The last two years have kept local hip-hop artist Righchus busier than he expected. He released a critically acclaimed debut album in 2009, shot an independently funded music video, toured the Southeast, and opened for the likes of Warren G, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, the Movement, and Wiz Khalifa. He also graduated from the University of South Carolina last spring.
This year, Righchus (a.k.a. Matt Bostick) hopes to stay busy re-establishing his local base. "I'm kind of transitioning back here and doing music full-time," Righchus says. "That's the goal — to get me in the right place."
Righchus releases a polished new studio collection titled Sweetgrass & Supras this week. As with 2009's Chaos Theory, his sophomore effort is a collaborative production between the rapper and studio bud Max "Benjamin" Berry.
Righchus and Max host their official CD release party downtown at NV Dance Lounge on Fri. Jan. 21. They'll also conduct an album signing at Monster Music & Movies in West Ashley from 2-3:30 p.m. on Sat. Jan. 22.
"We weren't worried about rushing anything at all," says Righchus of the efforts leading up to the second album. "Max and I just took our time and did our thing, trying to find the right sounds. A lot happened in 2010, so I think that whole year was like a preparation for this year. We experienced a lot, and we learned a lot. We tried to find our own sound and discover our niche audience and wanted to take it from there."
Quick-paced crowd favorites like "Welcome to Chaos" and "Mr. Hustle" were high-points of Righchus' live set, but slower, more dramatic, partly spoken-word tracks like the lecture-like "Live, Die, Fall, Rise" and the more ethereal "Deep End" would downshift into noticeably chilled-out lulls.
"The new album is a lot more energetic," says Righchus. "The energy is completely high throughout the whole thing. The last song slows down just a little, but not that much. Once we put Chaos Theory out and I started performing, I noticed that the tempos of the songs were dragging my performance. I realized I had to speed things up and step it up when it comes to the tempo. You know, your performances are everything in a way."
A collaborative production between Righchus and Berry, Chaos Theory made a splash in the Carolinas as a strong debut with a youthful sense of optimism and positive-vibes balanced by commentary on the cultural and socio-political state of the world. Righchus touched on a string of personal issues and observations — from poverty and crime to loyalty and righteousness.
"The theme of the first album was about maintaining yourself through chaotic periods," says Righchus. "This new one is more along the lines of self independence and individuality ... kind of being who you want to be and taking the risks you want to take to get what you want. That's basically what it was like for us as we made the record."
Sweetgrass & Supras kicks some the same stylish synthesizer sounds as the previous collection, as on the funky opening song "Blow," but the kick/clap rhythm patterns sound richer and more natural than some of the stiffer percussion sounds before.
While working and attending school last year, Righchus took the chance to perform around the Carolinas. He garnered some unexpected mixed reactions.
"At shows in the cities like Columbia, Charlotte, Greenville, and Spartanburg, the audiences were surprised to learn I was from Charleston," he says. "I wasn't sure how to take it. Apparently, Charleston has a really specific style of rap and hip-hop, but my music sounds different. But every time I step out of the city, I feel like I'm representing Charleston.
With Righchus on the microphone, Berry is the anchor on stage with a battery of keyboards and mixers. Oftentimes, special guests like DJ R-Dot and K.J. Kearney (of H1gher Learning) will collaborate at shows, too.
"We try to keep it pretty simple," says Righchus. "It's great to have guests jump in help you get the crowd into it, but we don't have like 40 people on stage or anything. We try to keep it balanced."
One potentially hot single on Sweetgrass & Supras is "Afraid of Heights," which approaches some of the dance club party-glam production of Ludracris' recent hits and other snappy Dirty South style releases. In a more organic, groove-rock move, "We Winnin'" (featuring a guest performance from local singer/songwriter Ben Fagan) leans toward a full-band, Roots-style arrangement. Laid-back with a smooth, reggae-tinged hook, it's primed for mainstream radio play. The back end of the collection include remixes of tracks from Chaos Theory.
"I'm so lucky to have Max as a producer and engineer," says Righchus. "I've learned a lot from sitting down and watching him do things. I've learned to trust his judgment, too. There are so many things that I might not hear, but he hears them. Later, I'll be like, 'Aw, man, I'm so glad I took his advice and changed it. I've worked with other producers, but Max is my go-to man. He understands my style and sounds and keeps it all in lock."
There have been a few bites of interest from national record labels and music biz agents in the last year or so, but Righchus is quite content with his independence at the moment.
"There's been a little talk, but nothing I'm too concerned about," he says. "I want to continue to build up my buzz organically. I want to be in a position where I don't need a label for support. It's easy to utilize the internet and the social media, so it's a perfect time right now to be independent. We have our own team, we make our own videos, and we do our own website. You appreciate it more when you do it like that."