Venturing out into a world of trilogies and story telling, the always appreciated Miami rapper Rio 24K presents to us his sophomore debut, The Beauty of Freedom. This project is a creative exhibition of audio honesty packaged into three separate cinematic parts. Each portion is set to be released accordingly by the artist. As the day awaited him for the official release of his second album, Rio gave us some of his time, along with an insider's view of what it took to make The Beauty of Freedom.
What inspired The Beauty Of Freedom?
The Beauty of Freedom was inspired ultimately by my walk with God. The walk of being free from the chains of sin, you know, being saved by Grace, God dying on the cross.. That was the original inspiration, and then just the freedom to be myself. I want others to be themselves and to express their flaws. I don't mind people seeing my flaws. I don't mind people seeing my shortcomings, because spiritually, the process of being like Jesus is a marathon. I just wanted that freedom. There was a point where I felt, as a Christian, that I was chained in and couldn't move. I couldn't be myself. I had to be this guy who had this standard to set for everyone else, but I'm not the standard. A Christian hip-hop artist is not the standard. Your preacher is not the standard. Christ is the only standard. I've found that freedom in the way that I make my music, and I just wanted to share that with everyone else.
I feel like the six songs are an expression. All of them are expressions and emotions from different times, every song but the last song. The last song was about my penmanship. It was a little bit of myself, I can say. It was a little bit of before Christ, and currently with Christ. It's a story about suicide. I felt like with the production of that song, there's a difference, but then I go deeper in the next two parts of this album.
THE TRACK LISTING
1. Face The World
This song was just a situation of going back to the old neighborhoods, hanging out with everyone and seeing the new dudes. I'm not as around anymore as I used to be. At least in that neighborhood, I'm in my neighborhood hanging out, reaching out and speaking with the people. Face The World was more so like, seeing that, and seeing everything that was going on with the guys in my neighborhood. In my neighborhood there was an indictment that went on. If I didn't give my life to God a year in advance before this indictment took place, I probably could've been in that indictment. Face The World was just going through the problems. In the song I said,
"What's going on I never seen before/ Youngin's drinkin lean."
Lean is a drug, of course. We weren't like that when we were younger. Now, it's evolving with these guys. Us being Christians, us being ambassadors have to continue to still go out there and reach out to these people. Having the issue with my home, with my father being incarcerated, the FEDS actually taking the home by forcing us to sell it, that can mess with you spiritually. That was just me with God, a lot of prayer went into that time. That was April/ May of last year. At a point, I can say that I lost trust. It was just an overload of things that were happening in my life. I found myself crying out to God, trusting in God, getting back up in courage feeling like I needed to face the world. So, when I heard the beat (my cousin actually sent it to me) and told me that he could hear me on it. I wrote it in like fifteen minutes. I went to the studio that same day and I just mopped it out right then and there. That's one of the first songs that I did for the whole project. It ended up track number one.
2. Jump Out The Gym
The funny thing about Jump Out The Gym was, I didn't like the song. I didn't like it all. It was another one of those songs where I was like, man this is a tight beat. It took another fifteen minute writing process to complete it. Then, I was like, this is tight. The message, of course, was to call people higher. I was like, nah, people are not gonna understand what I mean by jump out the gym. People are not gonna understand certain parts that I'm saying. The beat is maybe a little bit too trap, a little too southern. That's the southern bass down here in the south. We have that sound down here. So, I'm like people are not gonna understand that. People are not gonna like it. Around that time of Jump Out The Gym, I was feeling trapped, but I had to be who I was as an artist. I want to express my sound. I don't want to feel like I have to conform to a commercial type of sound or Christian hip hop type of sound. I just wanted to be free in the process of creating music. Part two of The Beauty of Freedom, gets a whole lot deeper.
3. Easy (Quotable)
"Soul searchin' tell me where it's at/
My dawg, he move the rocks like a quarterback/
Pray for the hood, we takin' corners back/
I pray that God intercept like a cornerback/
Got homies fightin' indictments/
In them streets ain't really nothing exctin'/
Tell social media my God alive/
Do it for my homies doing triple life"
4. You Can Be More (Quotable)
"Another day, another dollar, hate my 9 to 5/
But it's the only way I can survive/
They run away from all they problems, so they gettin' high/
They neglect the One Who watchin' Eagle in the sky/
But who am I to talk cuz even evil's in my eyes/
I see them stuntin' in my city get to thinkin' pies/
This for the youth cuz all them rappers do is feed 'em lies/
I'm speaking truth cuz with the fake I don't coincide"
5. Doing Better
The track title is self explanatory. I felt like that song was not your typical Christian hip hop song. I don't think there's anybody.. At least I don't know, if there's anybody going in detail like that. When I first made that song, I was with a group of friends that were not Christian. These guys are still doing what they're doing. They took it in. They were like, wow. I felt like, this is what it's about. I wanna reach Christians. I want Christians to have healthy music. For these guys out here, I want them to understand that, this is the process. This is something that we all go through. I believe we all should share. You have certain lyrics where I say things like,
"A couple months prior to this, I was moving some Hope/ A couple months prior to that, I was moving some coke."
I felt like I had to break that boundary, because it's reaching people. People are messaging me, reaching out to me and it's God truly working. They see it, feel it and tell me to continue to revolutionize the culture. I'm like whoa! It goes pass me now. It's not even me. It's God taking control. I just did my part. Now, God is doing the rest and people are really connecting to it. The music has actually helped me build relationships with certain individuals who want to know the Bible much more, certain individuals who want to come out to the church. Doing Better is just one of those songs, to me I feel like, when you're listening to it, I'm speaking for you. I'm speaking for the listener from before Christ to where they're at with Christ, even if they haven't reached Christ, they just know that they're doing better to making that step to Christ.
Most people don't want to share those things, but I felt confident in God first, and the grace that He's shown me. I was able to spiritually grow, to be free. I can be myself. I can talk how I want to talk. I can do exactly what I want, with God in my corner of course. Like it says in
1 Corinthians 10:23, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial."
I understand that.
6. You, Me & The Enemy (Rio's favorite song)
You, Me & The Enemy, it's a story. It was gonna be really bad. I can't lie. I held back. I had to change the ending of it. I feel like You, Me & The Enemy The first verse was about a guy named Ricky. The second verse is me. The third verse is like all three of us (the devil, him and me). I just feel like that first verse was me before I found Christ. He (Ricky) says,
"All I got is depression, all I got is the pain/ From getting all of this money/ And getting all of this fame/ All I got is the women and all I got is some chains/ They don't see nothing wrong, so why do I feel ashamed?"
I feel like a lot times that can be people. It can be a rich man. That can be a person who is doing great in school, a person where both parents are there in any situation. People from the outside look and are like, you have everything. Then that person inside is like, yeah, but why do I feel so empty? Why do I have all these things, but still feel so empty? I remember me, how I was feeing. It was like, that was me. I had a good amount of things in my life to where the next person would say, you're doing good for yourself. There was something missing in my life. Where we come from, it may feel like going to church, being saved is a form of weakness. The truth is, it's a form of strength. It takes some time for some people to understand how strong you are to admit that you need The LORD and Savior. He (Ricky), goes through that first verse just depressed and asking for help. Finally, he recognizes it and says, although I feel people are weak that go to church. I know I need to be there. I know I need to seek God. I know I need help.
So, he reaches out to me, and then I explain to him, look, I've been in your shoes. Trust me, God has a plan. I use the scripture, Jeremiah 29:11 and keep going from there like you don't have to commit suicide or do anything crazy. God has a plan for you. I love you. Your family loves you. You have a kid that loves you. Don't worry about your friends (because usually, it's your friends that hold us back from taking that step forward in our lives). The third verse is more of the story. I say, you me and the enemy as the devil, but it's really the devil and then Ricky's mind. Like in Luke 4 when Jesus was being tempted by Satan or in that throwback DMX song where he's just battling. I didn't want it to be happy go lucky. I wanted it to be real life. In real life, people die, not everyone makes it in real life. So, as he's dying, he's repenting in the process of dying. He's like the guy who was on the cross with Jesus during His crucifixion repenting at the end of his life. That was my favorite song because it was different and really refreshing to show people my love for the art of music. I have a passion for this. Besides my prayer and quiet time with God, and with my son, this is my passion. This is what I love. I want to give great music.
What advice would you give to new Christians about old friends who haven't experienced God yet?
I would say, it's a whole lot of prayer, a whole lot of quiet time, and number one, I would say, it's discipleship. You need others in your life who are going to help you grow. Certain things need to be cut out. Certain music needs to be cut out. If your old friends are bad for you, you need to cut them off. You can come back and reach back out, but of course, you come back when you're much stronger in the faith. The first two years are the hardest, because that’s when most people usually fall away. Understanding that you're not perfect, and understanding that this is a marathon.
If you could sum up the beauty of freedom with a bible verse, what would it be?
Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.