Permit me, here, to introduce Rich iCoast. This Bronx native is as uncompromising as the stoic poise with which he lobs his lines; pregnant with meaning. Without reservation, Rich iCoast is a talented “wordsmith”. It is this resourcefulness that allows him the courage to play with the music, rhymes and rhythms that aptly portray the realities of his immediate surroundings. You listen to his music and it communicates an authenticity that is life in New York City. In his voice you hear that distinct, incredulous flavor with which he mixes his bars… by exploiting the color and tone of sound. It is this Ghostface Killa kind timbre of his voice, and that characteristic South Bronx drawl sailing above the harsh lines of this edgy melody, which he prefers to rap over, that makes his compositions all the more interesting.
He does not have to admit it; I will. “Rich iCoast” is a daily choreography of voice and gesture against the backdrop of human “extras” and abstractly colored props of his Bronx neighborhood. Within the bustle of this urban setting he says: “life is crazy girls, bright lights and goons… they all come into play… my city never sleeps… and even I can’t sleep… their daily movements are what influence my music;,partying, chilling… or just going out on the streets; you see so much, no matter what time it is…”
It is behind that smooth, deliberate calculation of Rich iCoast’s eyes lays a perspective eager to connect with that cultural journey that reaches back into his Jamaican heritage. 21 years ago he was born Richard Reid under the determination of a Capricorn sun. Of those early years he says: “I grew up with my grandmother (my fathers’ mom); so I wasn’t around my parents that much… but my pops was a DJ and when we were with each other, he always spoke to me about how music is played and composed.” The music of choice for him, then, was Reggae and Ska.
Within those tropical years of his early life in Jamaica, Rich iCoast recalls: “livin’ there it was basically growin’ up fast ‘cause we ain’t holding you hands to cross the street… When you’re seven you’re doin’ a lot for yourself… I was over a hot ass stove makin’ myself breakfast and ironin’ my own clothes at a young age… Not that I didn’t have someone to do it for me…” but, with my grandmother, he continued, it was: “I don’t want you to grow up dependin’ on people.”
Not much later, Rich iCoast migrated to the United States while still very young. He attended Weaver High School, in Hartford, Connecticut from where he graduated with a high school diploma. But it was, really, on the streets of his new demanding neighborhood he was exposed to the rolling syncopation of guitar and drums in the melodious phrasing of Bob Marley; and the lyrical rap of B.I.G, Beenie Man, Stack Bundles, Joe Budden, JayZ, Lloyd Banks and Ludacris. For him, Stack Bundles has been the most influential and stands out in his memory. He says: “…with him (Stack Bundles) being deceased… his music is still more relevant than most music played today.”
It was there in the bowels of the Bronx ‘Barbary’, where Rich iCoast’s music really began to germinate. There in the birthplace of hip-hop, he began casting a unique edge to his work. According to him he injects a “feel good” flavor to the music. He describes his music with almost philosophical jargon: “…you hear it through the ‘quotes’… and, it is because I have something to say.” He continues: “…my music takes you into my world to see how I think.” For him, it was definitely the Bronx that was instrumental in shaping his music. His rational: “…because you can’t be a slouch comin’ from the Bronx. When you rap and you tell someone you from the Bronx… their response is like… ‘Oh you from the Bronx; that’s why…’ and that’s more power for you to show them you got it… this here is the birthplace… and we have one of the greatest… Big Pun… so I pride myself on knowing this borough did pave the way for HIP-HOP.”