The Ourtunez Backstage Pass is a weekly series where we introduce an artist exclusive to Ourtunez. This week, we met up with Midwest Rico and discussed how hardships in his life inspire his music. You can check him out on our Indie Rap Station on Ourtunez.com
LaVelle Hall (Midwest Rico) had to go through many obstacles to get to where he is now, a budding hip-hop artist out of Detroit. He paints pictures with his lyrics about life in the streets, having to go through homelessness himself and resort to crime for money. He writes music to help him cope with the struggles he has dealt with and to inspire others in similar situations. We held an interview at Nocturnal Entertainment, an up-and-coming recording studio in Southfield, Michigan.
Rico’s musical career started when he was about 14. His mother, realizing his son’s talent for singing, made him go to an audition to sing backup for Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, a gospel singer. Soon he was traveling and touring with her, and Rico got his first taste of what the music life was all about. “I fell in love with it,” he said.
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Music was not Rico’s first dream of success. He had aspirations of becoming a football player and after playing at Inkster High School as a DB/LB, alongside future University of Michigan QB Devin Gardner, he received a scholarship for Northern Michigan University. It was there when his dream started to fade. “I got sick and had to come home and like a bunch of obstacles just hit like real fast. Like ended up being homeless and, just selling drugs and a bunch of other crazy stuff.” But as one dream faded, another was taking taking form.
In this dark time in his life, Rico found inspiration through his music. He started rapping his freshman year at Northern Michigan, where “Freestyle Fridays” with the football team turned into battle rapping, where he would “kill dudes bro”. When the school year started, people started to notice his skills. He started to record songs under the name Fresh Kid, like his remake of “5 o’clock” by T-Pain. When he left school he focused more on his music, which he saw was influencing the lives of people around him. “I was touching a lot of people and that’s what I like to do. I like to help people, so seeing me inspire people, and really get people through everyday life just kinda inspired me to make more music.”
Midwest Rico started to develop a style all his own. With influences from his gospel upbringing, R&B influences like Ginuwine, and Hip-Hop legends as Jay-Z, Nas, 2Pac, and Biggie, Rico puts his own spin on the genre. “Everybody compares rappers who sing to Drake, so I’ve been trying to capture my own style and still make it comfortable.” He’s had many names through the past few years going from Rico Suave to Rico Love to Rico DaVinci. He plans on sticking with Midwest Rico.
Midwest Rico’s new single “Helluva Night” tells a dark story. 3 years ago, his close friend, Previn Dixon, who he played football with at Inkster, was shot and killed during a robbery attempt and police chase that started in Dearborn and ended tragically on Ashton St. in Detroit. Rico visits the place where his “big brother” was taken in his music video. A week earlier, Rico received a call from Dixon who sounded scared for his life and felt his days were numbered. “He was fearless so it was weird to be hearing somebody I looked at like Iron Man to be saying he was scared he was gonna die,” Rico recalls. Rico told Dixon to just get some rest and that he would pray for him. Sure enough, Rico heard the bad news after practice where he and Dixon shared many memories. Now 21, Midwest Rico has matured and found an outlet to cope with this tragedy.
Through hardship and pain, Midwest Rico has risen above. He has shared the stage with Gucci Mane, Kid Ink, MGK, and Dom Kennedy, to name a few. His next project, for now titled “21”, is in the works and he’s planning on doing it big. You can listen to his new single and upcoming projects on Ourtunez. “Ourtunez is dope.” We couldn’t agree more.
Here are some clips from our interview. We thank Midwest Rico for his time and Nocturnal Entertainment for being great hosts.
-Nino Munaco (email@example.com) Ourtunez Editor