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Rich Robbins Breaks Down His EP On The Morning AMp (2019)

Written by on October 26, 2021

Since our first conversation, Chicago rapper, educator and poet Rich Robbins has always used his music to bridge the gap between city and suburbia.

Rich Robbins is a familiar voice at Vocalo; in addition to being in constant rotation on our airwaves, his music has been featured on our playlists and website… and we’ve interviewed him on three occasions. In advance of his performance at our Chi Sounds Like Showcase on Oct. 27, we’re reflecting on the first time we chatted with Rich — when he stopped by the Morning AMp in July 2019 to talk with Jill Hopkins about his three-track summertime EP Starfish. Hear Rich break down the EP below, and make sure to reserve your spot so you can catch his performance at the Chi Sounds Like Showcase at the Promontory.

You bridge city and suburban life in your art. How do you go about closing that gap, and why is it important for you to do so?

So, I was born in the Chicago area, moved to Philly when I was very young, and then lived there for over 10 years. Then I moved back to the Chicago area. I moved to Oak Park. And so that’s kind of where the suburban area came in. I come from very diverse backgrounds. Even my family is just filled with a lot of different looking people and so for me, family and where you were from, it was just always kind of one melting pot, you know, and I guess as you grow older, you learn how segregated and separated everything really is. As a child, that just didn’t make sense to me. We’re all human, as corny as it sounds, right? We’re all human beings.

What is the new EP telling us about your career and the spot in your life where you are right now?

There’s one thing that I teach my students all the time when they’re writing poems, and it’s to come up with a thesis for the poem. I’ve taken that idea and put it in my process of making music. I’m always like, all right, what’s the thesis of this song, what’s the song really about. For example, on “Please Don’t Tow My Car,” the idea was that everything is working out for me today, so please don’t tow my car. As simple as that. But I think it’s also about, you know, just missing your opportunity. If you park somewhere you’re not supposed to, it’ll have a rippling effect And that’ll kind of be explored. we’re dropping a music video for it. That will be a little bit more explore this idea of like a very small decision. You know, park somewhere, you’re not supposed to end up having like this rippling effect of missing opportunities because of that one little decision.

You’ve already accomplished quite a bit in your career, but you clearly have your sights set for something more?

I’m hungry, you know. I really feel like — and my song “Don’t Fail Me Now” touched on this — that we’re very close to something that is a turning point. I have some days when I wake up and it’s honestly tough. Social media is a hell of a beast, and you can definitely find yourself caught up and comparing yourself with other artists — “That artist is booking all these shows,” and, “I want to book shows like that artist,” and you end up feeling like you’re not doing enough. But then there’s also the side of being really, really grateful. I was just asked recently if my career stopped right here, would I be proud of what I’ve accomplished? And I absolutely would! But then there’s that other side of me that’s like, so much more is waiting!

Follow Rich Robbins on Twitter and Instagram, and stream his 2019 EP Starfish below.

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