Ricky Pharoe and Tru ID: The Rebirth Of Cool

Coffee, grunge and Bill Gates might be things that come to mind when and if you choose to ponder on Washington State’s largest city. Famed for its skimmed lattes than it is for prolific MCs, things might just be changing in Seattle. Producers such as Jake One and Vitamin D are already repping in the […]

Coffee, grunge and Bill Gates might be things that come to mind when and if you choose to ponder on Washington State’s largest city. Famed for its skimmed lattes than it is for prolific MCs, things might just be changing in Seattle. Producers such as Jake One and Vitamin D are already repping in the beats department and to throw a light on the lyricists is Ricky Pharoe and Tru ID. This duo who is well able to maintain individually have just released their first combined effort Key in the Lock. Beyond pushing their limits as MCs, the duo is appealing to a wider fan base as time marches on. But is this the key to success?  They may be “80’s Babies” or even, “The Real Kings,” taking it back to see the future might just be what gives them the opportunity to become Seattle’s breath of fresh Hip-Hop air. AllHipHop.com: How did you two originally meet, did you go to school with each other?Ricky: Well actually we used to record at the same studio and that is how we hooked up. It has to be about five, six years ago. I was about 17.Tru: Yeah it was a while Ricky: Tru used to be in a group called Pretty Mysterious with some other cats and we just linked up.AllHipHop.com: Why are you laughing Tru?Tru: They were good times. AllHipHop.com: So was there a mutual respect for each others work?Ricky: Well we started making a couple of tracks and then got to know each other and became friends. We used to sell CDs together in Seattle.Tru: It was a couple of years before we even put an album out.Ricky: Then after that Tru moved into my little studio apartment after an interesting living situation and we had drama with the owner of the apartment. Then we started working on this album we just released. AllHipHop.com: Are you both born and raised in Seattle?Tru: I was actually born and raised in St. Louis until I was 14, then I moved here to Seattle and I have been here ever since.AllHipHop.com: How hard is it to get recognition in Seattle when it comes to Hip-Hop? Ricky: The hardest task is there are a lot of artists out there doing things but it stays local a lot of the time. Becoming a local celebrity is not a hard thing to do as long as you have a decent product and stage show. It is easy to get put on as it is a small community. But to branch out afterwards it is difficult to know where to go after you get a little recognition.Tru: It is hard out there.AllHipHop.com: Is this why you have relocated Ricky?Ricky: No not necessarily. You know being born in Seattle, I know it’s a great city, I have traveled you know. I have been to just about every state in the US and I like to get out and get a bit and life is a little faster paced down south so I am here.AllHipHop.com: That has to be a good music move as well? Tru: It is definitely influenced with music as well as with life itself. AllHipHop.com: You recorded your Key in the Lock project as a duo, what is the deal with you guys?Ricky: Well Tru is the same way that we are family no matter what. We have been through so many hard times, you know if he gets a deal I will be happy and jump through the roof. And I know it is the same way for him, but ideally it would be both of us. Tru: This album is the beginning of something.Ricky: He will be coming down here eventually.AllHipHop.com: Do you both get involved in the production?Tru: We work with a few different producers in terms of beats but we are our own lyricists. We work with about four or five producers. I like to write as much as I can.Ricky: I like to handle as much as the business as I can. We have worked with some hot producers as that is one thing Seattle does not lack in and that is production. Yeah we are getting a little shine with the likes of Jake One and I think that is the strong point.Tru: Yeah we get more recognition there.AllHipHop.com: How hard is it getting representation where you are? Ricky: In Seattle they are looking for a certain style of music, the laid back free revolutionary type of Hip-Hop which is what we are about anyway. I have spent a lot of time networking with people in California for the last couple of years. Tru: There is only so much you can do in Seattle as it is very separated. You just have to be persistent. AllHipHop.com: And thick skinned?Tru: Yeah being thick skinned in always good in this game. Ricky: There is no room to be sensitive; I am about telling the truth. I love the truth, you know I might deny it for a minute but then I appreciate it [laughs.]AllHipHop.com: Do you believe working with a minimum of producers is a more thorough approach?Ricky: I prefer making an album with just one producer.Tru: The old school way.Ricky: Yeah it is just more fun. I like to have a concept for the album before any of the songs are made. AllHipHop.com: What’s concept? [Laughing]Ricky: [Laughs] Yeah we have more dance concepts today. AllHipHop.com: So when you go in to record do you always have a concept in mind?Tru: I wouldn’t say always, but I would say concept is crucial on both song and an album, otherwise there is no direction and you might as well be freestyling.Ricky: Yeah it would be what you are hearing out there now. AllHipHop.com: Does today’s music bother you?Ricky: I wouldn’t say it bothers me, as there is room for every type of music.AllHipHop.com: Does it incite you then? Ricky: I mean people like to go to the clubs and dance. I like to see girls dance, but it definitely could get somewhat more intelligent. There is a good amount that I think is a bad influence on especially the younger members of our culture.Tru: It is just lacking in my opinion and people have accepted it and just moved with itRicky: I don’t really think it is a good thing to judge music. It is one thing to not like it but to sit there and judge isn’t a good thing either. AllHipHop.com: Where did your love for Hip-Hop come from? Tru: I think it just comes from me being young as that was when it grabbed my attention. All I would do is sit and listen to music.Ricky: My sister would get all the cassette tapes for Christmas, and I just got it from her back in the early days.Tru: My Dad listened to a lot of music, which kind of stuck with me. Then I got to the point where I was confident enough to start making music myself, but that didn’t come along until later. I was probably about 14 or 15. Some people start writing when they are 8 years old. AllHipHop.com: Is there a plan B or is Hip-Hop it for you?Ricky: There are a lot of options. There is too much out there. This is one of many things.Tru: Hip-Hop is something that is always going to be there, it will always be within me. When I am 50 I will still have love for it, I will know how to make music but I am about taking it to the next level. You have to have other things to fall back on as that is what makes life interesting. Ricky: You have to have wisdom.AllHipHop.com: Why did the album take so long? Ricky: I would say this is when I would really like to tell anyone who wants to invest their money into an album; the way to do it is get your own equipment. That was why it took so long as we didn’t record ourselves. We were relying on other people and other people’s schedules and the studio costs. It took way longer than it should have.Tru: There was a lot of stress, but you realize you have to be a little more self sufficient and rely on yourself a little more as when you are relying on others and their time, it doesn’t go how you want. But I am happy with the album. AllHipHop.com: Did this encourage you to go out and buy your own studio equipment?Tru: I am in the process of doing that right now as I am at school for digital recording. It is important to get equipment and start recording our own stuff.Ricky: We have our own studio down in Long Beach, you know a sectioned off room. AllHipHop.com: How has the album been received since it dropped?Ricky: It has got a lot of love, but I have noticed some of my die hard fans haven’t received it as well, as it is pretty dramatically different from my solo stuff.AllHipHop.com: After working as individuals and then joining together on this project was it difficult? Ricky: It was and it wasn’t. I mean I am always trying to expand what I do. I am not about putting out a second version of a product that I have already made. So I was excited to work with Tru as I knew he was going to take it to a whole other level as far as harmonizing and stretching my voice out as opposed to just rapping on a beat. I was starting to rap with the beat. Anyone who I really respect opinions from has told me it is light years beyond any of my other projects.Tru: I have been having those responses as well. It is definitely different from the first project for me. But I just feel that this project is a bit more grown up, that is the best way to put it. I have found a lot of older people like it as well. They can put it in their car and listen to it and listen to it all the way through without skipping songs. I think that is a good sign.AllHipHop.com: That is a good sign. Attracting the older generations of Hip-Hop fans has to be the ultimate prize. Tru: It is as that is what tells us if it is going to last.AllHipHop.com: Is there a demographic that you are trying to target with your music or is just for everyone?Tru: It is for everyone. You have to be of the mindset that you can touch everybody someway, somehow. That is what makes things classic. Ricky: The youth comes first as they buy. But they tend to put people on a pedestal, not saying that that isn’t a good thing, so people are with them as they grow up.AllHipHop.com: Do you find it hard to please fans today?Tru: I don’t think it is hard to please fans. The new generations have just been brought up on something totally different. Ricky: I don’t think it is hard to please them; things have just taken another direction. Its all about personality and character and it is somewhat flashier than it used to be. People would respect the skill aspect more before, but now you have to talk about bling. I don’t think it is hard to please fans, no. I just think that is what my job is to do and I have fun doing it either way.AllHipHop.com: As unsigned artists nowadays do you think marketing and branding play a big role in your longevity in the game?Tru: That is one of the biggest aspects to get yourself out there and to have people believe the product you are putting out. It is more of a business thing now.Ricky: You have to make yourself a commodity. You know if you want to run with a major label, it is your responsibility to come out and show them you are a product waiting to be sold and people want you.AllHipHop.com: Do you believe major labels have fallen into that mindset?Unfortunately yes as they have just started following formats. You should have T Pain on every hook, that sort of thing. AllHipHop.com: When you are coming from a different angle to what is mainstream acceptable, isn’t that frustrating? Ricky: It is a problem when you have to explain yourself as something else. You know it’s not about ‘Hey I am a rapper.’ You have to prove you are a long term investment and show that people will connect with you over a long period of time and it is not just an in and out flash in the pan. Tru: It is about being long lasting and longevity and that is what I am in it for. To me the ones that last the longest are the ones that really have substance. Ricky: Otherwise it is the same thing recycled and watered down and people may like it at first but once the next thing sounds the same and the one after that, people start getting bored. AllHipHop.com: How do you think you can prove you have substance? Tru: They are looking for the person that can basically sell themselves. You know labels need to see you as a money maker basically that has people out there buying your CDs. Ricky: They need to see that you are dedicated. They are not going to push your album after giving you an advance. They are expecting you and your team to push your product. You are supposed to be a money making machine. Majors are now more about business as opposed to talent. Tru: You have to have something that the people like, there has to be something eye catching about you. AllHipHop.com: Would you like to sign to a major?Tru: Yes and no. Being signed to a label isn’t always the best thing as there are always strings attached. Ricky: I just want to reach people and being signed to a label will let you do that on a larger scale. I mean in everything I do I want to make money.AllHipHop.com: Your track the Real Kings, an intriguing title. Ricky: Tru came up with that title so I am going to let him go ahead and tell you about this.Tru: The Real Kings has three different perspectives. You know as we were talking about rappers, MCs claiming to be Kings of this and Kings of this and I really see them as puppets. The cats who are running labels are really the Kings, as the rappers do what they are told to do. I mean that is my perception of that. Ricky: Yeah Macklemore who was also featured on the joint came in kind of well too as he came in with a perspective about what a real King is. You know someone who knows who they are, is a leader for the people and someone who is preaching the truth rather than dealing with their ego. AllHipHop.com: Do you think you are “The Real Kings?” Ricky: I am a Pharohe actually [laughing.] I have a deep fascination with Egypt and that has been one of my major areas of study and that is where that came from. AllHipHop.com: WC has a joint on his album called Eighties Babies and you have the same on yours although I am guessing you are true “80’s Babies?” Ricky: Yeah 1983 was the year. That is one of my favorite cuts on the album. We had a little group back in the day called 1983 as it was the year when we were all born. There were a lot of symbolic references in that joint. AllHipHop.com: WC’s version talks about the eighties babies showing respect to the people who came before. Do you believe that you show respect to those that have laid foundations for you to come after?Ricky: Definitely as my favorite stuff is the older stuff. My favorite album of all time is Enter the Wu, Critical Beat Down by the Ultramagnetics and Big Daddy Kane, those are the pioneers. It is important for younger cats to dig in crates as a lot don’t have the time to do that. AllHipHop.com: How important has it been for you to do your homework when it comes to the history of Hip-Hop?Tru: I grew up on this stuff; Curtis Blow was something my Dad was listening to.Ricky: not only has it influenced rap today but some people don’t even know what a break beat is. You know they don’t know the difference between a drum machine and a keyboard and this comes from not doing your homework. AllHipHop.com: What projects have you coming up?Ricky: There will be a new Ricky Pharohe solo album coming out solely produced by Jewels Hunter which will be coming out in 2008 sometime. Ricky Pharohe and Tru I.D.’s MySpace Page is www.myspace.com/trupharoe