Germany - or the world, for that matter - has never seen someone quite like RIN. He is a rapper that has shot to prominence in a nation that has produced precious few of his ilk, let alone one that has begun to attract attention on an international stage. This is no small feat for someone who rarely releases music outside of his native tongue, let alone for someone as young as he is.
RIN is fresh from releasing his highly-anticipated debut album EROS, which contains such gems as the single "Monica Belluci." Hours after its drop, he appeared in Berlin for an impromptu concert during a DJ set from Virgil Abloh. We caught up with the rapper after a day of recovery to discuss his meteoric rise, his humble beginnings and his budding friendship with Mr. Abloh.
So you just performed last night... how did it go?
Ah it was so good! At first nobody was really partying. I was like, "Fuck it." I picked up the mic and I went in front of the stage and hyped the people, and then it was like, "Go, go, go." And really, it like a real hip-hop party back in the day. Virgil was playing his set up, and I was singing, making ad libs and hyping people up. It was pretty cool. Virgil and I had a good conversation afterwards. I connected with him. He signed my shoe.
Nice! What do you think about him now that you've gotten to know him personally?
I think he's the best networker in the world right now. I don't really see him as a designer, I see him as a really, really, good networker. He's connecting the right people... he's the bridge from the youth to the big ones, you know?
You're from Stuttgart and are still based there. Do you see yourself moving to a bigger city?
No, I hate big cities. I hate people fleeing to the big city, you know? I think real creativity is not based in a big city. I understand it's about networking and stuff like this. It's okay, but I was never like this. I want to show people that you can be a real modern creative from a very small town. It doesn't matter, because the internet killed everything. You don't have to go to the big city and lose your soul and lose your ethics and trade them for your happiness, you know? I've seen so many people trading their morals just for the big dream. You don't have to do this. Just be yourself. Be yourself and everything will come to you. If it's your destiny, it will come to you sooner or later, but don't change for it. Stay yourself and everything will come.
Can you tell me a bit about your come up? What is the Stuttgart rap scene like?
In my town, if you want to do things you have to fight for it, because you had no scene. You had nothing. If you want to do it, you have to do it for yourself, or do it with other people that really want to do it. It's not like you're swimming in other movements or stuff. You are alone. Nobody was watching us. Nobody had an eye on us, so we had a complete free base to express ourselves.
And the come-up... it's crazy. The hype's big, but it doesn't really get to me. People always ask me 'how you live with all this hype?' And really I don't even recognize it, because I'm staying with my friends. I'm always in my town. It's all people who have either known me since I was 10 years old, or it's the little brothers and sisters of friends of mine. They're like, 'Oh, my big brother's chilling with RIN!' I move freely in my town.
Do you feel like a 'hometown hero' now?
Kind of. It's so crazy to me because I was the only one thinking about fashion. All of my friends are pretty regular guys, like poking around in H&M sweaters. They were always laughing at me like, 'Oh, what did he wear today?' It was fun to me, because I didn't give a fuck. I just wanted to look like this, you know? I never did it for someone else, I never had a scene. I just did it for myself, because I loved it, I loved how it looked, and I did it.
I'm glad you brought up your sense of style because listening to your music, it's pretty clear you care a lot about fashion. What's a brand you can't live without?
There is nothing in existence. But I'm kind of famous now for rapping about Supreme. It's one of my most favorite brands and I will always love it, so I guess I would choose it. There's so much diversity, that's the thing I love about it. There's every item in the world is in existence from Supreme.
When did you first think 'oh, I want to be a rapper'?
We were chilling with our friends in our small town in a park, and we were pretty drunk and high. I was known as the music fanatic. People never saw me without one headphone in. Even when I was talking to someone, I always had a headphone, always was listening to music. I loved music so much, and I was always rapping along. So this day at the park, we were freestyling just as a joke. I freestyled, and one of my friends told me 'Yo, shit's cool. You should write it down.' At this point, I had a new hobby.
What three words would you use to describe your flow?
Raw, emotional, and bouncy.
Now that your audience is growing internationally, are people pressuring you to rap in English? If so, would you?
That's a crazy thing... lately so many people are asking me to go international. Maybe one day I will try it.
For more of our interviews, read our chat with Mykki Blanco on his new documentary about queer life in South Africa right here.