Before she was getting noticed by big shots in pop music back in 2007, Rye Rye was a 15-year-old with the spunk to call up-and-coming producer DJ Blaqstarr and leave a rap on his voicemail.
Blaqstarr was impressed. They started working together, a collaboration which spawned her first big hit, “Shake It to the Ground.”
The music video they made got millions of views on YouTube, and the song became a local club favorite. Rye Rye’s upbeat, confident sound — and her fantastic dance moves — got the attention of rap star and Grammy winner M.I.A. Before long, the two were collaborating; M.I.A. signed Rye Rye to her imprint on Interscope Records and took her on tour, even though Rye Rye was still in high school.
Her debut album Go! Pop! Bang! is grounded in the Baltimore club sound — super-danceable, lots of bass and crazily fast rapping. The album was set to be released in 2009, but then it wasn’t.
“Because I got pregnant, and when I was like six months pregnant, my child’s father had got shot four times,” Rye Rye says. “And he got paralyzed.”
She got the news while on tour in Europe and had to fly home. A few months later, she had her daughter, Kennidi, who’s now 3. Through all of this, with her album release delayed indefinitely, she managed to stay on with the label and keep her career afloat.
“After that, it was kind of about catching up, because the album just felt so old to me,” Rye Rye says. “So I just started recording nonstop.”
New tracks took her in new directions, like “Never Will Be Mine” with Robyn, which has an R&B vibe. But if you’re listening for personal stories of boyfriends getting shot and paralyzed — or of being a young single mother — you won’t find them on Go! Pop! Bang!
“I don’t feel like that’s the route I wanted to go in,” Rye Rye says. “Because there’s millions of rappers out here that take that rap — like they get real deep, and I was young, so I figure, I might as well keep it just young and playful.”