Rick Hnter on “Wait 4 Me” and Musical Artistry

Active since 2012, Rick Hnter has been forging his way through the music scene as a vocal talent and producer over the past few years. Based out of Houston, he’s been making his mark in its underground scene as well as collaborating with some of Maryland’s artists. Over the past few weeks he’s released a couple of singles for his upcoming EP “Wait 4 Me”, and plans to get the ball rolling with other releases.

You’ve been busy with a lot of different projects over the years, but at the same time quiet. Why is that?

Rick Hnter: I was skeptical of what route I actually wanted to take… like, “should I go the R&B way, or rap/hip-hop way… Or should I just ride these waves until I get on, then find my own lane. So I just kept working, and now I feel like I know which route I want to go musically.

Oh I see… You’ve got talent in both singing and rapping, so you was trying to figure out how to leverage both?

Rick: Basically, or just find a balance between the two. ‘Cause I never liked being called a rapper or singer. It limits me to just one category you know? And I didn’t want to take the Drake or Kendrick way ’cause I don’t like being compared either (laughs). So it’s like I had to blend the rapper and singer in me with a touch of my own style so I can be my own artist, not someone else I’ve been influenced by.

Hey I respect that because a lot of emerging artists get caught up in their influences.

Exactly! And I peeped that. It’s so hard for artists to be themselves when they take the same route as other artists, you know? And that happens a lot out her in Houston. I don’t want to name drop, but it’s a lot of cats out here trying to sound like a better version of the next guy; but it’s all the same thing, and people gravitate to it temporarily until the next artist sounds like them (laughs). It’s a repeating cycle that I hope to break when these projects release this year.

Yeah I feel like the culture needs to be shaken up. So how does being yourself and balancing your talents influence your creative process?

Being yourself is where the originality comes from. And that plays a key part into creativity. Without originality, it’ll just be a recycle or an imitation. And the balance between talents gives audiences the diversity and shows how much of an impact you can make musically. Plus, most of the artists that sing and rap have longevity in their music career. That’s how I plan on getting and staying in the music game.

You definitely see that with a lot of artists with longer careers. Speaking of that, your first single “Clit” is a good example [of you using both]. Appealing to the ladies I see.

Yeah man, and “Clit” was meant to be a banger, but I didn’t make it for that reason. Like the whole point of me dropping the four singles I dropped was to show my diversity in music. I can write hits. I can freestyle a song, I can sing, AND I can make beats and rap over them. I’m the whole package, and “Wait 4 Me” will show the singing side of that. Prey 4 Blacc will show the rapping side, and Nu Testament will break A LOT of genres. I also have a project called “Dualisms” I’m dropping this year too, it’s gonna be a beat tape of 4 tracks.

My man. Lots of stuff on the way from you. What is Blacc, by the way?

Yes sir! Blacc is an acronym for Belive Learn Achieve Create Conquer. I plan on investing in it to become my brand, and hopefully, my label in the future. Prey 4 Blacc is also the movie title to one of my films I plan on working on this year. I’m dabbling in a lot of things this year. I just hope everyone can keep up with the moves I’m making.

They should definitely be tuned in after you start with “Wait 4 Me”. What’s the release date for that?

Yeah man, “Wait 4 Me” is dropping February 14th, and has a lot of hits on it. But I’ll let the fans decide what they gravitate to the most, and ride that until Prey 4 Blacc is ready to drop. None of the singles I dropped are going to be on the tape [Wait 4 Me]. I’m thinking of putting Untitled 4 on there, but of course it’ll be different than what I already released.

Any closing statement for the people?

Yeah.

F** every rapper out right now, f*** the singers too. It’s Rick Hnter’s year… that is all.

LADE Sheds Light on His New ‘YORK’ Brand and Talks Hip-Hop Revolution

LADE is a rapper and producer that has put forth some impressive works over the past few years (he used to go by other aliases: Dgh, Doughmars, Je$us). He’s had a few songs of his own and produced a few great tracks for other artists. Namely those on Lord Byron’s Frozen 10 awarded Dark Arts Vol. 2 album, and on Shinobi’s (formerly known as Sir Milo) Corner Stores and Iron Horses.
Lately, he’s been working on building his new YORK imprint, and in talks of collaboration with Blu. After several months of inaction, he’s ready to unveil what he’s been working on.

Over the past year or so you’ve been showing a lot of sneak peeks of your York brand, but the details of it is shrouded in mystery. Can you define to us what ‘York’ is?
LADE: It’s basically a brand that’s starting out music based for now. Music, Videos, Artwork, and eventually stylized tours/concerts. I’m basically behind every facet of it and I’m properly working my way into investing into artists of all kinds to bring the brand to a multi-dimensional reality.

Have you ever heard of the Blue Ocean Strategy? It seems like that’s the type of mindset you’re bringing into this brand.
LADE: Yes, the art of creating what they call “blue oceans” of uncontested market space. Bits and pieces of that book I’ve been using as inspiration to minimize competition. I believe in the music industry today there’s lots of demand that’s not currently being paid attention to. Me, being a strong fan of both the business and artistic sides of the music industry, I feel a unique kind of enthusiasm to bring them to the forefront.

I know you have a really strong passion for hip-hop, but you also seem to be very critical of the current landscape. What do you feel hip-hop needs right now?
LADE: Hip Hop needs an entire reinvention that will take years to accomplish. African Americans critical of the culture need to get in business schools, study the practices behind the scenes, and take back their own culture that they claim Caucasians have “stolen”.
What I plan to do for hip hop is something I can’t do alone, which is why I plan on investing into hopefully a lot of aspiring artists and giving lots of people a chance to make something of themselves by not only benefiting this brand, but by benefiting themselves.

I remember you had a sort of call to arms for people who want to improve hip-hop culture and rap music a good while ago. Are any of those people part of the current movement you’ve got cooking up?
LADE: Yeah. That’s the most difficult part. Getting people who mutually support your vision is stressful, as most people think your plan won’t work, or they just flat out don’t take it seriously. Most people don’t take an idea seriously until it blows up and it’s making millions.As of right now I only have two childhood friends as silent partners. Besides that, I’m basically carrying this myself. For the moment. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to jump on your ship ASAP. You have to work and show why you deserve that support. Not only is it unrealistic it’s also a little narcissist. To think people are supposed to immediately invest all this hope in you even though you haven’t shown as much promise as all these other geniuses out here who’ve done their work already.

You must have some radical moves in mind, at least by common perception.
LADE: Radical is probably the most accurate term.

You’ve been quiet for a long time. Have you been working on a lot of different content, or on one big piece?
LADE: A lot of different content, but devoted about two months to one piece. Just trying to make the product as effective as possible without being over complicated. I’m a firm believer in simplicity. But it’s not simple to create simplicity, contrary to popular belief.
At least I don’t think it is.

I guess we’ll have to see. So you’ve made music in the past from rapping, to beats, to remixes. What kind of sound can we expect next from you?
LADE: Basically a combination of everything that I’ve been influenced by. And that hybrid of styles will be my initial platform musically, but as years go on, it will grow step by step into new territories. Even through other artists that I plan to be the engine for.

You’ve expressed an interest in doing R&B, is that something in the works or a longterm goal/project?
LADE: I plan to make a separate R&B/soul based division of York. For starters I will eventually have a R&B artist to headline it before that division actually becomes a thing.

In a lot of your production, particularly the most recent, it’s really abysmal (in a deep way) and cavernous. I’m not much of an R&B person, but it seems like a unique sound to the genre. Is that kind of production style slated for the York R&B music?
LADE: Absolutely. I intend to bring a different dimension to R&B music. Not to dismiss R&B of the past or present, because there will be a heavy inspiration of past R&B into what I tend to create. I’m basically just twisting the standard a bit.

So you’re going to be the face of production in your York imprint?
LADE: Yes. 100% of the production will be by me and me only.

There’s a huge standard that separates producers from beat makers. Which are you, and what do you think that standard is?
LADE: Producers are beatmakers who direct a project and have a vision. Beatmakers are just those who make beats and give them out to whoever has money. I’m a producer. Never really believed in the art of having one of my beats on a project if I’m not going to produce the whole project. There’s exceptions here and there but once in a blue moon.

Interesting. The best projects are when the vocalist and producer build together directly?
LADE: Sounds cliché, but yes. Not to say every album with different producers isn’t focused. But the producer and artist has to have a certain chemistry for the project to be more believable.

I kind of asked this already, but is that a mindset you’re bringing into your upcoming release?
LADE: Pretty much being that I’m artistically in charge of the entire thing.

Cool, what’s the timeframe for this release?
LADE: March at the latest. Before then is mini promo.

#9 ScHoolboy Q – Habits & Contradictions

Man this joint came out so long ago I forgot it came out in ’12 for a second. I could’ve sworn this album came out in ’11. Anyway, this is another part of the TDE catalog that puts them near the top of rap game at the moment. What makes this album so good is that its so multi-dimensional and natural/raw at the same time. Not to mention Q really just owns this album.

What I mean by multi-dimensional is this guy makes songs about damn near anything and feels like that’s his lane. He makes personable songs like “Blessed” and “Sacrilegious” and doesn’t sound contrived or out of place. He makes party jams like “Druggys Wit Hoes Again”, spitting songs like “2 Raw” and “Nightmare on Figg St.”, accessible joints like “Hands on the Wheel” and “There He Go”. Like this dude can make a song about nearly anything and feel at home. This is funny because in this interview he said he felt uncomfortable with people in the studio while he’s recording; but maybe that’s why he sounds so comfortable on these tracks.

At the same time, he owns this project because it’s him. Q has a creative style with how he drawls out some lines or has some funny ad-libs like “Yakyak!” and “Oot oot!” He also has his little moments in songs where he’s just talking like in “My Hatin’ Joint” when he’s like “paid this much much for the belt I’d better crack”. Or in “My Homie” when he’s like “Who da f*ck you on the phone with!?… Maaaannn” Q is transparent for the most part in these songs like when he raps in “Blessed” you feel the emotion and distress in his voice, “It’ll be okay… you’ll be straight, it’ll be aight. Ay f*ck that sh*t! Whatever you need yo I got it.”

Solid album, solid emcee, one of the best albums of last year. If you thought Q wasn’t that great take a listen because this dude is legit.