Haitian American musician RICHY had to undergo a radical change in his life in order to be in the position that he is in today. On the verge of breaking past the barriers of the underground market with mesmerizing music made from gospel roots, R&B soul, hip hop grit and the grind that took him from the penitentiary to the penthouse, this multi-talented rapper/ singer/ instrumentalist bears both the physical and emotional battle scars that fertilize the fruits of his labor.
Born into this world high as a bird on second-hand crack smoke; raised between the church and the wrong side of the tracks of Immokalee, Fla.; and graduating to manhood behind prison walls on a 10-year bid, RICHY decided to make a major turnaround in his life if he didn’t want to rot in jail or die a casualty of the streets.
Now a transplant to Atlanta and fresh out the pen since August, RICHY hit the ground running full speed ahead. With two hood-praised solo mixtapes under his belt and an ever-expanding cult-like central Florida following, his fans patiently awaited his arrival like the second coming of Tupac Shakur. And RICHY didn’t disappoint at all with the release of hood-praised mixtape #SOULMAN and saucy club anthem single “On Da Side.”
“They was waiting,” says RICHY. “They was waiting on my new music to drop because they know I can relate to everything they’re going through. I have been from the top to the bottom.
He explains, “I done been in a homeless shelter, and I have been on the 28th floor of a condo. I done walked to the soup kitchen to get some bread and free canned goods. I done been the nigga bringing bitches a car full of groceries. I done been on both sides of life. So I know how it is. I can relate…I was born a crack baby. They said I was gone be either fucked up or very talented because I came in this world with so much cocaine in my system.”
That natural talent was noticed early on. With the church congregation as his first audience, he learned to sing and arrange music in the church choir as well as play drums, bass and keyboard, all in the church.
“My first stage was church,” he admits. “I grew up in the church, going four or five times a week.”
Even today, the music of the church is still the foundation for RICHY’s sound. “I make the kind of music that gives you goosebumps. That’s what a lot of gospel songs do,” he contends. “They give you chills when you hear them. I like to make my music give you hear them because a nigga ain’t selling words. A nigga is selling emotions.”
It was during his formative years performing in the church that he grandmother gave him the nickname “Revolution.” So when he started rapping in his early teens, he decided to shorten the nickname to show homage to his grandmother.
After a few years perfecting his rap style and stockpiling a long juvenile delinquent record, he moved out the house at 16 to Fort Myers to do music. He teamed up with two high school friends and formed a group called So Gutta in 2004 and dropped their self-titled mixtape to rave reviews. “People would hear the cd and be like man, yall boys snapping on the CD with Revo. But it’s really a group CD,” he recalls. “We would eat breakfast in Fort Myers, eat lunch in Atlanta and dinner in Texas.”
Although the group effort quickly picked up steam, they eventually fell apart due to creative differences. So Revo came back as a solo artist with his 2005 debut Certified Grind and struck again with two back-to-back banging mixtapes FLA: Fuck Lame Ass Niggas and FLA 2.
But just as RICHY was about to blow, he caught five robbery charges. “I was facing a lot of time, dog.”
After it was all done and said, he was handed down a split sentence with five years to serve and five years on probation. After serving the first five, he got out in 2011. Ten months later, he went back in for violation probation for driving without a license. When he got out again, he entered that revolving door again for getting violated for going to BET Awards. Now back home again after a total of seven and a half years on the inside altogether, he is out scot free.
“It’s crazy how you can go in the courtroom and have as much hope as you want to and get your whole life taken from you,” says RICHY. “And they don’t take one life. They take two or three of them because they may give you life plus 60 years. How do you do that?
He asks rhetorically, “Do you die and come back and do time and die again and come back and do the rest of it?”
For this reason, and for his island massive serving time in the belly of the beast, he brings the raw reality of life to his music.
“I’m not the type of rapper to rap about having a whole lotta money or having a whole lotta cars. You won’t see me do it!” he says. “The people that I care about, the people that I feel whose opinion matters are the street niggas. If you don’t really go through nothing, you don’t got a story to tell.”
On the contrary, RICHY has the stories of 10 men to tell—like losing his father in 2007, losing his grandmother in 2011 or seeing the downward spiral of a mother addicted to crack throughout his childhood and living with HIV for the past 15 years.
“HIV saved her life,” RICHY contends. “As crazy as it sounds, I think it saved her life because it gave her that rude awakening that she needed to stop doing the drugs and to stop tricking in the streets. It just made her want to live now. Ever since then, she’s been clean. She’s trying to be in my life because she wasn’t earlier.”
Like any true artist, RICHY pours his pains, frustrations, redemptions and celebrations into his music. And he always has.
“Whenever the beat comes on, I just get in the beat. I don’t have no type of complexes on what type of noises or what types of sounds come out my mouth, as long as it complements the music. I might falsetto sometimes. I might rap. I might do bass. I do whatever. I take my voice wherever the beat takes me.”