When other high schoolers were sneaking on the phone at the wee hours of the morning to talk to their crush, Rye Rye was touring with M.I.A. After DJ Blaqstarr discovered the young rapper at the age of 15, they collaborated on “Shake It To The Ground,” a youthful dance track that caught the attention of M.I.A. only months later. Now, 21, the Baltimore, MD rapper has released her debut album Go! Pop! Bang! that was four years in the making. To appreciate Rye Rye’s music one must understand the oftentimes disparate state of her hometown. Then one must consider the city’s definitive musical sound unique to that place and its natives. The arts was a way for the young funky teen to express herself outside of the confines of the housing projects she grew up in. As much as Rye Rye is a rapper, she’s a dancer. And the latter inspires the sound of Go! Pop! Bang! more than the expected hardened environment she grew up in.
Her first single, “Boom Boom” (video below), is a perfect indication of what to expect from the album. It’s about partying, boys and having a bloody good time. The whole point is not to take herself too seriously. Over the video game beat, Rye Rye raps in her semi-fast, edgy tone about wanting a guy in her room. Tracks like “DNA” featuring Porcelain Black, “New Thing,” “Dance” and “Hardcore Girls” are where her Baltimore club influence is most dominant — a mix of house, D.C. go-go and techno-electro. On “Crazy Bitch,” she teamed up with Akon in a more concept driven track where the beat is slightly slower than the usual uptempo beat. With the help of Akon she pokes fun at being considered the “crazy bitch” in the relationship. “Sunshine” and “Bang” both feature M.I.A. and have the bombastic drum beat M.I.A. tends to love on her own tracks. Both records offer that distinctive voice that only an M.I.A. feature can add. Her rhymes in “Bang” slow the listener down from the natural inclination to dance to actually listen to her rhymes. “Never Will Be Mine” featuring Robyn is one of the slower tracks on the record but still manages to keep the light fun mood of the rest of the album.
The M.I.A. protege is the first artist to sign to her idols N.E.E.T. Recordings label (a division of Interscope Records). Classifying Go! Pop! Bang! into one genre would do the album a disservice. Obviously hip-hop, but it’s so much more. The pop, techno and house is all there, and just as prevalent as the rap. The newcomer is carving her own lane. There’s no sign of a Lil’ Kim or Nicki or Lauryn Hill influence, and that’s ok. She’s a young woman making music authentic to her and her experiences. And a large part of that authenticity is her upbringing in Baltimore. Rye Rye’s creativity is refreshing. The music is high energy and all about having a blast. She’s not trying to be overtly sexy or posture as some hard female version of a gangster. That’s what makes her captivating, her fearlessness to go against the grain. And with the gritty, exuberant, uptempo Go! Pop! Bang!, Rye Rye will soar in own her very own lane.