Rich Hil: Hil-Top Hustlin'
This is a country where dads who are fashioned noted icons, can produce children who are humble, willing to give back and well grounded in American culture. Hip Hop is American culture and Hip Hop is a reflection of those colors: red, white, and blue.
You should ask Rich Hil.
Those same colors were stitched on millions of denim jeans, flight jackets and ski coats, and in cursive the name Tommy Hilfiger stood out like Rabbit in a street corner cipher. The man behind the all-American apparel is now a certified father of a rapper by the name of Rich Hil.
"Rich Hil" is a symbol of an American dream, come true. The son of a multi-millionaire, who went through the public school system, got signed to one of the biggest Hip Hop producers record labels and is now working on an album and a mixtape set for release in less than thirty days.
HipHopDX, caught up with Rich to talk about his transitions, his discovery and his relationships with some of your favorite rappers. The 17 year-old musician is proof in the pudding that red, white and blue can take a man far. Rich is earning his stars and stripes- just like his daddy.
HipHopDX: Lets start by letting the people know what they probably dont know about Rich Hilfiger.
Rich Hilfiger: I used to be a dork at school because I dressed a little different. I was in private school all my life, and then I started to go to public school. I believe thats when I found myself and thats when I discovered that I wanted to do Hip Hop. Ive always enjoyed Hip Hop but [public school] was when I discovered I wanted to start rapping. As far as the music goes, a lot of people look at me like, Damn, what are you talking about? But then, when it comes out, it comes out a little different than what they expected.
DX: Well, lets talk about your transitions in life. You said that you were first in private school and went into public- youre the son of Tommy Hilfiger, so how was it? Did people treat you different and assume that you had everything your way because you were the son of a millionaire?
RH: Oh, of course. Before they got to know me, [of] course they did. But after they got to know me, it was a whole different story. When I was in private school, I never really liked it because all the other kids were stuck up and they acted the way that people thought that I would or should act. I was never like that. Ive always been humble and I never wanted to talk about how much money I had or all the cars my dad had. I felt like everybody always wanted to brag about their stuff, and I never wanted to be like those kids. I never got along with those kids and thats why I wanted to go to public school- I just wanted to be a normal kid.
DX: Thats hot. You said that you found yourself while you were in public school. What did you discover? Did you discover that you were Hip Hop? Explain that for me.
RH: I discovered that fashion is Hip Hop life. I discovered, getting into urban fashion a little more. I discovered the urban fashion world and how some of the stores have all the mixtapes. You know? I was thinking, I wanna do this too. I wanna live that life. I look at it as more of a lifestyle or as an art. I didnt wanna feel like I was doing it because I needed to, but because I love music. I never went into Hip Hop thinking that I just wanted to be a rapper. I always wanted to do a mixture of Rock & Roll. I dont even listen to rap in the car. Right now I have got Marvin Gaye and The Rolling Stones in my car. Im just real left with it.
DX: Once you start getting deeper into Hip Hop, who were some of the artist that you would find yourself listening to or even aspired to be like?
RH: [Jay-Z]. Definitely Jay. I know Jay pretty well...hes close to my dad, and hes been to my house a few times. After he came to my house, I got to know Jay a little better and I fell in love with [the music].
DX: Which record was it that made you fall in love with his music, because youre kind of young.
RH: It wasnt really a record. It was Jay-Z the person.
DX: Cool. What about now? Have your perceptions shifted now that youre one step in the door and youve been around emcees- have those experiences affected the way you view Hip Hop culture and the artists?
RH: A little bit. Remember how Nas was like, The cats who look like movie stars are groupies now. Some of the rappers you look up to, are now calling you for favors.
DX: Does this turn you off?
RH: It doesnt turn me off, I just see what it is.
DX: Lets talk about your relationships with people in the industry. Lets talk about your relationship with Freck Billionaire.
RH: Im real close to Freck Billionaire. Ive been knowing Freck since I was 13. Freck used to help me and he was the one who really taught me how to write. He taught me about flows and all that kind of shit.
DX: How did you guys meet?
RH: At TrackMasters.
DX: Okay, tell me about it...
RH: Well, I know Jay and Steve Stoute is close with Jay. I told Steve that I wanted to be a rapper and he said, Okay, Im going to set you up with TrackMasters. I had a small production deal with the Trackmasters, and I met Freck over there.
DX: Word. Lets talk about the project youre working on now.
RH: Im signed with Full Surface, which is Swizzs label. Were working on an album. Im about to put out a mixtape with [DJ] Sickamore.
DX: What can we expect from the album as far as production-
RH: The mixtape is good in itself. The mixtape could be an album. I have great production on the mixtape, a lot of original songs, and production by Green Lantern, Neo Da Matrix and Swizz- its crazy. With the album, Im kind of keeping it in the closet, right now. Im not really letting anybody know about it. On the album, I probably wont even be rapping on all the songs. You know what I mean?
DX: What you mean, [laughing] on some Andre 3000 type music?
RH: Yeah, all that kind of shit. Not exactly that.
DX: Lets talk about your business relationship with Sickamore (Director of A&R at Atlantic Records).
RH: Sick is crazy! We work together on a day-to-day basis. Its safe to say hes like my manager.
DX: Do you think if you were a regular kid from the streets, who came from an average everyday blue collar family, that you would be in the same situation that youre in or do you think its been an advantage that you were the son of Tommy Hilfiger?
RH: Um, Ill be straight up. I think I would be in this situation, but I dont think it would have happened as fast. You know what Im sayin? Swizz opened a lot of doors for me, and hes my best friend. I talk to Swizz everyday, Im with Swizz everyday, Im the hype-man at all his shows- its love man. Its all love.
DX: Lets talk about the reality show that you had set up.
RH: I dont have a reality show.
RH: I dont have a reality show.
DX: Wasnt there one in the making?
RH: A long time ago, like two years ago.
DX: Yeah, with MJ who was your partner, what happened with dude?
RH: We went our separate ways, you know what Im sayin? We just look at music differently, but thats still my dude. I still have love for himhes still my brother. We lived in the same crib for like three years.
DX: It just didnt work out due to creative reasons?
RH: Um, a little business got in the way but it was regular stuff.
DX: Cool. When can the people expect the mixtape and the album?
RH: The mixtape will be out for you in a month.
DX: The mixtape will be available in both the streets and online?
RH: Yes, maam.
DX: Whats the name of the mixtape?
RH: Im gonna call it Hey Mama. Its like Im talking to a girl about my mom. My parents got split up when I was eight or nine and ever since then- I mean, Im the kind of person who likes change but Im also the kind of person who when I want to go home, I like to go to one home. I basically stuck with my dad and I didnt go to my moms house a lot. So, our relationship wasnt as close. Its cool now and its getting better now, but it was real shaky.
DX: Was the title inspired by the Kanye West track?
RH: Yeah, it was. I have like three tracks on the mixtape about my mom. I have Hey Mama parts, one, two and a couple other joints. Part one and part two are on my Myspace [click here] page.
DX: Cool. If there were anything that the people should know about Rich Hilfiger what would it be?
RH: Think of me as Rich Hil and not Rich Hilfiger and thats what I want people to know. Im my own person.
DX: So, you dont want to be mentioned in the same sentence as your father when it comes to your music?
RH: Of course, thats my dad. I love my dad. I dont want people to look at me as Tommy Hilfigers son. Thats like looking at Swizz like Dee and Wahs nephew. Thats Swizz Beatz.
DX: Okay, I hear you. When came we expect the album?
RH: Were working on it right now. Its a whole other vibe. I feel as though the lane Im going into, that Im the best at it. I dont know if anybody is trying to step into that lane, but Im the best in that lane. Its like Pop, Rock & Roll, Hip Hopits crazy. I wanna do a couple tracks with Chrisette Michele. I really wanna take her out of her character on some tracks. Shes a great vocalist. I love Chrisette Michele.
DX: Im curious though, knowing that Lil Wayne has like 80 something features, is there a possibility that youll get on a track with Lil Wayne?
RH: I have a song with Lil Wayne.
DX: [Laughs] I knew it.
RH: I actually have two with Lil Wayne, I just dont know which one Im gonna run with. I got one where Swizz did the beat and I got one that Green Lantern did the beat.