as the black sheep in the affluent tongue-in-cheek neighborhood of Glenville, CT,Hill was often ostracized by his peers for being different. The music he makes today translates the pain he experienced growing up misunderstood in the surreal world of the rich and privileged. His music is distant from the flashy and arrogant rhymes one would expect from someone of his background. Through his music projects and hard work, Hill is determined to pave the way for his own legacy outside of the shadow of his father's accolades in the fashion world.
URBAN INK: Growing up in the affluent neighborhood of Glenville, Connecticut, you considered yourself the black sheep within your family and community. What things were at the root of this feeling?
Ricky Hil: When I was living in Glenville, I went to a private school until fourth grade and then an all-boys private school. Then I realized I didn't really fit in with the rest of the kids. They bragged about what their dads had a lot, and they would kind of sh*ton other kids and they would sh*t on me a lot for no reason. So I was like, I don't like the school, I want to go to a public school. I didn't get to go to public school but I went to an alternative school, you know. I got kind of used to that lifestyle. After I went to the alternative school, I went to a public school and I was hanging out with the kids that didn't live in the back county of Connecticut. If there were any inner city in Connecticut,that's where I was hanging out.
I'm sure being a Hilfiger has had its advantages in the social world and disadvantages in creating your own legacy. Can you elaborate on this notion?
Yeah, I can get a reservation at a nice place for dinner easy. As far as putting out a mixtape,it's different. Two different worlds - a gift and a curse.
What was your first tattoo and why did you get it?
My first tattoo was right here, Limos. I got it because I never knew I wanted tattoos and I just wanted to know how it felt without having a tattoo where somebody could see it. Put it like that.
What was your parents' initial reaction and how do they feel about you being blasted now?
My mom likes my tattoos. It's kind of funny. My mom likes my most gangster tattoo under my stomach. My mom is like, "Oh, that's my favorite tattoo." She likes the sh*t on my neck,all that. My dad likes my tattoos and thinks it's very cool or whatever, but he probably wishes I didn't do my throat, my face and head and sh*t.
What are your most significant tattoo pieces?
I've got Mother Mary up here.I pray to Mother Mary, that's my only religion. Even though I know it's no tMother Mary in the sky or something. When I pray, that's the image I have in my head of the Mother Mary. That's important to me. I got like gangster clowns and sh*t like that. I got an Audrey Hepburn. I got my whole stomach blasted with hellright there. Interesting sh*t. The praying hands is one of my favorite, I just got that. The "R" right there. Whole head is blasted. It's a whole lot of sh*t. Not the top of my head, I don't have anything at the top of my head.
I know a lot of your work is done by Mister Cartoon. How was your first sit-down with him?
To be honest, I was scared because I'm a white kid from Connecticut and you're going to a famous fu*king legendary tattoo artist who looks gangster and sh*t all in his pictures. I'm like, "Fu*k, sh*t, it's going to hurt.This is like my second tattoo ever. This sh*t going to hurt like the first one." I'm like, "I don't know if he's even going to like me."
The first time, was there any conversation?
He talks a lot. He had us cracking up in there. We were watching crazy documentaries. He was mad cool.
Is there something in particular that inspires which tattoo you'll get next?
Really depends if I can make some money. If I do a few shows or some features and I get $5,000, I might do my leg. If I get more than that all the time, I'm going to do my back because it's expensive. I have to wait; my Dad isn't trying to pay for my tattoos.
You're almost running out of real estate on your body for tattoos. Which do you plan on getting next?
Eventually my back, I may get the side of my leg.
Anything else? You said your head, what did you want to get?
I'm going to wait to do my head until I put out my album at least because I can't just drastically cut off my hair. But I do, I want to tat the rest of my head.
Despite the growing acceptance of tattoos in pop culture, it's evident that there still exists a taboo. What have your experiences been coming from a wealthy background, being young and heavily tattooed?
Oh, hell yeah, they follow me for sure. Airports, fancy-clothing stores, hotels. Sometimes, they don't let me check into the hotels.
Really? They don't let you check into hotels?
Well, there have been times when yeah, they actually asked me to leave. Then like sometimes we check in the most bourgeoisie, stuck-up hotel, they're like, "We don't have room here." Knowing damn well they got our room booked. They see Richard Hilfiger and think preppy guys are going to walk through. They asked us to leave at the W in Arizona not too long ago.
You've dubbed your unique music style as "hippie." Can you explain your music style, its influences, and why you've chosen to keep your raps distant from the lifestyle of the newly rich and famous?
I'm not a flashy person. IfI were a flashy rapper, talking about chains and Bentleys and stuff like that,that wouldn't be me. I feel like money will feed you and if you're sick, ithelps, whatever. To show it off and rap about it, I don't think that's right.
You inked an artist deal with Warner Music Group. In an age where more artists are choosing to remain independent,why did you chose to sign to a major label despite having the financial resources and relationships to fund your movement on the independent level?
As a kid, it was never my dream to be an independent artist. My dream from the jump was really a record deal. So as soon as they took an interest in me. I was like this is my dreamcome true. Aside from the logistics and all the business reasons it was just my dream.
What's next for Ricky Hil?
Support Your Local Drug Dealer is next. I feel later into a tour and just a lot of consistency.
What is your ultimate goal as an artist and as a human being?
My ultimate goal as an artist is just be the best I can be for my fans. As a human being is just to stay healthy.
Photography and article Jorge Peniche