To say that Rich G is one helluva R&B singer with smooth and stirring vocals, would not begin to describe this man of Soul. A once proclaimed gangster, Richard Garcia has put down gangster life personally, but remains a true O.G. when it comes to his music.
When you think of the great R&B singers in music, you think of legendary singers like Lou Rawls, Jerry Butler, Marvin Gay, Luther Vandross, Freddie Jackson, and R&B groups such as, The O'Jays, Temptations, Four Tops, to name a few. A distinction largely given to a music created and shaped by African American singers. So, when you hear the name Richard Garcia a.k.a. Rich G - or see his image on social media, you probably would not expect a voice of pure R&B tones and vibes.
But, this is the essence of what pure R&B music is - Soul. A singer who can convey a song in such a heartfelt way that you are put in the mood of whatever the song is about; a broken heart, an undying love; a feel good want to dance love; that is what the great R&B singers gives us. And, it is why Soul music will live on forever.
Rich G is that Soul singer that takes you for a ride on whatever song he is singing, instantly transporting you to that place in time when you met your first love, or when you broke-up with the love of your life. Those feelings and emotions that tug at the heart strings, is what you get and remember when you are spinning a Rich G song.
It is no wonder why the Hip-Hop industry, when they had a track that needed a R&B singer, would call on Rich G to provide those undeniable lyrics in song that raised the bar for a rap song.
Rich had to step away from music to take care of his family for a time, but is back to make good on a promise he made to himself many years ago as a young man, that music is his calling and destiny. With new music in the works, and his band, Midnite Cruzzers, that he started in 2005 with band mates, Rick Siordia, Danny Romo, and his brother, Paul Garcia, a band that he originally thought would just do bars and gigs has had success beyond his expectations.
I was able to catch-up with Rich G to discuss his early days in music and his association with the likes of Tony G, Eazy E and even The Barrio Boyzz to find out what we can expect from him now that has a renewed plan to fulfill his destiny.
Q&A with Rich G
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with me and let our readers know about your artistry and some of your new work Richard.
RW) Of course, in certain music circles and in Los Angeles, in particular, the name Richard Garcia, a.k.a. Rich G., is a name known to the Latin and Hip-Hop music world. Who was your biggest influence in music as a kid coming up?
RG) My stepfather, Richard, was most influential in my love for music. He had a record collection from the Beatles . He played everything from Rock-N-Roll to Jimmy Reed, and many Blues artists to Jazz, African and Rhythm and Blues; and he allowed me to listen to his recordsas long as I didn't scratch them. He taught me how to play guitar and he would let me stay up to watch him and his buddies jam musically. They did the Beatles, James Brown, War, Earth, Wind& Fire, Tito Puente and the trio Los Panchos - these artists became my biggest influences.
RW) Your bio says that at age 7 your parents saw the passion you had for music, that they enrolled you for guitar lessons, but that by age eight, they abruptly moved you from East L.A., to Oakland, California. What was that time like for you as you recall it; were you devastated?
RG) It was rough. It was a big culture shock to me but a new adventure in the Bay area where I was introduced to the East Bay sound and the funk - I was Sprung!
RW) Why did your parents decide to move to Oakland suddenly?
RG) My parents moved to Oakland and then to San Jose to join the Chicano and People of Color Equal Rights Movement. I marched through the streets with them at 10 years old. We were standing up against police brutality and racism.
RW) Oakland is where you first encountered a gang and got caught up in the gangster lifestyle?
RG) No, I've been around gangsters all of my life, for long as I can remember, with my cousins and some of my dad's friends over in East L.A. and in El Sereno`. I reckognized the gang life when I saw it the Bay area once we moved there, from Oakland to San Jose back then and they didn't mind that I was a L.A. boy.
RW) And, even though you became a full-fledged gang member in one of the toughest and most dangerous gangs at the time in the area, you still managed to keep music on your mind and your dream?
RG) Yes, when we moved back down to Norwalk, California in 1978. I was surrounded by gangsters in high school who thought I was from the North, but I was actually from Norwalk. So they let me know when in so many words, that I was either going to be down with them, or against them. next thing I knew, I was in the gang life, surrounded by gangsters once again, but now as one of them.
I guess, at that time, my dream of being a musician and becoming a recording artist was already embeded in me, and that dream is what helped me through some of the toughest times in my life., and the same for my homeys whose lives were in constant jeopardy.
RW) They say, that often times, when something bad happens or events occur where we are not pleased with, there is a blessing somewhere to be found. Or, what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger. And so at some point when you were 17, you discovered church music and began singing in the church. What was the event that convinced you that being a singer would be your calling?
RG) That is very true! My turning point was wehn my homeboys startedstarted getting shot upand dropping like flies and I was out doing all kinds of dirt in the hood. I knew I was next and my mother told me, she was upset with tears in her eye, that she was afraid she was going to find me dead in an alley. That caused me to think really hard about the life I was leading. I decided to go live with my grandmother Mely, in Rosemead, just to get away from some of the violence.
My grandmother was a true soldier for God and youcouldn't live with her without going to church on Sundays. Because of that, I developed a real love for Gospel music, especially after hearing Andre crouch.
I cleaned up my act for awhile and started a little band at church. When my pastor and youth pastor heard me singing, they put me in the church's state youth singing competition. I was 19 years old, and I received a standing ovation. That's when I knew that music was somehow going to be my life's work.
RW) And at age 23 you would go on to meet Tony G, the famed Hip-Hop music producer. How did you meet Tony G?
RG) Yes, I was young and single and hanging out with a bunch of party people and started dabbling around with recording my own demos, but it wasn't gospel music, it was secular music and one of my friends named Robert, heard my demo and told me me he knew Tony G and told me who he was. We had seen him on TV with Young MC, so Robert took me down to Tony's record store in El Monte called, Spin It Records. When Tony G heard my demo, he talked to me for about two or 3 hours and told me he was going to try to get me a deal with a record company.
At the time, he was producing and guiding the first Latin/Chicanohip-hop artists, and they needed a "hook" man. That is what I became in the world of hip hop.
RW) From there you would go on and meet the likes of Eazy E of NWA fame, among others. What was this time like for you in your life?
RG) It was a very exciting time. It was like a dream come true, and yet, it was also a rude awakening as I experienced bigotry and racism in the music business. Not only by people of color, but even within my own culture. When Easy came along, I felt like I had withstood all of the stones and arrows of the music business, and I was going to finally get my just do. That experience never caused me to hate anyone, but to want to share my love for music with
as many people as I could.
RW) What's the one thing that you remember about Eazy E that most of us would not know or may have a false perception about him as a music artist?
RG) Eazy E and Toker from the Brownside were two of the realist gangsters I had met in the music business. Eazy E was an ultra talented producer and businessman, and a music mogul who saw beyond color barriers. Her believed in me and he was very humble and funny, and generous with me. I'll always have love for him nor I will never forget him for that. RIP Eazy.
RW) Were you still a member of the gang at this point?
RG) I was not an active member, but I stayed in touch with my home-boys, and the experiences that I had in my barrio is what gave me success with the music that I was doing because I lived it and experienced that life.
RW) Was it hard for you breaking those ties? And what lessons from your experience would you pass on to a young person today who might feel they want to join a gang?
RG) Well, like they always say about the hood, or the barrio, you may leave it, but it it will never leave you, and it is something you just don't break ties with, at least not me because I was always taught never to forget where I came from. And to this day, even though the gang life was evil at times, I never forget the homeys that encouraged me while I was singing on the street corners; and told me I should be singing.
It is hard to break those ties. I would tell a young G trying to earn a rep, I was very lucky to make it out alive and I wasn't as crazy as some of my other homeboys and a lot of them did not make it alive, or did prison tim. I would tell them to go to college or learn a trade like I did, It is a lot more fulfillingh when you can buy a home, or when you can provide for your family and yourself.
RW) And so now you are working with some nationally, and internationally known names in the music world as a "Hip-Hop Hook Singer"?
RG) Yes, I've worked with a lot of great artists and the music that I've done has gone international, as well as my solo project...after all of these years. The Rich G Show/Barrio Chronicles, which I have - among many others, like Toker from the Brownside. R.I.P.
I also worked with a group called The Barrio Boyzz on their first album. I co-wrote two songs with Victor Brooks and Ricky and Tony G. I also "ghost sang" backgrounds after that, the Barrio Boyzz found fame when they collaborated on a hit song with Selena.
RW) Speaking of the late Selena who was tragically gunned down in 1995 at the height of popularity, do you remember where you were when you heard that she had been gunned down, and what did her growing star mean to you?
RG) When I heard about Selena's murder, I was so devastated because I supported her from the beginning. When I first heard her, I felt like she was opening doors for a lot of people, and she was a humble beautiful and loving young artist.
RW) What's next for Rich G? Do you have any new music coming, or what projects are you working on currently?
RG) I'm currently workin on my second Rich G album in which I want to feature my band, The Midnite Cruzzers, and I'm still getting called to do collaborations with a lot of young hip-hop artists. They feel that I was one of the ones, along with Eazy , Toker and Tony G, who layed the groundwork for a lot of what hip-hop and rap is today.
RW) Where can our readers find you on social media?
RG) You can follow me on Facebook under Richard Garcia, or on Instagram ~ @officialrichg
Rich G, it has been a pleasure for me to interview you and know that you are apart of Hip-Hop lore and that you are here to bring us on a new journey with your music and message. We look forward to many more years of your artistry.
Rich G's photo Gallery
Rich G's Audio/Music Videos
Follow Rich G on Social Media
Richard Garcia is on Facebook. Join Facebook to connect with Richard Garcia and others you may know. Facebook gives people the power to share and makes...