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TheyCallMeRicky Shows His Musical Range for “Homegrown Residency”

Written by on November 12, 2019


Theycallmericky is a 23-year-old rapper from the Southwest Side of Chicago …

For the whole month of November, he is taking over Uncommon Ground in Edgewater as the featured artist of the “Homegrown Residency.” From lyrical and mellow to loud and energetic, Ricky plans to bring a different aspect of his sound to each weekly performance. He stopped by the studio to share some insight on what audiences can expect each week. 


Jill Hopkins: Tell me about your little slice of Chicago and the relationship you have with the city.

Theycallmericky: I’m from the southwest side and I’ve been there my whole life. People rep the south side or the west side, but no one ever really says southwest side. It’s a really big part of me and shaped me into who I am.

I know that you’ve been writing music since you were 12. What kinds of things were you into as a young person that made you think songwriting was the path you wanted to take?

Yes, I started writing at 12. I didn’t tell anybody, only my parents knew because they bought me the USB microphones. During those first initial years, I wrote a lot. And I had just fallen in love with a song my friend had introduced me to that changed my life, “Stronger” by Kanye. I had never really listened to music like that.  I had an Mp3 player in 5th grade but it had just very generic songs. When he played Kanye for me it changed everything. I was like, “Wow, what is this? I want to do this!” But I ended up putting it aside my senior year of high school, just to focus on school. I went to Northern Illinois for a semester. During my time there, my roommate would write raps and inspired me to get back into it. By then, I had gotten my heart broken, so it became something that was more of a therapeutic exercise for me, and it still is now.


Let’s talk about your album “Verano Contigo.” What story are you hoping to tell here? 

So I built “Verano Contigo” to sound like a duet project, and every song features a talented Latina vocalist. The title translates to “summer with you,” so it’s a tribute to summer love. Every song is pretty much split in half between me and the featured artists, like a conversation between me and the person I’m writing about. 


Why is it important for you to have both sides represented instead of exclusively your perspective?

It’s for transparency. When you hear love songs, they’re always like “you broke my heart,” but then you never know what that person did to get their heart broken! I just try to be open and honest.


The nice thing about a residency is that you get to tweak and adjust as the month goes on. You’ve got different performers joining you for different performances, what else is different about each of these shows?

Since I was given four nights for the residency, I try to keep things interesting and to shake it up a bit. I wanted every night to encompass a different aspect of my sound. The first night was more singer-songwriter, very mellow. This upcoming one is more alternative Latino music and then the third night will be more loud and energetic with noise rap and then the last night is more lyrical based. They all have their own themes.


You’re partnering up with The Young Center for Immigrant Children Rights. What inspired your passion for this subject?

It’s in the news a lot, and it’s something that’s very close to me. When I was given the opportunity to partner up with an organization I wanted it to revolve around something immigrant based, so I’m super glad that they were open to attaching their name to this. It hits real close to home and the fact that I can do something as small as $1 from every ticket is great.

To keep up with Ricky, visit his website

Interview edited for clarity and length by Olivia Cerza

Photos courtesy of the artist

Audio produced by Fyodor Sakhnovski

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