Walking into the dimly lit room on the Columbia Records floor, the 24-year-old eased back on the couch for an interview with Madame Noire. He had just wrapped up an entire day of interviews and was stuffed from eating sushi with his boys. He’d dropped soy sauce and chop sticks on the coffee table as evidence of his lunch.
Raised in Connecticut, Range is the newest artist on Roc Nation’s selective roster. At first glance, he has the swagger and confidence of a rapper, but once he belts out a tune, his entire persona changes. Originally breaking into the industry as a writer and producer, the young singer worked with P. Diddy, Jamie Foxx and Ludacris before signing as an artist. What’s so intriguing about Range is his educational background, having studied saxophone at the Hartford Conservatory and snagging a business degree from Southern Connecticut University. So not only can he sing, but he’s educated… we decided to find out more about this young lad.
Check out our discovery below:
Madame Noire: Give us your quick bio.
Range: Played the saxophone as a kid. Mother was the choir director, but I didn’t really go into it real hard. She wanted me to sing… I didn’t really want to sing. Rap was really my passion, especially West coast [rap]. Moved from writing to poetry and was kind of in the rap phase. Just free-styling. That turned into writing music in the studio. Got with Troy Oliver and Troy really helped me hone my skills, as far as making music. Went from Troy to Randy (manager), who brought me into the studio with Trackmasters. Placed a couple records with them. Then went from Trackmasters to StarGate. StarGate signed me and then brought me to Roc Nation.
MN: Who were your favorite West coast rappers, back in the day?
Range: It was Dre and Snoop….
MN: No Pac?
Range: Not so much Pac. I liked him for the person he was, but not so much his music. Then it came to Biggie and that Bad Boy time. And ends at Jay [Z].
MN: Why the West coast, when you’re from Connecticut?
Range: My family is from the South. I’m the only East coast boy. Everybody is from the South. My mother’s side is all Kentucky and my father’s side is all Georgia.
MN: So no Southern inspiration? No Uncle Luke?
Range: [Laugh] Not really, because my cousins in the South listen to all gangster, West coast music. So that’s how I got into that. But in the South, Outkast was definitely my favorite group from Atlanta back then.
MN: Do you write for a specific person? Or do you write and hope the person it’s for can invoke the right emotion into it?
Range: It works both ways. A lot of records, half of them that I’ve done, I was just making music. Just wanted to make a hot record. Half were catered to that artist, maybe aimed at that artist who says we’re looking for this and this and this. And then I write according to that.
MN: Is there a process for you in the studio?
Range: If I’m writing to someone else’s track, it’s melody first and I fill the lyrics in. Sometimes the concept will come to me first and I’ll make my own music. I’ll start with the drums, then some cords… whatever I’m feeling. And then just melody, lyric and then I fill in with all the other extra stuff.
MN: You’ve worked with Rick Ross and Ne-Yo, would you want to work with anyone else?
Range: I hope to work, but definitely want to get in with Drake. He’s on fire right now. Definitely Weezy and of course, Jay Z. And Andre 3000 that would be crazy too.
I’m a weird mind and he’s a weird mind. I think people just look past him. A lot. But he was kind of [like] Weezy before, Weezy was doing that.
MN: You just graduated from school…
Range: Southern Connecticut University for business administration. I wanted the degree to help the decisions I will make as far as the business side of this game.
MN: A lot of your songs are about dating and women. What’s going on with that? You dating or…
Range: Single! I’m single [Laugh]!
MN: Is that for any reason?
Range: I’m just busy, it’s just hard to have a relationship right now. And I need to stay focused.
MN: Where are the inspirations in your songs coming from?
Range: Definitely past relationships and even things I haven’t been through but I can just imagine love being like. So it’s some real things, some imagination. Hopes, dreams [Laugh].
MN: What do you want people to get from “No Strings” and you on this album?
Range: That I’m passionate. I’m creative. [I'm] a hardworker and I love making music. You can kind of feel it when you listen. I think that’s what’s missing from music now. You feel the emotion, when I deliver it. Written or chosen, taken from other people I put my heart into it. I put my heart into it.