Haastattelussa Texasin Dallasista kotoisin oleva räppäri Riflman. Hän julkaisi debyyttialbuminsa ‘High Noon’ vuonna 2002. Tämän jälkeen hän on julkaissut useita albumeita ja mixtapeja, kuten “Smoke In The City 4′. Riflman on tehnyt urallaan yhteistyötä muun muassa Too $hortin, Kottonmouth Jessen, BloFlyn, Big Pokeyn (RIP) ja Lil’ Flipin kanssa.
- Hello, Riflman! We’re thrilled to have you for this interview. How are you doing today?
I’m doing great, fam! Thanks for having me on the site.
- Growing up in Dallas, Texas, what was your experience like as a kid? How did it shape your outlook on life and your music?
Dallas is a fast-moving city compared to other cities in Texas, so we all grew up fast. Our music is very Dallas-based, but I always tried to make music that would be more global than local. Our city is influenced by all types of artists and music, just like me.
- Can you describe the evolution of the hip hop scene in Dallas from when you were young to the present day? What changes have you observed?
When I was young, we were heavy into Bass music. The louder and harder the bass hit in the trunk, the better it was. It was more street and hardcore lyrics over the hard beats with artists like Nemesis, DJ Snake, Ron C, Pimpsta, Twisted Black, BloFly, and Kottonmouth. Then the music turned into a slower country style like UGK. After that, it transitioned into a dance sound with the Dallas Boogie movement, which was big. But now, it is really a mix of all the different styles to me. I can hear a mix of everything in the new music now.
- When did you first start rapping, and what inspired you to pursue a career in music?
I started at 13. I was a hood DJ first, mixing at all the house parties around the city. We started making mixtapes in my bedroom, rapping over instrumentals, and selling the tapes at parties. My buzz grew enough to where I signed with Reel II Real Records in 2000 and dropped my first project, High Noon, in 2002. I’ve been producing and rapping ever since then.
- As a rapper, who were some of your biggest influences and role models in the industry?
I always admired the guys who did more than just rap. I looked up to the rappers/producers like Pimp C, Scarface, MJG, and Dr. Dre. I also looked up to rappers/CEOs like Master P, Birdman, J Prince, and Tony Draper. I wanted to be more than just a rapper. I wanted to be a music mogul who did it all: a CEO, a producer, and a rapper all in one. That’s why I created the Downstream Click with my brother—to be my own boss.
- It was a sad day for Texas hip hop when we lost the legendary rapper Big Pokey in June. When did you first meet Big Pokey, and what impact did he have on you personally and musically?
Rest in Peace, Big Pokey, first and foremost. I met him a few times around Texas at shows or events. I used to listen to him and the Screwed Up Click on the original DJ Screw tapes, and he always stood out to me. We put out albums around the same time, so I was listening to his all the time.
- You had the opportunity to work with Big Pokey on the song “Big In Texas.” Can you share your experience of collaborating with him and the creative process behind that track?
When I first put the production together and heard the beat, he was the first name I thought about to feature on it. I talked to a few people, and everybody was like, “Definitely put Big Pokey on it.” I reached out, sent him the track, and got it back the same day! It’s now a classic Texas record! I’m thankful we got to work together. We even talked about shooting the video right before he passed. But I am grateful to have worked with him.
- One of your songs is “Pimps, Playas, Hustlas,” featuring the legendary Oakland rapper Too $hort. Could you take us through the recording session of that song and how the collaboration came about?
That was a crazy session! Too Short had a show in Dallas that weekend, and the promoter hooked it up for us to do a song together while he was in town. DJ Snake was Too Short’s mixing engineer and mine at the same time, so that’s how we made the connection. Short came in and pulled out a bag of smoke that was so light green and fluffy, I had never seen it before! Lol! We smoked and got super high and just talked first before recording. My brother made the beat, and we laid our vocals together the same night. To have that song on my first album was crazy!
- “Smoke In The Sity Vol. 1” is an album that holds significance for your career. What memories or stories stand out to you from the recording sessions of that project?
Volume 1 was really our first Downstream Click official release. The goal was to start a series that would not just showcase my rapping but also my producing skills and collaborations with other artists. The Smoke in the City projects are always heavy on features. That volume is important to me because I had just lost my good friend and CEO of Reel II Real Records, 24K. I had to do this on my own to keep his legacy alive. I also want to thank Mayhem for their help in recording and mixing that project. I was fighting depression and contemplating giving up on music. That project pulled me through. The original version had more features than the version available online. It included The Clipse, Daz from the Dogg Pound, and Tony Yayo of G Unit on the first release.
- Legendary Houston rapper Big Hawk, who tragically lost his life in 2006, had a profound impact on the hip hop community. Can you share a memory or highlight from your interactions with Big Hawk?
Big Hawk was a humble dude, a very down-to-earth individual who didn’t look down on anyone. His solo career was really starting to take off when he passed, bro. That’s the tough part about it. He definitely has some classic records for sure.
- As a rapper, who are some of your all-time favorite artists or rappers that have influenced your style and lyrical content?
For rappers I would say: Scarface, UGK, Outkast, Eightball & MJG, B-Legit, Ice Cube, Jadakiss, Camron, B.G. For producing I would say: Mannie Fresh, Dr. Dre, T-Mixx, Pimp C, Mr. Lee, Scarface, Ant Banks, Scott Storch, Timbaland.
- How do you perceive the current state of hip hop? What are your thoughts on the direction it’s taking and the trends that are prevalent today?
To me, I think hip hop is in a great place for fans. You can listen to any kind of hip hop you want now without any barriers, thanks to streaming and the internet. Fans can listen to and support any artist from around the world, not just in their city or country. I think artists have to understand that more. Your fans can come from anywhere now! I challenge artists to start making the music they want to make and not just copy what someone else sounds like because they are popular. Hip-hop is supposed to take music in many different directions, and I think artists now get so caught up in numbers that they are not original. Be yourself! Be authentic! You can build your own fanbase.
- What does it mean to you to have listeners enjoying your music outside of the United States?
It feels great to see fans from all over the world listening. That is what music is supposed to do: cross borders and cross cultures. I hope to get out there and tour overseas really soon, so any promoters out there, let’s make it happen!
- Could you give us some insights into your upcoming album? What can fans expect in terms of the sound, themes, and collaborations?
“Smoke in the City 4” is my best work to date. It has great features on it. The production is from the Downstream Click, including new producers I’m working with from overseas. The sound is booming with bass, and the lyrics get deep on a few songs. It is the perfect mix of songs for right now. You can put it on and listen from top to bottom.
- Apart from your album, what other music releases or projects do you have planned for the future? Are there any exciting collaborations or ventures on the horizon?
We have more releases coming from the Downstream Click this year. BloFly, 900K9, and Ike Isaac will be dropping projects before the year is over. I have a new mixtape coming with DJ Red of the Screw Shop, dropping in October. Then, we have a Downstream Click compilation releasing on February 14, 2024. My goal is to tour the rest of the year to meet as many fans as possible.
- Any last words to our readers? Thank you!
I want to thank you for always showing love on your platform. All the fans in Finland and worldwide, let me know what you think about Smoke in the City 4. I appreciate everyone who has ever listened to our music! You can always get some of our tour merch and special releases at downstreamshop.com. Thank you for having me.
Haastattelu; J-P / Fileerausveitsi