This past May, I attended the grand opening of The Incubator in Chicago. There were a ton of familiar faces in the room. The owners of Chicago restaurant, Friistyle, were in the building. The owners of Leaders were present. DJ Milehigh was spinning records. The vibes were crazy! Typically, I don't do much during the week, especially on a Wednesday. However, my friends were part of this opening, and I support my friends. As I sat down to take a load off, I saw my homeboy, Jalil. Jalil and I have known each other for few years through recording artist, E.Nos. While we were talking, I was slightly distracted by a song being played by Milehigh. It sounds like a J. Cole song. During my interaction with Jalil, he introduced me to this kid named Recoechi. Then, Jalil tells me that the song that we have been listening to is this dude! He introduces us, and we had a fifteen minute conversation. After about five minutes, I learned something about him. He has all of the potential of being next in the line of great Chicago artists. He had the look. He had the personality. He had a sound!
We set an interview date. This was ONLY supposed to be an introductory interview. The following week, we met at his home for the so-called "introductory interview". What I was about to see would change the entire direction of the interview.
I walked in the door, and I'm greeted by two dogs. I love dogs so wasn't bothered in the least bit. As I made my way upstairs, I noticed his father relaxing in the recliner. No big deal. We moved through the kitchen, and we headed outside to the deck. Outside, we saw his mother and his neighbor. They were just outside cooling out and enjoying the summer breeze. Then, his sister pops out of the garage. At this point, I'm thinking to myself "who else is going to just pop out?" Well, his two homies come out from a basement door! I'm like "Damn, there's a lot of people here right now! It's only Wednesday!" What made this interview so special, however, WAS this added element. There was a comfort level, and that was created by his mother. She was so kind. At this point, the interview now had an audience.
Recoechi comes by way of the south side of Chicago (over east to be exact). At the age of 16, he began his music career while playing three sports in high school. When he realized that going pro wasn't going to happen, he turned his focus on rapping.
Musically, he is influenced by some of the greats like Tupac, Jay-Z, Andre 3000, and Kendrick Lamar. However, his style and sound is reminiscent of J. Cole. His tone and delivery is merely identical, and its kind of scary. There was a moment after the interview where we were in his garage. We were in the middle of a session, and he broke into to a rap. He flowed, and it was just so fluent. When you listen to him, he's melodic and concise. When you see him, he's confident and he is in full control. I was at a mini concert for about ten minutes. His sister and his friends were reciting the words to his songs. I was so impressed.
"I describe my style as versatile", he says. "I sing. I rap. I do it all. I'm a musician. When I dropped my first project, Slow Grind, it was pure hip-hop head-minded. Now, over that time I grew ten times the amount. I can say that I'm more musical. I'm more soulful. I'm not afraid to express myself by singing. I just do it. I'll say my style is versatile. You can't really box me in. You can say I'm a rapper. I love rapping. That's my strong suit, but I'm a musician. I want to make everyone feel good."
As I continue to get to know Recoechi, I grasp this understanding about his love of Chicago, and more particularly the south side.
"I feel there's a need to inspire now due to the fact of all of the commotion going on right now in the city. Not a lot of people have inspiration to do anything. They don't know what they want to be in life, and they're afraid to take chances. That's how they get us in the black community. They make us hate ourselves. At this point, I'm just trying to inspire the youth. My words are real. I only talk about what I see. I'm going to talk about what's going on in a light different than everyone else. Chicago is known for the drill music and Chance, but I still feel like someone who has walked the pavement 24/7 on the south side. I ain't never really been up north. I can't tell you anything about up there. I'm trying make out here (south side of Chicago) better for tourists."
One of his biggest goals is to revitalize the famed Regal Theater. He and his manager have envisioned the legendary theater to feature arts and crafts as opposed to the current usage. According to Recoechi, it's used by the Salvation Army.
In May, I heard the single, "Luminary". The track was released in March. The name of the track was inspired by its definition. Once again, it's about inspiring others through imminence.
"At the time, nobody was really rapping for real. People were coming out with all of these radio wave singles. 'Luminary' was done as a reminder that there are still rap artists out here, and you have people out here trying to do good and that people go through struggles. Everybody ain't on. Everybody ain't drilled the fuck out. I wanted to let people know where I'm at mentally. I felt 'Luminary' needed to be dropped just to tell people to stop being numb to shit. Open your eyes to what's going on. Realize what you've got in your city. Use your city as a vessel to get on. I'm trying to get people to follow behind me to make the city better."
When asked about his personal inspirations, he gives that credit to his cousin and the world around him.
"As the man that I'm developing into, I have to do good for my people. They're inspired by me. I'm inspired by my mom, and everything she goes through by working hard to provide for us. Then, I have my cousin. He's facing some jail time right now. He always motivated me to keep going. He even calls me from prison to keep going. You know, who am I to be sad or depressed and not take advantage of life? There's people out here that don't have no fucking life. I have homies who are dead. I have people in jail. You have people that don't even have a chance to do anything. So, I don't have time to be depressed or uninspired. That's what keeps me going."
After I wrapped up my interview with Recoechi, I took the opportunity to chat with his family. With a house full of people, I felt compelled to get the others involved. After all, his mother prepared a seafood boil. Who was I to turn down a good, home-cooked meal?
"My son is a determined type of person", his mother Bridget Ortiz said. "He's very determined. He puts his mind towards whatever he wants to do. He'll go about it by any means necessary. Although, there are times where I want to choke my son. I'm just going to keep it real. His determination is what I love about him. And he's very talented. It's like when I first starting listening, I didn't really know what he was actually doing. He used to actually do art, and then all of a sudden, he started writing lyrics and poems. I asked him once before because he had a journal, 'What are you doing?'. He was like 'I like writing music'. I've seen some of the things that he has written, and I'm starting to learn the difference between the trap music and being a lyricist. When I read his lyrics, he delivers a message, and that's what I like. I'm glad he went with a different genre when it comes to rap. He doesn't do the trap music. He doesn't disrespect women. I like that he's trying to send a message to the youth and Black men."
"With the music that I have heard, I think he is maturing through his music", his father, Orlando, added. "Through his music, he's a totally different person. The way he expresses himself and his life, and the things that he's experienced as a boy coming into manhood, he has a story to tell. And the way he's putting it out there, he's telling it. I'm proud of him."
"His music made him more mature as an individual", says his brother, Armando. "He used to be a bad little boy growing up. That music helped him mature as a young man. He transitioned from being a boy to a man, and that's what happening with his music."
"Rico has always been an experimental person", added his sister, Aja. "Hearing his music in many aspects, it shows me how different he really is and how creative he is. He really takes his time in putting his feelings into his music. A lot of people just want to make a noise or a sound. But he puts his feelings in his music, and it makes sense. We don't have a lot of relatable artists, but Rico is really relatable, and it's even more relatable to me because he's my brother. I've witnessed what he's saying. I grew up in the same house with him. It's really a blessing to see him become the man he wants to be."
Currently, he's working on two projects. One is called Flavor of the Week, and the other is Gemini Minded. Flavor of the Week, according to Recoechi is going to be a seven track EP. However, Gemini Minded is probably going to be the album.
"Gemini Minded, I feel, is going to be my album. But Flavor of the Week is going to be a seven track EP with seven different flavors and seven different meanings. C-Sick is going to produce it. It's going to be huge. Flavor of the Week is going to be nasty. It's going to be mean. I'm doing Flavor of the Week first because it was the first idea. My sister put me on game with it. She was like 'you should do a flavor of the week'. At first I was like no because Gemini Minded is taking a lot of time because I'm putting a lot of work into it. This will allow me to show my versatility at this age. Gemini Minded is going to put you in a different realm. It starts off dark, but in the end it's about a man who finds God."
With a bright future ahead, Recoechi has all of the tools to be quite successful. He has his faith and his family. Eventually, he'll have the entire city behind him. And who knows, as a luminary, he'll have the ear of the world as well.