Need To Know: Rye Rye

3.28.2011

By Phillip B. Crook

When you look at other artists who've started out at such a young age -- everyone from Lil' Bow Wow to Christina Aguilera -- it's been a big challenge to keep their careers relevant and successful as they've gotten older. Is that something you think about?
No, because I feel like they were commercially made. I hate artists that were made -- I mean I don't hate them -- but with me, I feel like I'm just raw. I'm being myself. The industry was very tight back then and they wanted somebody who was a certain look and sound. But now everything's changed about music. My label and the people I work with are very supportive. They let me go out and do me. Christina and Bow Wow started off made and now that everything's changed, they're trying to fit into different markets. But people are still looking at them as the people they were back then, so it's hard to branch out. The team that I have don't control me.

When you look at Willow Smith, who's so hot right now but so young, do you see that going far for her?
It depends. I've watched interviews where Jada [Smith] said she lets Willow be comfortable and do what she wanna do, like shaving her head and doing all this creative type stuff. I don't know how far she will go. Will the pressure be too much or is this what she really wanna do? I'm trying to figure out what song she's gonna do that's going to top 'Whip My Hair.'

How does the pressure of being a mother add to the pressure of being a performer?
Since I've had my baby, it hasn't been pressure, it's just been more responsibility. I was always a mature person. I had to grow up. I had a lot of support at home, so when I'm performing and have interviews, I have people around helping me. I'm able to still do everything I wanted to do. But it's hard when your baby is back at home and you miss your child and you spend days away. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

In 'Hip Hop Changed,' your collaboration with Crookers, you sing that 'hip hop saved my life.' What does that mean?
It's about music. The idea of music saved my life because if I wasn't doing it, I don't know what I'd be doing. It's an outlet. It's a breath of fresh air.

MIA said what struck her most when she first met you was your level of confidence for someone so young. Where'd you get that from?
It had something to do with the way I was brought up, which was taking on a lot of responsibility. I was always the mother out of all my brothers and sisters. But honestly, when I met MIA, I was very shy but she just picked up on the fact that I wasn't afraid to be myself. I got a lot of confidence from her. She was like, 'You can wear crazy stuff as long as wear it with confidence. You don't have to worry about what anyone says.' And I watched her perform and that's how I grew as a performer. My whole mentality changed. This is what you're doing, so you have to own it.
You and MIA have a pretty similar sense of style. What trend are you loving right now?
I wear leggings all the time. And cropped shirts. MIA always wanted me to look hard. But I was like, 'Why can't I look hard and pretty at the same time?' I started growing up, so I put on heels. I still be futuristic, but I look like a lady, as well. MIA can't accept it. She's like, 'You look like a grown woman!' But I feel like I've grown.

That's a pretty good description of your sound too: that mix between hard and playful.
When I'm making my music, it's all about having fun. But at the same time, I still let the hood side of me come out. At the end of the day, I'm just enjoying myself. I'm just doing me.

For more on Rye Rye, including upcoming tour dates, visit her official website.

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Tags: Music
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