Is Rittz Rap’s most self-conscious new artist? Sure, calling an emcee that’s spent years slugging it through any independent scene long enough to touch that tipping point where blog love reaches critical mass “new” is an immediate misnomer. But that’s a symptom of the age. The Gwinnett County, Georgia-native has twenty years writing rhymes backing his near flawless, double-time delivery, and at least ten years pushing full time towards a career in the culture – so there’s nothing rookie about his repertoire. Trust.

The irony is that, despite easily notching 10,000 hours of practice, the Slumerican citizen remains surprisingly self-conscious – if not insecure – about his place in the contemporary Hip Hop landscape. Between sneezes incited by the cold he’s fighting, anecdotes on OutKast’s catalog, and flashbacks to when Tupac had a generation faux-riding on their enemies, “White Jesus” gets candid in this interview with HipHopDX, revealing a seamless synergy between his life and life’s work. When he questions why he isn’t named amongst other respected White rappers, the beat to his rebellious ode, “Die” might as well be floating in the background. When he describes how his friend mocked him with multiplication cards when it looked like his Rap dream would never come to fruition – he might as well be rapping the third verse to “White Jesus.”

Here’s the silver lining, though. Despite the klusterfuckery racing through the space between his Carrot Top-like locks as he prepares his still untitled Strange Music debut; despite the constant self consciousness he confronts daily – Rittz has done more than merely dealt with the insecurity. He’s built a career off of it. That in itself is the first litmus test of success.

Rittz Talks About Signing To Strange Music

HipHopDX: Is it fair to say you’ve been officially on Strange Music for three months?

Rittz: Two months. Two to three months.

DX: Has your life changed at all yet?

Rittz: Nah, not really. I just got a really nice fancy chain. Nah. It’s slowly changing, I’m noticing. I noticed immediately getting new fans – Strange [Music] fans – really taking to me. Just seeing people with Strange shirts on at my shows and stuff like that – the association. But as far as my life changing, nah. Not yet. The only thing that’s changed right now is just having a lot of pressure. This is my first time ever having a deadline and anything like that. [There’s] a lot riding on this for me. That’s pretty much all that’s changed so far.

DX: You’ve talked quite a bit about how self-conscious you used to be with your rhymes. Is that still the case? Do you still feel that way?

Rittz: Yeah. Bad.

DX: How is that effecting your creative process given that this is your first time with a deadline?

Rittz: It effects it because it just takes me long to create stuff sometimes. Yelawolf said this, or somebody else said this the other day: Me under pressure brings out the best in me because I know I’m working against the clock so I’m extra on top of my game. I don’t have the luxury to pick it apart like I normally would. I just got to have the confidence there to say, “Hey man, this shit is dope. Roll with it.” With writing, I’ve gotten myself into a way that I just write, man. It’s real nit picky and I’m like, “Oh, this is wack.” I’m always looking for more words, wishing my vocabulary was bigger. That’s what makes it harder.

DX: I wouldn’t expect that. You’ve been rhyming for a long time – since OutKast’s first album.

Rittz: I think it’s the fact that I’m not really on yet. There was a time where I made music for fun and I was just super creative and I wasn’t like that. Ever since 2003, I’ve been trying to be great. It’s hard to be noticed, so you try to make the best of [every opportunity]. So I feel so much pressure to have a great verse every time. Every verse is under a microscope for everybody, at least in my head. That’s the way I look at it.

DX: What’s the last great verse that you wrote, in your opinion?

Rittz: To be honest – and not to sound fucked up – if I end up putting a song out, when it’s done and it’s actually made, I’m like, “That’s a good verse. I snapped on that.” That’s what’s crazy about it, because after I record it and it’s finished, I’m confident in it. Like, “Why am I tripping out, dog? I’m dope.” Not to say it in a cocky way or nothing like that, but I end up being proud of what I do, you know. While I’m in the creative process, I start wanting to give up and I start thinking it’s wack. Once I get finished, I think they’re all great. There’s a few I slack on. There might be some features I get that I’m maybe under time constraints or I’m not feeling the beat as much. But if it’s my music, the final product I end up really liking. Pretty much everything.

DX: For a while it seemed like emcees weren’t valuing the competitive nature of Hip Hop – at least as they were presented on radio or on TV. But over the past three or four years, it’s been the opposite.

Rittz: People are rapping. People are rapping again, man. There’s a lot of good rappers. I woke up one day to reality. I’m older. I’m over 30. I’ve always been listening to the radio and what was hot. I’m just from a different era. I woke up to the internet one day – and to what was really going on – and I was like, “Wow, there’s some really good rappers now.” Before there was a handful. There was a lot of garbage. There are a lot of talented rappers right now. So yeah, it’s super competitive. That makes it even worse for me when I’m writing my verses because I’m self conscious. You’ve gotta hang with them now and there’s a lot of good rappers now. I love the fact that being able to rap good means a lot again, too. I like that that’s cool again – that people can rap good and still sell records or still be popular.

DX: Yelawolf reminds me of a Folk [music] artist – the Hip Hop version of a Folk artist. He lives in the narratives. There’s a different type of energy that comes when he putting out a joint about his life. He leans on his Classic Rock influences in that way. There’s a lot of that in your work as well.

Rittz: Yeah. A little bit. I think some of the melodies and stuff like that go that way. Not so much as Yelawolf, I don’t think. But it’s definitely there.

DX: But all your influences seem to be Hip Hop related. You were in a group where you guys were like the White OutKast and you were trying to be like Big Boi. Is storytelling at a point of importance again in your opinion? Where it’s needed to reach mass consciousness and not just “money, clothes, hoes?”

Rittz: Yeah. I always loved storytelling raps. I don’t think enough people do it. I think, like you said, with the way people are rapping better now – which means there’s a lot more storytellers that know how to tell stories and make it rhyme. I always question myself, too, with storytelling. You’ve got a sad story with a girl. You wonder how many stories can you put into a song. I look at Tech N9ne. I had a song called “Love Me” that came out. It was a storytelling rap. Somebody was like, “Check out Tech N9ne’s song. I forgot what it’s called. It’s a lot like that.” I listened to it and it was violent and somebody was getting killed. A lot of the stories we try to tell as rappers are very similar. So I wonder when our stories gonna get too common and then you really gotta tell a story about sitting in the booth or something really common.

I love storytelling in records, man. I’m always gonna try to include that. I’ve already written some songs for the new project that are already on some storytelling shit. But it’s also trying to make those stories to where they’re not so typical, so dramatic. To me, the first thing you go to is a girl is pregnant; or relationship troubles; or somebody who dies; or some crazy violent story. Trying to figure out how to do the stories and make them more common situations, I’m gonna work on that.

DX: How many tracks are you in on the new project?

Rittz: Probably about maybe 11 tracks in. But I have to have a project, a bonus disk, and an EP turned in. So it’s a lot of work to do.

DX: That sounds like the Strange [Music] format.

Rittz: Yeah. With the 11 songs that I got already, the way I work is that I get the base set. If I can get the base set of the overall sound I’m looking for – the vibe of the album – then I can sprinkle in the other types of records. Story song, insert here. Girl song, insert here. But the music; the production; the beats actually set the tone. I think I’ve gotten that. So, as long as I’ve gotten that – I was a little worried at first because I wasn’t set on the beats. But now I got it. Now it’s just time to put in the spices and make it a complete thing.

DX: You didn’t produce on White Jesus: Revival. Are you laying down your own beats this time?

Rittz: I wanted to, man. But when I came back from the Revival Tour, I was hoping to be able to afford a laptop and a keyboard and Logic, but I couldn’t make it happen, man. [Laughs] Maybe when I get back from this tour I’ll have enough bread to make it happen.

DX: At least you got the money to do the visuals, though. [Laughs]

Rittz: Yeah, yeah. That’s all that matters. But as soon as I do, and I’m joking about the bread. That was a real situation, but it could be done without me having the bread. But I think I’m gonna try to experiment making my own beats again. At least a couple here and there. That way when people go, “Oh, who did that track?” That’s always a good look. Plus, I can do it. It’s like a wasted talent. But I’m not too familiar with the new [equipment]. I used to use the [Akai] MPC 2000 – a lot of hardware and shit like that. I gotta step my game up. Or sit with an engineer, but I’m not in that situation yet.

DX: Where are you recording? In Georgia?

Rittz: Yeah, in Georgia.

Rittz Discusses Going From Day-job To A Professional Rap Career

DX: Does it feel like a long time since you were working in a BBQ restaurant?

Rittz: Nah, not at all, man. I was just talking about it this morning. I mean, it kind of does. You know how a year goes by fast and you look back like, “Damn, that was a year ago,”  and it does seem long ago? So it does sometimes, but not really. I was telling them this morning on the radio, anytime I start to complain about anything, I always gotta remind myself like, “Dawg, you were just getting soaking wet doing exactly what you didn’t want to do.” It doesn’t seem like a long time at all.

One Sunday, I got off tour. I sat down at a McDonald’s restaurant. I sat down and I was eating breakfast at McDonald’s and I was looking around. It was a nice-ass day. For two years, I worked every Sunday morning. You know how Sunday’s one of those days that you don’t feel like you’re supposed to be working and shit? And when you work in food, people are coming through all happy. They’re all having their weekend with their family. There’s joy in the air on Sunday and you be serving these people and they look so happy, man. I used to think, “Will I ever, ever, ever have a Sunday ever again?” There’s a chance you might not for real if you get stuck in a job. So one day it sunk in like, “Man, it’s fucking Sunday. I’m at McDonald’s. I don’t have a fucking job. I’m a rapper.” That happened one time. It happened to where I got the feeling in my body and it felt like I really soaked it in. That was dope.

DX: The number of artists that are surprised that it actually worked out surprises me.

Rittz: Surprised that their career worked out?

DX: Yeah. Surprised that they’ve been able to build a fan base. That they’ve been able to live off of writing rhymes. We hear the story of the guy who had a great idea and saw it to fruition. But that’s a long road with a lot of doubt.

Rittz: The bad thing is, man, all my life – up until I was like 27, 28 [years old] – I always thought there was no other choice. I never had any doubt. I was super like this is definitely going to happen for me. I was a slacker. Not on music, but just a slacker. Then it sunk in one day like, “Wow, this shit is not going to happen for real for real.” That’s scary. Especially when you don’t have no education and you’re not an idiot. I’m not a dumbass. I want to have a house and normal things. I don’t wanna be broke all my life, so I’m like, “What do I have to do now?” My boy bought me multiplication cards; was making fun of me and shit. “Hey man, what’s two times two?” That was the reality, but luckily it happened.

It happened, and I do have a record deal. But nothing’s ever easy. It’s like [quoting OutKast] “You’re only funky as your last cut / Focus on the past and your ass will be a has what.”

DX: Why ATLiens? Why is that your favorite OutKast project? You were talking about your Top 5 albums in an interview with The Anti Show back in 2008. You mentioned ATLiens, [Scarface’s] The Fix, [Jay-Z’s] The Blueprint, [Devin The Dude’s] The Dude, and Eminem’s Slim Shady LP. OutKast is one of the few groups where you can literally pick an album out of a hat and be alright with whatever comes out of the hat.

Rittz: That was a really hard thing to do and I still will question. I haven’t heard Southernplayalisticacadillacmuzic in a long time. I put it in one day after that interview. It’s always been a question because they’re my favorite group. That’s my favorite type of Rap music. Period. I’m always thinking, “Which one really is my favorite OutKast album?” I know it’s not Stankonia. Not to diss Stankonia. There were some songs on there that I really liked, but it wasn’t like the first three. The first three is a real toss up. Then you always wanna go, “Maybe it’s Aquemini?” But then you listen to the first one, then you go, “I don’t know. Maybe it’s the first one.” Every time I put in ATLiens, I think the year when it came out I was 16 [years old] and I’d just got a car, and it kind of just coincided with things that went on.

This sounds really dumb and deep, but it happened. I used to have a Buick Regal and it was my first car. It was an old car and it had a smell to it. Not a bad smell, but a smell of like – I don’t know what it was. [Recently] I went and bought ATLiens. I went into Best Buy. I wasn’t in no Buick Regal. I was in a regular car riding around and the music brought back the feeling. I could almost smell what the air smelled like when I was 16 and life was different in that car. Something brought that out and I was like, “Man, this is my favorite OutKast album.” The beats and the music, I just love it. I love that album.

DX: I could listen to “Babylon” for the rest of my life.

Rittz: Yeah, dawg. It’s just great. One of my favorite ones is the one where Cee-Lo is humming the hook. You know what I’m talking about? It doesn’t have a chorus on it. “Wailin.” I love that, man. ATLiens is probably my favorite, but it is hard to narrow it down. How the fuck do you do that?

DX: Down in A3C, The Flush did the A3C official album in Stankonia Studios. Did you jump on that?

Rittz: Nah, I missed that night. They were wanting me to come through.

DX: Have you ever worked with them before? I know you’re all based out of Atlanta.

Rittz: Yes, but no. A rapper named Grip Plies from Atlanta, I’m on a record with him that one of the guys from that crew did. I don’t know if that technically falls under the name [The Flush] or if was just a producer that worked with them. They’re all the homies.

DX: Atlanta seems to be in a different space than it was in the early-mid 2000s.

Rittz: I always say there’s two Atlantas. I hate to use the word “hood,” too. But there’s the hood Atlanta and then there’s a different Atlanta. I don’t know what to call that. I don’t want to use the word “hipster,” either. What’s hot in Atlanta Atlanta is Future, Gucci [Mane]. That shit will always be Atlanta because that’s what Atlanta really is. But there’s a movement of more creative, not your stereotypical Atlanta sound that’s coming out that you’re referring to, I think. Hopefully I’m a part of that, too. I don’t even know if I fit in or if I’m considered in that. I’d hopefully like to fit into both. It’s definitely a lot of talented people coming out of Atlanta, no matter what they’re doing.

I’ve got a homeboy that’s from the hood and he’s like, “I don’t know them! I listen to Future!” That’s Atlanta. It’s always gonna be like that. 

DX: You’ve talked about wanting to be an artist that can sustain in the mainstream and the independent scene. Now you’re signed to Strange Music. What was it that sold you on Strange and how does that correlate to being able to make an [impression in both arenas]?

Rittz: There was a ton of things that sold me on Strange. My manager was trying to sell me on Strange before I was even up on them. He’s like super into what’s going on. He keeps his ear to the streets and shit. Really, just their success as an independent label. I used to always want to, like you said, be mainstream and then be able to work both. Now that I’m getting my foot in the game, there’s a real upper crest of mainstream people and it’s real hard to get into that. This doesn’t have to do with the Strange question. This is before Strange that I kind of accepted that. I may not ever break into the mainstream and that’s fine. But, I think deep in everybody’s heart, every rapper would love to be in the mainstream. You hear everybody talking about selling out and shit. Mainstream equals more money. More money equals success. In any job you do you want to be the top of your success. That would be fucking stupid [not to].

Back to your question about Strange. As far as the mainstream shit goes, I’m not as much on there as I used to be. If it were to ever happen to me somehow, great. I’m glad I don’t have to make [a specific kind of] music anymore. And this is before Strange as well. Just with Yelawolf and the internet era, I don’t have to make [radio] music. For so many years, I tried to make songs to get on the radio in Atlanta or a strip club. It just wasn’t me, man. With Strange, they run a tight ship. This music industry is so unorganized and everybody’s late and everybody’s dysfunctional. It’s crazy. It’s a fucked up business, and Strange runs it like a real job. Like a job that runs a tight ship. That in its own, when I went out there and saw that, I was like, “Aw, man.” They got rules when you go on tour. They got a rule book – a thick-ass rule book.

DX: Wow. I haven’t heard that. What kind of rules are in the book?

Rittz: I don’t have the rules printed out, but there’s some serious rules. You can’t smoke a cigarette at a meet-and-greet without being so many feet away. You can’t have weed on your bus. There’s just rules. Most people would hate that, man, but I like structure. Especially when it’s positive. Those rules are in place for a reason; because they’ve dealt with situations where somebody’s fucked up. They run such a tight ship. Their [merchandise] game is crazy. There’s no creative control over what you do. Travis O’Guin said he’d listen to it and if he’s got an opinion – if it’s super dark or super this – he might be like, “Man, it’s a little too dark.” He might say that, but he’s not gonna say, “Hey man, we need a girl record.” Or we need a this record. That right there alone is enough to sell me. Of course not all the way. But that’s a great selling point.

And just with the success they’ve had – and their fan base. They’re in their own lane. And I’d like to be in that own lane and just swerve right up in between all these other people that are competing. I hear all these White rappers that people name. They always name them all out. But they never name me. Ever. Sometimes they do, and I get happy. There’s a couple that do. But most of the time you’ll never hear my name. The industry people know me, though. That disappoints me, man. So fuck it. I’m hoping that maybe I can swerve up into all those names and be more successful and do it in my own way. I don’t know if that makes sense to you, what I’m saying.

DX: It definitely does.

Rittz: Sometimes I’ll hear certain names of White rappers – and I hate to say White rappers, but it’s true. They put it in a box and it is what it is. You’ve got this rapper and this rapper and this rapper. He’s hot. He’s hot. I never get mentioned.

DX: Why do you think that is?

Rittz: I think if I do get mentioned it’s as Yelawolf’s homeboy. Or the dude on Yelawolf’s shit – which is great. If that’s how I gotta get mentioned, I’ll take it because that’s how people know me. Now with Strange, I’m ready to make my own imprint. And if they still don’t say my name, I’m hoping I can swerve up in them and make them say my name. Or if they never hear about me, then maybe I can be successful enough to live the lifestyle I want to live. Then fuck it if they say my name.

I used to really care. I used to be like, “Yeah, I wanna be the main White rapper,” you know? But that doesn’t exist anymore. It doesn’t exist. The goal is to be successful. Tour and try to do your best. Right now, that’s where I’m at. I finally got a platform to be a rapper for a living. I haven’t benefited financially off of it much at all. Touring and shows and shit, but I’m not making much. Merchandise. My management hasn’t even begun to take a dime from it just because we haven’t got enough income coming in. It’s slowly starting, man. That’s my main goal. It’s not that I’m all about money or getting rich. I live in a fucking [spot] with my girlfriend and her mom. I’m ready to get my fucking grown man on for fucking once.

DX: What kind of advice was Yelawolf giving you? I think about White Jesus: Revival. You’re really working this record [in a way strategically kin to how] Yelawolf really worked Trunk Muzik. He was in a similar situation and decided to go the major route because he wanted his songs on the radio – which is in the back of every rappers mind.

Rittz: I don’t blame him. Especially Eminem, Shady [Records]. Shit. I don’t blame him at all. Me and Yela’s relationship, he’ll give me advice and we’ll talk. The main advice he gave me at first when this shit was first going on was don’t look at the comments on the Internet. Whatever you do, don’t read those comments. Tell your family not to read them. Don’t read them. Of course, what do I do ever since then? Fucking read the hell out of them. It made sense why he told me that because it fucks with you so bad, man.

I’ll have my family call about stupid shit. Yelawolf just did a video on the Slumerican Tour where he’s in a hospital. He’s on IV or whatever they give you when you go into surgery. [The comments were] like, “Rittz was smoking Meth on the bus.” Just talking shit. I’ve got family members calling me asking me if I’m on Meth. They’re looking at my pictures to see if I got skinny. It’s just stupid shit. Stop listening to the Internet. This is all entertainment. Ask me. Not only that, if you’ve ever listened to my music, how come you never asked me when I really was on [drugs]. Why does it take an internet video?

That was the main advice that he gave me. He constantly gives me little bits and pieces here and there that I take from him. But we don’t have that type of relationship where we just sit down and he’s constantly [instructing]. I’ll ask him sometimes. Sometimes he throws out game to me and I always listen because he’s been there before. He’s wise to what’s going on.

DX: Between yourself and ¡MayDay! and Ces Cru – who was recently signed – Stevie Stone. You guys are all artists that have gotten your reps in. You’ve gotten your 10,000 hours and have been doing this for your life. ¡MayDay! had a great year this year. Stevie Stone had a great year this year. Does that factor into your work? Does other people’s success come into your mind when you’re [creating]?

Rittz: Yeah. Definitely. If I can see that Stevie Stone is out here on a tour, or I see that Prozak is out in a van and doing a tour – that gives me hope that soon this is gonna be it. That’ll give you some confidence. This is the crew I’m with. Even with Yelawolf, it definitely helps.

DX: You’re a double-time rapper. I love seeing all these double-time rappers that are out now. Freddie Gibbs can go there. Kendrick Lamar can go there. What’s a line of yours that you stumble over when you’re performing on stage live?

Rittz: A lot, man. There’s so many. The third verse of “White Jesus.” “It’s been a long dark road / Ain’t nobody acknowledge me / Feeling my homie kicking me when I finally hit bottom / When I was fallin they was laughing at me. Watching me topple / When I was crawlin / Everybody walking on me and they stompin / But they…” Going into that; going from the “stompin’” to the [letter] B, there’s so many of those that I can’t say clear. This is why it takes me so long to write raps. Double-time’s a curse. Sometimes I wonder if other double-time people have this problem. Some of them I don’t think so. Some of them I think have a magic tongue and they can just do it all. [Twista]. Tech [N9ne] probably, too.

DX: Tech named a couple of them.

Rittz: He did?

DX: He named the [“Choppers” series]. “Worldwide Choppers,” for example.

Rittz: Okay. There’s some people that you hear and you can hear that their tongue is made like that. I had to practice. That’s why it takes me so long and I have to rap out loud. That’s why everybody with this album is like, “Well hell, you’re on the bus for days. You can just write on the bus.” I have to rap out loud. If I don’t rap out loud, I’ll write in my head a bunch of words that I can’t physically say. So then I have to go back and edit what word would go here. It’s a real pain in the ass. When I’m writing I have to rap out loud constantly for that reason – because I can’t say certain things.

There’s a lot of them. I wish I could think of more, but there’s several while I’m on stage. While I’m on stage rapping, I’m looking cool. I’m looking like I’m chilling. But my mind is racing. This lines coming up. Aw shit, here comes this line. Here it go. You fucked it up. Just hold tight, you’re alright. You’re running out of breath. All these things are going through my head while I’m spitting and grabbing hands. I’m not really in the moment. I’m up here on some crazy shit. It’s weird. On nights when you’re not on that and you’re actually enjoying it and confident, that’s when it’s dope.

Plus, with all this hair and I’m overweight, so I get hot on stage. A lot of times I feel my face get red and red and red and I’m thinking, “Just get through it. Just get through it. I ain’t gonna pass out.” I’m looking around thinking about how an ambulance is gonna wheel me off the stage. [Laughs] Or how embarrassing this is gonna be? Or what will I say if this happens? All this crazy shit is going through my head while I’m like, “Put your hands up!” I’m really just waiting to gasp for some breath and get some air.

But on the nights when I’m not on that crazy shit and I’m just really having a good time – those are the best shows. That’s when it’s like, “Damn, Rittz set it off tonight.” That rarely happens, man. It’s probably two out of five shows where I actually let loose and have a good time to where I’m not mind fucking myself in the head the whole time like a maniac over whatever. I wonder how many other rappers do that.

DX: I’d think most of them in the beginning of their career.

Rittz: I know a lot of guys who rap who are just so happy to be on stage and they’re not thinking nothing else. They’re in the moment.

DX: Do they have good shows?

Rittz: I don’t know. I don’t know.

DX: It’s tough to have a good show. Having a good show is intentional. To be able to put on a good show, you have to be intentional about how you’re doing it. What’s a line from one of your favorite artists that you recite all the time but you still don’t know what they’re saying?

Rittz: When I did [“Questions 2012”] over, [Tech N9ne] on the hook goes, “Ahh do you wanna stick ‘em with another hit of…” I thought it was, “Do you wanna stick him with another hitter by the menace?” I asked him and I forgot. But that could be one of them. There’s been some real simple ones. My girl makes fun of me all the time. This one’s real dumb. What’s that song? “Beautiful girls / All over the world.” I thought it was, “They might say ‘Hi’ / I might behave.” Or “I must behave.” It’s “I might say ‘Hey’” or some shit. So stupid. I was singing it in the car and my girl was like, “You’re a dumbass! You think he’s saying ‘behave’?” It sounds dumb now that I know the real words. But I was singing it like that forever. That shit happens a lot on simple-ass rhymes.

Rittz Recalls Where He Was When Tupac Shakur Died

DX: Where were you when Tupac passed away?

Rittz: I was in the car riding around like a White suburban kid thinking we’re all Tupac. We were “riding on our enemies” back then. I think everybody was back then. When Tupac passed away, I was in my homeboys truck at a light on Cruse Road and Club Drive. Turned left on Cruse Road, got the news on the radio because we were all listening. That’s where I was at.

Those are funny times and I think about that, too. That’s the era when I was in high school. We had beef and would ride on people. Stupid shit. That was a great time in Rap. It was dope.

DX: [Tupac’s] “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” will make you do that.

Rittz: Yeah, it will. We were all gangsta and shit. We were speaking like Tupac. I was writing raps with that type of feel in them.

DX: With everything that you’ve experienced, what still surprises you about Hip Hop?

Rittz: What surprises me about Hip Hop is that, as a writer, I’ve been writing raps a long time. Since 1992, I’ve been writing raps. How much can you say? I think I asked Tech that. I don’t remember his answer. I’m not sure if I got to that with him or not. Something I really wanted to ask him because he’s been rapping for a long time is: You’ve rapped about every fucking thing possible. “What more can you say?,” like Jay-Z said.

But what surprises me is that there’s always some kid that comes out and let’s you know there is more you can say. There’s always more. There’s always somebody that’s gonna think about it. There’s always more words that rhyme. Like how many fucking words; how many different kinds of stories? So it always surprises me to see these people come out, man.

I just got the Kendrick Lamar album, [good kid, m.A.A.d city]. I wasn’t crazy about Kendrick Lamar. I don’t listen to a lot of new music. Everybody was talking about this guy. I heard songs. I was like, “Fuck it. Before I go around saying I’m not impressed or acting like I don’t like him like an idiot – like the type of people I don’t like saying that about me – let me get this album.” I got it and I was like, “Fuck, this dude’s good. This is some new shit.” New shit with a hint of old, but that’s how it all is for any type of music. But there’s always people coming along. Same thing with [Big K.R.I.T.]. K.R.I.T.’s a little bit of the old, a little bit of the new. There’s always people that come along. That’s what surprises me about Hip Hop.

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