Rittz Says He’s ‘Reppin’ Strange Music Hard’ In The BET Cypher [SM Exclusive Interview]
Started from the bottom now he here.
Tomorrow night, millions will be tuned in to the BET Hip Hop Awards. Out of those millions we can expect the majority to watch and wonder “Who’s that dude with the hair?” With his appearance on one of the BET Cyphers and his second-row seating at the ceremony, it’s safe to say that a lot more people will know about Rittz after it’s all said and done.
We talked to Rittz to get his perspective on the awards ceremony and his appearance on the cypher. Rittz shared with us the behind the scenes details on the cypher, his drunken and surreal green carpet experience and also shared the story about a bitch-ass limo driver.
How did you get approached to be in the cypher?
I believe it came through Richie Abbott and Noah Jones from MTV. It was fucking huge for me, I’ve been wanting to do this for years.
Who were you in the cypher with?
I was in the cypher with Wax, Rapsody, Jon Connor and Emis Killa.
What’s the vibe when you have a bunch of dope motherfuckers in one room? There’s probably an appreciation vibe but is there an undercurrent before you start spitting?
To tell the truth of the matter is it’s fucking weird. Of course when I went up there I was thinking on some competitive shit like “I’m hoping nobody says this line or that line or mentions this person.” And then when I saw who was in there – like I’ve met Wax before at SXSW he was cool and Jon Connor’s been a homie too, I met him there and just did a show with him in his hometown Flint. Rapsody is 9th Wonder’s artist, I met her there, she was super cool and Emis Killa is from Italy so he doesn’t really speak English like that so I didn’t really get to chop it up with him, but I think most of us were kinda just on the same level. I don’t know how they were feeling inside, they might have been feeling competitive inside and shit, we all got a little bit of that but I think that it was a humble group of artists that were fucking really happy to be there like, “Wow, this is how it’s done?” You know what I’m saying? Because you’re standing in a warehouse just standing around kinda unreal and you got DJ Premier playing the beat in the back, and what you don’t realize is that the beat’s so fucking loud that you can’t hear what the other rapper’s saying in front of you so you really don’t know what their verse sounds like. On TV and shit you think that you’re just sitting there and everybody’s in a circle and you’re hearing shit and you’re like “Ohhh!” at all these punch lines and shit, we couldn’t hear a goddamn thing anybody was saying. The music is just so loud and you’re standing up just making reactions so I really didn’t know what anybody’s verses sounded like. I could get a hint of what it sounded like just on a little bit of words trailing off, but it wasn’t like we were all sitting there just snapping on each other, it was kind of a crazy experience but it was great man, it was great.
After you found out that you were going on the cypher, what was your mind frame on approaching your verse?
It’s a weird thing, you try to showcase so many things in your rap. There’s a number of things you gotta put a check mark on: showcase where you’re from, there’s gotta be some funny punch lines or something where you can slow up and do some of that, since I’m a fast rapper you gotta add in some chopping skills in there somewhere and then you gotta add in something controversial – there’s all these little checklists you give yourself. Me being able to communicate with Yelawolf, and I should have reached out to Tech too, but I talked to Yelawolf and he was like, “Dude, write a 32 bar verse and just make sure you kill it.” So I wrote this long ass verse of just all kinds of dope shit and then I get an email saying that it has to be a 16 and if it’s not a 16 they’re going to edit your shit. So I was really fucked then because I’m really self-conscious of my lyrics and I was happy about that 32 bar verse. I was like “Fuck yeah, I got the verse I’m gonna go up there and kill it!” So then I had to dissect that 32 and pick out the best parts and then rematch the lines together, it was kind of crazy and then to try to fit all of those aspects of the checklist into the 16. So maybe I over thought about it, I don’t know if all those other guys think about it like that, but that was my mind frame. It’s crazy.
When you’re put on a big platform like that and a lot of people are going to hear, it reminds me of Tech’s verse on Wayne’s Tha Carter IV on “Interlude” because it was so smartly put together. He repped himself, Strange Music, Kansas City and threw in all of his different flow and delivery tricks – all in one verse.
Yeah, when you’re on that platform, that’s how I looked at it like just in case I don’t ever get to do this shit again. That’s how I look at everything – an album, a tour, anything. I’m fucking blessed to get this opportunity, I’m finally gonna be on the fucking BET Awards doing a cypher which I’ve wanted to do for years. What the fuck are you going to rap about? This is huge. So what sucked for me was finally touching on all those points and then going “Okay now you gotta cut that in half” and going “Oh fuck, now what?” So the verse kinda went by really quick, but I’m happy with it and it got a nice reaction from the crowd at the actual awards so it was dope.
So this is a cypher that played in front of the crowd at the show.
Yeah, they played the cypher in front of the crowd. Yeah, I’ve already been to the awards show and did the fucking carpet and the whole nine. We had fucking seats two rows back, like I’m right there in the goddamn front. It was crazy. And I got drunk on the way down there because Scender bought a bottle of champagne and I was already drinking. Fucking had an asshole limo driver. We get down in the city and all the roads are blocked off in the city but the carpet isn’t open yet so they’re making us drive all around, but we paid the limo to pick up and drop off so this dude is bitchin’ wanting to fucking drop us off in the middle of the city and make us walk. So I had to scream at the fucking limo driver, which I don’t ever lose my cool, it really takes a lot for me to get pissed off. So basically I just got done screaming at the limo driver and it’s like, “Okay, now we’re here!” It was just crazy, I hadn’t been that postal in a long time and right before I had a big moment to walk the carpet, I really wanted to beat the shit out of the limo driver.
Yeah, he was being a bitch. So dude from Gwinnett County was two rows back at the BET Awards!
Two rows back, it was fucking dope! All kinds of people were behind me and beside me and I was in not-give-a-fuck-mode from the limo ride so it was a good time.
That must be interesting for you, obviously you’re a little bit star struck but you also belong there with all the achievements you’ve had with your craft. How did you navigate that whole evening?
Honestly, it was so unreal. Even now it’s like it happened, it just came and went. I don’t know if I could have soaked it in a little more. It was just so crazy. It all happened so fast and that’s why I bring up that fucking limo driver. If I didn’t get into it with him right before – it was like I was cussing out and then they open up the door for me and it’s like, “Rittz! Rittz! Over here! Over here!” so I had to snap into it real quick.
So I’m walking down the carpet and you got 2 Chainz behind me and this person in front of me and you’re seeing all these people, – it’s just cool man, like fucking crazy. Then just to be sitting down and Luda’s to your right and DJ Khaled, Ace Hood and Rick Ross are up there and Snoop’s right in front of you on the stage. For a rapper, especially for someone on my status, who has some fans but not a crazy crazy ass fan base, like I’m still really growing, for me to be right there was just fucking unreal. Especially in Atlanta too, I can’t wait for people to see it.
Back to the cypher, did you know what beat you were going to spit on before you went up there?
Yeah, you actually get the beat ahead of time. I guess you can get them to alter it, but nothing was changed with anyone.
So how do you think you did?
Good, good. I did what I had to do. I mentioned where I’m from, I mentioned some funny stuff, did some double time, repped Strange really hard in there, I did the key points I wanted to do I got in some punch lines of funny things that were kind of irritating to me. So it was cool, I think it was good. It goes by really fast when you start double timing in the middle of a fast beat those 16 bars go quick.
It is said that for people who haven’t mastered their craft, they shrivel up under the spotlight but for those who have mastered their craft, when they’re under the spotlight they do better than they normally would. Do you find that the spotlight has that effect on you?
Definitely. I think that inside of me, I’m a guy who’s first reaction is to shrivel up and then I always rise to the occasion. Sometimes the spotlight is a little scary. I wish I was a guy that didn’t have that initial reaction of shriveling up but at first I’m always skeptical and like, “Oh shit” but I always rise to the occasion and get it done. I think this BET cypher is going to be the look I’ve been waiting for for a minute.
Who do you think took the cypher all the way around?
You know I gotta say myself but everybody snapped, everybody did a good job. I can’t even say that in my own cypher. I would say that watching the awards there’s going to be a lot of hype around Kendrick Lamar’s verse, there was a lot of hype around that. So even with the guys in my cypher I’m not gonna say after it’s done like, “I killed that shit!” We all did a good job, everybody did a good job equally.
One thing we’ve noticed a lot in your New York promo tour is that whenever you spit something a cappella for one of these shows it seems that it was actually made for that appearance.
Sometimes. I try to make everything for each appearance but then sometimes it’s like you’ve got one in the back burner or something that maybe somebody hasn’t heard of or a line from hear or a line from there. But, yeah, I try to approach everything with something for each person.
We also noticed on the New York promo tour how you would get astounded reactions from people. It seems like the standard of spitting isn’t as high as it used to be or maybe it’s caused by an oversaturated market, what are your thoughts on that? Do you think that people aren’t used to really good rapping anymore?
I don’t know about that. I think that there are so many rappers now that as soon as you hear somebody start rapping you just automatically expect that it’s going to be shitty. So when anybody spits something that’s decent you automatically are like, “Damn, dude’s pretty tight.” Especially when you’re face to face with someone doing a promo tour or in a circle of people where nobody has ever heard you rap. When you rap and you’re actually decent, people are going to be a little bit surprised by it because everybody raps these days. It’s like, “Yeah I rap” then, “Oh yeah, I bet you suck.” You know what I’m saying? Especially me, with the way I look, I don’t look like a typical guy that’s going to come out and be a fucking crazy spitter. At least, apparently, I’m saying that off of what I’m getting. People don’t size me up to be a dope emcee and then I come out and surprise them. I think that’s always good, that’s the main goal. Anytime somebody can go, “Damn that motherfucker can rap!” that’s the main shit.
Gauged on the reactions I saw it seems like maybe they weren’t expecting it, maybe they’re not used to it but for whatever reason they really appreciate the time that you’ve put into what you do.
Yeah, at the end of the day it’s like I’m being cool about it. I’m downplaying it. I have put in a lot of fucking work to try to be a good rapper. I do want to give myself credit. I have practiced. I think that rapping takes practice and I’ve practiced and practiced for years to try to be good. So that’s the payoff. It might not be money. It might be that the payoff is when you get that respect so the fact that I do get it and I have gotten it and people have had those reactions to me when I rap, that’s the payoff. That’s what I’ve been practicing for this whole time. It’s just dope to be here. I think about it like this: how many rappers are there that are really dope that we will never hear of because they never get their chance to get on? It’s crazy.
Do you know of a lot of those kinds of people personally?
Yeah. Fuck yeah. Fuck yeah. I know dudes that just got so fed up with the rap shit that just quit rapping but they’re stars. They’re superstars. They rap better than anybody I’ve ever heard, or they might have the best voice I’ve ever heard, but they just quit or they got fed up with how much time has passed by. I know another dude who’s wordplay is so fucking crazy, but hey, he ended up having to get a job and say “Fuck that shit” and grow up and get past it and not be able to pursue it. It just makes you wonder. We haven’t heard the dopest rapper yet because he isn’t out there, he hasn’t been found yet. There’s always somebody better. Sports is the perfect thing to compare it to. Because getting in to rap is like making it in the NBA – there’s a shitload of fucking basketball players that can ball probably better than the people in the NBA but they never get discovered.
Anything else you want to say about your cypher appearance?
Everybody tune in and watch me. Especially everybody in the Strange family, I’m repping Strange hard in the cypher. I’m definitely repping for Atlanta in the cypher. I’m fucking blessed to get that opportunity, so tune in and see what I did.