(AllHipHop Features) “Look for me I got that…,” recites RAtheMC on her new single “Dope.” Even though she doesn’t finish the line, it only takes a matter of seconds for the listener to realize exactly what the rapper has ready.
The track is three minutes of an emcee putting her lyrical ability, flow, and delivery on full display. Like the Kemetic god of the same name, RA is a creator that emanates rays of light to her followers.
The Washington, DC native has been shining that brightness onto loyal fans for several seasons. Not surprisingly, RA’s glow has not begun to fade yet. She has a lot more to give.
“My strategy is consistency in 2016, to show growth to the people who've been following me for years, and to show authentic creativity to the people,” RAtheMC conveys to AllHipHop.com. “I've never been a trend follower or gimmick branded artist. I've always stood on great music and a great show. That will continue to be the focus moving forward but on a bigger platform and larger sound.”
RA is from the region of America known as the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia). The locale is becoming the site of a rapidly expanding Hip Hop movement.
In many ways, Wale’s mainstream success shifted attention toward what was happening in the area around the nation’s capital. The Maybach Music Group signee was followed onto the national stage by performers like Logic, Shy Glizzy, GoldLink, Fat Trel, and King Los.
There are now dozens of other rhymers right on the cusp of making it onto the covers of major publications and earning prime slots during festival season. A sense of pride about the rap rising out of the DMV is assisting in pushing the culture forward.
“At the moment, I think it's great,” says RA about the direction of DMV Hip Hop. “There are tons of opportunities for artists that weren't around when I first started doing music. There are also a lot more outlets and ways of getting your music heard now in the DMV area. I love the way local radio and news media spotlight up-and-coming artists from the area.”
RA’s true start as a music act can be traced back to her participation in the choir at church and talent shows in middle school. It was during that same teenage time period when her father took the young showstopper shopping in Manhattan, a trip that would be the catalyst to her eventually stepping into the booth.
“There was a guy with a boombox and a mic on Canal Street rapping and selling mixtapes. My dad told the guy, ‘Hey man, let my daughter get on the mic,” recalls RA. “He did, and the more I rhymed, the bigger the crowd around me got. Music was literally the end-all, be-all for me after that.”
The journey to becoming a DMV standout also includes being a participant on season 2 of the television competition show The X Factor. Taking part in the Simon Cowell-created series was an eye-opening experience for RAtheMC.
Performing for industry VIPs Cowell, Britney Spears, L.A. Reid, and Demi Lovato apparently worked out well, but RA acknowledges behind-the-scenes actions may have damaged her opportunity to move forward in the contest. After being eliminated during the last cut of the boot camp segment, the DC representative walked away with a better understanding of why humility is valuable.
“I thought I was going to go on X Factor and do what I wanted to do. I wasn't going to perform the songs the way the producers wanted, I was going to perform them my way,” RA confesses. “The funny thing about the experience is the judges loved me, but the producers knew I could be a risk for live television. If they didn't know what I was going to do during the taping, how could they risk it once we got to the live portion of the show?"
She continues, “In retrospect, I do wish I'd realized the importance of the end game more than just coming in like, ‘I'm the illest thing here.’ What people don't know is that two members of Fifth Harmony - who went on to win the show - were actually eliminated as solo acts with me. Simon called them back in 10 minutes later and put them in a group that would become Fifth Harmony.”
X Factor has not soured RA’s possible interest in doing non-scripted television in the future. However, don’t look for her as a cast member on the Love & Hip Hop reality show franchise. Sisterhood Of Hip Hop would be a more welcomed program.
SOHH follows female rappers as they build their careers in an overwhelmingly male-dominated profession. The gender dynamic in Hip Hop is a situation RA has had to grapple with as well.
“The bottom line of all the challenges as a female artist is respect. Do you respect me enough to give me a fair shot? It always boils down to that. Can you give my music a chance before you judge? Can I be alongside the male heavy hitters in the game and afforded the same opportunities?” RA asks. “Although it's a tough business for women, the drive we have to have in order to ensure and continue makes us more determined than a lot of male artists.”
In order to guarantee success for women in the rap game, the ladies may have to connect in the same manner in which male rappers constantly collaborate. In 2014, RAtheMC was able to unite with one of the most revered female rappers of all time.
New Jersey spitter Rah Digga hopped on the track “Best Be Ready.” Rah and RA let the world know they were both intent on expanding their respective queendoms. In addition, the two lyricists made the guys aware they better bring their best bars to keep up.
“Best Be Ready” was more than just a creative union. The record provided the women with a moment to bond outside of the recording space.
“My team and I drove up to New York and met her at Stadium Red, my producer played her the beat, and we vibed for a few hours,” says RA. “Then she ironically went outside to write her verse in the car like I always do, and an hour later we had ‘Best Be Ready’... played the track a good ten times, then we went to her neighborhood in Jersey for pizza and beer. [laughs]”
RA enjoys working with other artists she genuinely admires. Besides Digga, her list of collaborations contains tunes with Joe Maye, BOOMScat, and Ryan Lucas.
The DC pacesetter’s close ties to the community where she was bred is another invaluable link between the entertainer and like-minded individuals interested in emceeing. For example, RA garnered an MTV Video Music Award nomination for “Best Breakout Artist - Washington, DC” in 2009 and voted #1 on the list of Top 15 DMV artists to watch for in 2014 by local radio station WPGC 95.5.
Being a leading underground star is a respectable - and in some cases lucrative - line of work. With music, fashion, and other business endeavors being part of the RAtheMC brand, she has the capability to expand her reach beyond The Beltway. But how far into the realm of stardom is RA willing to go?
“I'm not comfortable with fame at all. However, I've learned that I'm at my best when I'm out of my comfort zone. As long as the people I love are not put in harm’s way by the decisions I make in my career and my integrity is not compromised, I'm okay with that level of fame. Whatever that level may be. The level where I can tour, release music, and inspire,” declares the architect of the forthcoming It Takes A Village album.
Presenting inspiration will help nurture the next generation of talent sprouting from Washington and across the globe. For RA, her mission covers motivating others to make music as well as arousing an appreciation for living a gratifying and eventful existence.
“I live for family. I live to encourage. I live to learn and be inspired. I just live,” expresses RAtheMC. “Life has taught me so much just in the last few years, and the biggest lesson of all has been to take life as it comes and make as many special moments as you can.”
Read other installments of AllHipHop’s #DMVOnTheMove series here.