Isn’t He Rich? Rich Hilfiger’s Rap Career Is Poised To Take Off

rich hil topshelf junior Isnt He Rich? Rich Hilfiger’s Rap Career Is Poised To Take Off

Rich Hilfiger (Photo courtesy: Topshelf Junior)

This past Saturday, Rich Hilfiger stood across the street from FAO Schwarz smoking an American Spirit as he texted on a white iPhone. He wore camo pants, a Rolex, combat boots and a black tank top from a ZZ Top tour that took place in 1990 (the year he was born), which barely covered his knuckles-to-neck tattooing. On his head he wore a black cap that was given to him last week by a new friend, Abel Tesfaye, the singer who performs under the name the Weeknd.

“You know the model Stephanie Seymour?” he said pointing at the toy store. “One time her son had a sleepover and they rented out the entire place. I wasn’t invited because I’d transferred to another school or something.”

“Kids, you know,” he said, crossing over to the Plaza, where he lives with his fiancée in an apartment owned by his garb magnate father, Tommy. “Of course now that everything’s happening for me, they’re all coming out of the woodwork. It’s like, ‘Yo, I do music too.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah?’” He pulled his signature smile, a wide-eyed, nostrils-flared expression easily confused with a grimace.

Last month, Rich announced that he’d signed a record deal with Warner Bros. Records. The story goes that Warner Bros., trying to woo the Weeknd—whose House of Balloons mixtape blew up in a big way this spring—asked him which artists he’d like to work with. He said Rich, they signed Rich, who performs under the name Rich Hil, and they flew him to Abel’s native Toronto the next day. For Rich, who goes to the studio every day and had previously been signed to Swizz Beatz’s now defunct Full Service Records, it was a dream come true. Now he’s preparing for his first big tour this fall and has started working with producer Lex Luger, who produced the song “H.A.M” on the recent Jay-Z/Kanye West album Watch the Throne.

Rich hasn’t made this kind of news since last year, when he was arrested in Los Angeles with a sizeable amount of marijuana in the trunk of his car. He’s still on probation, though he managed to avoid jail with court-ordered rehab.

“Did I get anything out of it?” he said over dinner in the basement of the Plaza (grilled chicken, chimichurri and an off-menu lemonade-mojito concoction). “Yeah, I learned that alcohol and coke? Is kind of for faggots. You know, like, in my eyes. I’ll drink alcohol to get a lean, don’t get me wrong, but, like, something about the people who are addicted to alcohol and cocaine, they seemed like fags to me,” he said. “Not ‘fags’ as in ‘gay.’ I have nothing against gay people. Mad people in my family are gay.”

The two-month stint in Utah inspired two mixtapes, Ricky Goes to Rehab and I Just Got Outta Rehab, as well as the refrain “I got a pound in the car,” which recurs frequently on his newer tracks. While in rehab, he read the poet Robert Burns, who he says is his father’s great-uncle. “He talks about the same shit that I talk about,” Rich said. “Girls, love, loss, being high, and that’s about it.”

Sonically, Rich’s songs are a mix of hip-hop crooning and Lil Wayne-inspired growl rapping. It’s a style he’s developed over 10 years, when his infatuation with the lifestyle began in Greenwich, Conn. Rich’s parents have always been supportive of his rap efforts. They allowed him to take formative weekend trips to Philadelphia at age 15 with the family bodyguard to visit friends he’d made in the hip-hop community.

And the haters? Gawker savaged him a few weeks ago, and Kanye West has been less than genial, but the record deal changes all that. “Fuck those people, you know?” he said, leaning into The Observer’s recorder. “Fuck y’all, like, suck my dick. Literally. They know who they are.” He says he makes music for three people—himself, his fiancée and his father, “a groupie,” to whom he sends a Zip file of 20 new songs every other week.

“As soon as he figures out how to open it, he’ll be back an hour later and tell me his favorite songs, why they’re his favorite songs, why he likes them, how they made him feel,” he said. “And then there are times when he’ll even have to pull me aside and be like, ‘Are you O.K.?’” Rich has the words “I love you, Dad,” tattooed on the underside of his neck (and a clown smoking a blunt on his shoulder). Reached for a quote, Tommy Hilfiger said via email, “I love and admire my son’s musical talent and am tremendously proud of his passion for his work.”

The Hilfiger suite in the Plaza features many photos of the Rolling Stones and an Andy Warhol rendering of Howdy Doody in the front hall. On a table below Doody are Rich’s contributions to the décor—several G.I. Joe dolls and a full-size Stormtrooper helmet from Star Wars. Two heavy turntable cases blocked the kitchen door, to keep out Rich’s Wheaten terrier.

One constant refrain in Rich’s music is the phrase “no limos,” contra tacky, showy wealth. Waiting on Rich’s couch before we headed to the studio, we asked why he frequently reps “the Cut” or “CT” in his songs, when it’s generally considered to be a world capital for that sort of thing.

“I rep CT because CT made me,” he said, a Macbook balanced on his stomach. “I’m a product of CT but I’m not—I don’t know. What would a prep school kid wear?” He Googled “prep school kid” and found a picture of a guy in a pink sport coat. “That’s not me. You know what I mean? I might have gone to school with that kid. That kid might have played video games in my house. Played out in the woods with me, but I didn’t turn into that. I’m so fucking CT but I’m not that at all … Not everybody from Texas got a fucking cowboy hat, you know?” he said. “I’m going to tweet that.” And he did.

He texted with the Weeknd, and we asked if he had a quote for The Observer. “Fuck them, bro,” he told Rich.

Krystal Martos, Rich’s 27-year-old fiancée and the D.J. whose turntables served as doggie gate, emerged from the bedroom where she’d been recovering from jet lag. Dark-skinned and lithe, she complained of a perpetual headache and Rich offered to get her some Oxycontin—he has a prescription. She thanked him but said no.

“I’ve already reached all my old goals,” he said shortly after she left the room. “I was like, ‘Yo, I want to be the best rapper that was born in Connecticut ever.’ I’m that! No less than that, you can’t even front.”

He gestured to the bedroom. “I used to look at her in ads when she was modeling for ads, like Akademiks in XXL. She used to be in those ads! Those ads I used to jerk off to as a kid! That’s my wife! It’s crazy, you know? I’ll find you one that I found recently of her. It was in Complex.” He called it up on his iPhone.

In the cab, Rich explained that we were headed to Premier Studios in midtown, the only studio in New York that hasn’t banned him, he said. At Downtown Studios, for example, he was blacklisted for breaking into their offices with his creative partner, Uncle Panther, and generally running amok. He peed in workers’ coffee cups, pushed over bookshelves, “drew dicks everywhere” and drizzled honey on keyboards, all of it captured on security tape that he wants to obtain for a music video.

“Yo, kid!” he yelled into the recording studio in an Indian accent. “It’s your nephew!”

“I like my nephew!” trilled Uncle Panther, a long-aired Indian man who was waiting in the mixing room. A staffer plunked down four or five glass ashtrays, all inscribed with the “I Love NY” logo, in strategic positions.

Rich set his laptop on the mixing board and played new songs at levels that prompted an off-guard producer to cover his ears. Then it was time for some mischief.

Uncle Panther is mix of a muse and a manager for Rich (though, only spiritually on that last role, Rich’s proper manager is named Sickamore). Rich and Panther met through Swizz Beatz and he claims credit for suggesting that Rich start singing—advice he also gave to Chet Haze, Tom Hanks’s son, for whom he’s written eight songs. He’s also there for studio morale. Not 10 minutes after a fruit platter arrived, Rich and Panther took to an outdoor balcony to wing it at pedestrians walking in the drizzly night below. They didn’t hit anyone, but one woman may have noticed an orange.

“Isn’t this fun?” Panther said as they were filling up cups of water to dump on passersby. “I’m telling you, 2012 is the year of Rich. He’s going to be a fucking rock star.” Rich looked bashful as he pinched his four cups between his fingers.

A producer, Avery Chambliss—who has worked with Cassidy, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and other prominent artists—stopped by to show off a new beat he’d written for Rich that sounded like the theme from the Halloween movies. When Rich was in the bathroom, we asked Avery what makes a Rich Hil beat.

“Dark,” Avery said. “Rich likes everything dark.”

“It’s like if you have a girlfriend,” said Uncle Panther. “And she gets raped and then she tells you about it? That kind of shit.”

Rich is prolific, recording an average of five songs a night (“I just do some shit to get some shit off my chest,” he said. “I might never put the song out”). Late into the night, he rose in the middle of a beat and entered the recording booth as everyone else busied himself for the event, turning off the lights and moving ashtrays so that Rich could smoke behind the microphone.

He abandoned prewritten lyrics long ago and is often surprised by what comes out. “It’s like, what I just said in there,” he said when he emerged 30 minutes later. “‘Rarer than a bad bitch named Eleanor.’ I’ll have to think like, ‘Is that rare? Oh, yeah, I guess it is.’”

That night he had only one song in him, and the rest of the evening was dedicated to listening to his music—new songs, and YouTube—and general shit-shooting. Later in the night everyone ordered Indian food and after the five chicken tikka masalas arrived, Rich began to rail against the clothing label Supreme, which he used to wear regularly, until they started “fucking with Odd Future,” a West Coast rap group

Now he wants to kidnap Odd Future frontman Tyler the Creator and make a music video where an attractive woman takes a duffel bag of Supreme out to the middle of the desert and burns it. He didn’t say for which song.

dduray@observer.com

Clarification added 8/10 Though he sometimes plays the part in the studio, Uncle Panther is not Rich’s manager. Rich is managed by Sickamore, with whom we scheduled this interview.

Comments

  1. richfail says:

    Tommy Hilfiger’s son has manboobs and doesn’t write his own lyrics.  

  2. thisguysanidiot says:

    So, this guy calls people fags, in one breath, and invites anybody to suck him in the next.  And his dad is a famous fashion designer.  That’s all I got.

  3. Apple1968 says:

    Yo CT’s numba one/ got rhymes with flow like money from a trustfund

  4. Just_Stop_Seriously_Rich says:

    Just utterly terrible.  Those tats don’t hide your jiggling moobs. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    I just paiid $21.86 for an i P a d2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her

    Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.74 there arriving tomorrow

    by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again.

    Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $658 which

    only cost me $62.80 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from,

    http://EgoWin.com

  6. Snowyaker says:

    Calls people fags, challenges them to give him a bj and draws dicks on a recording studio he broke into. Oh yeah, and a model girlfriend that has a perpetual headache. Hmmm … 

  7. Jim says:

    Wow, best rapper from Connecticut. Congratulations, yo! I’m working on being the best rapper from South Dakota. (And, no, I am not fronting.) Hippity Hoppity!

  8. Watcher says:

    That’s “odd”…. I saw this guy at Supreme in LA, 3 weeks ago, leaving with 2 big bags of clothing. At least Tyler made his success all by himself.

  9. Himself says:

    Someone should kill this spoiled, ignorant fuck.

  10. Just an atrocious human being. 

  11. Nayith says:

    Should I stop buying TH so I won’t feel guilty of funding this guy in someway?

    1. Ray Townsend says:

      I just paid $24,97 for an iPad2 and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $37,74 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $71,32 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, MetaCent.com

      1. Worldweary says:

        Spam Fail. I think you meant to use a decimal, not a comma, because thirty-seven thousand, seventy four dollars is not a great deal for a Panasonic camera.

    2. Anonymous says:

      Who the hell wears Tommy Hilfiger?

  12. Richhil says:

    Been developing his vocal style for 10years?

    Your dad puts you in studios to babysit you. So that he doesn’t have to worry about you getting in the spotlight and becoming the next Paris Hilton.

    We all know you’re the hardest kid around, but if you spend so much time in the studio please just tell daddy to build you one. So you can stop being a 9 year old brat that thinks it’s funny to pour honey on keyboards or piss in the coffee of the guy recording you.

    You will not blow up this year. Everyone reads lyrics these days. Even if they were written 10 min ago. Quit thinking you’re so special at freestylingl. You are just high and delusional. And people around you are teasing bc they know they are getting paid well.

    1. Richhil says:

      ….People around you are yessing you….

  13. Queens ny says:

    Two words…action Bronson…

  14. Justin Brill says:

    Goddammit the world is so fucking full of goons.  No limos?  Fuck you.  This is straight out of “Idiocracy.”

  15. gg says:

    wow, rich dads CAN be awesome

  16. Shellfish789 says:

    Embarrassing and Sad……..I bet His parents is REALLY proud!  all that money and he can find a better way of living his life…it’s ok to try to be a rapper, but the DRUGS…..is a no no …..he’s a male version of Amy Winhouse..only less talent…you don’t have be a sleezy , druggie or  disrespectful person to be a singer or a rapper or what ever he wants to be…..his Dad can’t always bail him out in life….what about working to earn the money to go to the studio?  What about working to earn money to have an apartment?…That’s the problem …

    There are so many Urban kids working so hard in school and in Life with ALL TYPES OF OBSTACLES  doing something positive and SOBER….and here you have this “Nut”…that has everything handed to him and he can not be a “Sober” or live a productive normal life without DRUGS……so he can be a productive citizen without his Dad bailing him out in every situation……

  17. matt gordon says:

    Sounds as delusional as other Oxy addicts. Except he doesn’t have to hustle his faux-rough trade look or rob pharmacies to refill his Oxy Rx. Eminem has no competition in the white rap category.

  18. Qluke_therin says:

    Yes, Rich, please take on OFWGKTADGAF.

  19. Montana Gangster says:

    this guy is a f’ing retard.

  20. Hiccamer says:

    I’m pretty sure 50 Cent was born in CT…

    1. Asdsadf says:

      that makes CT even gayer

  21. Anonymous says:

    My God, is this serious? Lol…this is so fucking pathetic.

  22. Andywalldesign says:

    Everyone on here is clearly a fag and a hater. This kid’s entire deal is hilarious.

    THE DUDE BREAKS INTO HIS OWN RECORDING STUDIO AT NIGHT WITH AN INDIAN MAN NAMED “UNCLE PANTHER” AND DRAWS DICKS EVERYWHERE AND TRASHES THE PLACE

    enough said

    1. I just paid $24,97 for an iPad2 and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $37,74 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $71,32 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, MetaCent.com

  23. Guest says:

    fucking idiots…

  24. Hylalan says:

    You must have had a real slow news day to justify glorifying a spoiled little punk like this.  How could you print this story without a disclaimer of how horrible a human he is?

  25. peterm says:

    YOU NEED TO ACT LIKE A PROFESSIONAL IN THIS BUSINESS, 50 Cent ,Jack White and I could name a dozen more  who would tell you to grow up if you want to be taken as a real artist not a rich kid with connections. Your going to have to earn your leg’s if you want to be in more then your Daddy’s son.
    Never knock Ct.

  26. Cammiltoe says:

    Corey Haim, resurrected!

  27. CAZ says:

    Damn he looks just like his sister. There are some strong equine genes in that family.

  28. Kevin Litle says:

    Don’t already hate the hideousness that is all things Hilfiger, well spawn of Tommy should be just enough to push you over the ledge. Another stellar example of parenting at its finest.

  29. Arbiter of good taste says:

    Wow, what a douchebag!

  30. Driiikki says:

    What a nob-end

  31. Friedrich Engels says:

    Boy, do I feel vindicated.

  32. Excuse me if I’m screaming F* a Rich Hil.

  33. Bend says:

    What possible reason could a doctor have to give him an Oxy prescription? Sounds suspect, either of him or the doc. Percs or vi odin maybe. But Oxy, the most addictive powerful opiate out there? There’s your journalistic story, NYO. Look into that.

  34. Gregjacobs13 says:

    This is proof of the end of days when rap is called music…its not never has been never will be rap is the noises the unintelligent…..they. have NO SKILL with music have very little intelligence …..fell that life owes them yet do nothing but Bitch..swear ..have no skillswellif you call talking about hurting Somone shootng cops…a skill well there’s nothing to rap I can only hope they kill eachouther….like topic…biggie…..they are ALL WORTHLESS….JAKE
    Be

  35. perfect insomnia reading

  36. I can only assume the headline writer never heard his music
    or know very little about rap music.

    This loser is dead in the water.
    A major parenting fail right up there with Ryan O’Neill

  37. studiolady says:

    Hey-I know the guy.  Sort of.  He is actually not as lame as all you people are making him out to be.  Who f-ing cares if he has moobs (which I never noticed).  Yeah he is rich (no pun intended).  But honestly- he’s a nice guy and he treats people decent.  Don’t hate.

  38. IAmPhone says:

    Silver spoon shoved down his throat, and still talking shit on Tyler? What a twat.

  39. Bishop0323 says:

    AHH for real!?!?!?!? I’m thinkin not the best from CT. That’s Webby”s title!

  40. DirtyDollar says:

    Apathy is the best rapper from CT. Jesus christ this kid is a media idiot and a subpar rapper. Stop wasting good production and go play somewhere. 

  41. Djo984 says:

    I told you eminem ruined rap music thanks a lot dr. Dre

  42. RealTalk says:

    i’ve been fuckin with Rich for a year now n music is fuckin everythin to me. ya’ll faggots can hate but its cause yu dnt understand that shiit. his shiit. our shiit. if yu were there, if yu were doin that shiit he does or doin what i do yu’d understand. but ya’ll a bunch of ignorant fucks. loll, bet yu wouldnt say anything bout his music to his face