Roddy Ricch Brings Street Tales to Life With Inspiration From Church
Los Angeles' spot in hip-hop is untouchable, whether you're talking historically or in modern times. Coming from that long line of talent emerges Roddy Ricch, a 20-year-old rapper hailing from Compton, Calif.—Laurel Street to be exact. Roddy melds his unique, higher-pitched singing voice with an ability to bend rap flows wherever it needs to go. He's seen it all, from spending time in the streets, being locked up in jail and facing legal troubles, to selling out European shows, climbing up the Billboard Hot 100 and going on tour runs with Post Malone. Now he's a 2019 XXL Freshman.
Long before he was inducted into the Freshman class, Roddy Ricch was already popular around his neighborhood due to how he carried himself and his early music only increased his cool factor. Lil Bird, the nickname given to him coming up in Compton, decided to buy a bunch of recording equipment on a whim as a teen, working on his music and dropping whatever he came up with. One of his early successes was the track "Rich Nigga."
In 2018, with his Feed Tha Streets series already kicking off, Roddy dropped the summer hit "Die Young," a thoughtful, somber song about living life to the fullest while being aware of how quickly you can lose it all. His momentum heading into Feed Tha Streets II was at a fever pitch, with his single "Every Season" only adding to his rise. After the project dropped, "Project Dreams," his collab with EDM DJ Marshmello and his verse on Post Malone's "Wow. (Remix)" proved that he can spit on a variety of soundscapes, alongside anyone.
One of his more memorable collaborations in recent months is a track with his close friend, the late Nispey Hussle. The Atlantic Records signee, born Rodrick Moore, holds the honor of being on "Racks in The Middle," Nipsey's last single to be released before he was murdered. The rapper's music, momentum and his ability to be a poet of the streets has culminated in a spot on this year's XXL Freshman cover.
As Roddy Ricch's popularity hits new levels, he doesn't forget the people who were important to his development. "Nipsey Hussle was a primary influence in my life, fuck rap, my life," he shares, giving the fallen Crenshaw rapper his just due. Moving from the West Coast to Down South, Roddy also connects with Future's artistry. "With rapping, I fuck with Future, a lot," he explains. "That's like one of my big brothers in the game. Recording with him was dope. He kinda just accepted who I was. I'm young. He's like one of the niggas I looked up to."
With two hip-hop influences like Nipsey and Future, some of Roddy's fans might be surprised he has a bit of a Christian rap background. At one time, Roddy's music sounded much different from the vivid stories of survival that has made him a notable name on the Billboard charts. "I grew up in church," he shares. " I wanted to like rap and shit. My mom ain't like it. She used to try and make me write Christian rap." As expected, as he got older, his music became more closely tied to the realities of the street. "I wanted to tell my story, or testimony if you will, what I feel like I been through."
To swing things back to how important Nipsey was to Roddy, he shares the process of making "Racks in the Middle" with him." All my songs mean something to me. They like my kids, but that one, I hold very much close value to it," he says. Roddy already worked on the song, long before Nipsey got a hold of the track. "I didn't even like it at first. I just made the hook and I left it." He then reflects on Nip's verses on the song: "And Nipsey picked it up and really did his thing with it... That song just been meaning a lot to me lately, you know, like, I can really feel everything we was saying."
Reflecting on his status as a 2019 XXL Freshman, Roddy is gracious and satisfied with how everything turned out. "I ain't graduate high school," he begins, "so the pictures, the drip and everything, make me feel like I'm doing my cap and gown." However, Roddy feels he should've already been in the class: "Two years ago, I thought I shoulda been on the cover, but I'm glad it's now. I was immature at that point. Now I could be somethin'."
Catch the rest of Roddy Ricch's 2019 XXL Freshman profile interview at the top of the post.
See Photos of Roddy Ricch Behind the Scenes at the 2019 XXL Freshman Cover Shoot