At 26 and being very new to rap game, Tony Ri’chard is establishing himself as one of the more talented rap artists. We asked him about his music, background, and racism. You can find his newest mixtape “WDRAWLS” on SoundCloud or rapzilla and you can read our review of it here.
RapRevolt: When did you know that you wanted to be a rapper?
Tony Ri’chard: For one, I never wanted to be a rapper. But I like music, I like creating music. I don’t know really, I’ve only been taking it [making music] seriously for a year honestly.
RR: How did you come to know Jesus?
Ri’chard: Shoot umm – I came to Christ at a young age, and I guess I went from trying to commit suicide to some people that took me in and it was in the hood. So I just started writing and I just never stop writing you know.
RR: Who are you trying to reach with your music?
Ri’chard: Anybody. Anybody at all. Not the church. My job isn’t to teach the church that’s the pastor’s job. My job is to make music and be a positive influence, my job is to make music that people enjoy, feel, and respect.
RR: What are your long-term goals as far as music?
Ri’chard: I don’t know if I have any goals man. I have goals like with people I wanna work with, like singers, there are a lot of singers I want to work with. As far as sign to a label I would never sign to a CHH label that people think I would, and I’ll probably never sign to a [CHH] label, ever. I possibly would sign to labels outside of a CHH label but most likely I would remain Indie, everything would be for me and for me to manage. I’m not tripping about money from music so as far as finances and things like that it doesn’t even matter I just wanna make great music. The Lord takes care of me.
RR: What are your top musical influences?
Ri’chard: Well I gotta put 2Pac on the throne, then probably Jay-Z , Kayne West, Kendrick Lamar, Kevin Gates, Big K.R.I.T., J. Cole, Lil Wayne, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Corinne Baily Rae, Etc.
RR: So a lot of Christians would look down on that list, so explain how you draw from them and how you learn from what they have to offer.
Ri’chard: I think it’s foolish you know and I’ve been in that mindset of foolishness. Looking down on somebody when they struggling with stuff and it’s unfair. I pull a lot from them but I don’t study them. A lot of people study rappers but I take whatever is positive that I can learn from. The people I named are pretty personal rappers I just enjoy their stories and I can’t say I’m not influenced but I try to not have sounds that sound like them I try to be organic and original with everything I do.
RR: What is unique about you as an artist?
Ri’chard: I bring a very strong emotional feeling. Most people entertain, I more so captivate.
RR:Why would people listen to Tony Ri’chard?
Ri’chard: I don’t really know man.
RR: I mean you’re really talented.
Ri’chard: Well yeah, you know I’m talented and I can paint, and rap, and do spoken word the list goes on you know so I’m very talented but I would tell people to pray that you’re not like Tony Ri’chard. You know it comes with a with a lot of weight and with a lot of accountability. You know at the end of the day I have to give account, just like everyone else I have to give an account. So I would say man be a master of two things, not twenty things. Try to not add as much weight as possible. Not that I prayed the wrong prayer I believe I prayed the right prayer but it was pretty much the MLK prayer like “Lord let me do way more than I think that I can do.” And He is showing me now. So on the biblical side, off of the rap side, I can’t fight what he has planned for me.
RR: Do you have any timeline for upcoming music?
Ri’chard: You can expect music next year for sure. You know I’m getting older I’m about to be 27 so you can expect new music from 27-29 you can expect a lot of music. Because if I’m not at a certain point at the age of 30 I’m not rapping I’m not about to be one of these old rappers. Rapping is not a financial thing for me but it’s a place I need to be. You know I’m reaching two people but there’s 500 other people that could have reached those two people. So if there isn’t a certain place that I’m at then I’ll be good man I’ll keep painting and speaking to kids and things like that I’ll be cool with it.
RR: What are some artist you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Ri’chard: I definitely wanna work with Jill Scott, Corrine Bailey Rae, Ledisi, Alessia Cara. I would wanna work Big K.R.I.T. like over everybody whether it’d be Kendrick, or Chance, or Cole –
RR: Wait over Kendrick?
Ri’chard: Yeah I’d work with K.R.I.T. over Kendrick. I mean don’t get me wrong Kendrick is my top rapper over everybody right now. But you know man I’m from the south but don’t get me wrong Kendrick is number one in my book. Ima say Drake is number one in terms of like everything but Kendrick is my number one. But Big K.R.I.T. has made more music that’s way more relative to me in my life and my struggles and I guess it’s a southern thing so yeah I’d work with K.R.I.T. over everybody right now.
RR: What’s the background or story behind WDRAWLS?
Ri’chard: WDRAWLS was really a mixtape to prepare people for what was next. So I understand people that have been with me since the beginning you know they’ve grown with me so I’ve already shown them this wave or this part of my music so get ready to catch the next wave which is way harder and way grimier. So those people are gonna go through withdrawals because they gonna be like “what the heck” and I’m like “I came I grabbed y’all I showed y’all now I gotta go back and grab even more and show them and go back again.” So that’s just my philosophy of what I do. But the other side of withdrawals is my mom passed so I was having withdrawals. Then the last side is that as humans we open doors that we shouldn’t open. Forbidden doors to stranger things so it’s like a portal and you go places that you not supposed to go and things happened that shouldn’t have happened because of sin nature so now all through your life you have to deal with these withdrawals. Since I’ve slept with multiple women I’m always going to battle immoral thoughts because I opened the door. I will always have a craving for a higher drug since my marijuana was laced three times I’m always gonna have a withdrawal to do a stronger drug and it’s not all the time but it will happen from time to time. You know since my mother passed I will always have a withdrawal of how I treated my mother in the worst ways opposed to the times when I was a great son. So I think that pretty much sums it up of WDRAWLS.
RR: What’s your take on racial injustices in America today?
Ri’chard: I think that racist people are gonna be held accountable, like a lot. Because they’re hating another image of what they were created in. I think a lot of it is conspiracy. I think it’s slavery and racism tied together and then so many years later we have this. We have the generational things that are inside of a white person and you have the generational things that are inside of a black person. So one side sees something one way and the other side sees it a different way. I think that people aren’t even speaking out about it. Especially people that can, that have the range to really reach people to help change situations. So like Paris Hilton gave 50,000 to help with the floods and stuff, awesome but its like why don’t you put up a billboard in front of all your hotels about all the cop killings? Because it’ll interfere with your money. So it’s just a big scheme of things man.
RR: What kind of racial injustices have you dealt with in your life?
Ri’chard: I got to see both sides. I had a white and a black cop. So my friend was crackin’ jokes on the police and I was just laid back on the car laughing. Because the sign had said yield and I told my friend “The cops are behind us so just come to a complete stop,” but we got pulled over anyway. So my friend started crackin’ jokes on them, the two young cops, and they started saying stuff like, “Well you wouldn’t think it’s so funny if I put my gun in your mouth.” More recently in Franklin, Louisiana we were shooting a video but like the footage that we shot we couldn’t even use because the cops screwed it all up. The cop wanted to grab my camera man’s camera and I knew he had a record so I tried to help him out and I was like “Look he wasn’t taking any pictures.” Which he wasn’t. They arrested him. I saw like 12 cops arresting one person. I’m not over exaggerating it was 12 cops in a line arresting this one kid because he was walking on the street and it was Mardi Gras. Like how are you going to arrest someone walking on the street on Mardi Gras? But they were just trying to get money. They came over, harassing my camera man, next thing you know I’m arrested for disturbing the peace. It’s Mardi Gras, how am I disturbing the peace? Everybody’s music is loud everybody is in the streets. The cop was just being a jerk and he said we were being stupid. But I’m going to say one good cop experience. It was two white cops and they pulled me over. I had no shoes on and they pulled me over because my tags were expired. They were like “Why don’t you have any shoes on?” And I said’ “My feet hurt and I didn’t want to drive with my shoes on.” And they were like “Alright, go home get some shoes on and get your tags fixed.” So they didn’t give me any ticket or nothing. I’ve had good experiences and I’ve had horrible experiences.
RR: What needs to happen for us to see racial unity?
Ri’chard: I think all these white churches need to speak out. I haven’t seen or heard anything from anybody about this. I’ve seen marches but that’s pretty pointless like we’re not in the 60’s. That’s not our lane to bring forth change in this generation. A protest that meant something would have to be something that impacted finances like not shopping or not posting on social media but that’s not happening. Back in the day we didn’t have anything. We just had each other to love on, to hate on, to reconcile with and to continue about our day. It’s like the difference between what Kendrick is trying to do compared to Young Thug. Kendrick is speaking out and he is more willing to do that but he is only like 5% of rap and the other 95% is a whole bunch of Young Thugs. So like me I’m in the 5% and it’s like 95% of people that are like, “Screw that I have money I don’t care about that let’s riot and steal stuff and shut stuff down till something changes” and I don’t know if it will ever fully change. You know people are asking for Heaven on earth. Heaven is Heaven Earth is Earth. I feel like that’s how it’s always going to be until it’s your time.
RR: You seem to have a deep biblical perspective, is that from you learning that on your own or studying somewhere?
Ri’chard: Well of course, you know, I go to church. Of course I’m a Christian and there is things I’ve learned from church. But when God revealed himself to me, like Paul with the light, five or six times over the course of five or six years, I realized He is real and He is not to be played with and that He should feared. Once I got into college it became “Okay, what is this? Something is completely different about me than all these other people.” So I would ask God, “Why are you revealing yourself to me? What is the point of this?” So when that happened I just dived into a lot of theological books. I had a lot of questions and I got a lot answers which produced more questions. You know I’m a big fan of rap music and I’m a big fan of Mark Driscoll outside of whatever his scandal was I don’t know what it was but I’m a big fan of his teachings. I’m a big fan of John Piper, I like him a lot, he’s probably not my favorite but I like him a lot. I’d probably say that Tony Evans and Mark Driscoll are my two favorites because I think they are the truest to me and my own life. But I feel like I’ve studied the bible a lot, I think probably from 2008 – 2010 I probably read the bible 100 times. So I feel biblically exhausted. But you know, the Lords saying, “You have the word in your heart so now its time for you to apply this someway.” The word will never change, the word will be the word. And of course we get new revelations of what the word is as we grow with the word but what I’m saying is the Lord has poured his word in me so now I can step back and apply it to my life in the way of me living it and demonstrating it through songs and actions and all those things.