On a rooftop in downtown Toronto, Rich Kidd is seated in an all white arm chair posing for pictures. He’s about to release his newest mixtape (We On Some Rich Kidd Shiiiit Volume 4), and continue a startling run at becoming one of the most talked about new artists coming from Canada.
The acclaimed photographer Ajani Charles adjusts his lens and snaps portraits against a lush green backdrop of plants. The sun beats down on Rich’s dark skin, insulated by a scruffy beard and unkempt afro of sorts. Somewhere between The Natural and Dr. Frankenstein, there’s Rich Kidd.
And just like that, a summer day worthy of a BBQ turns into a stormy cloud of a sky and we take off for cover. It’s like night and day, all of a sudden. Kind of reminiscent of Rich’s resume over the last twelve months.
“I just feel like I can evolve more and more. It’s just the boiling point right now.“
As we sift through a dozen songs produced by, written or featuring Rich, the range of his contribution to music crystallizes.
“I’m definitely trying to get to a place where I produce for more notable people and produce for more artistic people and broaden my horizon and my production value,” says Rich, now inside, yet once again seated on an all white arm chair.
The Last Hope
The tale of the tape reads credits like Saukrates’ “I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman” featuring Nelly Furtado and k-os, “Silly, Happy, Wild” by Tanika Charles, “The Last Hope” by Drake, Kardinal and Andreena Mill, and countless others that didn’t see radio.
“A big moment for Rich was the Frank-N-Dank record,” says Courtney Uno who’s been building Rich Kidd and Ridgeway Entertainment Group since the second day they met.
“He was 16 and got his first radio record. I remember being in Ridgeway the night before and we were like ‘You’re out now, you got your first radio love!’ We were just smoking and it felt like a step forward. And the fact that it was an American artist and he was only 16 changed a lot.”
Back stage at the We On Some Rich Kidd Shiiiit Volume 4 release party, a strand of smoke leaks from Rich Kidd’s mouth as he lounges between two women. Slumped low, he’s low key, just looking around. Manifesto TV is set up along the far left wall, asking various artists, producers and MCs what they think of Rich Kidd.
Unsurprisingly, he receives glowing endorsements.
Rich Kidd Shit: The Release Party
The club shakes over the next three hours and Rich Kidd anchors the stage while cycling through the many artists he’s worked with for his latest volume. Rich admits he’s had to take the bull by the horns and make sure the music on this mixtape is heard the way it should be.
“I respect all of these artists, but some of these guys aren’t really putting music out there like how I want it,” explains Rich.
“Or it’s not really pushed hard enough so I give it this extra push. I put together this compilation to say ‘Ok these are the artists doing it here.’ I’m not saying I gave these artists popularity but a lot of people wouldn’t know about a lot of these artists otherwise.”
Take It Slow
Nearing the end of the packed show, Rich Kidd stops the music and debuts his new single and video “Take It Slow.” Directed by David Mewa, the video came to be after repeated attempts at securing VideoFACT grants. While it was a frustrating, trying process for Rich Kidd’s camp, the video was met with unanimous cheers and has received approximately 25,000 views on YouTube to date.
“The video is just a lot of rhythm and to try to visually play off of what I’m saying in the song,” says Rich.
“The song is talking about me going to a club and seeing this girl I used to fuck and I’m reminiscing on how she used to dance on me. But I know too many guys are trying to be on her at the end, so I’m cool, playing calm, collected and cool. So that’s why my voice is like that on the track. I ain’t sweatin it bitch. I aint no Mystikal type like ‘Come here bitch! Shake IT!'”
Weeks later, Rich Kidd arrives solo as he saunters up to the entrance of the City Life Project Photo Exhibit. Greeting many fellow Remix Project graduates, Rich Kidd once again seems at home. Inside are photos alluding to the short films that will soon accompany them, one of which is directed by and starring Rich Kidd.
Rich Kidd: Trespassing
Trespassing is a semi-biographical story chronicling Rich Kidd’s struggle with his community and his art within a harsh urban environment. With MC, song writer and producer already on his resume, Rich is pushing himself and his talents even further with this project.
“I don’t see a peak to what I’m doing,” Rich explains. “I just feel like I can evolve more and more. It’s just the boiling point right now, it’s just starting and people are starting to take notice. That kind of energy kind of feeds me. So I’m expanding what I’m doing as far as trying to get into actually directing my own videos and stuff like that. Just pushing the boundaries.”
He seems to be getting away with a lot lately, and that’s in no small part due to a dedicated team that surrounds him.
While Rich is the face of the operation, his team which includes Courtney Uno (manager), Adiel Papa (brand manager) and Tara Muldoon (publicist) is constantly working behind the scenes to put Rich in the right places. That’s what landed him in Australia earlier this year for a small tour, that’s who made the aforementioned release party a success, that’s who secured the Manifesto Magazine cover alongside Saukrates.
“He’s efficient,” Courtney explains about Rich Kidd.
“He’s kind of out of the light until its 100% go or not. He likes to just do things. He waits till its crunch time and it always works out like he has a horseshoe up his ass, and puts us through the stress. Rich has us thinking it’s not going to work out, just to make us work harder. He waited till three days before the release party to finalize the mixtape. Last year it was the night before the release.”
Instead of pretending to be a mogul, Rich Kidd focuses on the creative process.
“That way, when people think ‘Rich Kidd’ it all goes back to the music,” explains Rich. “Which it’s supposed to.”
Rich Kidd hit the main stage at Manifesto’s free outdoor concert with a ‘Rigeway’ sign on display and confetti exploding.
In The Heart of Toronto
It went down in the heart of downtown Toronto, with hundreds of people crowded together to watch the young MC/producer anchor the stage with admirable poise.
After cycling through his most notable songs, Rich finished his 25 minute set with “So Much More” featuring Saukrates and Colin Munroe. Giving way to veterans Saukrates, Black Thought, J. Period and Jay Electronica, this was a big moment for Rich Kidd. Either physically drained or oblivious to the magnitude of this exposure, Rich Kidd later asked mildly, “It was proper?”
Three hours later, Rich Kidd is fast asleep in the back of a car. Courtney continues campaigning, this time discussing the possibilities for Rich’s next single with DJ Wristpect. Will Rich feature a major U.S. artist? When’s Wristpect going to break the record? Which records are they shopping? When’s the next show?
The answers will reveal themselves in the coming months. But even as he sleeps, it gets clearer everyday that people are talking about Rich Kidd.
Written by Jonathon “Bizz” Brown for HipHopCanada
Photography by Ajani Charles for HipHopCanada
Artwork by Bridge Media for HipHopCanada
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