- Dan Folger
19-year old hip-hop artist and Internet personality — we'll get to that later — DJ Rupp calls Los Angeles home these days but grew up right here in the Hoosier state.
We dialed up Rupp for a quick chat about his hometown, social media and hit song "Indiana" before he returns for a show at the Emerson Theatre this weekend.
NUVO: Musically speaking, how did growing up in Evansville affect your decision to be an artist?
DJ Rupp: The hate is real out there. Everyone wants you to stay out there. I took the hate and kept going, took the constructive criticism to better myself and make connections to get out of the state — to make something bigger.
NUVO: How important is making connections when you’re from a smaller town?
Rupp: For two years I’ve been making connections. The Internet is really where the connections started. I was hitting up producers, hitting up DJ’s and people who ran tours. Kind of building my following and hitting them up as it was building to utilize other people’s attributes in a way. Using them to network and connect.
NUVO: How much of an impact has social media had on getting to where you are today?
Rupp: Social media is all. Social media got me to where I am. People like Soula Boy, really one of the pioneers on social media, he started from MySpace. We’re really the pioneers of Twitter, Instagram, Vine social media wave. To come up and showcase your music off of those social media sites.
NUVO: Let’s talk your song “Indiana." It really [is meant to be] is an anthem [for Hoosiers], isn’t it?
Rupp: Yeah I didn’t realize it was such an anthem. See, I made it out here in LA and I pulled up to the studio called West One and both of the guys who own the studio are from Indiana. And I was like, “We’re all from Indiana right now and we’re in a session? We gotta do an anthem right now. We gotta do an Indiana track that is for this state, that is putting on heavy.” So they started making a beat and I was vibing to it, and once I spelled out Indiana we knew it could be a turn up track.
NUVO: How important do you think a catchy beat is to having a successful track these days?
Rupp: The beat is everything. That's why people like 808 Mafia and Metro Boomin are so big now. Before that the producers the weren’t getting the credit and the love they deserve but now they’re starting to blow up. It’s like 50/50, the artist and the vocals of the track. But the other half is all about the beat, all about the vibe, that’s how you create your poetry on it.
NUVO: If you look at the XXL Freshman class this year, a bunch of those guys are beat-driven. What do you think that says about where the hip-hop scene is headed?
Rupp: The class is spazzin' this year. Hip-hop is headed in a good way. It’s a turn up side. It’s party. People’s attention spans are getting shorter, that’s why lyrics are repeated a lot. It’s getting catchy. I think it’s the best it’s ever been. It’s a new wave.
NUVO: Partying seems to be a reoccurring theme in your tracks. Do you think that comes with your age, your fanbase, or is just your thing?
Rupp: I always party. I always turn up. I’m 19 years old. I can only make music about scenarios that I live through. I’m not sitting here chilling around a gun, talking about a gun. I love women. I love smoking. So that’s what I rap about.
NUVO: You dropped “Gorgeous” about a month ago, but what do you have in the pipeline that you want your fans to know about?
Rupp: I’ve got a hip-hop project that I’m working on. Just trying to get everything right in the vault so I can release it. I’m also working on a production — the DJ Rupp producing side — of EDM turn up. I’m also trying to get a personality out here so I’m going to start a YouTube series. Really going to start taking on more after this weekend.
NUVO: The Emerson can get wild and your songs fit that mold perfectly. What can we expect at this weekend’s show?
Rupp: I’m gonna be going crazy. I never got to live in a fraternity. I never got to live the college life. I got out of school my junior year, ended up finishing up high school but I never experienced that college role. To me right now — in my head — it’s always the college life. So when I’m on stage and performing I really imagine I’m at a fraternity living my college days.