They say it takes 15 years to become an overnight celebrity. Atlanta MC Rittz has been at the music game for years, so it’s just a matter of time before his star power shows up. But until then, the Strange Music rapper is enjoying the ride.
The Boombox:You come from a city that’s known for its ratchet and trap sounds. Rappers always say they’re different, but rarely are. How have you been to separate yourself from the pack?
Rittz: I’ve been rapping in Atlanta for so long that I spent so many years trying to imitate and trying to copy and trying to do sh-t that wasn’t me to get on the radio. You’re trying to steady see what’s going on, and that’s why all the music sounds the f—ing same. Then, I finally realized that the best music that was coming out of me was when I was just being myself. As soon as I realized that, and as soon as I stopped trying to do that and copy whatever the typical Atlanta sound was, I started prospering more and getting noticed more and getting respected more.
Do you feel you got a lot of support from other Atlanta artists once you really found yourself in music?
No. I think they know me and they respect me. I get props from certain people, but I think, and I can’t say this for sure, but I’m from Gwinnett County anyway and that’s the North side and they’re like, ‘That’s that White boy from the North side with the hair,’ and that’s as far as it goes. And for me, if that’s all it is then cool. If they don’t want wanna reach out and put me on tracks … as long as they don’t say I suck. As long as you don’t say I’m a bad rapper, we cool.
You say this album really reflects a lot of ups and downs that you went through on tour and in your music career overall, and at one point you didn’t even want to continue with this business. What made you decide to stick it out and keep pushing?
After I made…it’s like, this is your job. Green light, you gotta go. There’s always this big fear that it’s all gonna come out from and under me and I think it comes from when you finally get a little bit of money in the bank, but it’s not like hundreds of thousands of dollars and you see how fans can turn on you real quick and how certain things go in and out of style. So, when you do your tour – if you make most of your money on tour – you’re judging your crowds and you’re doing this, then you’re a bad tour away from making less money. When does it end? Can you do it forever? Can you be financially stable as a rapper forever and will people still like you? It’s just scary to me. I think it wouldn’t be as scary if you had a hit song or a bunch of money in the bank and some back-up plans and things to do with it. I think that fear keeps doubting it, but it also keeps you going on as well.
With this album, it feels like you were trying to tell your story and say ‘This is my F you because I’m gonna make it.’ Did you have that in mind when you were putting the album together or did you just take it song by song?
I kinda took it song-by-song. The only thing I knew was how I wanted some of the music to sound. That intro had to sound like that. I wanted it to sound like a movie, like a Quentin Tarantino movie and me to really snap. The same thing with “Inside the Groove.” That beat is really classy and grown man. I always got this chip on my shoulder where I not sneak diss, but slick poke at everybody and all the shit that gets on my nerves, you know what I mean, as far as being better and I feel like I don’t get the credit. But a lot of rappers feel that way. But I definitely wanted to put that across because it’s called Top of the Line, and it’s showing me, no matter if you’ve never heard of me or don’t give me the respect that I deserve because I’ve put in so much work. Everybody that I get on a track with gotta bring their A-game, and it’s known. It’s not bragging. It’s known that I’m an MC; that I’m a rapper’s rapper. So it’s like, let me give you a rapper’s album. At least that’s what I tried to do to my abilities to what I sound like, you know. So that’s why Top of the Line has a little bit of edge to it, like “I’m better than you” type of s—.