“One of my buddies said, ‘If you’re not fucking with Rittz, you’re not top of the line’ –
meaning that when I write songs, I write to the highest standard,” says Rittz. “When it
comes to rapping and this style that I do, it’s as good as it gets.” The title of Rittz’ new
album Top Of The Line came from an unlikely source – a friend’s passing ad-lib on his
2014 LP Next to Nothing. And at this point in the Atlanta rapper’s career, few would
disagree with this assessment.
In 2012, Rittz began his ascension by touring with rising star, Yelawolf. Wolf then sang
the rapper’s praises to Tech N9ne. Tech, never one to let a good opportunity pass him
by, quickly signed Rittz to his Strange Music label. Two successful releases, The Life
And Times Of Jonny Valiant and Next to Nothing, followed – as did a show-stopping
appearance on the 2013 BET Awards Cypher.
Since his last album’s release, Rittz continued to prove his mettle on the road. He toured
again with Yela, as well as Kxng Crooked (formerly Crooked I), and headlined shows all
over the country.
The ups and downs of life on tour are a big theme on Top Of The Line. While raising hell
for months at a time was fun (as documented on the rousing “All Night”), it wasn’t without
consequences. The powerful song “Just Say No” chronicles how the tour with Yelawolf
went wrong.
“I came back home from the Slumerican Made tour with a knee injury from partying and
overdoing it,” Rittz admits. “It’s so embarrassing. I had to go to the hospital in North
Carolina. I had to really be like, ‘You need to slow down and start respecting what you
do a little bit more.’”
That slowing down came with a five-month break from touring, during which Rittz
composed the bulk of Top Of The Line. He had a very specific musical vision in mind,
which was brought to life primarily by Strange Music in-house producer Seven. The
initial inspiration came from a very unlikely source.
“There’s this composer, Lalo Schifrin,” Rittz reveals. “He did the music for Bruce Lee’s
Enter the Dragon, and a lot of classic 70s movies. His music had that old kind of funky
vibe to it, but it was dark at the same time. I wanted the Enter the Dragon soundtrack
over down South drumbeats, with West Coast basslines. I told Seven, and he’s like, ‘Oh,
I know exactly what you’re talking about.’ He started making beats that were exactly
what I wanted, to a T. He really nailed it.”
In addition to Seven, Top Of The Line features music from Grammy-nominated Best
Kept Secret, Heartbeatz, Kato, Wonder and longtime collaborator Matic Lee. On the
lyrical side, Rittz’ patented razor sharp double-time flows are joined by contributions from
Strange Music compatriots Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko on “The Formula,” Southern rap
pioneers Devin the Dude and MJG on “Propane,” Atlanta pioneer Cheeto Gambine (the
inventor of the “Northside” sign you can see Rittz throwing up in almost every picture) on
“Diamonds And Gold,” and, on the standout track “Inside Of The Groove,” Bay Area
legend E-40 and singer Mike Posner.
“There’s a chemistry with me and Mike Posner,” Rittz explains. “We just sound good
together. That song was one of the first beats that I got, and it had the feel of the title
Top of the Line. It’s smooth, it’s laid-back, it’s classy, it’s got a grown up sound to it.
When I got that, that put me in the mood for what this album should be. It should be
more smooth and a little bit more fun.”
True to his word, Rittz keeps Top Of The Line more hopeful and upbeat than his
previous work, which frequently focused on his personal struggles as he attempted to
make it to the top of the rap game. Now that his place is secured, he can bring newfound
positivity to his fans.
“I’m known for having some depressing songs and talking to the people about struggling
and life kicking their ass,” he admits. “I still do that on this album, but even when I do,
there’s some kind of positive twist of hope at the end. I’m not in as bad of a space as I
was, so I wanted to celebrate that and be grateful for where I’m at, and have that reflect
in the music as well.”
That celebration comes through on “KISA” (short for “knight in shining armor”), a
“couples’ anthem” dedicated to Rittz’ now-fiancée, a woman who has been by his side
both in life and in many of his songs. It also shines on another single, the boastful “Ghost
“‘Ghost Story’ is a hard song showcasing rap skills,” Rittz says. “You keep hearing
people saying they want to hear bars and metaphors. I can do that. I can do it all. I just
feel like I’ve risen above the competition. I don’t even see them.”
Rittz proves this over and over again on Top Of The Line. Whether it’s on the dramatic
title track, the rolling and smooth “Back To Yesterday,” or the party-starting “Pull Up,” the
album showcases an artist at the top of his craft, and finally in a better place after the
struggles he documented in such vivid detail in his earlier songs.
The album also continues the trend of Rittz making songs with his idols. Last album, it
was fast-rapping pioneer, Twista. This time, Memphis’ MJG and Houston’s Devin the
Dude show up on the single “Propane.”
“MJG, to me, is responsible for the way so many Southern artists have rapped for the
last twenty years,” says Rittz. “Devin the Dude is one of my favorite rap artists of all time,
period. I used to ride around and study his syllables. The average ear might not pick up
on Devin’s clever word play at first, but the way he raps has always had a huge influence
on me as an artist. To be on a song with these guys is like being in the ring with Hulk
Hogan. I never would have thought it would happen in a million years.”
Top Of The Line shows a Rittz who deserves that kind of honor – an unparalleled rhymer
who has reached a place where he can finally revel in having reached the upper echelon
of the rap game.
“This is the top of the line,” he explains. “This is the top tier of this type of music. And
that’s what I aim for every time I make a song.”

Snow Tha Product

Snow Tha Product has achieved what many artists coming into the rap game could
only hope for… longevity. Since dropping her first project Unorthodox in 2011, fast
forward seven years later and she is a mainstay in the hip-hop world – selling out
national tours, two successful merch lines, countless projects, and most importantly,
a legion of loyal fans. Snow has become a symbol of hard work, perseverance and raw
talent. Her relatability goes beyond gender or ethnicity, Snow refuses to conform to
societal expectations and stands up for issues that she believes in whether it’s
women’s rights, immigration, or other political issues.
Born in San Jose, CA to Mexican immigrant parents that dealt with the struggles of
being undocumented and raising children born in the U.S., Snow grew up both
bilingual and bicultural. She is able to rap in both in English and Spanish and
incorporate melodies reminiscent to the ‘90s era R&B she grew up loving. Equally as
talented singing as rapping, she developed her vocal skills singing along to both R&B
classics, as well as Spanish baladas. Snow started performing at a young age before
putting out multiple mixtapes and dropping viral music videos/songs on YouTube,
which gained the attention of both fans and respected emcees, and eventually landed
her a deal with Atlantic Records.
A well-known artist with a strong social media presence, Snow has over 109 million
views on YouTube, 2.6 million fans on Facebook, 678k fans on Instagram, and has a
legion of loyal fans awaiting her new releases. Snow’s musical influences stem from
Mexican legend Alejandra Guzman to international rap star, Drake. She has been
recognized and respected throughout the hip-hop industry for carving her own lane.
Her reputation as a spitfire performer has her nonstop energy shows selling out from
the West to East Coast. In addition, Snow has utilized her business and marketing
ability to successfully create and build the ‘Woke’ brand, which includes the clothing
line Woke Apparel and her online series Woke.tv.
In 2016, Snow Tha Product released her debut EP under Atlantic Records, ‘Half Way
There…Pt. 1.’ The project had two standout tracks, “Nights” and “Nuestra Cancion.”
The following year, she dropped a remix titled, “Nuestra Cancion Pt. 2,” featuring
reggaeton star Arcangel that hit #4 on the Latin Urban Radio Billboard charts. The
music video has gone on to garner over 14.6 million views on YouTube, making it
Snow’s most-watched video to date. That same year, she contributed to the popular
‘Hamilton Mixtape,’ on the track “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” alongside
K'naan, Riz MC, and Residente. In late 2017, she released her latest mixtape ‘Vibe
Higher,’ which featured her artists LexTheGreat, Castro Escobar, and AJ Hernz. The
mixtape was followed by a nationwide 30-date tour.
Beyond her lyrical capabilities and entrepreneurial skill, Snow Tha Product has proven
to be a talented actress. In 2017, she made her official acting debut in the second
season of USA Network's highly-rated TV series Queen of The South, portraying the
character of Lil' Traviesa. Last year, she also won an MTV VMA for ‘Best Fight Against
the System’ video for “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” from The Hamilton
Mixtape. Most recently, she released a single titled “Help a Bitch Out (Feat. O.T.
Genasis),” for which the video premiered on WorldStarHipHop. Her career continues
to grow everyday both behind the mic and in front of the cameras. Snow Tha Product
is an artist that speaks up for what she believes in, and never forgets where she
comes from.

Jarren Benton

For an artist with serious mainstream aspirations, Decatur, Georgia's Jarren Benton has spent his career going against the grain. One of Funk Volume's premiere acts, Jarren admits, "I love the music I do now. I do it in the safe-mode." That's rather shocking for an artist whose last album, Freebasing With Kevin Bacon lived up to its name, at least in attitude and style, evident on single "Skitzo." He continues, "I want to take it a lil' further. I just haven't had the balls to go all the way there yet, 'cause I presently want to keep a foot in the mainstream too."

However, courage is not something Benton's music or live show is lacking. Studied in the anything-goes showmanship of Prince, Marilyn Manson and Method Man, Jarren shares, "The essence of giving of a good show is not givin' a fuck," he says, while pointing to stage-diving, beer-chugging and more depending on the night's particular vibe. This type of authenticity, balanced with intricate, golden ear-informed lyricism has attracted attention from Erick Sermon (EPMD, Redman) to No I.D. (Common, Kanye West) in courting Jarren to potential major label deals. However for the father and family provider, only indie juggernaut Funk Volume really voiced his biggest concerns. "All I was asking for was progress. I just wanted to know that what I was doing was the right move – especially chasing a dream with a family." Funk Volume offered what Def Jam and the others weren't – and in recent years, Jarren has been able to support his family and his dreams simultaneously.

In addition to Funk Volume, which Jarren refers to as "family," the rapper maintains strong ties in the Atlanta community, such as Rittz, Playboy Tre, Spitzwell and his SMKA affiliates. "It's the best of both worlds," says Jarren, of playing a significant role in a respected collective of talent, as well as being an artist in one of the most powerful new labels in Hip Hop. "We all still came from that era about lyricism, even if you were making Southern music."

After two successful digital releases and a video fast-approaching one million YouTube plays, Jarren is hard at work on what will inevitably be his biggest album to date. Following the star-filled supporting cast of Freebasing With Kevin Bacon and Huffin' Glue With Hasselhoff, the comedic emcee promises to break from the series with a purpose in mind. "This one has a different vibe. It's a lot more personal stuff so people can learn who Jarren is," he says, also suggesting more refined production that translates more to his ambitions of being a household name. In the same vein, that courage Jarren felt was missing is brewing on his upcoming work. The vet points to "Heart Attack" and "Smells Like Murder" with R.A. The Rugged Man as some of the most conceptual, dazzling work he's recorded to date.
"From my ranges of influence, I think a lot fans appreciate my personalities, but they don't really get into the music… yet," admits Benton of his available catalog. The stakes are high and the time is right for the man who has pursued a dream for a decade. "I love this. I'm not driven by money, but I'm conscious of making music that can be universally appreciated." It is coming to life for an artist closely connected with the tenants of Hip Hop: style, skill and absolutely not givin' a fuck.

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