Ripparachie has been kickin’ it with hip-hop heavy hitters since he was a teen, but there was something missing in the mainstream rap game. Ripparachie took some time to reevaluate his priorities when it came to artistry and decided he had more to share than your typical artists. He’s working hard to promote his new album F.A.G. (Free and Genuine) but David Atlanta caught up with this ‘fly ass guy’ to ask him about his career, mainstream success and of course Jay-Z and Frank Ocean.
Could you share a little background on your career for our readers?
I was born and raised in a small town called Lafayette in Indiana. I have been doing music ever since I was young. I started writing my own music when I was 11 years old.
I first started calling myself ‘Lil Rippa’ when my grandmother died. When I moved to Bridge Way, a local apartment complex, my big bro always called me ‘Rachie’. So I decided to put both names together and that’s how the name ‘Ripparachie’ was created.
I opened up for Too $hort when I was 14 years old. I have also opened up for Crime Mob, Lil Wyte, DJ Unk, and more but I decided to take my own route and not follow every other trend. I stepped away from the normal topics in the ‘rap game’ and decided to rap about more serious issues that matter to me. I am not afraid to be different and I feel that being unique is my key into ‘the game’. I have done songs in almost every genre and will continue to explore. One of my goals is to create my own genre of music.
You recently released a brand new album F.A.G. and while it is an acronym for Free and Genuine, do you think using the term yourself takes away the power of the word when used negatively by others?
Actually that is exactly what I planned to do. Before I came out (in March 2012) my fear was being called a ‘fag’ or any other gay bashing word. I came up with idea to break down the word ‘fag’ a year before I came out. When I call myself a ‘Fag’ I am actually saying I am a ‘Fly Ass Guy’. So when someone is trying to be negative and trying to use the word ‘fag’ as a way to bring me down, it actually makes me happy because they are actually complimenting me! I used ‘Free and Genuine‘ for the album because DJ Real BSE was telling me that it represents the whole movement on a bigger level.
You said you wanted to talk about things that weren’t normally talked about in the ‘game’. How does your new album reflect that?
Well the album starts off on the subject of wanting to love myself as me and why can’t that be accepted. The whole concept of the first nine songs is basically about stopping discrimination, stopping the bullying, and bringing peace to the community.
The rest of the songs switch to more of a dance, feel relieved to be you vibe. It took me about a week to figure out the playlist order but every song was put in its specific order for a reason. If you listen to the whole album, track after track, you will understand what I mean.
I’m partial to “You Can’t Have Me Back” and “Love Myself”, what are your favorite tracks from your album?
My favorite song on the album was “I Know You Like Me” because it was a more, conceited side of me (laughs).
It says that a portion of proceeds from your new album will benefit a LGBT non-profit. Any decision on who you are supporting?
Well I am still looking for organizations that will help spread my album to the community and also sponsor me. At the moment I will be donating [the album's] proceeds that I have made from iTunes to Pride Lafayette, because they have been very helpful and caring about what I am doing locally.
Who are your influences (past and present)?
My main influence is my family. It feels good to finally know that I am no longer my mama’s stress. She used to stay worried about my life because I was more into the streets than I was music and now I am 100% focused. My mom is the reason why I am still going as hard as I am. Another influence was Lil B (The Based God), he helped me become more positive.
Is mainstream success a goal for Ripparachie?
Becoming mainstream is something that I really hope for but it is not my main goal. My goal is to help the communities become more positive and accepting, all over the world. Even if I don’t get the chance to sign a deal and get the extra exposure, I’d be perfectly satisfied with how many people I have helped already. I have had homophobic people tell me that I have completely changed their perspective and they apologized for things they’ve said in the past about other gays. To know that I am finally doing something right is more important than a social rank.
In a genre that has been blasted as anti-gay, what’s it like being out hip-hop artist?
When I first came out to my fans on Facebook, I had a lot of people that ‘unfriended’ me. I must say that I do get a lot of support in the “based world” since Lil B has opened the minds of all of his fans. As for the more urban side of the music industry some respect my choice and some don’t, but I tell everyone ‘Don’t judge me because of my preference, judge me because of my music’.
I have a lot of hate mail that I don’t even read. I just delete it because I want to stay 100% positive and I don’t need the distractions. I hope that what I am doing will benefit the Hip-Hop scene, because I am only human and I am doing what any other human is doing, I am rhyming about my life. At least I am not lying like most of these other artists. I am being real with myself and I am being real to my listeners.
Is there danger is being labeled an out hip-hop artist? In other words do you feel there are some who don’t take your music seriously because you’re out?
I feel that when people hear that I am a Gay Hip-Hop artist they automatically don’t take it seriously, but when they finally listen to a song by me, it is a complete different reaction. I do not rap like any other out artist and I take what I do very seriously.
I am so confident with my style and image now that my material has been improving. I think that people don’t take gay rappers seriously because of past attempts from other out artists that have made the situation seem more like a parody.
I feel that I am the hottest out rapper and I am not saying that to be cocky. I believe that I am the hottest because everything I have done since I came out has never been done before. If you were to put me in a category with other artist, you would have to bring up mainstream artists. I feel that I am untouchable not only by gay artist but some mainstream artist as well.
You’ve recently come out so do you think that artists like Jay-Z, who has come out in support of marriage equality, and the recent coming out of Frank Ocean make things better?
I will tell you all like this, it shouldn’t take Jay-Z to make any other real artist respect people that like something different. He spoke out because he is real if you are real then you wouldn’t be afraid of us homos because you know what you are at the end of the day. Being gay is not contagious, if Jay-Z sent me an open verse right now, that would not make him gay. That would make him a leader because he is not following the typical stereotypes that this world has to offer.
I never listened to Frank Ocean until I heard he was gay. (If Frank ever reads this, I would like to say I am sorry that I have slept on you. You have an amazing voice) I would like to hope that this will help change the industry as well though. There are other artists that need to come out as well. The teens that are struggling to be their selves need more role models. I wasn’t prepared to come out when I did, but I felt it was selfish if I didn’t come out. There are some things in life that are more important than your pride and popularity.
For more information on Ripparachie visit his website, Facebook and Twitter.