During the mid-‘90s, the Wu-Tang Clan successfully accomplished what other rap groups competed to do: create a cult of personality individualistically while maintaining the collective impact of a hip-hop crew. The Young Richmond Outkasts, a six-man hip-hop super group embodies that spirit, bringing to the open table of hip-hop an influence concentrated on furthering solo-careers and taking over the music market through an idiosyncratic imprint.
Young Richmond Outkasts hails from Richmond Va., and compromises of members ChiChi the Kid, Jay Dash, Heirborne, Jwrek, Jaesen K, and the departed Mikezie. Since their formation in 2009, the super group has won several awards and gained media attention from hip-hop outlets such as World Star Hip-Hop and local Richmond radio station 106.5 The Beat. Part of the Richmond independent record label, Hollywood Cemetery, Young Richmond Outkasts has opened for national acts such as Lil Wayne and D12 and established themselves locally with their popular “Clash” parties.
“It’s 2011 and everyone and their mother is a rapper so the market is saturated,” ChiChi the Kid said. “We have to work twice as hard to get people to actually listen to it to win them over. We have to create our own movement. We can’t wait and rely on just radio stations or club DJ’s to support us. We’ve got to make them come running to us.”
What separates Young Richmond Outkasts from hip-hop’s wide net and saturation is that all members of the rap collective met at a young age without management or label consultation. Jay Dash and Heirborne were childhood friends and started making music as part of a different hip-hop group before Young Richmond Outkasts. Both, along with Jaesen K, met ChiChi the Kid through his brother, Chinonyeelu Amobi, while ChiChi met and grew close with Mikezie and Jwerk through a mutual job.
All friends realized they had a talent for music and began collaborating together while maintaining their own solo-projects. After ChiChi the Kid won Protégé Magazine’s 1st annual showcase, he decided that he wanted to share his local publicity with his close friends and artists he collaborated with frequently and jump started the Young Richmond Outkasts. When Mikezie was killed in his recording studio on Christmas Eve shortly after the formation of the rap collective, the group grieved and found new focus which reinforced their determination to make it as successful hip-hop artists.
“When I look at our group, I see the future, not the near, but the distant future,” ChiChi the Kid said. “We all cried when Ezie died. Everybody hurts whenever Jwrek does something crazy and winds up in jail. And everyone felt a huge loss when I traveled to Nigeria for a month. Creating a group that valued friends first, and music second is something that I have always wanted to do.”
During 2010, Young Richmond Outkasts began to market themselves actively, releasing a viral video campaign of singles and music videos produced by local Richmond directors. Singles such as, “Nine in My Pocket” and “She’s Paranoid” have gained both local and national attention from fans and media outlets. Specifically in Richmond, the group has hosted “Clash” parties that aim to unify a strong musical movement and establish a hip-hop foundation within the city.
Young Richmond Outkasts will continue hosting the popular “Clash” parties in the spirit of Mikezie and in the spirit of hip-hop. The group plans to release more music videos online for singles,” Wear it on the Right Side”, “Dressed to Impress”, and “Attracted to my Homie’s Girl,” in light of their first official free mixtape released on March 19, 2011 on Datpiff called, I’m An Outkast And I Don’t Care. Young Richmond Outkasts will continue to work with smaller independent labels that compete in the market to brand themselves. And the Young Outkasts are burning in their marks.
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