Last week during the Source had the opportunity to speak with Hip Hop luminary Jermaine Dupri & his newest So So Def signee Royce Rizzy (formerly known as Rolls Royce Rizzy). The two were incredibly candid and forthcoming, with Royce speaking on his backround and music influences and tastes, and JD talking about not only why he signed Royce but what makes the dynamic between the two of them so unique . Read the interview and also make sure to check out Royce’s new Determination EP
The Source Magazine: I did a little research, I know a little bit about your story but a lot of what we want to do is introduce you to our readers so I want to know a little bit about you and your background. Your parents are in the military, right
Royce Rizzy: My dad is. He’s in the navy.
Source: Currently ?
RR: He’s active, yeah.
Source: So I imagine that’s shaped a lot of your childhood?
RR: Yeah, yeah.
Source: So where were you born
RR: Oakland, California
Source: Okay, and you lived in Oakland for?
RR: Less than six months
Source:So I know you moved around a lot, you spent some time over seas right?
RR: Yeah I did majority of my high school in Tokyo.
Source:Where were you in your younger years? Like growing up?
RR: I did elementary school in San Diego and Hawaii and middle school in Virginia/Maryland area and tenth grade I shot over to Tokyo and I was there doing music and then got a situation and moved to Atlanta.
Source:What do you think that did for you as a person, getting to see different places at a young age?
RR: Well when you’re younger it’s either a good or a bad thing when it’s time to move like if you ain’t have no friends or if you ain’t like the place you was it’s cool, you could start over. You know what I’m saying? New friends, new city, new everything. You could be anything you want. You could move from San Diego to Virginia and just take on a whole new everything. But for me it was cool cuz I got friends all over the world. Just think about it, everyone is paying attention to me, watching my social media and everything and they’re like “yo I went to school with him in elementary, now this dude got songs with all of these people.” So I think being 23 and looking at it now- like I hated when I moved to Tokyo, I didn’t want to move there. I felt like it was gonna be wack but then I got there and I realized they love hip-hop more than here. You know what I’m saying, if Soulja Boy got a concert there you’re gonna see a thousand people dressed up like Soulja Boy. Like they’re gonna have SOD chains and everything! They love it, so I was like ‘yo hip-hop is live out here’. So yeah I think being cultural and knowing how to blend in – like if I move to New York tomorrow I think in six months I’d be okay, I’d know everything, I’d know how it gets down and I could just find myself here and I could be comfortable. You know, it’s nothing but a move.
Source: Now you made a good comment there with you know, being cultural. I think it’s interesting because now you have a lot more artists that maybe don’t fit a mold that labels might have looked for. But where you’re from is still a big part of hip-hop, what you represent. Especially coming from big places like New York or Atlanta or The Bay. Do you ever worry about that at all
RR: Yeah. I always wished I had a place. I always wished I could be like ‘Born in Oakland, raised on 37th street, never left.’ I always felt like there would be more of a story but as I get older and get talking to more people they are like, “no your story’s way better! You can incorporate living in The Bay and Tokyo. How many people graduated high school in Tokyo?” And I’m like, ‘okay well maybe I am different’
Source:And I imagine from a musical point of view too, that’s got to have been interesting being in all of these very different places.
RR: Someone just asked me if I’ve used being in Japan and I don’t think I’ve reached a point in my career and in my rap where I ever really thought to do that but I think eventually.
Source:I don’t mean just Japan even, but like being on the West Coast, on the East Coast, in the DMV area?
RR: The DMV played a heavy role. That was middle school, high school and in that area they listen to a lot of Go-Go and there was really no hometown heroes there. Because in middle school there was no Wale there, then I think by my ninth grade year he was just doing what he’s doing but now they got Fat Trel and Shy Glizzy. But they put me right in that even though I lived there for four or five years the said “he’s a DMV artists, he fits right in there.” So I think that’s cool cuz when I go do interviews in Cali they be like “so you’re from The Bay?”
Source: So that’s good! I mean you’ve got all these places that might want to claim you.
RR: And it’s crazy because my Facebook is the majority of all the people I met in Japan, they pay attention.
Source: I was going to ask you about that. Because you know I do a lot with social media and stuff, I look at a lot of trends and things like that. What do you see as the big different between Twitter and Facebook? As an artist promoting and interacting, what is the biggest difference?
RR: Twitter is a billboard. For me, Facebook is where I can actually in-ter-act with people. You could do that on Twitter but I feel like Facebook is more personal. Like I might tweet, ‘I’m at Supper Club and I’m fucked up.’ I would never post that on Facebook though! On Facebook I have a lot of family on there, I have a lot of fans.
Source: It’s more you would you say?
RR: Twitter is too but I feel like Twitter has no censor. When I’m scrolling down my timeline on Twitter I see the craziest shit, the craziest Vines! On Facebook I see family pictures and different types of stuff.
Source: What’s the last Vine you saw and you were like ‘damn’? Like for me it was the Blue Ivy “Flawless.” What’s something that stood out to you recently?
RR: Aw someone just showed me the one with the dude about to do the ALS challenge and he’s so scared and the guy behind him is struggling to do it and he dumps it on himself. So that was crazy. I see wild Vines like everyday. Matter of fact I did a Vine just playing around acting like Kevin Gates and my Vine got like 43,000 loops and I was like ‘oh shit!’
Source: Where in your journey did music really come in as something that’s not just a part of your life but something you want to make and do?
RR: I opened up for Three Six Mafia in Ebisu, Japan and I did three days with them. I did Ebisu, Shibuya and Yokohama and Juicy J damn near adopted me. He was like “You’re with me the whole time. How many Patron shots you want? We getting fucked up the whole tour!” And I was performing for like 7,000 people, they packed it in Japan, and right in the middle of “You gotta stay fly-y-y-y” Juicy J just said “STOP! Yo Rizzy come’ere!” and gave me the mic and dropped it again! And I’m in front of like 7,000 Japanese people and I seen the cameras and how everything was and I said ‘Oh there’s no going back, fuck this I’m gonna get this one day.’ And I think ever since then… And I just opened for Juicy J again and I didn’t go up to him because I wanted to see if he knows me and he slowly but surely walked over to me and was like “Rizzy, you were in Japan?” and we chopped it up and I killed the show with him too. But I think it’s just the attention and the crowd and having that much power to control a crowd, I just love that. And then that’s what I loved about it, just the attention, but now it’s like you can give something to them, you can rap a story about your life. Like I got a song called, “Five Dollars and a Dream” and I’m just talking about leaving from Japan and coming to Atlanta to make it, and when I perform this and tell everybody to put their fives up it just feels like they all dig my story. So ever since that Juicy J/Three Six Mafia show I said there’s no going back. Even in school! They would call my pops and be like “*teacher voice* sooo we’re in History class and I think he’s taking notes but he’s writing raps” And now my pops understands. So yeah, there was no turning back from there.
Source: I know you spoke a bit about this before but some of your influences? You mentioned Jadakiss?
RR: Well I was a fan of him. I never knew who he was and never cared to know and one of my cousins was like “yo, listen to this” and I listened to it and his punch lines and the way his delivery was, I just thought it was hard. Like I told my brother the other day how I never met Jadakiss a day in my life and he was like “man, you’re gonna meet Kiss and not even like him anymore” and I was like ‘naw.’ I would love to do a song with him too. But I like the authentic, like how he always sounded like him and he never changed. I just did a song with Yung Joc and Joc sounds like Young Thug on the song with me and I’m like ‘dang, I thought I was gonna get classic “Coffee Shop” Joc, or “It’s Goin Down” Joc but he doesn’t sound like that but if I called Jadakiss to the studio then Kiss is gonna sound like Kiss.
Source: Who are some other influences or people that you’re a fan of that helped shape the artist you are?
RR: I loved Cash Money growing up, seeing Juvenile on TV and seeing that life.
Source: You mentioned Kid Cudi?
RR: That’s now. I love the way he thinks and the way he does his hooks even though people might not look at him like that. Like I did a song with Chip Tha Ripper and I went up to LA and he was playing me records by Kid Cudi and I was just like ‘yo, these hooks! It’s so spacey, shit’s dope.’ I could sit there and smoke to Kid Cudi and I want to be able to make those types of records along with making hit records that are chartin’ at Billboard. But if you ask me, I would probably put in Kid Cudi just to chill and if I’m gonna turn up I’m gonna probably play Migos and stuff like that.
Source: What about outside rap? What other artists, bands, groups?
RR: You’re gonna laugh. If I listen to outside rap, it’s going to be R&B first but if I’m going totally left field for the day Imma listen to early punk rock. Like Blink 182, Good Charlotte, Sum 41, P.O.D. Youth of the Nation and stuff like that. But just cuz I thought that that was dope at the time.
Source: Does that kind of stuff, not that you’re going to start playing bass guitar, but does that stuff find it’s way at all into your music?
RR: Not yet, but I think down the line I wouldn’t mind performing or maybe even going on tour with a punk band. Or doing something crazy like do one of the Pitchfork festivals or something huge like that. That stuff is dope, it’s creative to me and making a bigger fanbase.
Source: Well I think fans really gravitate towards, not necessarily ‘you like what I like,’ but hearing different things. Hearing that someone they like is also a fan of someone like Blink 182 or Kid Cudi. I think people like that.
RR: Yeah, in an interview I said something about how I thought Good Charlotte were the dopest at one time and the guy interviewing me literally was like “yo I’m gonna go check your music out” *laughs*
Source: JD, I wanted to know: why Royce? You obviously have no shortage of people you can work with and who would love to work with you. Why Royce?
Jermaine Dupri: Well he had a fanbase, he had a song that got my attention. So it started with the music which is the best thing and then the second was just him having an engaging fanbase made me pay more attention to him. Once you open that door then you get into ‘oh this kid can make records and he’s determined.’ You know there’s a lot of other things that come along with it at that point. I have never been the person to think about what keeps So So Def on par with So So Def. I always was the person who danced in my own lane. It’s funny because in the music industry today everybody wanna be young and my whole career with So So Def people was downing my brand because I only signed young artists. So now everybody wants to sign a shit load of young artists and they don’t want nobody that’s old.
Source: Sometimes artists’ names are ‘young.’
JD: Yeah! A million ‘youngs’ right? So I think what struck me was that he was just on par with what So So Def Represents as far as the young energy comin’ up out of Atlanta. It felt like the same thing that I felt when I got Bone Crusher, same thing I felt when I got Dem Franchize Boyz. It just felt like young energy from Atlanta that needed a person from Atlanta to guide it and take it to where it had to go. So it wasn’t really that hard of a thought because my thought process is always ‘music first’ so if I’m driven by the music then I’m usually wantin to do it.
Source: So I’m sure there’s things that you like about Royce. What’s something that he needs to improve? As someone who so many people respect.
JD: For him to be what he wants to be he has to go to school. What I mean by that is you gotta go to Hip-Hop 101 and learn about what’s actually going on in the world of hip-hop. Nobody can be number one in this game if you don’t know about the shit that’s happened in hip-hop and know the world of hip-hop and know the culture of hip-hop and how hip-hop actually works. So I think every young artist today, that’s why they will never conquer those that are still there, because it’s too much information that one has against somebody else. And it’s just like being in school. If you go to college and you go for your extra four years and you learn a little bit more than the people that went for just four years you a little bit more smarter than them. And people always askin questions about the guys from Google and how the fuck did they create this, they smart as a mutha fucka man! They ain’t playin games you know? If you walk around Stanford and you see these kids, you see the difference from outside of Stanford and inside of Stanford. And I might be talkin too over people’s heads right now but I’m saying in any field that you tryna do, the more education that you have in that field it’s hard for somebody to beat you. I know from hearing Rizzy talk about stuff that he wants to do he has to get a wider understanding of everything in order to make that all play and make it work.
Source: I definitely understand what you’re saying in general. I feel like nowadays younger people, especially with social media, you scroll down your timeline and people think that they know about something because they saw a tweet about it. They think this artist is hot or this person has good music because they saw a couple people retweet something. Do you feel like that’s a bit of a problem nowadays? That things are too quick almost because of technology? That people don’t dig in enough?
JD: Yeah, I mean I think we definitely are killing the dig-in part of life. In every aspect of life we’re killing that. I was telling somebody this the other day, I think I was telling my daughter this: I probably won’t even know how to write in three years! Cuz I haven’t written on a piece of paper, like 20 sentences in so long! I swear to God the only thing I know how to do is sign my name. I swear!
Source: I don’t even know how to do cursive anymore! I like forgot it.
JD: See? That’s what I’m sayin.
Source: I mean I can sign my name but…
JD: That’s what I’m sayin! That’s fucked up! That’s not cool.
Source: I know, it’s not, it’s crazy!
JD: That’s not cool! We are actually saying it like, ‘you know I’m not gonna be able to write and it’s cool.’ No it’s not fucking cool! We’re dumbing ourselves down because of this technology and I’m paying attention to it because I feel like we laugh at shit like this and it’s not actually funny, it’s really what’s happening. Like everybody’s laughing at the Mayweather thing, right? And ultimately, when does Mayweather have to read? Like we just think that you’re supposed to know how to read just cuz you supposed to know how to read but honestly when the fuck does Mayweather have to read? He’s a boxer! He probably hasn’t read a book in forever! It’s the same way if someone was to challenge me in three years like, “I bet you JD can’t event write!” Psht, you probably right! I been on my fuckin phone, I can type faster than you! So I just think people are not paying attention to what we’re doing to ourselves and with that being said, that’s the same thing that’s happening with hip-hop. Hip-hop was always something that you had to go see. Like if you listen to the classic line that KRS-One says, “Hip-hop is something you live, rap is something you do.” You rap, that’s what you do. Hip-hop is what you live, you gotta go into the Bronx, you gotta see it. You gotta know graffiti artists, you gotta learn how you actually make the turntable sound like the Transformers sound. Do people even know that that’s what that is anymore? I don’t even hear people say that, I only hear people say like, “I DJ, I be transformin’, I make that shit sound like Optimus Prime.” Like, no! I don’t think you even know that there’s people who used to sit at home and scratch for hours tryna figure out like, “I want this shit to sound just like the Transformers” and moving they fingers so fast that shit just starts actually sounding like *Tranformers sound* Now motherfuckas just pushin buttons and it’s whatever. So I say this to say to the young community that it’s hard for you to dethrone anybody that’s got all of that information because you can’t be the person who you don’t have more information in your body than.
Source: I agree with you completely. Royce, what’s it mean to have a legend in your corner? You ever just sit and think about that sometimes? What’s that mean to you?
RR: I’ve always worked hard, I gotta take it to the next level. I met Busta Rhymes, right? And I was with JD, and JD said “this is my new artists” and Busta was like *Busta Rhymes voice*”YO! You know you got some big shoes to fill!” And I think I always play that back in my head. Matter of fact, JD told me, we just gotta work. It’s a blessing, I always say that but I feel like everything happens for a reason. There’s a reason I’ve never had a job in my life, there’s a reason I dropped out of school the first month. It’s that I can’t do it, I have to rap. There’s a reason I been rapping, God don’t put us in places for the wrong reason. JD didn’t just tweet me because it wasn’t supposed to happen. So I just work hard, stay humble and I gotta push it to the next level. Just from this trip alone, to New York, I learned so much. I learned so much just from sitting in an interview with JD. Like I never knew half the shit that he said or even knew that that even existed. So me, I’m the type of person to go home and be like ‘wait, what did he say?’*writing sound* And watch the whole interview! And probably next time we have a interview or have one of these So So Def quizzes that people give Imma try to get a A! Imma try to get a A cuz that’s what I do like I don’t like to not know. I don’t like to not know anything, so I like to study and just be hip and be up on it. But I think it’s fate and I think I just gotta stay above the rest and try to recreate the wheel and try to just do things that are different and that are huge and I think with me being who I am and what I pay attention to, and I think that JD and who he is, I think he pays attention to different things. Like I might know who somebody is and JD might be like, “I never heard of him.” But it’s not because he’s supposed to have heard of him, I just check for that wave. I know who this person is even though he’s not signed, he’s just makin a lot of noise in Cleveland or something like that but he could sell out a show out there. I just pay attention to certain things so when I get to where I want to be, like he said, in order to get to where I want to go I gotta learn everything. So it’s a blessing man and Imma keep working hard and I think Imma shock everybody with this tape on the 1st.
JD: I think that majority of the people in the industry should watch what’s goin on between me and him because it’s a learning situation because he don’t know a lot. He don’t know a lot about my background, he don’t know nothing. And it’s actually a learning situation for me because that’s how the majority of kids his age actually think today, right? They all basically are in that same mindset. Like when we passed by Madison Square Garden last night he asked me that question and I told him Bow Wow sold out. And I said it in this way where it was like it never even happened. This shit is like a whole new world out here. It’s almost like a feel like Han Solo, like I been frozen for like years and then I just opened it up to this world and in this world these kids haven’t experienced too much of nothing. But people have to take that into consideration and start understanding that cuz people just think that kids supposed to know. They don’t know things like that no more and there’s not really much out there that’s teachin ‘em so you gotta see this and figure it out even for anybody else that’s doing it. Like what I said before about New York rap, I think that New York rap had to have Bobby Shmurda to be on par with what Atlanta’s doing, to be on par with what’s goin on in LA. I think people have to start thinking like that as opposed to trying to recreate what happened in the 90’s. The teaching was different, the atmosphere was different, the land was different. People gotta get out of that mindset and stop thinking like, “oh when you gon bring back Rakim?” Like, n**** Rakim ain’t coming back. You gotta find somebody that you can make and take and try to mold to be something that was as good as Rakim but you’re not gonna get that again in this decade cuz the knowledge is completely different.
Source: Alright man, I know you gotta wrap up, let me ask you one quick one. I know you’re a big guy in the video chest out and all of that. Give me top 3 big guys with swag.
Source: I know that’s gotta be on there, give me two more.
JD: He not gon get this!
RR: Biggie, uuuuuhhh Heavy D. You know it’s crazy cuz Fat Joe don’t count.
Source: Cuz he’s not fat anymore? No but he was fat at one point.
RR: But you know it’s crazy cuz even listening to Don Cartagena I always like, Big Pun has a skit-
JD: Remember what’s your talking to, The Source. This is what I’m talking about when I say education.
JD: You’re talking to The Source Magazine right now, right? And they asked you a question about rappers, big guys, and you left off Pun?
RR: No I’m about to say-
JD: But you already gave him 3!
Source: To be fair, Fat Joe was before Pun. I mean, right?
JD: I’m just telling you…
RR: No no no no no JD! I said I can’t say Fat Joe, I’m saying Pun.
JD: Well you definitely can say Fat Joe, that’s the only dude you can say.
RR: No no no but I wanted to say Pun! Pun was fly! Like the Big Punisher album cover, that shit was hard.
JD: I’m just saying remember who you talkin to.
RR: Yeah, I was gonna say Pun.
JD: If you was talking to a different type of magazine I would say differently. But The Source, they gonna say like “oh he don’t know his hip-hop.”
Thanks for the kind words JD.
Spencer was very tempted to like shake JD and say “I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL” at many points during the interview, but he chose not to. Follow him on Twitter – @sjeezs