Rowdy Rebel Is Just Trying to Shmake It
We spoke to the animated New York rapper about his deal with Epic, his hair, and why GS9 loves the San Antonio Spurs.
You could make a very strong case for Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot N—a” being the song of the summer, its success propelled by an easily Vine-able clip that sees Bobby flicking his hat into the sky and then lazily swaying his hips and elbows in a dance move that’s gone on to be improperly recreated by thousands of fans. The song served as an introduction to GS9, a rap collective made up of a number teens from “the 90s,” a neighborhood in New York’s East Flatbush. But after watching the video, it became clear to me that the real star of the group isn’t Bobby, despite the overflowing charisma he obviously possesses and his ability to go 0-100, real fucking quick. It's Rowdy Rebel, the long-haired, husky, overly animated rapper who could be seen palling around with Bobby throughout the video.
Upon realizing that I may have just found my new favorite rapper, I did a deep dive into his music to learn everything I could about Rowdy Rebel, who has an affability to his personality that was shrouded in menace, similar to Waka Flocka Flame. He is perpetually in motion, unable to refrain from dancing whenever a camera is pointed at him. During his verse in “Shmoney Baby”, a remix to “Money Baby” that he performs with Richie P, Rowdy is bopping along while perched on a stool, not unlike myself when my favorite song comes on at a bar. He’s a clear extrovert: someone who enjoys being in the limelight and manages to find himself there without having to try very hard. But outside of the surface aesthetic that Rowdy presents, he can also rap his ass off. On “Foreign Shyt”, again with Richie P, Rowdy raps most of the first verse between blown raspberries, a technique that sounds better than it reads. His voice and cadence set him apart from the rest of GS9. On the group’s Shmoney Shmurda Promo project, the first two songs belong to Rowdy, who sets the bar high with growled raps about having pockets full of shmoney and frivolously spending said shmoney.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only person to notice Rowdy’s potential. Though it wasn’t as heavily reported in the news of Bobby’s deal, Rowdy had also found a label. “I got signed to Epic too, it’s just me and Bobby right now,” said Rowdy as we reached him over the phone while he was in Brooklyn getting ready for a photoshoot. Although his GS9 cohorts weren’t signed, Rowdy is confident that it will come with time. “We’ve got some homeboys in our bag, so we’re just going to continue slamming out these tracks and promoting the homies and putting them on.” The great thing about GS9 is the selflessness that seems to permeate the group, leading to a number of different styles all finding a home without clashing. “I wouldn’t say there’s a leader in GS9. We’re all one, we’re all equal. We’re our own bosses,” explains Rowdy. “Not everybody can be a boss, so we have our bigger brothers we look up to, but we don’t look at it as leaders or anything. We just want to own our businesses.”
Rowdy Rebel, whose real name is Chad, has been rapping since he was five years old. “I really started taking it seriously when I was 11. I started rapping because I was broke. At the end of the day, yeah I like music, but I started really doing it because I needed something to do with my life. I needed a way out.” Now, with a label behind him and a highly motivated team of like-minded individuals, Rowdy is ready to make his mark on rap music. “I have a bunch of songs recorded. The single is going to drop soon, I don’t know what it’s going to be called yet. I’m just trying to get everything in motion, get all the paperwork right, all the graphics, photos and audio. But we’re about to drop real soon.”
If Bobby Shmurda really does go on to be Epic’s Trinidad James, there’s a very good chance that Rowdy will become their Rich Homie Quan—a surprise star that works well with others while still rapping at a high level. We called Rowdy for a quick conversation and to get his thoughts on the sudden fame, his hair, and why GS9 is such a proponent of the San Antonio Spurs.
Noisey: How did you get the name Rowdy Rebel?
Rowdy Rebel: My neighborhood, they all used to call me Rowdy. I’ve always been a rebel and some of them started calling me Rowdy because I was always wild and always rowdy. My real name is Chad.
What kind of lessons have you learned from seeing how people have been reacting to what you guys are doing?
I learned I need media training. I haven’t gotten any yet, but I’m about to get some though. I only have a bit of it, but I really need it so I don’t snap on somebody when they say something I don’t like.
Are you planning on cutting your hair any time soon?
Hell no. If I do I won't be Rowdy no more.
Have you bought anything fancy since you got your deal?
No, nothing fancy. I go shopping all the time, but I budget right. Steal my scraps from money I make from shows. I ain't buy no house no cars, no cribs, no jerseys, nothing.
I see everyone in GS9 really likes the San Antonio Spurs. Is it because their uniform is black and white?
No, the Spurs is veteran shooters, they a family for real—they’ve been together for a long time.
What do you guys think of New York rap in general? Where do you see GS9 in the New York rap scene?
I feel like a lot of people are bringing that right energy, but you also have guys that are too cocky and people that are taking things too personal. They just want to stunt around all day and point at the camera. But yeah, people have to have fun with it, cause shit epic is for real. We’re not some super little kids, we’re going to make it work, for real.
Are you worried that some of the older rappers who have been reaching out to you are only doing it to stay relevant or trying to use you?
If I’m old and out of the limelight, I’d be like ‘those young boys are coming up’ and try to ride that wave. But as far as most people go, it’s just been love. They’ve been showing us all love. A lot of rappers who are seasoned put out a grand show and really making their support known, but it’s always love.
In your “Shmoney Baby” verse you brag about having 28,000 views on youtube. Do you find that funny now?
[laughs] Yeah, we have like 4 or 5 million views now. So, yeah … [laughs]
Slava Pastuk needs shmedia training - @SlavaP