Interviewed by Warnell Jones
Despite all the questions about hip-hop’s future (is hip-hop dying; has it been dying since its emergence?) and those claiming that the art of rhyming has died because of a lack of syncopated rhyme, let alone the rising popularity of “mumble rap”, there are many artists who say no and argue that hip-hop is as strong now as it’s ever been. And that lyricism, style, and originality still exists, even if media outlets say otherwise.
Enter Flyboi Rich, a native Detroit MC, who is determined to show the hip-hop world that real rap, real lyricism, real hip-hop is prevalent and on the rise. Hip-Hop Forum Digital Magazine’s Warnell Jones sat down with Flyboi Rich, and his lyrical partner, Shakk Sport to talk about their endeavors and hear their take on the culture.
Hip-Hop Forum: First of all, I wanna thank you guys so much being here, kicking it about hip-hop. I’ve listened to your music, which is rife with similes, metaphors, and other literary tricks. What’s your approach to rapping, do you write?
Flyboi Rich: Yeah, I still write rhymes. As far as rapping, for real, a lot of times it just depends on the beat. When the beat is nice, I usually get done with the song quick, like quick as hell.
HHF: Who’d you listen to as a hip-hop youth that made you feel like you wanted to rap?
Flyboi Rich: I’d say who I listen to now, like J. Cole, Fabolous, Jay-Z – I like all the lyrical people really. I was listening to Lil’ Wayne for a while, like ‘04 – ‘06 Wayne. Then Fabolous came out with the “no competition” joint – that’s what made me say, “I gotta step my bars up.”
HHF: How long have y’all been spitting for now?
Flyboi Rich: We’ve been playing with it for a minute, but like, I don’t know, what you think? (looks at Shakk Sport)
Shakk Sport: Seriously? We’ve been serious about it for like, two years now, as far as pushing it. We was always doing it for our people, but we never thought about putting it out on our own until a few years ago.
HHF: What’s the business side of music like for you guys as artists?
Flyboi Rich: Man, it’s the promo. The promo is crazy. Here in Detroit, it’s hard to get on the radio because they latch on to their “people”. But the whole thing is about promo. I actually tried to go outside of the city – Memphis, Philly – they was showing more love than here. I don’t know, maybe if they hear it from outside, it’ll catch on. I feel like that’s how it’s gotta go. Kanye West, Eminem – happened to them the same way.
Shakk Sport: I think the city overall supports, but it’s the hoods, the people listening to the music – they not listening to nothing really lyrical. They used to the same stuff from the radio and the clubs.
HHF: So do y’all fit the stereotype of “Detroit Rappers”? I know people that write off Detroit artists, like, “They’re all the same, they talk about the same stuff.” Do you fit the “Detroit” style of hip-hop?
Flyboi Rich: It’s so many different Detroit styles, though. J-Dilla and Slum Village got a different sound than Eminem & D-12. All real rap, though.
Shakk Sport: But that’s hip-hop overall. A lot of people get overlooked for one reason or another. Like Fabolous, J. Cole – even though Cole sells and drops radio singles – still overlooked. I feel like the only thing people listen to is what’s playing on the radio or in the clubs. It’s like alot of lyrical shit you don’t dance to, so it gets curbed.
HHF: In lieu of that, how did it feel when 97.9fm & 107.5fm was playing your songs as “Unsigned Hype”?
Flyboi Rich: It was cool…it was nice, but really, man I wasn’t even really feeling those tracks like that. They were “radio tracks”. People was calling me, and that was cool. I had just been submitting everywhere. Those songs really latched on. I had people from London hitting me up. Overseas, they was with it. I see that, like, alot of overseas artists come over here and get love, so why not vice versa?
HHF: How did DOPEish Records get started?
Flyboi Rich: Alright, DOPEish Records started as DOPE – shorthand for Da Ones People Envy. I wanted the original name to be DOPEshit Records, but ASCAP wouldn’t let us put the “shit” in the title, so we changed it to “ish”, so you have DOPEish Records. We put it together because we make dope music.
HHF: So what’s next for Flyboi Rich, Shakk Sport, and DOPEish Records?
Flyboi Rich: Well, we’re shooting the video for “In My Mind” tonight. Vevo wants me to open a page with them, so I’ll be shooting more videos. I just finished my tracks for my new EP, but I got like 10 tracks, so I gotta narrow it down. After that, we’re doing a mix tape, and just promoting heavy. I’m in talks with XXL and Fader. I submitted a track to Sway, and he got back to me, so I’ll be with him soon. Just pushing.
HHF: Thank you so much for taking out time to kick it with us, brothers.
Check out Flyboi Rich and Shakk Sport on Soundcloud:
Detroit writer, Warnell Jones is a hip-hop enthusiast and all-around music lover and loves to write about hip-hop culture, music, love and society. Warnell is part of the New Black Writers Program, managed by Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine, to support, nurture and develop the talents of Black American journalists of the future.