Hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, hip-hop artist-on-the-rise, Righchus, is clearly one of those dudes whose career is about to explode. With releases already under his belt, work with producer Clams Casino, and the upcoming ‘Black Cradles’ this July—and all this before he’s even hit 25-years-old—Righchus had a chat to KJ Kearney about his career so far, how it’s progressing, what’s behind his name and his thoughts on his beloved home town.
What do you consider your role as an artist to be?
As an artist I want to do the same things a painter or dancer would do and that’s convey real emotions that may create any thoughts or ideas for the listeners. Give them something new they can explore. I really just want to have fun for the most part. I feel like that’s something hip-hop is missing, kids aren’t having fun anymore. It seems like some of these artists go into a session with the intent of making songs to please critics and bloggers and not so much for themselves. I take my music seriously but I don’t take myself too seriously, I like to have fun and I think everyone else should as well.
I know you can’t sing a lick but I’m intrigued by how often you drop the name of old soul singers in your lyrics. How have R&B/soul artists like the late David Ruffin inspired you?
His attitude is what inspires me the most he made great music and lived without any second thoughts. His music was an exact reflection of him and that’s what I want my music to be. He was also an incredibly hard worker while on drugs, which is like double the work in some cases. Work ethic is everything in this business; I try to craft my own work ethic after his. I guess what I’m ultimately trying to say David Ruffin was larger than life and his music was a soundtrack to live and love to. I think that’s pretty dope.
So you want to be high out of your mind and still be able to make great music!?!
Ha ha! Yes and no. I don’t really do any heavy drugs but I’m completely for the great music part. Hell, if my music could serve as a drug for listeners that would be cool…but no heroin for me, no thanks.
Are there any “mainstream” artists you would like to work with?
Nobody mainstream that I can think of. Most of my faves are independent like Dom, Vinny Chase. I’m a huge Citizen Cope fan so maybe him. He’s dope. I’m pretty open to working with anyone who has an honest passion for creating good music.
Nobody!?! You’re a connoisseur of Southern Hip-Hop! So you mean to tell me you don’t want to get on a track with people like Bun B, David Banner, or the incredible Mannie Fresh?
Now that you mention it I will say this, my favorite rap group of all time is the Hot Boyz. So if sweet baby Jesus blesses me one day and allows me to work with Mannie Fresh, Juvie, B.G. aka Baby Gangsta and 98-2008 Wayne, I’d be overjoyed. I would also like to work with Webbie but only for him to talk on an interlude or something. His speeches are amazing.
How will the new project be different from Chaos Theory and Sweetgrass & Supras?
When I made Chaos I was only 17 trying to find my sound and identity musically. I also wasn’t that great of a rapper I was more interested in making beats. Sweetgrass was in the prime of college so I just wanted to party, which translated into the soundtrack for the nights where my friends and I wanted to get drunk and fornicate. Black Cradles goes a little deeper because I’m more mature and really experiencing the real world. Black Cradles is by far my best work to date. It’s taking the same high energy elements from Sweetgrass and mixing the hunger and story telling from Chaos Theory. It’s a really amazing project.
Of course it’s better. That’s what ALL artists say. But in what ways have you stepped it up?
Production! I think production is the biggest one, my lyrics are growing as well, the more I write, but my production is on another level. Max Berry, who’s been with me from the beginning, has really molded himself into a great producer. He’s sampling some crazy stuff that you wouldn’t expect in a rap song that is really setting me apart from the rest of the crowd. We had a lot of live instruments come in and play as well like the Saxophone on Strokers Row or the guitar on The Fly. I also worked with Sam King, Johnny Juliano, Mykal Star, and DJ Cas who are all great producers in their own areas. On Sweetgrass I figured out my sound and style and now I’m perfecting it.
With a name like Righchus, do people expect you to be spiritual? A Christian rapper?
Yeah, sometimes. It’s kinda funny…I got my name is from skipping church and heading down to the basketball courts on Sunday to rap in ciphers. I was seven years old, rapping in a dress-suit with a bunch of 18-24-year-olds holding my own. Eventually they started calling me young Righchus because of my attire (church clothes). It stuck and I ran with it. My friends are always telling me I should change it but I’m cool with it. It’s pretty much a brand now.
Would you consider yourself to be the future of hip-hop in South Carolina?
I want to impact the future of hip-hop period. Being the future of hip-hop in my state is cool but that’s that not saying much. That’s not enough for me. South Carolina is pretty much uncharted territory on the hip-hop landscape so I’m much more concerned with making a great first impression on the rest of the world. No one really knows what to expect from us here so I want my imprint to be a good one. Charleston and the rest of South Carolina has a lot of talent, so it would be nice for someone to get on and inspire others to do the same, even if that someone wasn’t me.
Why is it important to make a lot of references pertaining to Charleston, South Carolina throughout your music?
A lot of people don’t know much about the city and the culture here besides what you may read in history books or a tourist brochure so it’s only right to introduce them. I’m very proud of my city and I want to express that. When people from Charleston go to other parts of the state they always have that “I’m from Charleston” kind of swag. That’s how it will be in my music as well.
What is something you want your listeners to know about your hometown?
I want them to know there is an authentic culture here. I hear a lot of people using the term “Geechie” in hip-hop and Charleston is the Geechie capital. Period. I think that is what sets us apart from other cities is our culture. People really live and breathe that down here.
So would it be safe to say you feel some kind of way when the Wale’s and Dom Kennedy’s of the world claim to be “Geechie”?
Yes, in fact I do feel some kind of way. Wale is D.C. And Dom is from L.A. There’s nothing Geechie about any of those cities. Furthermore, I’m also curious as to how they were even introduced to the term. I don’t want to see a culture that people live and breathe here, be turned into a facade or just another term that’s considered cool only because few people know about it. That’s lame to me. I have no ill favor towards Wale and I’m a huge Dom fan but this Geechie shit is real. It’s not slang for us, it’s a cultural identifier.
How do you measure your personal success?
Seeing the next day is personal success for me. I came up in a rough area of Charleston where out of the five or so close friends I have, two are dead and two are in jail serving 30+ year bids. Now I’m not a gangster or tough guy (and I don’t think anyone should portray that life) but that’s the environment I came up in, so the fact that I’m even doing this interview is a success, a blessing. The music is a bonus, another outlet for me to express myself.
Where do you hope to see your career by the time you are 25?
Hopefully I’ll me making enough money from music to live comfortably, feed my family, and keep my team going as well, as to allow them to feed their families. That would be huge. I want to see everyone connected to me living well.
Have you experienced anything so far that makes the industry look “shady”?
A few things but nothing major. I’m still waiting for those experiences.
Do you have an international fan base? Where are most of those listeners?
Yeah, I get people from Europe and Australia hitting me on Twitter and Facebook all the time, it’s pretty cool. Although I do think most of my fan base is in the States. Hopefully after Black Cradles we can expand across the ocean.
Why do you reveal a lot of personal information about your life through your music?
I want the listener to know me as well a possible. That creates an unseen relationship that comes out once I get on stage and perform. The people in the audience are going “Man I really felt him on that line,” or “I’m going through the same shit”. The relationship with your fans is a key factor to your success. My music is the only place where I feel I’m completely honest and open. I don’t really hold back in my writing.
You’ve mentioned before that you feel blessed to have your team, why is that?
I LOVE my team. We’re really like a family. I had to make a few adjustments and kick a few squares out of our circle but they work extremely hard. They really believe in me and my vision. Many people see these artists who have made it but don’t realise each of those artist have a team of people working for them to put them in that position and keep them there. Your team is everything.
Why did you take the college route before making this a career?
I don’t know. Like, I really have no earthly idea. I didn’t learn one measly thing in college that I didn’t already know. I think it was just to prove a lot of people wrong who said I couldn’t. My mom said I should have a back-up plan but I don’t believe in that way of thinking. If you’re going to do anything you can’t do it with the fear of failing. I feel like having a back-up plan is like saying “I might make it, but if not, I’ve got this degree” and that’s a terrible way to think in my opinion. Give it 110% or don’t give at all.
What do you feel has been the most challenging aspect about being an artist in Charleston or South Carolina overall?
I’m kind of a standout in my city/state with the exception of a few others so creating a fan base was a problem at first. SC is about 20 years behind in a lot of things, music being one of them. So I really had to work hard to target my audience through social media, but once I did everything worked out.
So when does Black Cradles actually drop?
The end of July. I want the promotion and advertising for it for to be right so I’m taking my time to do it properly. I felt like Sweetgrass was an excellent project that didn’t receive its full push due to a mixture of me rushing to release it and poor management at the time but I think we got it right this go around.