Richie Sosa [Interview]

HipHopCanada: The first time HHC caught up with you, two years ago, you were building a name for yourself. That has obviously changed quite a bit . . . update us!

Richie Sosa: I’ve been on the grind, getting situated with the right tools. I’ve been working hard to be larger than life, working on that game plan which is piecing itself together. Even before the last interview, “I Bang” was done — that track is over three years old, imagine what I’ve got stored now. I’m trying to motivate everyone coming up and hyped for my own projects; be it mixtapes (Banned From America, Sample Me) or an upcoming debut album which I’m always working on.

HipHopCanada: Stolen From Africa did an interview with you during the Stylus Awards where you commented on how DJs made you who you are. How has the mixtape game influenced your career?

Richie Sosa: DJs have definitely helped to positively impact my career. You see, no one really cares about how good you are. At the end of the day it’s about business savvy and connections.. Take Kardinal for example, I’ve been listening to him for almost 15 years and he’s only now busting out on an international scope? People started to catch on with me when the Big Mike or the DJ Drama mixtapes came out. Society is so superficial, sure some of my fans were there from day one but in the case of popular culture, especially when you’re dealing with the masses, they usually don’t support you until you have been co-signed by someone of influence/power. So, with that being said, it’s important for me to acknowledge the DJs who supported me since day one: Asiatic, John J, P Plus, DJ Ritz, Ill Kills. It all starts with the DJ.

HipHopCanada: “I Bang” had international support, including on SHADE 45 and Hot 97. Was that the pre-meditated or did the track blow up off the strength of it being a banger?

Richie Sosa: It was both, you know? An artist always hopes for the utmost amount of support off the jump. In the case of “I Bang” we pushed that record as hard as we could. It’s funny, ’cause the first version we put out featuring Knoxx Hoffa received very little response. But, the second I put an American on it, people took notice and supported the record. And as a Canadian, I feel that, that’s the sad part.

HipHopCanada: As a Toronto hip-hop artist respected across the country, what do you feel separates you from the rest?

Richie Sosa: The main thing that separates me from the rest is quality and consistency. Those are two elements of my work ethic that I really pride myself on. There’s a lot of people who are satisfied putting out the bare minimum, or the expected status quo . . . but not me. When I put out a record every element of it is going to be at the best possible quality and so will every record that follows it. I’m a perfectionist and I try to surround myself with individuals who strive to do the best. That’s why I love HipHopCanada forum posters – they are so critical and it keeps me motivated.

HipHopCanada: You’ve been working a lot with Remo da Rapstar. How did you connect with him?

Richie Sosa: Well, Remo was working with Zale on some things and he connected us. From there we both clicked on a musical and business minded level. We both respected each other’s music and we knew that us working together would help us both cross over into markets (countries) we were previously not as prominent in.

HipHopCanada: Dope. In 2006, you said Canada had yet to enter its own Golden Era. Do you feel we’re on the verge of getting close?

Richie Sosa: Canada is definitely on its way. It’s a small pace but people don’t want to work. No one wants to pay and support. When Kardi’s album dropped everyone in the country should have supported, even if you’re not a fan. That was a big opportunity for urban Canada to prove to the world and ourselves that we can succeed when put on a bigger pedestal. Problem in Canada, actually in the industry itself, is that we have a me first mentality; people on the whole don’t value and respect music or the grind anymore. When everyone and their mom stops wanting to be a rapper and decides to support things will change drastically for the better.

HipHopCanada: [Laughing] So true. Who are you feeling out of Canada right now?

Richie Sosa: Anyone working hard. It’s not easy in this city and people are pushing hard. I’m feeling everybody – Luu Breeze, Mayhem, Drake, Famous, PB, everyone . . .

HipHopCanada: What’s in your CD player right?

Richie Sosa: THAT JEEZY. I still buy CD’s . . . I recently went on a rampage and bought everything. But that Jeezy album is dope.

HipHopCanada: What’s your favourite track to date that you’ve done?

Richie Sosa: “Sick In The Head Part 2” definitely. It’s produced by Big Pops.

HipHopCanada: Anything you’ve learned in this biz you wish someone would have of let you know?

Richie Sosa: Definitely, knowledge is power. Music, as in any business endeavour is about knowing your target demographic as well as the consuming environment. Right now, blogs and the Internet hustle are a major component of the industry. I’ve learned that it’s all about applying what you do know while keeping an open mind to what you don’t know.

HipHopCanada: How can you be reached?

Richie Sosa: Get at me! Ineedsosa@gmail.com or hit up the MySpace – MySpace.com/RichieSosa.

HipHopCanada: One last question, how did the upcoming digital project that you and HipHopCanada Digital are releasing next month come about? Shameless plug!

Richie Sosa: I have had a good relationship with HipHopCanada.com since day 1. They have a firm belief in my work ethic and my music. So it was only right that they contacted me to be involved with their union with Koch.

HipHopCanada: We’ll definitely have more information on this release available soon. Thank you for your time, Richie Sosa. Do you have any shout-outs?

Richie Sosa: Thanks to HHC. Shout-out to CMC, Soundsmith, MegaMan, Boi-1da, Zale, Esco, Dragz, everyone at Diamond Factory Studios, TrunkHustlers, Remo, All City, every DJ and radio station (local and abroad). And finally, EVERYONE supporting, peace to the Gods. Also make sure you download Banned From America!