Atlanta rap artist RodThaGreat recently dropped his first EP, the fine Dark Nights of the Soul. The unsigned artist has a dreamy, stream of consciousness flow and a laid back delivery, that borrows stylistically from the place where he now lives, Atlanta, but also retains the flavor of New York City, his place of origin. Rod spits over jazzy samples, and he can fire off triplets as well as, you know, those three dudes from Lawrenceville, GA, whose names escape me. When he tag teams the beat with FlowDa4, on the song “Conflicted,” the two artists beat it into the ground, and bend it to their will. His sing-song flow in “Ego”charms the beat into submission, and on “Flower of Life,” Rod’s voice turns sticky. The last cut on the EP, “Windows,” turns more somber, and Rod rides out the melody over a gently strummed electric guitar. Rod and his musical collective, TR4G3DY, are poised to make some noise.
Backseat Mafia spoke with RodThaGreat about creating music, his musical brothers in TR4G3DY, and what comes next. The interview was lightly edited for publication.
Backseat Mafia: I know you’re from Atlanta, but where?
RodThaGreat: I’m originally a New York kid, but relocated to Gwinnett County. So I grew up in The Migos terrain [those dudes from Lawrenceville] and went to their old school. Everyone in that area looked up to them, which was cool, seeing people from the same place make it out and be amongst other big celebrities that we know and love.
BSM: When did you start making music?
RTG: I started officially making songs in 2018 and I hated it! I couldn’t stand hearing my own voice. The [first] song was pretty good and the engineer was reassuring to me, that the song was good but I ain’t wanna hear that. I told him to delete the song but he kept it anyway, thankfully!
BSM: Who inspired you to make music?
BSM: Eminem? Oh, snap!
RTG: Eminem is the reason why I wrote my first song ever in middle school. My [other] musical influences are Nas, JAY-Z, [Ms.] Lauryn Hill, Nirvana, Biggie and Kendrick.
BSM: When did you become an active listener of music?
RTG: Being from NYC, the music I grew up listening to was mainly from “The Golden Age” of music. Classic hip hop songs and soulful R & B. When I found out about Rakim and Nas, I was instantly hooked, and started going deeper into their catalogues. My cousin, who wasn’t that much older than me, always played songs from “the good days,” which also molded my musical taste. I was 6-years-old, bobbing my head to Doug E. Fresh like it was modern. My older cousin used to make music, and I would listen to him on my other cousin’s iPod and listen to the songs. I thought that was so cool and I kinda wanted to be like him.
BSM: Tell me about your music collective, TR4G3DY. What does the name stand for and who are the members?
RTG: The idea of TR4G3DY was started by FlowDa4, another artist I collaborate with and one of my closest friends. We weren’t always called TR4G3DY though. We were originally called something else, but we went through a rebirth phase and I came up with the TR4G3DY name. I picked TR4G3DY because it will be a tragedy for the industry; once we get to where we wanna be and attain a certain level, it’s over. Me, FlowDa4, and Trey2cali, have our own lanes and our own sounds within the collective. We all bring something different to the table, which is something I love.
BSM: Dark Nights of the Soul is your first EP? Who handled the production on the album? Is there a theme to the album? Was it inspired or created based on something that was occurring in your life at the time?
RTG: Dark Nights of the soul is my first EP! I just used beats that producers sent me and it came together the way it did. I only used beats that spoke to me. The theme to this album was really just an internal look into one’s self and [self] evaluation. Dark nights of the soul are times of spiritual and internal turmoil, activated during a time of external crisis. Broken Mirrors was really about looking at yourself in the mirror while on acid, which is something they say your not supposed to do because it’s like looking at a twisted deranged version of yourself. Every song has its message. Flower Of Life was about love and our inner connectedness.
BSM: Never look at yourself in the mirror while tripping on acid! Where was the album recorded? Mixed?
RTG: It was recorded and mixed at Next Level Sounds, over here in Georgia.
BSM: Explain how your creative process works when you’re creating lyrics.
RTG: I keep a big writing notebook. Sometimes I write my thoughts down in a rhythmic form, without a beat or anything, and it will go together with a beat naturally. That’s what happened when I wrote “Ego.” I prefer to hear the beat first though. When I hear a beat that speaks to my soul, the lyrics come together like a puzzle. All it takes is for one line to appear in my head, and the rest is history.
BSM: What would you like readers, listeners and fans to know about your music?
RTG: I would like them to know that I plan on elevating with each thing I create, and they should stick around to witness what’s coming. I appreciate those who listen to me regularly!!
BSM: Are you influenced by artists in other mediums? Poets? Writers? Painters?
RTG: I get inspired by certain poetry that I find. Sometimes, I read Maya Angelou’s poems, and she’s prolly my favorite poet, to be honest. My inspiration comes from a lot of metaphysical books that I read.
BSM: You blow up, you’re at the top of the charts and you have the opportunity to tour any where in the world, where would you go and why?
RTG: I would love to tour in Europe and Asia, definitely! Europe is a broad place and there are so many places to go. Asian culture always intrigued me, and the design of some Asian cities is just mesmerizing! I’m looking forward to going on a world tour, not too long from this day.