Music Interviews
2:28 am
Thu December 27, 2012

Rye Rye Just Wants To Be 'Young And Playful'

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 7:58 am

Before she was getting noticed by big shots in pop music back in 2007, Rye Rye was a 15-year-old with the spunk to call up-and-coming producer DJ Blaqstarr and leave a rap on his voicemail.

Blaqstarr was impressed. They started working together, a collaboration which spawned her first big hit, "Shake It to the Ground."

The music video they made got millions of views on YouTube, and the song became a local club favorite. Rye Rye's upbeat, confident sound — and her fantastic dance moves — got the attention of rap star and Grammy winner M.I.A. Before long, the two were collaborating; M.I.A. signed Rye Rye to her imprint on Interscope Records and took her on tour, even though Rye Rye was still in high school.

Her debut album Go! Pop! Bang! is grounded in the Baltimore club sound — super-danceable, lots of bass and crazily fast rapping. The album was set to be released in 2009, but then it wasn't.

"Because I got pregnant, and when I was like six months pregnant, my child's father had got shot four times," Rye Rye says. "And he got paralyzed."

She got the news while on tour in Europe and had to fly home. A few months later, she had her daughter, Kennidi, who's now 3. Through all of this, with her album release delayed indefinitely, she managed to stay on with the label and keep her career afloat.

"After that, it was kind of about catching up, because the album just felt so old to me," Rye Rye says. "So I just started recording nonstop."

New tracks took her in new directions, like "Never Will Be Mine" with Robyn, which has an R&B vibe. But if you're listening for personal stories of boyfriends getting shot and paralyzed — or of being a young single mother — you won't find them on Go! Pop! Bang!

"I don't feel like that's the route I wanted to go in," Rye Rye says. "Because there's millions of rappers out here that take that rap — like they get real deep, and I was young, so I figure, I might as well keep it just young and playful."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

You want to talk about stimulating your senses, have a listen to this:

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BANG")

RYE RYE: (Rapping) Throw it out and bang...

GREENE: The musician you're hearing has toured with the likes of Katy Perry. The New York Times and Billboard have noted her as an artist to watch. And still, there's a good chance you've never heard of her. Her name is Rye Rye.

As we reach the year's end, we're catching up on Music We Missed. And today, we've got Rye Rye's debut album, "Go. Pop. Bang."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BANG")

RYE: (Rapping) When I say, go, pop, bang and I say high, throw up your thing, move to the beat do the two-step swing. And if you don't dance, get go bang...

GREENE: OK, we admit it. Rye Rye's music may be better suited for a club than early morning radio. But if you're headed to the club, it's easy to dance to with a lot of bass. Rye Rye is confident and peppy, and she raps insanely fast.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BANG")

RYE: (Rapping) Rolling high with a star come catch up...

GREENE: Speaking to us from her tour bus, she sounds like just a kid.

RYE: Hey, my name is Rye Rye and I'm 22. I'm from Baltimore.

GREENE: Twenty-two and already seasoned. Back when she was just 15, Rye Rye had the guts to leave a rap on a local music producer's voicemail.

RYE: Yeah, it was kind of like: Rap with it, fight with it, lean with it, jump with it; like something like - I don't know. But I know that in the second verse I was like: I'm a to shake it to the ground, bring it back up, turn it all around, yeah, you know what's up.

GREENE: That producer got her in a studio and that line from the voicemail spawned her first big hit.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHAKE IT TO THE GROUND")

RYE: (Rapping) I'm the one that's great and I'm a to shake it to the ground, bring it back up, twirl it all around, yeah, you know what's up. I'm a shake it to the ground and bring it back up, twirl it all around, yeah, you know what's up. I'm a shake it to the ground and bring it back up and twirl it all around, yeah, you know what's up. Mo-mo-mo move it...

GREENE: Her sound and her dance moves, got the attention of Grammy winner M.I.A. And their work together expanded Rye Rye's sound beyond the Baltimore club scene.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUNSHINE")

RYE: (Rapping) Now it's time and we proceed, come get with me if you know my seat. Sunshine it's a friend of mine...

GREENE: M.I.A. took her on tour even though Rye Rye was still in high school.

RYE: My teachers would allow me to take a bunch of work on the road and just bring it back in.

GREENE: In 2009, her first album was all set to be released, but then it wasn't.

RYE: Because I got pregnant. And when I was like six months pregnant, my child's father had got shot four times and he got paralyzed.

GREENE: Rye Rye heard this news while on tour in Europe and she quickly flew home. A few months later she had her daughter, Kennedy.

Her album release was delayed indefinitely, but the label stuck with her and she eventually got back to the music.

RYE: After that it was kind of about catching up. I just started recording nonstop.

GREENE: And this year, finally released her debut album. Now, nowhere on the album do we hear about her boyfriend getting shot, or about her being a young, single mom. She just doesn't go there.

RYE: I don't feel like that's the route I wanted to go in because there's millions of rappers out here that takes that route. Like, they get real deep and I was young, so I figure I might as well keep it just young and playful.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HARDCORE GIRLS")

RYE: (Rapping) ...so hard people calling my name. I'm a girl. I'm a strong (unintelligible) for doing serious things. I'm a really nice girl, you know. We should take a little trip to Baltimore...

GREENE: That young and playful voice is Rye Rye. Her debut album is called "Go. Pop. Bang." It's just some of the music we missed in 2012. And to hear more, go to nprmusic.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HARDCORE GIRLS")

RYE: (Rapping) ...keep rocking, hardcore girls get locking. Steady (unintelligible) me and the girl keep locking, knocking, knocking. Keep it real, real, real, real, real, real, real. Hardcore girls, hard-hard, hardcore girls, hard-hard, hardcore girls, hard-hard...

GREENE: MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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