Different Spins : The State of Hip-Hop with Red Café, Rich Boy, And Soulja Boy

What do Red Café, Soulja

Boy and Rich Boy all have in common? They are all part of the new

generation of rap artists that have establisshed an immense presence

during what seems like a crisis in Hip-Hop. Red Café developed

himself as a ghostwriter for some of your favorite rappers, like Diddy and Busta

Rhymes, has a CD out with DJ Envy including the single"Dolla Bill,"

and will soon release his debut album on Shakedown and Konvict Music

through Universal Records. Sixteen year old Soulja Boy gained

attention through his dance routines, rap and lifestyle. Having amassed over

14 million hits on his myspace page, he is slated to drop his much anticipted debut album on October 2nd. Rich Boy, who hails from Alabama, garnered a strong presence with his hit single single " Throw

some Ds,"and came out with a strong debut album which reached number three on Billboard.With these new artists leaving

their stamp on the Hip-Hop industry while so many are flopping like it’s hot, who

better to get answers on the demise of Hip-Hop than artists who found

originality in an already saturated market. Read on… 

AllHipHop: How did you

get your name? 

Red Café: I grew up

with the name Red, and Café [allowed] me to deliver whatever you need

just like a café.

Soulja Boy: I got my

name from my momma’s boyfriend. The name was passed down to me.

Rich Boy: I got my name

from my last name. They used to call my father Rich, short for Richard.

When I was born, they would say, "There’s Rich boy."

AllHipHop: What strengths

or characteristics helped you break through the mold this year?

Red Café: I don’t

compromise who I am is my biggest strength regardless of what is knocking

at the door. Plus, I’m consistent. I was encouraged to

make records that were trendy at the time but it didn’t represent

myself. I didn’t want to compromise myself for the consumer by delivering

to them what isn’t real.

Soulja Boy: My style

is different from everyone else. I have the talent and the look

that many people like.

Rich Boy: First, I come

from Alabama and that was a big issue because there were no artists

on the label. Secondly, my sway and my swagger were different

for a new artist. 

AllHipHop: Is there an

advantage to being an underdog? 

Red Café: Absolutely. Underdogs

don’t have any expectations set by consumers to sell ten million records.

Personally, it makes me work harder to prove everyone wrong. And,

whenever you do sell really well, people say they knew you had it in


Soulja Boy: People want

to see the underdog die. If you just see a nobody come from nowhere

and you see someone hustling and grinding for a long time, and you finally

see them with their own CD, that’s who people want to see do well. 

Rich Boy: There is definitely

an advantage to being an underdog because they don’t see it coming.

People aren’t aware of what you are about to come with. 

AllHipHop: How would

you describe the state of Hip-Hop?

Red Café: Once Hip-Hop

really crossed over, songs became radio friendly in hopes of artists

becoming national stars. Those types of songs get a lot of rotation

but they do not generate album sales. It ends up hurting us in

the end because Hip-Hop came from the streets and when you make a “poppy”

record with no substance and a shelf life of ninety days, it’s bad.

We need our artists to continue to be big so we can continue to be recognized.

Now, I think it is starting to correct itself and it is going back to

the grass roots, back to independent records. For example, Common

Sense, getting 500,000 spins. Kanye and 50 Cent are also coming

back with real music and this will change music by the end of the year.

Soulja Boy: Right now,

Hip-Hop needs something new and something needs to change with what

is happening right now. The South plays a big part in where music

is now. 

Rich Boy: It’s in an

era where songs that are playing aren’t head banging. It’s more

a certain feel good party song revolving around a dance move, where

artists like Tupac used to talk about deep topics, world issues, racial

profiling and things of that nature.

AllHipHop: How does Hip-Hop

being in a slump work to your advantage or disadvantage?

Red Café: Music changes

all the time and artists do well depending on what people want to hear

at that time. I will have a following because it is coming back

to my kind of music I have been creating. In ’92, you saw how

the West Coast changed music with Snoop, Dr. Dre, Daz and Kurupt.

Everyone was listening to that music. Then Puffy changed it, East Coast music was rocking. More recently, Lil Jon changed the music

following to the South. Now, it’s coming back to a different

sound, you just have to get with it.

Soulja Boy: I used the

internet to my advantage because it is 24/7 promotion and advertising.

With as many hits as I get on MySpace it’s advantageous. And, when a new artist has a hot new

single but nobody has ever heard of the artist, their album won’t

do as well.

Rich Boy: I feel it will

rotate back around to a time where there were more serious issues on

the radio. A few people put out some records that were played

and everyone followed similar suit. I used it to my advantage

by coming out with something different.

AllHipHop: What do you

believe contributed to Hip-Hop swerving in this direction?

Red Café: There aren’t

any A&Rs. One party song and an album without any substance.

We aren’t selling the lifestyle anymore we are just selling the dance

move. The artist has no identity, just one single. Music

is focusing all their energy and budget on one artist that has one record

that they believe to be a hit. It might be a hit for the radio

but it isn’t doing anything for the culture or the artist in terms

of longevity or revenue. 

Soulja Boy: No comment. 

Rich Boy: I believe

that someone put out a track like that and everyone saw that it did

well and jumped on that formula. It’s like a casino where someone

wins the jackpot. Now, everyone has a recording studio. It’s

comparative to everyone playing the slot machines trying to win the

jackpot. Yeah, everyone has talent but it is supposed to be a creative


AllHipHop: Which rappers

contributed to this change?

Red Café: Like I said,

it isn’t really the rapper, it is the people behind him, the people

teaching them how to complete an album. The people should make

sure there are three or four of those kind of tracks before they jump the gun

and release the album.

Soulja Boy: No comment. 

Rich Boy: Cash Money,

No Limit, Master P, and Puffy. They showed the fruits of their

labor on videos of cars and jewelry they purchased. People watching

the videos were like, “Damn, those are nice things.”

AllHipHop: Does the fast

paced industry contribute to speedy completion of an album? 

Red Café: Yes, because

you run into a problem with scheduling. Pop acts are doing really

well with major labels and all of the budget is directed that way.

You aren’t getting any money, or support. You have to hope that you

have a good relationship in the building or that your record is organic,

reacting organically. Other than that, you are going to be jammed up.

Unless you are like the Clipse. “Grindin’” took eleven months

before it popped. They stuck with it and it ended up going platinum.

Soulja Boy: I say it

does, especially when you are amped to do an album. Later you look back

and wish you had changed certain things. If you take your time

instead of rushing for completion, you probably wouldn’t feel the

wrath of your sales. It’s partly the record label executives'

fault, if they rush a hot single and it flops. 

Rich Boy: Master P dropped

No Limit albums every month staying on the Billboard [charts], video and radio

rotation. Everyone thought that was the way to go and dropped

albums consecutively. AllHipHop: What advice

would you offer up and coming artists? 

Red Café: Stay consistent,

work hard, don’t compromise yourself, and do homework on music.

Don’t jump out there and make decisions just based on today.

Make a decision based on tomorrow because you want to have a future.

I haven’t put out an album yet, but I am in a great place because if

I had put out an album before, I wouldn’t have been relevant now.

Soulja Boy: Keep doing

what you are doing, grind hard and don’t stop. Find your own

thing to do to rise to the top. Personally, I used the tools of the Internet.

Rich Boy: I would advise

them to be original and not listen to what they are playing on the radio.

AllHipHop: The South

is killing Hip-Hop with all the snap music, comment? 

Red Café: I don’t

agree with that. They are doing what they do. The artists

are coming out with songs embracing their culture. People over

here aren’t embracing the music. That’s on us. The people

over here are being brainwashed. We gotta do what we do over here.

We are killing everybody in every record. No one is following

our trend. We can’t blame it on the South, we just have to make better

records. The DJs and programmers, that’s an entirely different

conversation, I was strictly speaking about the artists.

Soulja Boy: The South

is giving people what they want to hear. It doesn’t matter if

it is snap music, or head clap, snare or whatever. The result

of Billboard sales is going to be what people want to hear.

Rich Boy: There are many

reasons. People aren’t paying attention, they are just focusing

on Atlanta. You’ve got the Hyphy movement. All regions

are contributing to Hip-Hop right now. I don’t know why they

are just labeling the South. I don’t think it is just the South.

AllHipHop: How did you manage

to gain so much attention as an artist when so many new and renowned

artists are struggling this year with album sales? 

Red Café: It’s my

character, people know that I’m real and embrace me. I believe

in myself and I stay consistent.

Soulja Boy: The videos,

the music, the pictures. I’ve tackled and touched on every subject

you can talk about.

Rich Boy: Besides being

different, having the perfect team. A team really believed in

me and went hard, put their life on the line. You have to have

a strong team that will not give up no matter what happens.

AllHipHop: In your opinion,

do you think success will be easier or harder for your second album?

Red Café: Success would

be easier for the second album because I already proved myself to radio

and to people that were on the fence about me. It takes going

out there and busting your a**. 

Soulja Boy: The first

album they are looking for the underdog. The second album, I am already

here, and I would have been doing everything for a while and the listeners

are going to be like “Well, what is he going to come with next?”

You have to come 200 times harder with the second album. 

Rich Boy: I think I will

be good because God shows me a lot of favoritism. I really believe

in God a lot. That’s all the places I give credit to because God carried

me to this point.

AllHipHop: Do you think

artists having their own sub-labels help or hinder the state of Hip-Hop? 

Red Café: I think that

is great because it brands the artist and gets the consumer involved

with the brand. It is almost necessary nowadays. It’s hard to really answer that

situation. When signed to a big artist like that, you have a plus

going for you anyway. You are selling albums tagged to that man’s

movement. Timing is veryimportant. I don’t

want to put my album out when he isn’t hot anymore because I’ll

definitely be hurting. That’s a difficult way to answer that

right there.

Soulja Boy: They help

a lot. They bring their own style, group to the label.

Rich Boy: I think there

are only supposed to be a few labels. Like the NBA, only a few

of them are going to make it. Everybody got a basketball team

but they’re not all NBA teams.

AllHipHop: Name three

artists that have changed the state of Hip-Hop? 

Red Café: Puffy – He made Hip-Hop commercial.

Puffy made a slew of radio friendly records that generated a lot of

sales, and had a lot of number #1 albums. Many people tried following

him in his footsteps. Lil Jon – He changed the

South with his album and many other Atlanta artists that he produced

for such as Usher. 50 Cent – He made music really

hardcore. I think that is why so many New York artists tried to

follow his example. The only problem is I don’t want to hear

fifteen year olds rapping about shooting people in their songs.

I don’t care if it’s real or bulls***t, I don’t want to hear it. 

Soulja Boy: 50 Cent – Because of how

many albums he sold. It encourages every artist to reach his or

her goals. Young Jeezy – He was underground

and too many people seem him grind for a long time until he finally

made it big. Down South Music – They broke

the barrier for a lot of other groups to get signed. They brought a

completely new movement to the table.

Rich Boy: Lil Wayne – He brought

in the new generation. Jay-Z – Although T.I and

Young Jeezy created a similar movement. Master P – He put out No

Limit albums in what seems like every month.