R&B crooners tend to portray a classically handsome look—well-groomed in suits and ties—but Range puts a bit of a twist on his outer appearance. See, the Connecticut native sports a fully-inked arm under his T-shirt, yet exudes a gentlemanly vibe as magnetic as a fully-suited Ne-Yo.
Range, the newest balladeer from Jay-Z’s Roc Nation camp, will be melting hearts with his smooth crooning when his debut album, No Strings, releases next year. But before the romance, the 24-year-old singer introduces listeners to “Ghetto Dance” featuring Rick Ross—a song he co-produced alongside Stargate and wrote to describe the mesmerizing movements of a female on the dance floor.
Not long after shooting the song’s video in Miami, Range relaxes in a chair at the Sony artist lounge in a high-rise towering over midtown Manhattan. He’s not the typical singer-songwriter—this dude can also produce. Find out which Southern rapper he’s written a hit for, who he’s been taking notes from in the studio, and where he heads when the music is done (and it’s not the strip club).
1. What’s it like to have access to someone like Jay-Z?
We’ve talked about what I need to do in this game to make it where I need to be. He gave me some top-secret information, just personal stuff which I appreciate. He is like a mentor to me. It’s priceless to have access to someone like Jay-Z because that’s someone who I listen to, my favorite rapper of all time, and what he’s doing in business now is crazy—the moves he makes and everything. My favorite Jay-Z album is Reasonable Doubt.
2. What is the most appropriate time for someone to break into a “Ghetto Dance” and what does it look like?
At home in your mirror getting ready to go to the club. The dance? It’s nothing for me to do. But it’s something you can do. You gotta wind your hips a little bit and the guy [dance] is just a real simple swag.
3. How did you learn about production?
I was always learning music and just making beats and making music throughout school, mostly R&B and hip-hop. I just had a Triton keyboard, Mbox, and a PC.
4. Which song have you written for another artist that you’re most proud of?
“One More Drink” for Ludacris and T-Pain because it’s the most successful. I wrote the hook in that song; I’m proud of that one.
5. What’s the most important thing to remember when you’re writing for other artists?
Personally, I try to study their music and understand where they’re coming from with certain topics so I don’t say certain words or approach something in a way that’s not real to them. I try to make it as real and honest to them as I can.
6. What is it like to be in the studio with other artists in terms of production?
Sometimes we start from scratch or co-write, then we just bounce ideas back and forth like the Ryan Leslie session I had. He did the track and while he’s doing the track he’s doing melodies and concepts. I’m feeding off that. I’m throwing words and ideas back at him and that’s kind of what I try to incorporate. Ryan Leslie’s session is one-of-a-kind.
7. Were there any surprises working with Rick Ross? And what do you think of him as a rapper?
I think he’s one of the top rappers out right now and it was fun working with him. I was surprised to learn that he knew my music and that he’s heard of me before. Being new and having somebody like that—I listen to his music—know my music felt good.
8. Which female artists would you like to collaborate with?
I would like to work with my labelmates—Alexis Jordan, Rita Ora, and Bridget Kelly.
9. What was it like to be onstage for the first time?
The first time, we had a big show in Albany. It’s a nervous but anxious feeling. I’m eager to get on stage. I like to be myself so I’ll sit alone and listen to some Jay-Z on my headphones, then I talk to my manager before I go on stage. He’ll tell me something good. Then I start running around, then I’m off to the stage.
10. How do you spend your spare time?
I love New York City. My favorite hotspot is Roc the Mic Studios; you can catch me there. I like playing video games in my free time, Call of Duty for PS3. I also like picking up books, but I just skim through them a lot and then pick up something else. I’m better off sitting at a bookstore and reading the backs of books.
Visit Range’s official site to download his Gangsta Grillz mixtape hosted by DJ Drama.