It’s May 1st and it’s a beautiful day north of the border in Toronto. It was no doubt the city’s first “official” hot day after months of suffering through the harsh Canadian winter, and it’s evident folks are loving the sunshine. Although the country’s landscape is defined by its cold weather, summertime is actually the time of the year that the city shines brightest, showcasing to the world its rich culture and influence. Nothing could be a better representation of Toronto than the infamous Queen Street neighborhood, located right in the heart of its downtown core.

At 498 Queen Street West lies Proper Reserve, a clothing boutique and barber shop hybrid that is popular among the urban crowd. That’s also the place where Toronto rapper/producer Rich Kidd shows up, sporting a “Dope House” snapback and the latest hoodie from Raised By Wolves’ S/S 2013 collection, which is placed along the racks and window-front of the Queen Street hotspot. His presence looms large, as we greet and head upstairs to the second floor where the furniture and floors are scattered with new deliveries along with an adjacent office desk.

Rich Kidd—like most rappers—didn’t grow up in the friendliest of neighborhoods, as he built many of his childhood and teenage memories growing up in the Ridgeway neighborhood of Mississauga, Ontario. We quickly chat about his performance at Wrongbar, the venue down the street that hosted his release party for his most recent mixtape, In My Opinion. It was the latest release after dropping the highly-praised We On Some Rich Kidd Shit series in the several years that preceded it. Kidd says he read the show reviews after his release party performance, and didn’t sound too pleased with the speakers and overall audio that night. None of the above worked in his favor, being that sonically, the majority of the mixtape’s soundscape is highly-influenced and in-tune with the stadium music sound, heavy thumping bass, and scream-and-react hooks on records such as “SYKE” and “Can I Get A (Bom Bom).”

However, that’s just a minor setback for the 25-year-old emcee, considering the type of mountain he had to climb to reach this level. Being a Toronto rapper doesn’t necessarily have the biggest perks, where the industry is still steadily moving away from its former hate-filled reputation of being the “screwface capital,” and isn’t quite as established as other Hip-Hop breeding grounds like New York, Chicago, or down South. He tells me he’s just “trying to balance normal life and do this Rap shit with no actual, legit job.” Rather than following the footsteps of his idols like Jay-Z and just hopping straight into the drug game, Kidd chooses to go down a different route.

“It’s not easy at all, especially when you don’t really have hustles,” said Kidd. “I’m not going back to the drug game because I have places I gotta fly. I can’t risk losing my ability to travel over that shit because then I can’t perform, I can’t make links or connections. I’m just totally focused on this Rap shit, making beats, and trying to make stuff work with it. Some days it’s good, and I might get a good performance or have some good shows where we make a lot of money. And sometimes it’s dead for a minute. You just gotta keep on working.”

He’s still very young in the game, but it hasn’t stopped one of Hip-Hop’s legendary figures from noticing the young emcee. Young Guru—Jay-Z’s famed engineer—named Kidd as one of his favorite producers, and had spent the past few weeks in Toronto working with Kidd inside Studio 2 at Mississauga’s famed recording studio, Metalworks. Guru is slated to engineer, mix and master Kidd’s debut studio album, which has yet to have a release date.

Sitting calm and relaxed, we spent a good amount of time kickin’ it and asking Kidd what he thought about the city’s “screwface” stigma, Drake’s influence on the city, working with Guru, sending beats for Watch the Throne 2, and why he chose to reference himself as the “black Justin Bieber.” Relax, he was just joking about that last part.

Rich Kidd Explains His Transition Into A Full-Time Rapper

HipHopDX: How’s it going?

Rich Kidd: Man, just trying to balance normal life and do this Rap shit with no actual, legit job.

DX: Is it hard?

Rich Kidd: Yeah. It’s not easy at all, especially when you don’t really have hustles. I’m not going back to the drug game, because I have places I gotta fly. I can’t risk losing my ability to travel over that shit, because then I can’t perform. I can’t make links or connections. I’m just totally focused on this Rap shit, making beats, and trying to make stuff work with it. Some days it’s good, and I might get a good performance or have some good shows where we make a lot of money. And sometimes it’s dead for a minute. You just gotta keep on working.

DX: You grew up in the drug game?

Rich Kidd: I wouldn’t say I grew up in the drug game. It was something I did as a teen until my early 20s. I just needed the money. It wasn’t like I wanted to be a drug dealer. There’s guys who influenced me; all my bredrens sold drugs, but it was more so I never wanted to be a drug dealer. I always wanted to be an entertainer of some sort. It was just to support what I was doing. It wasn’t to be cool. It was cool for a minute.

DX: As far as transitioning to the Rap game, what was the first bar you wrote?

Rich Kidd: Nah, I can’t remember the first bar I wrote because at first. I never used to write. When I first got into rapping, I was trying to battle dudes. My man Junia T, who I frequently collaborated with—beats and rhyming with some of my stuff—he always used to do these battles outside my school. He never went to my school, but he used to be battling outside there, and I would always jump in there and try to write rhymes so I can perform them and spit them in a cypher. I never remembered the exact line, so I would sort of fuck it up. I can never remember my first few lines, because I always thought they were trash.

DX: Were you there when he freestyled in front of Jay-Z?

Rich Kidd: Oh, it was Sinotra.

DX: Oh yeah, that guy.

Rich Kidd: I was there. It was really supposed to be me freestyle battling, but I felt like one, I knew who I was going up against. And I [thought] it would be a good opportunity for Sinotra. I was going to be in the building, so we gave the opportunity to him, and he killed it; I felt he killed it. Some people would say he wrote it, but Sinotra doesn’t write.

DX: I’ve seen his freestyles. He’s dope.

Rich Kidd: Yeah, Sinotra don’t write.

DX: So it was you who was originally supposed to freestyle in front of Jay-Z?

Rich Kidd: Yeah, that was the plan. It was through The Remix Project, and they hit up The Remix Project asking if they had any rappers. I was considered, and my manager was like, “Yo, let Sinortra do it.” I can freestyle and battle too; I can make fun of you. The thing about it is, to have me on MuchMusic, I’m going to say something disrespectful, especially because it was female. Rest in Peace to Jordana, by the way. She committed suicide maybe like two years ago. She was the female rapper in [the battle]. For me, I knew I was going to say something disrespectful, and I was actually chorusing Sinotra, like, “Yo, tell her go wash dishes,” you know? Like something offensive, not to be an asshole, but…

DX: It’s a battle rap.

Rich Kidd: You know, it’s battle rap. But yeah, rest in peace Jordana. It’s a sad thing to happen to her.

Rich Kidd Compares Home Recording & Producing To Studio Work

DX: With In My Opinion, I checked out the liner notes and noticed the majority of the project was recorded at the base. Are you referring to your own house when you say, “The Base?”

Rich Kidd: Yeah, that’s my crib.

DX: How does recording in your own home as opposed to being in the studio atmosphere differ? Does the mood change your recording process at all?

Rich Kidd: Yeah, definitely. The mood is different. I’m more comfortable at home. I like recording in the booth in an outside studio, because I know the vocals are going to come out real crisp, depending on where I’m at. But I’m pretty sure it will, because I don’t want to record nowhere shitty. Recording at an actual studio is a vibe where I’m sort of out of my element, but I’m still there. I’m going to be surrounded by different people, and I can’t fully be in the zone like how I am by myself. I recorded most of it in my boxers and made most of the beats while smoking a blunt, drinking, and being by myself. That’s what I like to do; I like to do a lot of shit by myself.

DX: I want to talk about this whole stadium music sound that you’ve talked about before. Would you classify “SYKE” as one of those records?

Rich Kidd: Yeah. I think it can be. It’s all about how you approach the track. I approached the hook in a way where I wanted it to be simple; I wanted to teach these guys a word me and my homies used, and at the same time get it stuck in their heads too. Lately, I’ve had people say they can’t get that “SYKE” song out of their heads, and that’s a good thing. The kind of method I wanted to use is being executed well. That’s the key to stadium music, I feel. Easy hooks, a large sound, heavy bass, something where it can make a whole place shake. When I performed it at big places—800 to 1,000 people—so far, I feel that’s one of my biggest crowds; they feel it and their energy gets turnt up. Yeah, I’d say “SYKE” is a real stadium track.

DX: How about “Bom Bom?”

Rich Kidd: Yeah, “Bom Bom” is not necessarily a traditional stadium track; it’s only a stadium track because of the call-and-response feel to it. A lot of my joints will have that call-and-response shit, because I feel I know I’m going to perform it, and I know I’m going to get hyped. I wanted to give them that experience with songs that they know they can sing along to.

DX: How do you separate Rich Kidd the emcee from Rich Kidd the producer when it comes to making beats and beat selection? How do you know which beat is for you and which beat is better suited for someone else?

Rich Kidd: I don’t know if they’re any different. I was talking to a couple people yesterday, and while some people say my flow sounds great on my beats because I know what I’m doing, some people feel I’m competing too much with my beats. Some people feel like, I rap nice, and my beats are nice, but it seems like we’re clashing too hard. I’m trying to one-up the beat and the beat is trying to one-up me. Frankly, I don’t really understand that, because it’s all me. I can’t be fighting myself. At the same time, I try to find the beats that I feel are going to fit what I’m going to say. I can’t jump on every grimy beat. I can, but it may not fit the exact mood or where I’m trying to take the project. It’s all project-depending. I feel like I can jump on any one of my beats, and I feel like every one of my beats fit my Rap style because I want to be diverse. I don’t want to be just one type of emcee that raps about one thing.

DX: How does it differ when you’re actually working with a producer? Like DJ Dahi was on the last ‘tape.

Rich Kidd: With Dahi, he just sent me the beat, so I probably met Dahi once in my life. It was through Pac Div. He’s been cool, sending me and Smash Brovaz a shitload of beats. That “I’d Be Lying” joint stood out to me. I think it’s called the 120th session or something. That beat stood out. I’d tell him, “Yo, I got this track to it. Can I write to it?” He said, “Cool.” I wrote the track, sent it to him, and he’s like, “Yo, this shit is crazy.” That was pretty much how it was from there. It was very mechanical and a digital process, but hopefully when I go back to LA, we can work in the studio together. We have a mutual respect for each other’s sounds.

With me working with other producers, it’s never really hard, because I’m coming from the mind of a producer myself. I’m never going to do the shitty shit that rappers do and steal beats and put them out or switch up a beat without letting a producer know. I understand where a producer is coming from or where a beat maker is coming from, and I always try to keep in contact.

How Toronto & Working With Drake Impacted Rich Kidd’s Career

DX: What inspired you to record “The City?”

Rich Kidd: Just, the city. The events going on…the changes the city is going through. I felt like the city didn’t have nothing that was an uplifting anthem for a minute, and I never really did an uplifting anthem for a minute. It was killing two birds with one stone. I just wanted to make a track where I felt like my nieces and nephews can sing. They can’t sing most of my shit, and when they do, I give them the edited version. I felt like this song has a good vibe. It’s not on some corny shit. It’s just telling you what’s real about what’s going on in the city. I felt the hook was sweet. It’s something you can sing along to.

DX: When was the last time you worked with Drake?

Rich Kidd: It was on Comeback Season. We put a track on We On Some Rich Kidd Shit with him and Saukrates, but that was a track we even had around Comeback Season time. They said they weren’t doing nothing, but I was like, “I’m just going to put it out.” It made some waves, but yeah, that was the last time me and Drake collaborated on something. Last time I seen him was this year and before that, it was a couple years. He’s doing monumental shit, and I’m proud of him.

DX: For Canadian rappers in general, do you feel it’s beneficial to distance yourselves away from Drake? Just for the sake of paving your own lane and not being cast in his shadow by fans in the States and being categorized.

Rich Kidd: Yeah. Even in the states, they categorize their own people, because people have to have a familiarity with something. Something that comes out new that they don’t understand, they have to associate it with something or else it’s pure confusion. I don’t feel I have to make the effort to distance myself from Drake. I know at the end of the day, what I’ve done or what I’ve accomplished stands out on its own. It doesn’t really sound like Drake’s catalogue. I’ve never really created anything where it’s like, “This nigga’s jacking Drake.” I feel like we’ve all helped contribute to each other’s sound. Drake has helped contribute to some of the sounds. Some of the stuff I hear him and 40 make, or him and Boi-1da make, you can hear the influence of that sound in my shit, too. That’s the way modern times are going to make good music that sounds good. You want to build on it and innovate.

I feel like Drake benefited from my sound, because I gave him some earlier classic tunes that a lot of people either fucking took the beat and did their own version on or just loved the Comeback sound he was on. I feel like we all share a certain synonymous sound, but we all have our own lanes that we have to go through. It’s not a thing where I have to be different from Drake. I’m just naturally different from Drake. JD Era is naturally different from Drake…Kardinal Offishall. Everyone has their own lane they naturally go down.  

DX: When you say someone took your beat, are you referring to a specific song?

Rich Kidd: Well, like the joint I did for him and Kardi, “The Last Hope.” It’s amazing because I’ve never had a joint like that where so many people took the beat and did their own version to it. Rappers I respect and fucking bump like Styles P took the beat and did his thing with it, which was sick. DMX made a song called “Last Hope.” He made a video for it and debuted it on “106 & Park,” which was weird and shit. Whatever. That’s the next rapper I respect. It was weird. It was mainly Ruff Ryders rappers. It was Styles P, DMX and Drag-On who took the beat and did their own thing to it. I was like, “What is it with Ruff Ryders and this beat?” Hopefully Eve jumps on that, too. She need to give me a call.

Rich Kidd Talks Young Guru & Submitting Tracks

DX: Are you working in the studio with Young Guru as of now?

Rich Kidd: Yeah, we’re about to go in the studio today. I got some tracks that I want to lay down. I don’t really have a direct kind of view for this next project, but I just want to go down, lay the tracks I have in my head down and see where it goes from there.

DX: So no direction or theme as of yet? It’s on-the-go?

Rich Kidd: Yeah, like I said, it’s still on-the-go. With In My Opinion, I’ve never really had a direction, but I knew the theme of it was me stating my views on the world and my city—just everything going on in life. For this project, I had a little theme for it. I don’t know if I’ll still stick with it. I’ll see how these joints turn up today.

DX: So today’s the first studio session with Guru?

Rich Kidd: Yeah, it’s going to be my first studio session with Young Guru. Other times, we’ve just collaborated by sending things back and forth, working on Jay Electronica shit.

DX: He’s been a big fan of yours for a while. How did you get him on the album?

Rich Kidd: Just seeing him around. From the first time he mentioned me on some producer’s panel, it was definitely from the Jay Electronica shit, but yeah. I didn’t know he was feeling this shit. He told me he heard a lot of beats, and was trying to take in the music and was feeling the direction I was going in. I’d see him at SXSW and different events. He’d even be coming down to Toronto a lot, so we just link up. It was just a mutual kind of thing where it’s like, “I want to work on your project,” and “Can you work on my project?” We did the business.

DX: This is much different from other sessions because he’s Young Guru—a legend. How does he make the recording process for you easier?

Rich Kidd: We’re about to see now. I feel more or less what I’m willing to want from him is his expertise in sound engineering, tweaking in how good the beat sounds with the bass, drums, even his opinion on the sound direction I’m going in, and if it’s innovative enough where people will associate it with me rather than anything else. Maybe if I can create a lane for myself. I don’t know exactly how it works in the studio; I’ve seen different tutorials back in the day before I even met him; how it works in engineering in the studio. Hopefully he’ll bring out some expertise to this and mentors me to a degree, because I want to learn and how engineer and mix myself.

DX: Are you still sending beats for Watch The Throne 2?

Rich Kidd: Oh yeah. I’m always trying to sell beats. I guess Kanye’s working on his next album right now, and Hov’s working on his next. I don’t know if Watch the Throne 2 is still coming out, but I’m trying to submit to anything I can.

DX: So you’re sending beats to both Kanye and Jay-Z’s own albums?

Rich Kidd: Yeah, I’ve been sending Guru some beats like, “Yo, do your thing.”

DX: When describing the record, “I’d Be Lying,” you were quoted saying, “I usually smile and brush shit off like nothing can dent my armour, but in my head I have insecurities and doubts like the next man.” That’s interesting you said that because in Hip Hop, it’s rare to see rappers come out and admit or truly express themselves like that. Many try to uphold that tough, gangster rapper persona, but you have no problem throwing your thoughts all out there.

Rich Kidd: I wouldn’t say that. Now it’s common. I feel ever since the dawn of Kanye, there’s been an insurgence of honesty that’s been missing in Rap, just because a lot of Rap now is soft. It’s not as hard as it used to be in the ‘90s and early 2000s where your favorite rappers got shot and killed, or shot and talked about it. Nowadays, it doesn’t really happen like that. A lot of rappers—even if they are from the streets—are taking the softer approach to being more honest and opening up their lives a little bit more to show you where they come from and they’re humans like you.

Not every rapper does that, but I feel it’s more now than ever. For me to open up and tell my story, I’ve been doing that since I started rapping. I’ve never been afraid to tell my story. I got in trouble with a lot of stuff—talking about my dad, my exes, and turmoil in my family, or even just talking about myself, my addictions and problems in life. At the end of the day, it’s what I do. Hopefully I become rich and don’t have to be around the same people [laughs]. No, I’m joking. But yeah, I feel there has to be a certain level of honesty or else you can’t relate or connect with your fans. Fans these days that don’t watch TV and go on the Internet to really get their dose of music, something has to be engaging enough to catch their attention. It has to be an artist who is relatable or you feel like they’re going through what you’re going through, or their life is so open that it draws you in and makes you stay there like, “Wow.”

Rich Kidd Talks Honesty In Hip Hop

DX: How do you feel about honesty in Rap music? Or do you feel that lately, more and more is being fabricated in Hip Hop?

Rich Kidd: I feel like there’s always a fabrication in Rap from the beginning. It hasn’t really changed. When I look at the XXL Freshmen [list], I look at these artists and I’m like, “Which one of these artists are talking real and which are not?” It’s like, there’s not a lot of artists on that where you have to be like, “Are you talking real or not?” You can’t ask Joey BadA$$ if he’s talking real; he doesn’t talk that greasy shit. It’s simple shit from a kid living in Brooklyn. There’s an authenticity to it. If you’re talking about Meek Mill, you can say maybe he hasn’t been in the street, but contrary to belief, it’s just like with the Internet now, you can trace a person’s career. You know Meek Mill has been battle rapping; you know he’s been in the streets. Whether he’s a gangbanger or not, it’s up to you to believe. You can either do your research and find out if a nigga’s a fraud or not.

With Rick Ross, I feel like when he says that, he’s talking about Rick Ross. Ross has been outed as a fraud, and he has still lived a pretty good career. He still has problems that he has to deal with now with Gangster Disciples and Reebok, but when you’re talking about the lack of authenticity, that’s what you look at. As for everything else, there’s not a lot of rappers gangbanging anymore. Whether there are a lot or not, it’s not the mainstream rappers. Mainstream rappers aren’t gangster anymore. There’s no more real thuggin’, at-the-top layer Rap. At his forefront in the Gangster Rap era, you had everyone in the West gangbanging, but then it’s like, “Okay, which one of those niggas are really in the streets?” Some of them weren’t as hard as they said they were. You can’t really trace that. You can only trace it back if you ask niggas from the hood. Everything is traceable, but it’s not as easy as how it is now.

DX: You also call out Rob Ford [Mayor of Toronto] at the end of “The City.”

Rich Kidd: That was just something I wanted to throw in there. I even debated, “Should I throw that in there?” A lot of times, when you rap about something, it’s time sensitive. You could tell when a track is old school and doesn’t refer to something going on now. In a couple years, Rob Ford won’t be the mayor, and it’ll be a throwback line of some sort. At the same time, I wanted to address the current things going on in the city at the time I recorded it. Rob Ford’s not giving enough money to youth programs, cutting a lot of programs with him being the mayor. Obviously, I didn’t like it. Those are the programs I came up in and mentored kids through. I’m not saying they’re going to go out and shoot people, but at the end of the day, there’s no other preventive strategy to protect them on what’s going out there.

DX: I’m actually very familiar with The Remix Project [The youth program Rich Kidd mentors at] and the work you put in there. As much as people know you as a rapper, they also tend to overlook the fact you have a big presence, and you’re a staple in the community.

Rich Kidd: Like you can celebrate it if you want, but it’s something I do—like for one, it’s something I came up in. So I feel like helping out is cool, and it’s something I’m used to. As a job too, you’re getting paid to do something good for the community. I don’t want to spend my life making money doing something that’s destructive for my culture and my community. [I want to] make money doing something that I feel is benefitting somebody, help them in the future, and spread some positive peace around the neighborhood. If it doesn’t get looked at—I’m not a philanthropist yet [laughs]. I don’t give tons of money. I just help out and record kids from Monday to Friday. That’s all I get from it. I don’t need no thanks, praise or awards. It don’t even need to be recognized as long as it’s recognized by the kids I’m mentoring.

DX: Do you feel like you’re one of Hip Hop’s best-kept secrets?

Rich Kidd: It said that in my bio, but I never felt like I was the best-kept secret. I do feel like I have a lot of talents that’s going unseen, but I really feel it’s just me. I have to put it out there, and I have to be able to keep up and put out music that’s going to make people pay attention. I can’t blame nobody but myself. I don’t say I’m underrated. When niggas look up and see how hard I work, I convert them to believers. It’s really about me going out there and making a solid effort to do these interviews, get on these blog sites, put out consistent music, put out videos, go on tour and do these shows. I can go on these tours and show people that I can actually perform. All that shit is actually going to make me one day the overrated rapper.

DX: You’re either underrated or overrated.

Rich Kidd: There’s really nothing in the middle, right? For me, that’s all on me. That responsibility falls on me.

DX: With being underrated, do you feel it’s more of a Toronto thing with the whole “screwface” attitude?

Rich Kidd: Nah. I think we’re kind of moving away from that. It’s not even about being screwface. When we got into the generation of Hip Hop where a lot of things are accepted that weren’t accepted before—maybe just because of our ignorance of the way Rap started out stylistically—it wasn’t about to make a quick transition. [Back then we weren’t] allowing gay people to get into music or making songs about gay people in a way that’s positive to them, or letting lesbian rappers or even singing in Rap to the point where you’re singing to girls…turning into rapping b’s instead of just straight Hip-Hop, boom-bap. A lot of stuff is being accepted nowadays.

With the screwface, people don’t want to listen to something they feel isn’t authentic and real. To a certain degree, how Drake bust was because there was a certain authenticity and open honesty through his music. Just the fact that he is prevailing right now, it shows people aren’t necessarily trying to screwface on purpose. There’s just nothing being fed to them that’s real enough. When you give people that real, they can’t screwface at it. I ain’t never had anybody boo at my shows. There’s always been mixed reviews but never like, “This nigga doesn’t know how to perform,” or, “This guy can’t rap.” Maybe like some Internet guys talking shit—those guys…those WorldStar niggas. At the end of the day, when you show love and you spread love, you get love. If you screwface the audience, they’re going to screwface you back. I feel like that’s what people are being fed up with. They put minimum work in, don’t get the love they feel they deserve, and then they screwface. Then it’s like you’re getting screwfaced back. It ain’t the screwface capital. Fix your attitude.

DX: How do you use the social media aspect to expand your brand?

Rich Kidd: That’s pretty much everything right now. I still go on the streets, hand out some CDs, still busker here and there. At the same time, the Internet is the powerful tool for getting the word out around the world. It has brought me to different countries. It’s helped me connect with some crazy artists. The Internet branding, websites, Twittering, and connecting with the bloggers is an important part of this new music. Never forget the groundwork we have to do. Handing out flyers ourselves, doing shows—that’s ultimately the heart of it. The promotion shit has to be on different mediums, whether it’s TV—me and SonReal are on the Junos—Internet promotion, just every angle has to be covered. The Internet’s the new shit. We always try to stay on top with Tweeting daily and trying to provide consistent content through the website.

DX: And at the end of the In My Opinion digital booklet, there’s a picture of you sitting down with your back turned to the camera, wearing a Screwface t-shirt, and staring at a collection of classic records on vinyl. Were those yours?

Rich Kidd: That’s actually my DJ, DJ Nana. He’s my main bro as well as my roommate. Yeah, those were all his vinyls, but those were the vinyls I picked. Those are some of my favorite albums.

DX: Which one was your favorite?

Rich Kidd: Jay-Z, Nas, Ghostface Killah, Radiohead, there’s a Prince record in there. There’s a lot of R&B in there like TLC; I love TLC. Onyx, De La Soul. It’s a wild, eclectic mix of stuff, but all of those artists and their music speak to me in a way and help me create music.

DX: Are you still in tune with more current Hip Hop, too?

Rich Kidd: Yeah, of course. I have to. I guess I’m current Hip Hop right now. I’m putting my Hip Hop out in the current day. At the end of the day, I can’t really listen to too much if I’m so much in my zone creating stuff. I always show love to the new dudes doing it. Definitely the new dudes I worked with like Casey Veggies, Raz Fresco and a lot of the younger cats coming up. When I was 19, I wasn’t eating shit on their level. I was eating shit, but just not on a mainstream kind of basis these guys are on now. I’m happy to see them establish that, and I’m doing whatever I can to support that while still doing what I do?

DX: What’s the first thing you’re going to buy when you blow up and get that deal?

Rich Kidd: Just clear my mom’s debt. I don’t know. I want to buy her a house.

DX: Do you see a major label deal in the future?

Rich Kidd: I don’t know…no offers on the table yet. There were some publishing deal offers for production, but they weren’t lucrative enough, and the world hasn’t got a taste of me rapping to really see how my fan base grows. Give it some time; we’ll probably see something soon. Like to get deals or to get offers for deals means you’re on the right track. It means somebody want to make money off you because they see you’re making money or you have the potential to make money. When those deals or offers come along, it’s just going to have my mind like, “Okay, now it’s time to start working harder.” I can make this money myself. I don’t need to sign to nobody. If these guys see the potential, I already see the potential in myself. I always gotta be thinking like that anyways.

DX: I think one of your records had you joking around. You referenced yourself as the “black Justin Bieber.”

Rich Kidd: Yeah [laughs]. I don’t know why I wrote that. I make fun of SonReal all the time. I always call him the Rap Justin Bieber. But one time, we did a show, and all these girls were feeling on me. Usually, the girls are feeling on him. I’m the dark-skinned, rowdy nigga that you’re kind of scared of, but kind of lighten up to because I’m so interactive with you that you’re like, “Okay, he’s making us jump. We love him now.” There was this one show right off the bat where these girls were feeling and touching on me. They were touching my shirt and touching my nutsack. I was like, “Holy shit. I’m the black Justin Bieber out here.” It was all white girls in the audience. I think it was either Calgary or Victoria.

Images by Derek Hui courtesy of


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