Rapper Roddy Ricch on the success of 'The Box' and why he never considered it a single
If Roddy Ricch had a New Year’s resolution that involved taking over the charts in 2020, he’s already succeeded. Not only has his song “The Box” stayed atop the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks in a row, but his debut album, Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial, has become the No. 1 album in America three separate times.
By doing so, he’s found himself pitted against acts like Justin Bieber, who posted a hack international fans could use to bump him past the rapper on the Hot 100, and Selena Gomez, who released a series of videos campaigning for her album to topple Ricch’s debut. While Ricch seemed to take it in stride on Twitter, simply encouraging his followers to stream Bieber’s “Yummy” and Gomez’s Rare, his firm reply to questions about the whole situation is, “I don’t want to talk anything about that, yo.”
Ricch — who just won a Grammy for a track he did with the late Nipsey Hussle — did open up to EW over the phone recently about what he wanted to do with his album versus how the fans have reacted to his work, making “The Box” a hit without it ever being released as a single, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Has the crowd energy at your shows changed since you hit No. 1 on the charts?
RODDY RICCH: The only difference is I’m a little bit more internationally known, or worldwide, or whatever you want to call it, but before I had core people pulling up. My music always had organic, real energy, so when it came on it’d be an event. My people always go up, but now everybody knows the song, so there’s no wallflowers now. Before there might have been a couple, but now it’s like they know what I’m [rapping].
Are there different types of fans coming to your shows now?
The diversity of my crowd has definitely expanded, for sure. That’s one thing I could tell at my shows, it’s more diverse now as opposed to when I first started. I was coming out of the hood — a lot of the hood would support me — so it’d just be a different demographic. But now I see everybody, and it’s crazy. Everybody is just showing love.
Growing up, who were some of the artists you were raised on versus ones that felt like your own discoveries?
My pops put me on to Jay-Z and Kanye, and my discoveries would be like Future and Kendrick Lamar. I turned my pops on to Kendrick, Young Thug. I feel my mom made me play the Isley Brothers and real, real old music. My pops [was who] listened to rap.
Do you think there’s been a benefit to your career being from L.A.? Did it feel like there was an established scene you were entering when you began taking music seriously?
I feel like I just carved my own path, honestly. I didn’t really pay attention to too much of what people did before me. I knew the history, but I’ve never felt the pressure of having been in those shoes, or even walked that route. I just did everything how I wanted to do it, and then it became beneficial.
Your music is very melodic. Does that come naturally? Do you have any formal training?
Nah, it wasn’t no formal training or nothing. It was just something natural, like I just hear it in my head, and whatever I hear, I rap to it.
Was “The Box” ever planned to be released as a single before it hit big?
Everything that I did, I did it purposefully. Like “Big Stepper,” “Tip Toe,” “Start Wit Me,” I dropped those songs [with features] first because nobody had ever seen me with any of my peers. I never did any collaborations with anybody else coming up in the same class at the same time, like A Boogie [wit da Hoodie] or Gunna, people I really rock with. I just wanted to show that first before I presented what they already knew. My last mixtapes were all me, so the songs with just myself were already a familiar thing. I wanted to just come up with something different.
Did “The Box” feel like a hit when you made it? Or was it just a part of the cohesive album?
We never were like, “Oh, it’s a single.” I don’t consider [anything] the single. Like, I don’t even believe in singles like that, bro. I believe in full albums, and whatever comes out of those full albums will come. I really just wanted to put out songs with people that I was rocking with. It wasn’t like, “Oh, I’mma put this song out with Gunna because I know it’s bomb, or I’m going to put this song out with A Boogie because I know —” I really just was like, I really rock with these n—s, and I want to put a song out with [them]. When I put my whole project out, we gon’ see what the fans like, and then try to make as many vibes as I can. I like to talk about different subjects because then you give the people a chance to really digest something, and then take whatever they associate themselves with at the time.
Did you enjoy the immediate fan-driven reaction to the album that helped determine “The Box” as the breakout song?
That’s always good, to see the fans engaging in your music. You get to just see them grow with it and understand it. See, this album is a month old, so in my head I feel like people ain’t really even digested it. In about three [or six] months they’ll be able to tell if my album is a classic. Right now, it’s too early for people to even judge it.
Yeah, my family showing me the different stuff, and it’s funny. It’s all the wave. Everything is advancing, technology and all that s—, so I should just come with it.
Have you enjoyed the immediate feedback you’ve been getting around the album and what songs people like? Has it helped you see anything about your album that you didn’t before?
It’s crazy because when I make the music, I listen to it and I identify with it so much that I think of every possible thing that you could think of… because I don’t ever want to say something that will mislead or misguide the person who’s listening. I overthink what I say every time — not overthink, I just… it’s like a split-second. It’s kind of weird to understand.
There’s a real artistic intention or statement to it.
Yeah, so it’s like the people are going to take it for what they all gon’ take it for, I guess, and it’s gon’ be different things. People misinterpret my lyrics sometimes too, but I mean, it is what it is. I know what I said, and I know what I meant, and they’ll take it how they want.
What does it mean to you to have the first No .1 rap song of the decade?
I feel like it’s just God’s timing. God just chose me to be a leader of the new era. Just start it off strong for us as a whole, as a unit, as a community of artists. He chose me to do that, and I’m thankful for it every day.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.