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Hard Acts to Follow



Who: Nineteen-year-old Baltimore rapper who grew up in the projects, watching MTV and mimicking Aaliyah and Missy Elliott. Rye Rye (Ryeisha Berrain) planned to become a choreographer or backup dancer but (M.I.A. producer and Baltimore heavyweight) DJ Blaqstarr persuaded her to try rapping. “He was a friend of my sister’s, and they were on the phone when I was singing a song I had wrote,” she says. “He asked if I knew how to rap and I was like, no, because I was shy. But then I rapped in his answering machine.”

Sounds Like: Playful, celebratory summer dance jams. DJ Blaqstarr’s “Shake It to the Ground,” featuring Rye Rye, showcases an innocent naughtiness that she says you’ll hear more of on her debut record, Go! Pop! Bang!, out in September.

She’s Young, but ... In the past year, Rye Rye gave birth to her first child (a daughter, Kennidi) and received word, while on tour in Europe, that the father had been paralyzed by a gunshot wound. “We’re still together. I try to keep him happy,” she says. “I have been through a lot in the last year,” she adds. “I’ve been thinking about doing a serious song, like a soundtrack to my life, but I feel like it’s not needed right now. You have moments where you sit and try to figure out why it happened and how it would be if it wouldn’t have happened, but mostly I look at it like, it’s life and it’s done and you just have to move forward.”


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