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 its 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 mommas 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, "Theres Rich boy."
AllHipHop: What strengths
or characteristics helped you break through the mold this year?
Red Café: I dont
compromise who I am is my biggest strength regardless of what is knocking
at the door. Plus, Im consistent. I was encouraged to
make records that were trendy at the time but it didnt represent
myself. I didnt want to compromise myself for the consumer by delivering
to them what isnt 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
dont 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, thats who people want to see do well.
Rich Boy: There is definitely
an advantage to being an underdog because they dont see it coming.
People arent 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, its 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
Rich Boy: Its in an
era where songs that are playing arent head banging. Its 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, its 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 its advantageous. And, when a new artist has a hot new
single but nobody has ever heard of the artist, their album wont
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 arent
any A&Rs. One party song and an album without any substance.
We arent 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 isnt 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. Its like a casino where someone
wins the jackpot. Now, everyone has a recording studio. Its
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 isnt 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 arent 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 wouldnt feel the
wrath of your sales. Its 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, dont compromise yourself, and do homework on music.
Dont jump out there and make decisions just based on today.
Make a decision based on tomorrow because you want to have a future.
I havent put out an album yet, but I am in a great place because if
I had put out an album before, I wouldnt have been relevant now.
Soulja Boy: Keep doing
what you are doing, grind hard and dont 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 dont
agree with that. They are doing what they do. The artists
are coming out with songs embracing their culture. People over
here arent embracing the music. Thats 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 cant blame it on the South, we just have to make better
records. The DJs and programmers, thats an entirely different
conversation, I was strictly speaking about the artists.
Soulja Boy: The South
is giving people what they want to hear. It doesnt 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 arent paying attention, they are just focusing
on Atlanta. Youve got the Hyphy movement. All regions
are contributing to Hip-Hop right now. I dont know why they
are just labeling the South. I dont 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: Its my
character, people know that Im real and embrace me. I believe
in myself and I stay consistent.
Soulja Boy: The videos,
the music, the pictures. Ive 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. Thats 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. Its 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 mans
movement. Timing is veryimportant. I dont
want to put my album out when he isnt hot anymore because Ill
definitely be hurting. Thats a difficult way to answer that
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 theyre 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 dont want to hear
fifteen year olds rapping about shooting people in their songs.
I dont care if its real or bulls***t, I dont 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.