Wyclef Collaborator Ric Atari on Working with Hip-Hop “Royalty”


The title as “Black Hollywood” was not easily won for Atlanta. Great music has been coming out of this city for about 20 years, and little black boys and little black girls still flock to the red hills of Georgia to pursue their hip-hop dreams. But, Atlanta sometimes gets a bad reputation for ratchetness and the dumbing down of hip-hop music.

But, there actually is no one true Atlanta sound. The city is full of transplants who brought their own flavor, accents, and music tastes to the city where their families set down roots: Ludacris and Waka Flocka Flame are great examples, both moved to Atlanta at a young age bringing with them Chicago and Southside Jamaica Queens flavor-respectively. Then, there are the homegrowns like T.I. and 2 Chainz “Grady Babies,” who never have and probably never would live anywhere other than the Peach State. Combined with new residents, Atlanta is a true melting pot.

That amalgamation may be one of the inspirations for Ric Atari’s production on the Wyclef mixtape, April Showers, handling a large part of the production and some writing on the mixtape, and the forthcoming Wyclef album, The Carnival Begins. The Atlanta-native is not just a producer, but a rapper, who was featured solo on April Showers on the track, “All Day, All Night.”

Rapper and celebrated producer who also made music for Usher, Snoop Dogg, and Waka Flocka Flame, Ric Atari is preparing to return with his second solo project, Kill Focus, and music from his hot indie label, Blacktree.

AllHipHop.com: How did you and Wyclef connect?

Ric Atari: My man, (Atlanta Radio Personality) Osei the Dark Secret introduced me to ‘Clef like two days after Thanksgiving, and the cool thing was before we played any music we just like chilled out, talked for  two hours and just got to know each other .  We’re like minded, he asked me would I come to New York and you know help him create his next album and you know ‘Clef, there’s nothing he can’t do, so that was an honor.  We were working everyday, except ‘Clef, he doesn’t work on Sundays. I still worked on Sundays. (Laughter)

AllHipHop.com: What was the recording process like?

Ric Atari: It was an everyday thing, you know. It was great. Me ‘Clef and his brother, Sedeck, we produced most of the records together. No matter who would start them, we would pass it around and everybody would add this or that to the different songs, we did a lot of records that way. The cool thing about it was you know, is it was very interesting to be in the studio with him because its Wyclef. I produced a lot of big records, you know what I mean, but it’s a little different,  Clef is like an icon he did biggest selling record of the 21st century.

Ric Atari & Wyclef In Studio

AllHipHop.com: What was behind the concept for April Showers?

Ric Atari: The dope thing about ‘Clef, you know, is he writes everything. But, he let me write a lot of these records with him, like line-for-line on “Hip Hop,” we wrote that line-for-line just sitting here like you and me are.  It’s a cool and almost the weird thing when ‘Clef lays a part and turns to you like – what you think? It was a real cool experience, we probably did like 20 records, a lot of them will be for his album and them some will be for his mix tape to build a buzz. We started a new sound along the way, with “Trap and Roll,” (featuring Waka Flocka Flame and Angelica Salem) so everybody’s looking forward to that on his album. There’s a version of Trap and Roll that’s on his mix tape but the real version; the original version is on his album and I’m actually featured on that album to so it’s a lot of love. I think I added something to what was already there, I think together, it’s like a rocket ship sound.

AllHipHop.com: Atlanta sometimes gets a bad rap when it comes to snap music, trap music; sometimes we are perceived as “lesser than lyricists,” like Waka and even Trinidad? Do you think there is going to be a shift in that perception for Atlanta as a whole?

Ric Atari: Ok, take Waka for instance, everybody has that perception of Waka, but he is pretty smart. When Wyclef asked me about doing some work with different artists in the “Waka range” those young artists, I suggest him because I know he’s smart. He took the crack in the door that was open, standing next to who he was standing next to (Gucci) and he felt like he could do that kind of music, because it was a part of him too. I think that right now, he is thinking about what he can do that’s on a bigger scale. His new music is expanded and evolved. That’s what artists should do. That’s what these young rappers should be allowed to do. I think in Atlanta, there has to be that balance, there has to be a Fabo (D4L)and there has to be a 3-stacks. That balance has to happen because Atlanta (music) was in a strong danger of killing itself making the same song over and over.

AllHipHop.com: So, what’s next for you, Ric?

Ric Atari: Blacktree Music, you know, our label. We do everything from hip-hop to R&B. We have a group, The 808’s Way, a crazy hip-hop collective. There’s six solo rappers in the group, and each of them is a beast. I also signed a girls group, Mad Pretty Crew, which is gonna be like the next TLC. We do a lot one the R&B Soul side, where a lot of our artists have hit really well overseas. We’re talking to a couple labels right now deciding on our major label home. It’s gonna be a busy summer.