From pretending to rap into dry cleaner hangers to actually rapping into top brand microphones, Ro Spit has fashioned a style and sound for the “everyman”. Ro has many influences, ranging from soulful R&B to indie pop music. The music, lyrics and rhymes Ro Spit creates are made with everyone in mind; he doesn’t like to define his musical style to a specific label. The Pontiac, Michigan-born artist is excited to bring his distinctive sound to the South when he performs at SXSW.
Describe your sound in your own words.
The thing about my style is that I don’t like to put myself in a box. I can pretty much connect with people on any type of level. Like, I can relate to the underground, lyrical styles, emcees, you know? It’s not that I want to say that it’s music that’s dumbed down but I can also relate to people on more of a mainstream level, too. But I really feel that, I feel that I can connect with almost everyone.
How did your band form?
Well, originally I started off as a DJ for my cousin, One Be Lo from Binary Star. I started as a DJ for them, but I always wanted to be an emcee, a rapper. When they were in the studio I’d be in the other room and secretly I’d be rapping and stuff and I’d be good at it. He came in the room and I didn’t see him and he heard me and said it was nice, said that it was pretty good. I didn’t think I was ready but I got the thumbs up and that’s what it took. I put being a DJ to the back of my mind. I had plans on being an emcee and that’s what I always wanted to be. In junior high we’d put on all black and LA Kings hats and use dry cleaner hangers as microphones and act like Ice Cube and then we’d get up and act that we were rapping.
What are your musical influences?
I pretty much like everything. I love Jay Z, Nas, Andre 3000; real emcees. But I also listen to Coldplay and The Neptunes, alternative music like that. I try to listen to everything. I like to listen to jazz, R&B like Mary J. Blige, Luther Vandross. I think that making music for everyone, I should also listen to music made by everyone and just different styles of music.
How did you come up with your band name?
My old name was Octane and I hated that. In the underground groups cats had names like Octane or something like that, but I never really liked the name. But, it caught on and then I went from a DJ to rapping. The best names are names that you had when you were growing up. My name is Roland and it was always shortened to ‘Ro’ and then they called me ‘spit’ because I rapped [like, I spit raps, you know]. It kind of caught on and I put the two together.
What’s your favorite activity outside of music?
Making money; I don’t know that you call that an activity though. But being at home with wife and daughter is great. Being around friends and family just laughing – I love that kind of stuff.
Who do you thank for your success?
Honestly I’d thank my management team, Team Ro Spit, Wallo, Six. You know, I’m local here and did everything I could do my self, including booking shows and trying to get some money here and there but I got with Wallo and Six and they made it more like a business. They definitely helped make it something to look forward to. These people work for me and help work when I’m not able to work for myself. Wallo would look for interviews when I wouldn’t be. They definitely push me to the next level.
What words of inspiration can you offer to anyone wanting to break into the market?
Don’t do it. It’s a crazy thing and usually people get it twisted. There is not a lot of big shots out here, not a lot of big cats that can just walk on and get on like that. Majority of the people don’t know it’s a grind, a long and
frustrating hustle. Looking back, it took a long time to get where I’m at and I don’t feel I’m anywhere near where I want to be. I’d say to just take up stamp collecting or come up with something else to do. Honestly its just a lot harder when you try to do it yourself and don’t have millions of dollars behind it, it’s a lot of bull, it’s failure and full of frustrations, people selling your dreams and telling you they can do it for you and not stepping up, but its a lot of disappointment.
What’s the most embarrassing thing on your iPod?
Justin Beiber. I like Justin Beiber. I like his video and it’s a good look. We were just talking about the video and Beiber snatching the girl at the bowling alley. Justin Beiber! It’s just that one song, though. I’m kind of getting into it. A lot of people give me flak for listening to Gucci Mane, too.
What’s in your SXSW survival kit?
A lot of different shoes; Jordans, Air force Ones, Vans. Definitely my blackberry, I really feel like if I have my Blackberry I can do anything, like open-heart surgery. Maybe a flash drive of music.
Originally posted at Spinner on March 11, 2010.