Exclusive: Matty Rico Premieres 'Miss You'

Chicago native Matty Rico knows a thing or two about patience. After dropping a superior mix tape titled New American in 2013, he moved to New York and began crafting his sound even further, honing in on the nebulous corner of creativity home to his lyrical and melodic rap sensibilities. After a year of hard work, Rico has emerged with an upcoming full-length mix tape titled High Hopes, a work that is self-described as containing ‘throwback Tribe Called Quest sounds’ and ‘unabashed odes to whisky.’ Debuting here on Milk Made is his new track ‘Miss You’, a record that features Miniature Tigers member Charlie Brand. Milk Made spoke to Rico about his career, his first tastes of rap music and what he thinks his most choice pieces of swag may be.

When did you first realize music was your calling? Can you describe that moment?

I was the drummer in my middle school jazz band. I hated school. I hated the smell of the hallways. I loved learning, but I hated sitting in class answering the same questions over and over every year. Jazz band was the first thing at school I committed to. Then I downloaded Fruity Loops and Cubase and started sampling these weird jazz flips into beats and started rapping in my room to myself in the mirror. Then 8 Mile came out and I was like, “I AM B. RABBIT! HOLY SHITTTTTT!” And I never looked back again.

You’ve gone from Chicago, to LA, and now Brooklyn, how have these three cities informed your music and you as a person? Which place do you have the most love for?

I got love for all three cities. They’re all places where the hustle is at the center of your lifestyle. And if it isn’t, you get kicked out. I love and hate that shit, but it drives me to always be fresh and ready for whatever is next. At the end of the day, I’m a Chicago kid though. It’s in my DNA. Stoop kids never leave the stoop.

Who are some of your inspirations/mentors?

I love Elliott Smith. I think he tapped into an honesty that I rarely ever hear in music. But everyone inspires me in some way. I love how much fun Action Bronson has with his whole aura. I’m back on an MF Doom kick these days. Mentors: I always have really candid conversations with my cousin Kevin. He is younger but I feel like he guides me. On some young Buddha, hood philosophy shit all the time.

Your music is a mix of contemporary and classic hip-hop, how do you maintain that balance and flow?

I don’t think about it too much. It all exists on the same wave to me. I like paying subtle respect to all of the artists I love by having different flavors in the mix here and there. It’s like, no matter how much you maintain your individuality, your family will still walk up to you and be like, “you remind me so much of your dad” and you just gotta accept that it’s deeper than you can ever imagine. That’s how I feel sometimes about my music. Did I even answer the question?

You’re a writer, producer, and rapper. Which one do you feel foremost? What are your other hobbies/interests—or guilty pleasures even?

It all feels like the same thing to me. The whole process never gets separated. But gun to my head, I would have to say that I’m a writer first and foremost. It’s where it all starts. Writing down some idea, a line, or some melody. “I’m not a biter, I’m a writer for myself and others.” Classic line.

When it comes to writing lyrics, where does it come from—besides the heart of course?

You just gotta feel it in your gut. It can take a couple minutes or a few weeks, but when it’s right, you know it.

Tell us a bit about your swag. What’s your favorite pair of kicks right now?

Classic original, 6 inch high top Timberlands with the leather pad. The original yellow. It’s a timeless boot. I buy a new pair every year. I just saw these Concepts x Timberland collaboration boots, eggplant suede with gold bottom that are sooooo dope. They’re sold out though, so let me know if you got the plug.

Your new track, Miss You—is it about anyone special that you’re willing to share? Or is it about a bigger idea? There’s also a bit that has a little Bone Thugz N’ Harmony vibe going on.

This song is dedicated to JoJo. She’s always been a babe. She broke my heart when she did that duet song with Lil Bow Wow. Then she remixed Marvin’s Room and won me right back. So, this is my way of bringing it all full circle. I love you, Joanna. Always will.

What’s on the agenda for the year?

More music you can vibe with. More trips to places with beaches. “High Hopes” is coming soon and it’ll all start making sense. We still got a lot more heat in the oven. I appreciate ya’ll rocking with me.

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