A year ago today, no one knew who Justin Rarri was – he had just 17,000 Spotify monthly listeners and his single “W2Leezy” hadn’t yet caught the attention of music listeners and platforms around the globe. Fast forward to today, and the 17 year-old Rarri has collected over 50 Million streams across his catalogue with more than 600,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. The Bronx artist has firmly supplanted himself as one of hip-hop’s most exciting rising stars, as the genre continues to dominate the charts in this new decade.
Tracing back the origin of when he decided he wanted to pursue a career in music, Rarri credits the first time he heard A$AP Rocky’s “F**kin Problems” with Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar, at age 11. “I just remember I fell in love with the beat, so I found out how to find beats through YouTube, and from there it clicked. I fell in love.”
From there, his eyes were set on rapping, unlike his friends who were content with the normal affinities of adolescence. “Growing up, all my homies was playing video games and I was the one that was always writing. That was my play for the day, just writing and listening to beats.” Having grown up in a non-musical family, the process of becoming a musician was a path that he took on his own, day-after-day, crafting a melodic-trap sound derived from and inspired by some of Rarri’s favorite artists as he grew up, especially Kodak Black and Young Thug. “Those were they guys I kept on my phone and my speaker. I grew up singing to melodic shit, and I listened to other artists, but a lot of my shit is influenced by the South.”
The grind of writing and working in the studio paid off just five years later with Rarri’s first viral hit, “W2Leezy,” produced by SumYunGhai. The success of “W2Leezy,” in Rarri’s eyes, came as a result of their collaborative process in the studio.
“Most of the time, I’m with my main producer (SumYunGhai) and we start from scratch and both get into it. With “W2Leezy,” I was very into that, I wanted the guitar, and I kinda picked the 808s on that. Me and my producer are in tune together. After I get it, though, I make my song, I don’t take too long. Like 30 minutes max. I be freestyling. That comes to me easy. A lot of engineers in the rooms always be surprised at how fast I work.”
Out of nowhere, the infinitely smooth song caught fire on Spotify and YouTube, putting Rarri on the radar of major record labels around the U.S. as the song racked up more than 20 Million streams by the end of summer. The attention of top label executives did little to distract Rarri, though. “To be honest, when that came out, I realized everything was coming together…that felt good, but I was still focused on working. I was still worried about the next move, making a bigger song and moment than that.”
Ultimately signing to Interscope Records in the Fall, Rarri released his debut EP “4EVARARRi,” in late 2019. In 2020, Rarri has continued his momentum with “Strong,” his February single that hit more than a million views on YouTube in less than four weeks, and “RICCHEZZA,” his new single and video that dropped everywhere today. Both are expected on an upcoming 12-song EP that’s slated for later this year.
“Strong” is packed with lyrics as Rarri barely takes any breaks over the production, similar to a lot of the music he’s released thus far. Rarri views his extensive, smooth flow as a key to his success so far. “A lot of my fans view that as my thing. They realize how good I am with flows and lyrics. That’s one of my signature strong points. Any song, even if it’s lit, speaks real shit. My fans, they pay attention to what my lyrics I say. Also my versatility – I can go from straight singing to some real trap shit.”
That versatility is nowhere more evident than today’s release, “RICCHEZZA,” perhaps Rarri’s most dynamic song to date. Over an uptempo flow laced with Rarri’s effortless, constant lyricism, the song heats up quickly just like a New York spring, as the cold wears off and we head toward a summer that will include plenty of new music from Lil Rarri.
With his eyes on making a career rather than a moment, Justin Rarri isn’t phased by growing expectations following his 2019 viral hit. Rather, he continues to keep his eyes forward to what’s next: “My music, it keeps getting better. “W2Leezy,” was some chill shit that I made that in ten minutes. I’m not a person that can’t catch the songs – every time I’m in the studio, I got hot shit. Now I’m at the point where I’ve gotta release more, faster. I’ve got a whole bunch of hits. My fans know too, I already got big songs that’s ready to come out, and I already know they’re gonna do bigger numbers.”
We think so too.