Before the fame there was “Feed Tha Streets.” Rodrick Wayne Moore Jr. was like any other rapper from Compton trying to get that break and hit the mainstream in a big way. His DatPiff mixtapes were out there, he was getting a decent buzz from Soundcloud raps, and then he linked up with hit maker London On Da Track for the song “Die Young” for the sequel “Feed Tha Streets II.” He went from just another up-and-coming rapper to a superstar overnight. Five years and a hundred million views later you know who Roddy Ricch is whether or not you’re a fan of the young man.
The reason I’m going backward though is precisely because this song is so big. His second mixtape became “notable” on Wikipedia, but the first one doesn’t even have an entry. Listening to the first entry shows me that the style was largely the same with or without London on any of the tracks. In fact CJ Beatz doesn’t really sound that much different on “Chase Tha Bag” although I’m sure he charged much less for that instrumental than London did. Ricch certainly didn’t change topics from one release to the next — it’s all about wearing Louboutins, getting with “fine hoes” and “fucking up a check” faster than you make it.
“Depression got a nigga dropping Xannies in the lean cup” quips Ricch on “Free Game.” Let’s hope not. That seems like a recipe for an early grave. Young Lepa & VZNARE prove they are able producers as well, hitting that bass oomph and squeezing in some keys and guitars until Ricch eventually loses the plot and starts going “ya ya ya” like Lil Uzi Vert. It’s one of those tracks that you end up liking even if you didn’t want to. The AutoTune is a bit much, the lyrics offer nothing different from anybody else in the genre, but Roddy Ricch rides the vibe ’til the wheels fall off.
Speaking of keys though, Heavy Keyzz laces “Ricch Vibes” and this random skip button has me convinced Ricch didn’t need London that badly. I’m not denying London makes magic or that the rappers he works with haven’t made ten times what he paid them in royalties, but a rapper who modulated every bar competently can sound good over any competent track — and this song is more than just competent. In fact if I close my eyes and don’t think about it I could picture this being T-Pain instead of Roddy Ricch, especially for the last minute or so.
Let’s try the old “compliment sandwich” here for Mr. Ricch. Compliment — even when his pitch is being shifted, he’s rapping clearly enough that the words are easily understood. He’s not spitting lazily and he doesn’t sound like he’s heavily medicated. Criticism — there’s not a single sentiment he offers or a single thought he has you haven’t heard before. He makes lots of money. He spends lots of money. He has lots of haters. He’s got plenty of ammunition for them. Compliment — Ricch obviously had a knack for picking good tracks to flow over from day one. You can listen to him talk about nothing and at least enjoy the music. “Feed Tha Streets” may not have been notable enough for Wikipedia, and maybe it isn’t that important compared to his sophomore effort, but it shows he was trending in the right direction from the start.