By:// Victoria Moorwood
He’s been called Drake, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Bryson Tiller, and a mixture of all three. His single “White Girl Voice” went viral with almost 30 million views and his new single “Everything” just recently dropped. While this rapper and singer’s sound matches the sultry, smooth vocals of the Toronto legend, RajiTheOne is out here to make a name for himself as the man who can do it all. Starting out in Southside Chicago, RajiTheOne is a producer, engineer, songwriter and vocalist. He’s been able to gain an expanding fan base by releasing viral singles, but here he dishes that he’s currently working on a full project, to be released soon. In this interview, he reflects on touring with Big Sean and Trey Songz, gushes over Lauryn Hill, and talks about the struggles he faced in Southside Chicago and how moving to Minnesota changed his life. Newfound fans are still doing double-takes when they listen to his songs and most are convinced he’s Drake’s protégé. Get ahead of the hype and get to know RajiTheOne.
So, let’s start with your backstory. You’re from Chicago but you moved to Minnesota, right? How did you start rapping and singing?
I moved to Minnesota as a teenager. I bet like any other kid that’s exposed to hip hop in the ‘90s you just hear it on the radio, like back in the ‘90s in Chicago we had Biggie and Tupac, and you just kind of indulge in the culture. I think I had my first little rap name when me and my homeboys—we were reading books, like these car books, and they had a Ferrari, a Jaguar, a Mustang and I think I was Ferrari, my name was Ferrari [laughing]. So I started back when I was a kid.
So “Everything” just came out and you’re already over 2 million plays, what do you hope is going to come from this?
I hope it gets more than “White Girl Voice.” “White Girl Voice” really went viral like five different times between nine months. It reached over, I feel like, 27 million streams on a variety of platforms, and that was all organic.
And the video for “White Girl Voice” was really cool. Where did the idea for that come from?
I like to make sure that in the music, in the content, I like to give people a first-person view of just who I am as an individual. So the video concept was pretty much displaying that I’m busy and I’m focused and I’m unable to pick up someone’s phone call. So in the video you’ll see everybody on their phones. Everybody, like in every other shot, every other scene, has someone on their phones and it’s very multicultural so people can really relate to it from all demographics in the world. It’s just to display that everyone’s always so consumed on their phones, yet they miss out on the moments right in front of them and they never pick up when they’re needed the most.
It’s life! We’re always on the phone, like doing other stuff and we lose track of time. It’s something I think a lot of us don’t pay attention to but in the visual, for it to be the first visual of me, I thought what better way to not make it about me but make it about those who tuned in. Like hey, this is what you do on the daily. So you can stop missing out on those precious moments.
I’m sure you’ve seen in a comment somewhere that everyone’s always comparing you to Drake. Do you agree with that? Do you like that? Does he influence you?
I’m influenced by not only people that are present in the music industry but those who have came before us as well. So when I get comparisons to Drake or anyone else I’ll find it flattering, because to a consumer if there’s that familiar sound [then] it’s a positive compliment. It’s kind of like somebody telling me, ‘You play ball like Michael Jordan.’ So I’m like well yeah, thanks! I’m just displaying a version of myself based off what my abilities are. So I’ll rap and I’ll sing—who’s the biggest artist that raps and sings, who comes to mind? And there’s that familiar sound that I’m attached to. I think that’s why I went viral a few times, because people thought, well for one of them people thought that my song was a song by Drake featuring Bryson Tiller. So supposedly I was two different guys on one song—I laughed! I saw it on YouTube, it had like two million views and 6,000 comments and I’m reading all of them, and regardless of who they thought I was they were still like, ‘Yo this dude’s dope he’s about to blow up and we can’t wait to hear more.’ So I think it’s a really great comparison and I can’t wait to continue to build up more content. Then there will be more to be said about who I am and as long as they talking, I’m not mad at it!
Yeah it’s not a bad thing! So what are you working on right now?
I’m always working on projects. I song write, I produce, I engineer as well. I’m heavy in the music industry, just creating content for artists in need of various different things. But I put that to the side so I could work on myself and my personal projects. Very soon I’ll be dropping something along the lines of a mixtape. But before I drop it, I just want to make sure that things are up to my standards and that it makes sense. I’m very fortunate to have a fan base before dropping a full project, as an independent artist at that. Like for most independent artists, they drop a whole project and then you find out who they are after listening to it. But I dropped a song, and gained mad momentum and traction and now everyone’s waiting. So I want to give them exactly what I been up to, from the moment they tuned in until now. We have a whole career to give them my backstory, my true come-up story and childhood, and what my future endeavors are. It’ll be something great. It’ll be a great body of work coming soon.
Yeah that’ll be awesome, I know people are definitely waiting on that. Can you tell me how many songs will be on it or conceptually if they’ll all have a similar style?
I’ll tell you this, it’ll be more than 10 songs. So it’ll be the minimum of 10. It may be, you know I could put out 20, 30. I mean, why not? In terms of what type of style of music, why not show people what I’m fully capable of. So you know, some of them are 120 BPMs, and for those that listen and care about beats per minute, that’s just a vibe. That’s just like a chill in your car, bounce your head and just kind of let the thoughts come to mind as to what I’m saying. But then I also got tracks on there that are like 150 BPMs, so if you wanna turn up and go and jump into a mosh pit I can give you that same energy, on stage as well. So it’ll be very diverse.
Good to have that variety for sure. So what about touring? Are you looking to tour in the future? I read somewhere that you toured with Big Sean and Trey Songz, is that true?
Yeah, that was back in the day. It was a good life experience and opportunity for me just to be a part of that. I learned a lot from it and I guess moving forward as a solo artist I would love to do some shows, but I know that I don’t really have enough content out there to be really rocking shows the way I would want to. I would love to be out there with full production shows, but the music has to come first. For now I can turn up, do a couple songs, vibe with the fans, and when I’m ready to do an actual tour that’ll be good.
So after this music comes out, what’s something in the future you want to accomplish? Who’s an artist you’d love to collaborate with?
There’s so much, there’s a whole bucket list. Some folks I would like to collaborate with… a lot of people. From the big names to the up-and-coming artists, like why not? We all work in the industry together, why not make content and rock the stage together. It’s a small industry, more than people realize. Lauryn Hill, as far as the OG artists. I saw her last month over at Soundset in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the first time in my life. Man, she’s like the coldest, hands down. One of the rawest, still, hands down. She’s a GOAT. I wish I could’ve met her in person. I’d love to work with Travis Scott. I think me and Travis could make some really great music together. And I’m a songwriter. So whoever wants a record, you know, I’m capable of writing for Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber.
Who do you think are the biggest influences on your sound?
I like Lauryn Hill and Tupac, out the gate. And then, of course, André 3000. I like the ability to really identify with culture—African American culture at that, because I am a Black man, a Haitian, and a Black American man. I like music to not only reach masses but speak a little bit of truth to what my upbringing was so people can get a little more insight on the conditions of one’s environment and how it could mold them, but also how I could escapes those realities and do a little bit better for myself than what’s expected. I like to speak that type of positivity as much as possible.
What inspires you, in music and in life?
I wasn’t fortunate to have it handed to me, so what inspires me is knowing that if you have a burning desire to achieve something—it inspires me to just fuel that burning desire by devising a plan to accomplish that goal, that you’re desiring to accomplish. That inspires me. No one’s ever handed it to me. But on the personal side, what inspires me is just to live life, man, and be free. Like you only get one life to live, so I’m a dreamer. As a kid growing up in Chicago, when you’re growing up in such a poverty-stricken systematic culture, there’s no real outlet. It’s either death, or poverty, drugs, or gang violence, or jail. So you have to dream in order to live. And moving to Minnesota was like my dreams becoming a little reality, to be honest, because there was more opportunity in Minnesota. From there I felt like I can go anywhere. I went from the hood to a state where I can go on a farm and go dirt bike riding at age 11 or 12, snowmobiling, hunting, the mountain dunes.
Yeah, you realized that there are other things.
Absolutely. The world is in the palm of my hands so I should be able to do whatever I want, strategically. If I just map it out. That inspired me as a child and I think I’m still living in that childish mind of dreaming and living out the dreams.
What do you want to say to your fans?
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, sincerely. I just had the idea and I believed in myself and I put it out, and you guys believed in it, which means you believed in me. And it’s changing my life, it’s changing my family, their lives as well. Just know that I’m coming with it! Good stuff dropping in the next couple weeks. I love you guys and I appreciate it and stay tuned.