?

We work hand in hand. Normally, he always has something in his head. He’ll run it by me and say, “I wanted to put this here, this is the kind of feel that I want” but he wants my opinion on it and asks me to critique it a little because I am a singer.

He always says he’s not a singer even though he really is. I always say “you really don’t need me” but he’ll fight me for that; he’ll cuss me out [laughs].  So he uses my insight, but a lot of the things I hear are dope already; he’s so creative.

Obviously, you are well-versed in singing on R&B songs, but is it different singing with Rittz because he is a rapper?

So, for me, when I’m singing R&B versus when I’m singing a hook. It’s gonna be a little different. There are some falsetto and some things that might be poppy. R&B, for me, when I sing, is like love songs and ballads.

When you are singing hooks for a rapper, the terminology is different and the feeling that you have to have when you sing is totally different. Although you still have to feel it, it’s a totally different feel.

With Rittz, I’m so grateful his music is different; he doesn’t sound like everybody else. He within himself and is comfortable with himself; he doesn’t feel like he has to sound like other people.

You provide vocals for the hooks as well as during the verses. How do you “pick your spots”?

He just lets me do what I’m comfortable doing; whatever, wherever. When we first get in there, I listen to it and he says, “this is what I’m thinking about,” but he’ll just let me go in there and sing it whichever way I want to sing it.

If he likes it, he’ll keep it, if he likes some of it he’ll keep some of it. We just work well together. It’s very laid back and chill.  I’ve never seen him get aggravated with me. Although it will be OK for him to, because it’s his music that he wants the sound a certain way and I don’t want to overshine it. It’s not my song. 

He’s just the easiest person on earth to work with.

Is there a particular session that stands out?

Every single one. Although we’re used to each other. It’s always different. Every session, he laughs, He’s funny…he thinks he’s a comedian [laughs]. So, you know, we bounce off everybody. It’s always just relaxed.

You are all over the album but specifically credited as a feature on “Fuck Cancer.” Why that one?

His friends that I met are my friends, as well, now. His family is like my family. I call his brother, my brother. His sister, my sister. Everybody is like a big family. I’m really cool with his friend Brandon, and he went through a whole cancer episode and Rittz’s wife’s best friend she is actually going through it as well.

I’ve had people in my life that I’ve lost and people in my life and in my family that are going through it. I had a friend recently who passed away from it. So it was just something that people all over the world deal with. It was just one of those songs that stuck out that everybody could relate to. That’s one reason why I was featured on that one as opposed to another.

You know Rittz better than most, creatively. What stood out to you about him when recording this album?

Every time he is in the process of doing an album, he beats himself up. People don’t realize how humble he is and how he does things so gracefully. So, he’ll beat himself up so bad about it. With this one, he was a little stressed out but it was almost like he was ready for it. Everything was just like pouring out of him and he was able to write. It might have been a few things that tried to throw him off, but he was able to get everything out.

It was like a money machine that spits out money; that’s how the songs were coming out.

There are a lot of songs. For it to be so many.  I think they just came out like breathing air. He was a lot more relaxed than normal. More than any of his other albums.

Candice is most definitely a singer (a great one at that) and while she works on her own material–be sure to keep an eye out for her own mixtape–it’s not her only focus; it’s not even her primary focus. Outside of music, she has a career, and most importantly, is a mother.

That’s what makes her work with Rittz all the more special. It’s not a collaboration between two artists, but two friends who happen to be artists. Her support of Rittz through the years is a product of friendship and though you may not be able to quantify it, that personal connection comes through in the music.