By Alex Thornton
At 17, Baltimore’s Rye Rye is in her final year of high-school, but she’s already a graduate of the place from where she got her real education: the club. Growing up in a city known worldwide for it’s home-grown brand of dance music, it’s only natural that Rye Rye would absorb the beats into her blood.
She’s not some encyclopedia of records that she memorized after digging in crates and surfing the net; the music is such a part of her that she can barely articulate what her favorite tracks are when pressed. She tentatively rattles off “Hands Up, Thumbs Down” and a few other classics, but gives up quickly.
“There’s so much old-school club music that I used to listen to that I don’t even know the names,” she explains, laughing to herself. Her knowledge doesn’t come from compilations she copied from a friend’s laptop. She was taught about music by DJs who provided an ever changing, hours long stream of music that skipped her mind and went straight into her soul. It’s no wonder then that practically overnight, she went from one of a hundred girls dancing in the club to the little sister of the Mad Decent crew, getting love from Perez Hilton and rhyming on tracks from Diplo and Blaqstarr.
Before even having an album, she was invited to join with M.I.A. while she traveled and got her BA in World Tours. During her apprenticeship with Dr. Arulpragasam, she observed the behavior of club kids the world over and now, Rye Rye prepares to get serious about finishing her as of yet untitled album.
Between her natural, care-free style and a group of producers at her disposal that most established artists would kill for, it’s only a matter of time before she’s got an hour of her own music to drive into the hearts of Baltimore’s youth. Then, the student can finally become the teacher.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: How long have you been rapping and performing?
Rye Rye: Um… since I was 16, the summer of ’06.
AHHA: That wasn’t that long ago; what made you decide to start? Did you secretly want to rap the whole time or did it just happen accidentally?
Rye Rye: It was something that just popped up. I was a dancer and I used to write poetry, but one day I decided to try to write a verse. I ran into Blaqstarr and he asked me if I knew how to rap. I was being shy, so I took that verse I wrote and turned it into a song. I called him up and he wasn’t home so I just rapped the song on his answering machine.
When I was in the club one day, he came up to me like “my brother likes your song, spit the first verse for him right here.” After that, I started going into the studio to record.
AHHA: At your age, how are you getting exposed to the club music and meeting guys like Blaqstarr?
Rye Rye: Down here in B-more, clubs open for the teenagers that are 17 and older, but I used to go even when I was young. A lot of the club music gets played on the radio so even then I got exposed to it and it was something that I grew up on. I just took if from there.
"Down here in B-more, clubs open for the teenagers that are 17 and older, but I used to go even when I was young. A lot of the club music gets played on the radio so even then I got exposed to it and it was something that I grew up on. I just took if from there."
AHHA: Were you into the more straightforward Hip-Hop as well?
Rye Rye: I used to watch a lot of the traditional Hip-Hop on TV, but since I dance I was always more into club the scene. We used to do Hip-Hop and R&B too but I would always really listen to club.
AHHA: You recently came off a world tour with M.I.A. and went to a lot of places that you’d never been before. What did you see that was different from what you’d been encountering in the US?
Rye Rye: The music and the scene is a little different because it’s all kinds of music and a blend. If you come to a club down here [in Baltimore] people will dance if they know how, but when you go to different countries, everybody dances no matter what and they have a good time. Down here everybody’s competitive and they’re always battling but when I go out of town everybody’s partying.
AHHA: M.I.A. is a pretty popular artist around the world, so your first tour was bigger than what a lot of new artists get.
Rye Rye: Yeah, it was pretty big. Most of the venues weren’t club venue,s but it’s always that same vibe because if the music’s loud and the bass hits hard then the crowd is into it. It was a pretty good experience because I was with an artist bigger than myself and saw how she contains the crowd so it helped my performance as well. She interacts with the crowd a lot and that’s what she tells me to do. That’s one of my major problems because I’m shy.
AHHA: How did you manage to balance school with the tour? You were gone through most of the school year.
Rye Rye: When I was out on tour, they would just send me stuff with all kinds of work to do that I’d bring back with me and we’d communicate through the internet.
AHHA: What about your mother? How did she react when you told her about going?
Rye Rye: My mother was excited about it. She wanted me to do it but she was definitely worried about school.
AHHA: Now that you’re back and can spend more time in the studio, what are your plans for the album?
Rye Rye: I plan to do everything. My music is Baltimore club, but I can do all kinds; my music is unclassified. Hip-Hop, R&B, Baltimeore Club, House Music... I’m finishing working on it now, it’ll probably come out maybe the beginning of next year. [For producers] I’m working with Zakee from DC, I been working with Diplo, Blaqstarr, I look forward to working with the Cool Kids and Maya’s [M.I.A.] my executive producer.
AHHA: With all the time you spend in the club are we ever going to see you DJ?
Rye Rye: [laughs] Um… I’m thinking about learning to DJ. Everyone thinks it’s a good idea, but I tried it once but I messed up the party.