Go! Pop! Bang!
All is noise. All day, every day. Car horns in the city, rainfall in the country, radio static, passing airplanes, the hum of highways, the rattle of subway cars, the millions of voices chattering away into chirping phones—the music of living is loud. From that first blaring buzz of the morning alarm to the front-door slam at night, we exist inside an orchestra of loud life.
Not all noise is music. Yet Go! Pop! Bang! is a synthesis of everything that moves in our cities and in our minds—modern life mixed in with a bit of LP wax. With the arrival of her debut, Baltimore’s Rye Rye has distilled the sounds of living into an unclassifiable collection of ten tracks, a collision of the mad movement of every day into a celebratory dance. You might call it rap. It could be hip-hop. This is undeniable dance music (just try to stand still), but it’s also pop, beat, rock, hardcore, and industrial melody. Put another way: it sounds like life now. And tomorrow.
In her 19 years, Rye Rye has lived more than most. Pulling herself up and out of the Baltimore projects by her own determination, wiling away hours in the city’s all-ages club scene not to waste her time but to make something of her time. Seminal shows on station 92Q with DJs like late, legendary K-Swift opened up new worlds, dance nights morphing into impromptu competitions, feeding her ambition. All of this sound, vision, bombastic and beautiful boasting have coalesced to inform her singular persona and performance. (Even The New York Times has taken notice, raving of her recent HARD NYC set: “Rye Rye delivered her rat-a-tat rhymes—fast, competitive boasts—over the sparse electronic propulsion of Baltimore club music while she outdanced everyone else on the festival bill.”)
Studying the music, making music, sharing music, and making mentors along the way—DJ Blaqstarr helped Rye Rye build a bridge to M.I.A. who quickly signed her to her own N.E.E.T. label, took her on the road, and collaborated on lead single “Sunshine.” It sounds easy on paper—work hard, get discovered, conquer the world. But Blaqstarr and M.I.A. are once-in-a-lifetime mentors who heard once-in-a-lifetime music and that music is unmistakably Rye Rye’s.
“Pop is a big genre. Hip-hop is a big genre. But I also want to stay in my lane and get the feeling of where I’m coming from and be able to share that,” she says, finding her own sound hard to classify even for herself. “If I do a hip-hop song, it doesn’t sound like a regular hip-hop track; it sounds fresher. I am doing my own thing.
“When I first started, maybe I was aiming for an album to reach the mainstream,” she admits. “But when I listen to it now—it’s fresh, it doesn’t sound like anybody’s album. It puts you in a dancing spirit.”
The earthquake bass of “Rock Off Shake Off” explodes on top of futuristic keys and celebratory howls, careening from rumbling bass to pop melodies as light as air. Early club hit “Shake It to the Ground” showed the bare bones Rye Rye in her element, laying playful playground rhymes above synthetic beats. “Hardcore Girls” was a youthful proclamation, laying claim to the title of “the baddest shit,” daring even Superwoman to come close to it. But it’s a track like “Sunshine” that stands as a testament to limitless vistas opening up for Rye Rye, a place where boasting is unnecessary, the music alone the sound of her triumph.
Some might call Go! Pop! Bang! a kind of mash-up of her Baltimore club roots guided by the studio beats of Diplo, The Count and Sniden, and Egyptian Lover, but if producers leave the light touch of fingerprints, what you’ll hear first and loudest is the ground-shaking stomp of Rye Rye’s footprint. Mash-up is too indelicate to describe a masterstroke like Go! Pop! Bang! This is urban orchestral music, its conductor is Rye Rye, and you dear listeners are at its mercy.
“It’s a dance record. It’s a Baltimore club record. But it’s a lot more,” she says. “It’s a variety of things—a clash of different sounds. The bass and beats are crazy. Some songs I stepped out of my element, stuff I never imagined doing before. I didn’t know I could even do it, but it happened! It’s about fun. It’s for all the dancers, the hipsters, everyone—they’re all gonna take to it.”