Ritchy Flo doesn’t care about anything but making music. Going into the final round of Master of the Mic DDFW this Saturday, he likes the idea of winning simply because it would reward him with the opportunity to make music with the D.O.C. But he isn’t otherwise concerned about competing with his peers. Some things never change. As a teenager, he gave up on high school and decided he would focus solely on hip-hop.
“I’m pretty much one of those people who just threw away everything else in my life so I could just make music,” Ritchy Flo says. He has no job, did not graduate from high school and has no problem mentioning that he was in 10th grade three times. But he sells beats, makes music and plays shows. He also just released a new album, D.I.C.K., which perfectly captures his strange appeal.
From Denton, Ritchy Flo started writing constantly and rapping on Dr. Dre instrumentals when he was 11. Then he began making beats on "shitty little keyboards." He didn’t do his homework, but he made friends with another rapper who was a foreign exchange student and went back home to find a hip-hop craze. At that time, Ritchy Flo was in a duo called Xegesis and his friend offered to help set up shows for them in Europe.
His stepfather told him he wasn’t going, but his mother was starting to understand that he was going to spend the rest of his life making hip-hop and this was a great opportunity. His principal made him promise to raise his grades when he returned; he agreed with no intention of keeping his promise.
After watching the Hostel films, Ritchy Flo nervously headed overseas. But he spent the whole time partying, unafraid of anything, and performed to audiences thirsty for hip-hop. At 16, he had just played his first live shows in and around the Czech Republic over two weeks. Ritchy Flo had no idea what to expect from any venue, but the ones he played in Europe were obsessed with old school hip-hop. He thought it was paradise.
Ritchy Flo remembers some of his classmates going to France around the same time for soccer. Imagining them going overseas with a coach to kick a soccer ball makes him laugh. “I would tell anyone to pick the thing they want to do and go for that,” Ritchy Flo says. “Don’t get stuck in the world where everyone is supposed to go to college.” He admits that this is exactly what some people should do, depending on their dreams. But that wasn’t his path.
Ritchy Flo managed to tour overseas a couple more times. After making music with Xegesis for years and playing at house shows and clubs, Ritchy Flo started focusing on a solo career over the last few years. D.I.C.K. has solid production, Ritchy Flo can rap and his lyrical content is crude. But he doesn't have a boastful disposition. “I don’t give a shit about cool or money,” he says.
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After one verse he acknowledges a mistake — not that one is noticeable — but instructs the control room to keep going so he can make another. At first listen, he comes across like an idiot with something to say, which is exactly how he plays to crowds. His songs may be about getting high and being a pervert, but they have enough depth that anyone can find something to relate to. Ultimately, Ritchy Flo is obsessed with wordplay just like any poet. He enjoys odd lines and unlikely rhymes.
“I have this persona that seems like a guy with zero confidence,” Ritchy Flo says. “I’m kind of giving the audience this vibe where they’re like, ‘Is this guy going to fuck up?’ But then I rap and have 100 percent confidence.” He isn’t sure why he gets this reaction, but enjoys it. Instead of taking to the stage aggressively, Ritchy Flo seems to wander onto it and go into beast mode when the song starts. During one set, he stared at a piece of paper for a few songs and then threw it in the crowd. Many expected to see lyrics, but the note just had a single message: “Don’t fuck up.”
In true style, Ritchy Flo even has an old-school approach to distributing his music. D.I.C.K. is out on CD, the album is two discs and it costs $30. He isn’t streaming it online for free. “A lot of fucking people are thinking I’m stupid or crazy,” Ritchy Flo says. “I’m not trying to make a CD that ends up on your floorboard. This isn’t something you get for free when you’re walking around. If you fuck with me, then you’re going to look for this and not have a problem paying for it. I’ve worked enough that I’m done giving people free music that they’ll never listen to.”
Ritchy Flo is preparing to compete as one of the six finalists for Master of the Mic DDFW at Trees on Saturday, December 12. His judges are Erykah Badu, the D.O.C. and Dorrough. But he naturally has no worries about making the grade. “I’m not a competitive person,” Ritchy Flo says. “I don’t care if I win or lose.” He is just glad to be doing the only thing he cares about doing. “I’m lucky as fuck,” he admits. “The world smiles down on me and kisses me on my forehead a lot.”