Check the Stats, Rah Swish Been Outside

Rah Swish

Rah Swish is an elected official of the streets. A poster boy for success hailing from one of New York’s celebrated boroughs, the Canarsie rapper is a product of his environment. For Rah, rap is almost like a rite of passage that leads to acceptance within his immediate circle of friends. But long before he became one of the torchbearers of the WOO movement, Rah Swish was outside. “Rainy days, hot days, summer days, any type of days when something going on outside, you gotta be present for that.” 

From the first time he tried his hand at rap off the strength of mere curiosity, to witnessing Pop Smoke’s meteoric rise in music prior to his untimely death, Rah Swish found purpose in creating with pure intentions. His enjoyment stems from crafting bars that are a unique reflection of his truth. He spares no details, leaving no stone unturned in his search for growth.

MAYOR OF THE STREETS, his latest album released today via WOO Entertainment / EMPIRE, is a testament of Rah’s unparalleled grind. He continues to set the standard, serving as a source of inspiration for the trenches by way of a stylized rhyme scheme that’s blatantly aggressive and impossible to ignore. But if you were to ask Rah, drill music is all about the art of expression, or as he states, “Real drill is the voice of the streets.” 

While Rah Swish’s inception in rap is fairly recent, dating back to 2015, his consistency has afforded him the opportunity to become a rising star within Brooklyn’s buzzing soundscape.

Check out our conversation below, lightly edited for clarity and context.

Talk to me about your childhood. What does it mean to be from Canarsie?

I mean shit, I’m from two different neighborhoods. My younger days, probably from eight to fourteen, I was in East New York then I moved. It’s kind of like two different worlds, but I’d say with Canarsie, you see a lot of flashy things that you want to get into at an early age. You see the young boys styling, they got a lot of drip on. You might see a young nigga in a fancy car, shit like that. It kind of makes you wanna grow up fast in the sense of you grow up seeing everybody getting money around you. You got a hunger to get money. 

When did music first come into play?

I’d say early 2015 is when I first got in the booth because a couple of my mans’ were rapping. They had the hood jackin’ em, people were fuckin’ wit it. So I thought to myself, “Let me see if I can do this shit.” I told ‘em one day, “Yo, I can rap,” you feel me. I used to do a lil’ 1-2 shit back in the day. One day I went in the booth and freestyled some shit that I had and they fucked wit it. I end up writing a bunch of freestyles and putting them shits out. My main circle was feeling it and I started growing from there. 

If you weren’t rapping, what do you feel like your profession would be? 

Shit Ion’t know, I ain’t even gon’ lie to you. Probably something negative. 

It’s clear that you and Pop Smoke had a close relationship. You witnessed his rise in rap first-hand. Did his success motivate you in any way?

Hell yeah. That was big motivation because it’s like wit making music and being an artist, you always got an idea about how far you can go. You might think certain shit not obtainable but he [Pop Smoke] broke barriers. It was like damn, this shit can really happen, even for a regular n***a in the hood. All these rappers portray that they from the hood, so when they make it, you think they got a connection or some shit. Seeing that shit actually work for somebody that’s close to you, that shit is official – life can change in a second. That turned my grind up and everybody else around us. 

You’re arguably considered one of the torchbearers of the WOO movement. How does that make you feel?

Feel about what, the WOO? 

Nah, I’m saying – as an artist – what does it feel like to keep the WOO movement alive.

Ok, um.. I mean shit, whatever happens is gon’ happen. So if that’s what I’m labeled as, that’s how people perceive me, then that’s how it’s supposed to be. That’s how I look at it. I’ma continue to do what I do.

BK Juice is very narrative-driven, almost like it’s a reflection of everyday life in the hood. During the production stage of the short-film, how did you manage to get into character? 

I ain’t gon’ lie, it wasn’t really no backstory motivation behind me getting into character. I’m a good actor in the sense of playing a role. Once I read the script and shit, I already knew the movie [Juice] so it was just about having fun wit it. I tried to not take it too serious or personal, as far as acting, because I ain’t get into no scenes where it could be taken too seriously. It’s like aight, I’m from New York, this a hood movie [a classic] so we gon’ do this the right way. I knew what type of angle to take to play that role. 

I know this isn’t your first time dabbling in acting. A while back you did a revamped version of Belly too. When did this whole concept of recreating films come into play? 

I was in the studio one day with the team and we were thinking about what else we could do besides just releasing music the regular way. It’s like shit, I can do everything: I can act, I can rap, I’m just brainstorming shit. That’s how the BK Belly shit came about, it was really just a test. We gon’ set up a script, we gon’ do this, we gon’ really see if you can act. That shit came out fire so we decided to stick wit it.

Pop Smoke made his acting debut earlier this year with Eddie Huang’s Boogie film. I can’t help but wonder, did you two have something in the works, cinematically speaking?

Nah, we ain’t never get the chance to have something in the works like that. I can definitely say he a great ass actor. I saw it [Boogie] when that shit first came out. My boy did his thing. 

Your music speaks volumes about being surrounded by shooters and toting weapons in-and-out of shows. Is there ever a moment where you feel relaxed? It just sounds like you’re constantly on edge.

Yeah [I’m relaxed] when I’m home. My advice to anybody that’s outside or in the streets, the only time you should feel comfortable is when you home cuz’ once you step foot out your house, no matter where you at, you gotta be alert 24/7. When I get home after a long day or whatever, I can feel relaxed and chill. I know it ain’t no negative energy around me. Other than that, I ain’t relaxed. 

With MAYOR OF THE STREETS being your first full-length release since 2020’s WOO Forever, what has changed since then?

My growth and how I’m making music. Just the shit that I’m talking about, it’s still the same in the sense of it being drill music, but you just gon’ hear the elevation in the shit I’m talking about. It’s more confidence in my delivery, just more of an upgrade. I’m showing the growth and elevation of who I am. 

What does drill music mean to you? 

Shit, I look at drill music as expression. I listen to all types of drill music: the UK drill, Chicago drill. That shit just a big street expression. A bunch of n****s from the streets [or affiliated] just letting you know what’s going on. It might be a lil’ fabrication, some people be fanned out, but that shit definitely speaks for the streets. Real drill is the voice of the streets.

How exactly did Rah Swish become an elected official of the streets? 

[Laughs] It take a lot of hardwork and dedication but you definitely gotta be outside. Once your resume is stacked up enough, then you become the mayor of the streets. 

I hear that expression so often. What exactly does it mean to be outside? 

If you in the streets, then you know what “we outside” means. You definitely gotta be in attendance outside. Rainy days, hot days, summer days, any type of days when something going on outside, you gotta be present for that. Whatever happens happens, but you gotta be there for it – the good and the bad. 

After one complete year of quarantine I imagine everyone is ready to go outside again. With that in mind, what are you most excited about as the world is starting to open back up? 

Definitely excited about the shows, getting on the road and hitting different stages, different cities. That’s what we been missing. I feel like every artist miss that, it’s a big part of the process. As the world opens up, it allows you to interact wit people that you couldn’t see or touch. It helps you grow as an artist. I feel like a lot of artists have blown up off of internet shit but they don’t have any personality. You gotta have that stage presence, have meet and greets and shit or people not gon’ fuck wit you. I feel like this shit gon’ narrow down who really here to stay or who just had an internet hit.

You’ve been making music since 2015 but this is your first time being on the Rolling Loud card, specifically for New York. With you being a native New Yorker, how does that make you feel?  

I don’t feel no way about it. I believe in trusting the process. I can only be excited because God got a plan for everybody. If my whole career or my whole life is based on working hard for everything that’s gon’ come to me, I don’t have no problem waiting. I appreciate Rolling Loud for the opportunity but they gon’ see what a New York n***a do on a New York stage. They gon’ feel it and they gon’ be like, “Ok, we gotta get him back here.” Even with my personal [local] shows I be having when I get booked, I always try to do something exciting for the crowd other than come perform my songs and go. It’s definitely gonna be something special for Rolling Loud. That’s the hometown too, so we gotta make a statement there.

How does Rah Swish want to be remembered? What’s your legacy? 

One of the hardest working n****s out here. Motivation for whoever needs it. I’m not even gon’ put myself in a particular category. I’m proof that you can work and get whatever you want, no matter how long it takes. That’s really what it’s about, never giving up. There were a bunch of times where I could’ve given up music. I just wanna be remembered as someone who said I was gonna do that and stuck to it – just be a symbol of hard work. 

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