You might know the Cinderella story of legendary Dr. Dre finding an inner-city rapper and turning him into Eminem. But there’s another hip-hop fairy-tale in the making: Reyisha Berrain, better known as Rye Rye, was just a rappin’, dancin’ teenager in Baltimore when she got a call from Grammy-nominated artist and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, M.I.A. who got in touch after hearing one of Rye Rye’s infectious party jams.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Rye Rye says. “At first I was excited, but I didn’t want to get my hopes too high until it all came through.”
Now Rye Rye is the first artist signed to M.I.A.’s new label N.E.E.T. She opened for M.I.A. on tour and is now on her own tour to promote Go! Pop! Bang!, her debut album produced by and featuring M.I.A. on the hit single “Bang.” “It’s still unbelievable,” she says. “Sometimes when I’m just sitting around the house, I’ll think to myself, ‘Yo, am I really signed? For real?’” For Rye Rye, being an M.I.A. protégé means one thing: work hard. When she’s not performing, she’s traveling to shows, seeing places and meeting people she never would have before, but that work can be very tiresome. When I called her manager for an interview, Rye Rye was doing a show in the U.K. She left the venue to quickly play another venue in London, hours away. Days later, Rye Rye was finally able to take a quick break from her hectic schedule.
City Weekly: It sounded pretty hectic on the phone. How’s the tour? Have you been able to get any sleep?
Rye Rye: It’s crazy. Some days we’ve been doing two shows in one day. I got to sleep Sunday, though. I love the performances. The flying for me is hectic. Just being on the flight all the way to London for nine hours, I just get restless.
CW: M.I.A. has a lot of electro sounds and African beats in her music. What influences your music?
RR: I’m just inspired by party music, anything that can make me dance. If it moves me, and it makes me want to dance to it, then I’ll rap on it. Working with M.I.A., the African beats and stuff like that is definitely expressed on this album.
CW: You dance a lot more than the average rapper in your performances.
RR: I’ve been dancing since I was so young. I have fun onstage. There’s a lot of me dancing and interacting with the crowd. It’s like a party vibe, so it fits into the club scene. I do a lot of dancing on the breakdown part or when the beat drops. When I feel like I can dance to it or if it’s my favorite part of the song, I like to incorporate a dance into it.
CW: What’s your relationship with M.I.A. like now that you’re in business together?
RR: She’s like a friend, a sister and a mother. She plays different roles. It’s business at times, but it’s never to the point where like business comes between us. She’ll be doing the beats and stuff, I’ll be kidding around and we’ll play around together, but when it’s time to doing our parts, we work hard.
CW: What do you want Salt Lakers to know about you as an artist?
RR: My music has a lot of energy and crazy bass. The main thing is that I like to have fun. I’m a fun, outgoing person. I’m not a stuck-up artist. I want people to know that I’m real.
358 S. West Temple
Wednesday, June 10