The city of New York has always been an epicenter of rap ever since DJ Kool Herc hosted his very own birthday party at Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx in 1973 and since then it has evolved to include emceeing, producing, graffiti, sampling and imaging, elements that remain a core aspect of hip-hop today.
While people associate east coast hip-hop with Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., 50 Cent and Run-D.M.C. and the 5 boroughs of New York City (Queens, Staten- sland, Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx), there’s a city outside of New York City that has also contributed it’s fair share to hip-hop; and that city is Yonkers, NY.
Yonkers has produced such notable emcees as The L.O.X. (a group consisting of also notable emcees Styles P, Sheek Louch and Jadakiss) and DMX (may his soul rest in peace) whos bodies of work have gone on to inspire countless artists both existing and new with the raw street attitude and hardcore gruff that have made both of those artists staples within the hip-hop genre.
Yonkers may not be as notable as New York City but it has a rough, tough attitude that feeds itself to it’s own hip-hop scene of which ReadyRockDee is a part of. He has put in a lot of work to build up his own platform from forming his own crew “Rowdy City” to crafting his own unique flow (inspired by Nipsey Hussle of course) to even finding his own ambition through the rough tough Yonkers city life that inspires a majority of his work.
Though some people may be satisfied with their debut album (which I did review and I thought it was great), ReadyRockDee kept pushing on improving the delivery and the style through his “Flow God” EP series where through minor improvements, kept getting better and better at his craft.
He’s been making moves this year such as releasing “Flow God 4”, copping the elusive Mickey Factz on one of the tracks and gearing himself to take advantage of this post-pandemic environment of which he is sure to blow up like a firework to the stratosphere.
A lot of you wonder what went on behind the scenes with ReadyRockDee’s life and work ethic and well, here’s what the man has revealed to me.
Nodball: So as I do with all of my interviewees, I’d just like to say that your ambition and flow are influential to every aspiring person out there. I have to ask, how did you manage to build ReadyRockDee from the ground up?
ReadyRockDee: Peace Nodball,
Thanks for rocking with me! I’ve been grinding for about a decade now with my squad “Rowdy City”. We built our name up over numerous years of touring locally, regionally. Later on to travel nationally and even internationally. This has garnered us a hardcore fan base that expects a great live show when we were in town. Tons of fans originally heard about me and became huge supporters based on my performance on stage. As I began to put out some solo content, there was a push for me to drop more often.
N: Yonkers may be a small part of hip-hop but ultimately it is a very part of the hip-hop epicenter thanks to DMX and The L.O.X., Considering the amount of competition, how hard was it to get yourself out there?
RRD: Yes. Being from Yonkers is a very unique experience. We have our own slang, our own street politics, and we are a very proud people. We take pride in being original and true to self. Hip Hop was greatly impacted by DMX (RIP) and The Lox. So to follow in those footsteps will be forever challenging. I can truly say Yonkers is a hip hop city. The entire culture in Yonkers is hip hop based with legends that the world knows and local legends that impacted our community such as DJ Superior, Sporty Theives just to name a few. It’s extremely competitive in Yonkers as everyone is fighting for a chance to “Make It”. My gameplan was to take my show on the road and build the fan base all throughout the tri-state area, only to bring it back to Yonkers so that we have another success story from our city.
N: I see you list your Yonkers heroes and the Nipsey Hussle as influences of yours. Listening to an album of yours, one might consider you the Nipsey of the East. Tell me, how have your inspirations crafted your growth as an artist?
RRD: That’s a huge compliment! Nipsey Hussle was and still is one of my favorite hip hop artists. I like music that comes from the streets, and when I heard Nipsey for the first time, it was like a breath of fresh air because he was uniquely dope and original with ties to the streets that gave his music authenticity. I remember trying to put all of my friends on to Nipsey when he was coming up, so I’m honored to have that as a comparison. His entrepreneurial spirit is what gave me more confidence to continue the pursuit to reach my goals in hip hop. Most fans say I make “hustler music”. I’d like to think Nipsey played a big role in influencing me.
N: Many people who get into hip-hop often do it as an avenue to escape the troublesome situation they’re in. You talk about your life in the hard streets of Yonkers in your songs and everybody wants to know, what was your situation and how has it influenced you?
RRD: Being from Yonkers and coming from humble beginnings, the goal there is to make it out the hood with a by any means approach. So it’s very natural for young teens to grow up hustling, playing sports, and just navigating the street life as best they could to get money. I proudly come from and represent Mulford Gardens. The largest projects that was in Yonkers. It was almost like a small city inside of a city. We had our own lingo and way of life. Everything we did was street based, so those experiences is what I reflect on in my music. But hip hop always found it ways to be the most impactful as The Late DMX, Dipset (Cam’ron, Julez Santana, Jim Jones,) and Aliyah all would come to shoot huge music videos in our hood. Our hood was like no other, and some hip hop icons who were in the know, knew that our hood would provide an energy and feel that the world would embrace. So my inspiration was simply a day in the life in my projects.
N: How would you describe the creative process in making the music?
RRD: My creative process is pretty simple. I craft bars and lyrics all day. I will write down lines that I come up with all the time. Then when I get a batch of beats to zone out on, I can craft what I have and add to it to make full songs. It’s a very natural process for me. In fact, most of my projects have only needed one or two studio sessions.
N: A lot of people often see New York hip-hop as coming from New York City proper, while there have been a few rappers outside of NYC proper that have made it, people still focus on NYC to this day. Do you think people overlook Yonkers and other New York state cities as a source of hip-hop?
RRD: Yonkers is definitely overlooked as a great town that has impacted hip hop culture! We embraced the underdog role though. That made us even more unique. We have our own identity and sound. Many casual hip hop fans may overlook us but hardcore hip hop heads know about Yonkers and the emcees that are bred from here. There’s other nearby cities that don’t get their credit too like Mount Vernon, and New Rochelle. They gave birthed some hip hop legends too!
N: I see that compared to your peers, you (along with your group) have opened up for major rappers from all sorts of coasts; for all the aspiring hip-hoppers out there, how hard is it to gain that prestige and respect that allows you to open for such acts?
RRD: Rowdy City was and still is influenced by those groups that you’ve named. We’ve had opportunities to open up for Dipset on tour, and shared stages with many of the others you mentioned as well. I’d be remissed if I didn’t give a huge shoutout to Bridgeport, CT. This is where Rowdy City as a group was formed. Me and Rowdy860 met on the campus of university of bridgeport and formed a crew. We would later welcome Teezy Money to the squad. Most say our energetic stage show and versatility it what separates us from other groups. We have all types of sounds that we go into on our group projects. Bridgeport, CT is another underdog town with dope talent and a well respected street background. We don’t sound like anyone, look like anyone or move like anyone. I can truly say our crew is 100% authentic! Gotta send a big shoutout to Tu$hay and Stewie Da Bo$$ for providing the beats that helped shaped our early sound and style!
We knew that if we wanted to be mentioned with the great emcees, we’d have to prove ourselves and take advantage of any opportunity to perform in front of audiences that were brought in by larger acts. We would open up for artists with the goal to make it our show. Most acts who got a chance to witness our show always left very impressed and more importantly, the fans were impressed and became future fans and supporters. A Rowdy City show is a must watch. I’ve taken all of those experiences with my crew and developed a great solo stage show too. Performing is my favorite part of being an emcee. That live reaction I get from the fans is the ultimate high!
N: East Coast hip-hop groups often face trials and tribulations to the point where they often break up or don’t have the statue they had in the past. I know hip-hop is primarily trend based but what’s your forever plan, what are you and your group going to do to ensure notability in the future if you ever find yourself in a position of fame?
RRD: The great thing about Rowdy City is we truly have a brotherhood. And our bond extends beyond the music. We are family! Sometimes family goes through tough times and overwhelming circumstances, but at the end of the day, family wins out! We built this off of loyalty and respect! It’s natural for grown men or women to have differences in opinions, but instead of running from that fact, we embraced it! We challenge each other’s thoughts and ideas all the time. But we’ll always have each other’s best interest. We’re not motivated by money or material things. We are motivated by legacy and ability to prove we belong with the elites of this culture!
N: Hip-hop is defined by what the person has gone through in life. If you could describe your past life in a few words, what would you describe it as?
RRD: Good times, bad times, Struggle times, hardships, failure, growth, but it all ends in love! The goal is to make something outta nothing, turn a negative and flip it to a positive!
N: Success is hard to achieve and life is hard to live in the United States, factors such as inequality, racism and police brutality make living harder than it has to be. If you were in a position of power, what would you do to change everything for the better?
RRD: Unfortunately I grew up witnessing police brutality and racism. At a young age you see things that you have little to no control of and you have to adjust to that. It’s a shame that our country has yet to put that behind us. The saddest part is it is being normalized. As a black man, all we want is equal non judge mental treatment. We want equal hard earned opportunities in the work field, not to be scaled on a curve. We want justice for when we are wronged. If I was in a position of power, these criminal laws need to be amended to fit today’s times, and we need a true justice reform, law maker reform, and educational reform. Everyone must be held 100% accountable of their actions.
N: Hip-hop has a variety of lifestyles but the one most perpetrated and stereotyped in hip-hop has got to be that of gangsta rap. A lot of songs feature and a lot of people assume that the average life of a hip-hopper revolves/revolving around drugs, guns, sex and violence. What would you to do break that stereotype and ensure a better future for all?
RRD: Hip hop is the most impactful culture in the world. There is a thin line to between glorifying a street life and expressing and sharing your street experiences to bring closure or show light on what you have over came. Most people who grow up in the streets want to leave that life. To overcome and defeat the odds set against you in a beautiful feeling. Those are the messages most are trying to portray. Lastly, I’m not 100% sure that I would like to get rid of the stereotype as much as I would just inform people to do their own research and get behind those who are genuine. Drugs, guns, sex, and violence are always going to be apart of the streets. I’d rather people bring awareness to it then to turn a blind eye. The future will benefit from people who decide to stand firm in their beliefs and understand that there’s consequences to every action. Gotta be 100% accountable in everything you do.
N: If you met your previous self at a certain period of time, what kind of advice would you have for him?
RRD: If I met myself earlier in life, I would have advised myself to be 100% all in from the very first rhyme you wrote. Only because so much time passes us by when you are in search of your true identity, growing your skills, and building that ultimate confidence in your craft.
N: And what kind of advice would you have to the people reading this interview right now?
RRD: My advice is to always bet on yourself. Your dreams and goals will only be accomplished if you put your all into all that you do. Don’t wait for help, instead build value so help comes organically.
N: Thank you for your time.
RRD: I want to thank Nodball for reaching out, I truly appreciate the platform and the respect you have shown me. I’ll forever be tapped in and look forward to both of us reaching new levels. Much love, peace!
ReadyRockDee can be found on Twitter, Instagram, Bandcamp, Soundcloud and YouTube. As for his Rowdy City group they can be found on their website, Instagram, Soundcloud and YouTube. If you like what you hear, support him and his group, your support will come a long way into helping his career blossom and bloom.