AJRadico Is a Rising Voice in New York’s Rap Counterculture [Q&A]

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Photo By Lou Palace

There's a new voice coming out of Queens, New York and his name is AJRadico. The 21-year old artist and producer is controlling his own destiny in the music industry by focusing on originality instead of complacency. AJRadico's music is refreshing. While some of New York's brightest rap stars right now are making drill music, AJRadico's music serves as a point of counterculture. His focus on originality could stem from his time as a film student and his admiration for music producers like Timbaland, Kanye, and Dark Child who put production emphasis on holistic sound design.

Today, he released the video for his 2019 single "Armor." Fully written and produced by AJRadico, "Armor" is just one staunch example of his versatility. Check out his other singles "Vertigo" and "Candy" to fully understand what I mean. The video for "Armor" is set against the bustling backdrop of New York City and AJRadico's calm control amidst the chaos in the clip perfectly matches his aptly cadenced flow over the energetic instrumental. We caught up with AJRadico via email to talk about how he approaches production using "found sounds", creating during COVID-19, and the concept behind the "Armor" video.

Ones To Watch: Where did your name come from?

AJRadico: It’s actually a funny story. So there’s this episode of the Regular Show where Mordecai and Rigby find this soda in the attic called “RadiCola” and it turns some dude into an energy monster. A.J. is my initials and I thought Radico sounded cool. People misspell it a lot and add a space between though.

How long have you been rapping?

I started taking rap seriously around early 2016. Prior to that I only made beats and put them on Bandcamp for free, but I got tired of other people rapping on them without my permission.

Do you think you've found your sound or are you still putting it together?

Nah! I think my sound evolves with each new song. Could never get too comfortable! That’s how you end up making the same thing over and over, which may work for some artists, but that don’t cut it for me. Ya know, why wouldn’t you want to push the envelope?

What makes using  "found sounds" special to you?

They’re super special because they create the mood often without us realizing. I studied film in school, so sound design has always been important in matching the sonic tone to the visual tone. Art is multidimensional. It’s 5-D.

What are some of your movie soundtracks or films with great movie scores?

Hands down, the soundtrack to AKIRA is probably my favorite of all time. The OST to Transformers: The Movie (the 1986 one) is crazy too.

Vince DiCola is a genius.

Has it been easy for you to make music during COVID-19?

I’ve always preferred making music at home because it’s where I’m the most comfy, so being inside wasn’t a problem.

I do miss the being in the booth though and all the high-end recording gear. Oh, and the snacks!

Do you make music alone or do you like to collaborate?

I self produce, engineer and mix all of my stuff but I’m not opposed to collabs. I think it’s all about working with people who can match your energy.

For me that’s the homies, whenever we’re in the studio it’s crazy.

Can you tell us about the concept of the "Armor" video?

With Armor, we wanted to make something that visually represented that chaotic feeling you get from the song. It just made the most sense to shoot it mid-day in Midtown when shits the most live. We really wanted to capture what it’s like to commute through the madness.  

When can we expect a project from you?

Heetburg Inbound, this fall.

Watch the "Armor" video below.

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