In today’s oversaturated music industry, music with substance goes a long way.
Tha Rift, is here to change the game by representing for hip-hop in the most positive light.
Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio but relocating to Minneapolis, Minnesota to further his music career, the former Navy vet turned recording artist has been putting in the work in 2021, releasing one song per month that’s been very well-received by fans.
One includes the critically-acclaimed “Can You Hear Us Now,” which went viral on Facebook amidst the recent racial and social injustice incidents, including the shooting of Daunte Wright, the murder of George Floyd, and the protests that arose from both.
The song’s official music video unveils real-life imagery of Tha Rift on site at the Minneapolis riots, raising funds for a nonprofit called Minnesota Freedom Fund which helps bail protestors out during the riots.
Most recently, Rift released his newest single titled “Myself Now,” expressing his truest, deepest feelings of both his life and career.
AllHipHop: I know you’re tired. I appreciate you taking the time and not canceling!
Tha Rift: Most definitely! I appreciate you having me. I don’t know if you remember me but I had the red hair, the red braids. I was with J. Plaza and Daddy Dinero with Ace about 3 years ago when we were a part of a group. That was how I initially met you the first time.
AllHipHop: When did you get rid of the red?
Tha Rift: I got rid of the red 4 months after I put that in. It wasn’t my hair, I put the weave in there to get it to grow but then everybody started calling me Fetty Wap. I said “alright, let me take it out. Let me change it.” I took it out, ended up going blue. I cut that out and I’ve been straight since.
AllHipHop: Where are you located?
Tha Rift: I’m in Long Beach, been out here for about 3 years. Been independent for about 3 years, I left the group in 2018. We completed that first round of the deal. It went cool for that first album and we were naive at the time. We didn’t really know what to really expect as far as industry things, questions, paperwork, where money’s supposed to be going. Ultimately, it led to everything falling out with that. Here I am, fast forward 3 years later.
Now, my daughter’s in TV shows and commercials. I’m trying my hand at acting. The music’s getting better, I went viral on Facebook. I’m trying to catch up with everything, it’s going really fast.
I’m trying to change my health to keep up with the pace. I smoke a lot so half the time I’m there, half the time I’m not. [laughs] I stopped for 9 months last year, I was energetic. I’m on alkaline water still.
I’m an veteran, I was in the Navy so I got backaches and loss of hearing. My birthday’s on May 15th, Taurus season. I’m a little older so I gotta start watching my health. Smoke all them backwoods and Dutch wraps started messing with my lungs, then I got paranoid with the pandemic last year.
Everyone said, “Oh if you keep smoking, you’re gonna get COVID.” Maybe I should take a break for a little bit to see what this’ll do. The pandemic didn’t stop so now I gotta smoke. [laughs] Here I am now, I caved. I’ve been smoking since Thanksgiving.
AllHipHop: Weed makes me happier. How are you feeling now?
Tha Rift: I’m mixed about it. Right now, I’m doing it in excess again. If I slow down, I can have a comfortable lifestyle with it. It’s getting to the point where I’m smoking too much daily. The reason why I smoke is because it increases the creativity in your frontal lobe of your brain. Everytime I’m in the studio, I make some of the best music when I’m smoking. I have friends and family who are against me smoking for personal reasons. I’m always afraid to post. [laughs]
AllHipHop: How is Long Beach?
Tha Rift: I love it here. It’s way different than Minneapolis. It’s always been my dream to live here. I’m surprised I lasted out here this long. I came out here signed, I got dropped and my mom died the month I moved out here. I went bankrupt 60 days after moving out here. I lived in Airbnbs after that until I ran out of money. I was out of the car, I was in hotels when I could garner money here and there. They repoed my car while in hotels, that’s my first year out here in LA. I was with my kids and my wife at the time trying to do this. The first year was hell for me, I slowly started gathering my resources and got back on my feet. Now,I’m doing it on my own. I can have the money to market my own songs, try to get events going, or collaborate with people. It was a s##### situation for a little while but I love it out here. The people are great, the energy is great. The vitamin D, no seasonal depression. [laughs]
AllHipHop: How does it feel to have “Can You Hear Us Now” go viral on Facebook?
Tha Rift: “Can You Hear Us Now” is a record I recorded during the George Floyd riots within 24 hours of his death. I was in St. Paul when Philando Castile was killed. I’d moved the year before everything happened with George Floyd. Our city’s very small, we don’t have a lot of large artists. We don’t have Jay Z’s, a lot of people. Jamie Foxx came to the city, Nick Cannon, a few athletes came to speak on our city’s behalf to raise awareness and voices. I’m from that city so we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. This is a very controversial issue so if I sit back and don’t say s###, people will say “you’re not using your voice for the city. You’re not using your talent, what the hell are you doing?”
The s### goes viral by accident a year later, people say “You’re using it for clout!” Little do they fail to understand, I helped raise money for @MNfreedomfund which is a nonprofit. They raised over $33 million, all that money goes to protestors that were wrongfully arrested last year. I felt compelled to use my voice because I’m an artist from the city and I gotta speak up. If I get my message out there, then everybody else is gonna get the confidence to speak out against what’s happening. None of this keeps getting swept up under the rug and deleted, that type of s###. That’s my motive behind that.
AllHipHop: Talk about being biracial as well.
Tha Rift: My dad’s white and my mom’s black. I’ve suffered police brutality throughout the years, especially here in Long Beach, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Cleveland, Ohio when I grew up. It was very personal for me when I seen all that transpiring, especially with the Daunte Wright situation going on during the trial. I went back to Minnesota again to check back in with the city, shake some hands and get back in with some nonprofits to extend some help to continue to move. To show people that I’m really for the culture. I’m black and white, racism oppresses me (audio cuts out) immediately because I have the best and worst of both worlds. I want to use myself as an advocacy to speak out to people who might be suffering from prejudice. Everybody of minority has usually suffered some form of racism at some point in their life.
AllHipHop: How was it putting the video together?
Tha Rift: Shout out to Anthony Brown and XAM Vision for filming. I literally hit up both of my guys that were in the city on the ground. “Yo, can you guys go capture some footage for me? I’ll be there in 24 hours, I’m catching the next flight over.” Both of the homies went out and captured all of that b-roll footage you see in the video. All of the chaos, the fire, the ATMs being broken into, the protests, the whole 9 yards. When I got into town the next day, I did a couple of interviews. I did one with Fox 9. I hopped out to the protests, we protested. All of a sudden, a semi truck almost hit us on the freeway. That one was crazy, another video that went viral at the end of that video. That was a whole nother experience.
I hit them up, flew up there, I shot the video. I didn’t want to put too many crazy performance clips in it because I didn’t want to take away from the general message of the song. I didn’t want to make it about me. I literally sat there with 2 _____ (inaudible), with my homie Angelo who produced that beat, shout out Angelo Bombay and Roman Hotel who co-produced that beat. We sat there and edited that video, dropped it within 10 hours to get the message out. The first year, it bottomed out around 80K views. Cool, at least we raised a little bit of money and got the message out. People responded, great. That’s all I need. I put it on platforms, forgot about it. Fast forward to now, people are pinging me. Where the hell are they coming from? I had no idea Angelo put the video on his Facebook, people responded to it.
AllHipHop: Talk about raising money for Minnesota Freedom Fund and what it means to be giving back to your community that way.
Tha Rift: Being a breathing body on the ground, physically doing something. Walking with people. Showing people that your voice matters, your presence matters. At the riots during Philando Castile, it wasn’t nearly as many as you see today during Daunte Wright or George Floyd last year. George Floyd was the biggest I’ve ever seen because it hit the rest of the nation. It’s very important to me to give back to my community because this community has supported me for 7 years. I didn’t take music seriously until 2016, I blew up in 2017. Got signed that year, it was all because of Minneapolis. If they would have never came to shows, streamed and supported me, bought merch, pulled up for me – how do I expect people to pull up for me if I can’t pull up for the city that triggered or started my career in the first place?
I’m trying to be as transparent and humble as possible, keep it a buck all the way through. I’ve lived through shaking people’s hands, being too shy, too timid. You try to be too cool for school and people mistake that judgement and that energy, that messes relationships with people. Closed mouths don’t get fed, I’m talking to any and everybody in the city willing to listen to me. If you want to work with me in the city and you have some type of platform, please reach out to me. I’ve been connecting with a lot of people with platforms back home because I need them as much as they need me. We need each other for cross promotion to get both of our messages out, get both of our points across. That’s how we grow as a brand. That’s how I’ve gotten to where I’m at now, by co-collaboration and cross promotion. I’m on autopilot trying to grow and do something good in the process.
AllHipHop: Talk about your new single, “Myself Now.”
Tha Rift: That’s inspired by me having really bad PTSD and anxiety from the military, traumas in my life. I got about 6 plates on the left side of my face, loss of hearing. I’ve been through a lot in my life. I have really bad anxiety. Being able to finally get out of that comfort shell of not being afraid to put what I really want on my records, not being afraid to step out of the hip-hop realm to give somebody a message that might not be received very well on hip-hop. A soft or heartfelt message might not go over well on a trap beat. An angry or frustrated message might not go over well on a EDM/alternative beat. I do these different types of genres, “Myself Now” is my favorite and my best record yet. I have 3 more on the way, 4 more videos on the way, 2 albums on the way.
The reason why I’m attached to this one is because it’s such easy listening. It’s very literal, whatever you hear is what you get. “I’ve been fighting with myself now, believing if I can fly.” I’ve been having an internal battle with myself because I have internal insecurities about myself, believing if I’m really cut out for this or not. I’ve been struggling with this ever since the jump. It really eats at you when you’re doing this out of your own pocket, out of your own banks, out of anything you’re trying to do on your own. You don’t have a label to go with you. I can’t go and pick up a loan, I gotta figure it out. “Myself Now” is no dyed hair, no crazy jewelry. I got tattoos but it’s me in the flesh. There’s no gold grills, there’s no chain. There’s no aesthetic to cover — what you see is what you get. This is me. I did all that. Yes it’s fun, it’s lovely, but I’m still growing up. I’d rather win you over with what I feel inside, how do I live through my anxiety on a daily basis. Are the medications working? Do I need to stop them? Should I take this medication instead? [raises joint] I go through real issues, I want them to feel that. “Myself Now” out on all platforms.
AllHipHop: What can fans expect from the album?
Tha Rift: I have 2 albums. I have an EDM album called Dimensions produced by Angelo Bombay. I’ma have one or 2 records from Chris Hooks. I want to put out the EDM one because I’ve been telling people that it’s coming since forever, I posted about it last year so I owe you guys an album. The other one is something that I’m feeling in the moment because of all the emotional things going on in my life. I don’t want to sit and wait to drop music, I want to drop it right away along with the other projects so people can feel what I’m feeling right now. Sometimes in an artist’s head, you’ll sit on a song for 6 months to a year because you got a team scheduling your releases. “No wait! We gotta roll this out this time…” One is because I was taking too long to record it. Two, I feel the need to get some other messages off my chest on a different genre outside of EDM. That one might be an alternative 2-track EP, no name yet.