2005 Client Roster: A & R

Interview: A & R (St. Paul)
By Kandis Knight

In 2003, a Minnesota artist started traveling to the south to promote his music. Unbeknownst to many 24 months later he succeeded in getting regular radio rotation on V 103 in Florida, thanks to Sony representative Brandon Kemp who took an interest in a St. Paul native, going by the name of Street and his single, So Fresh.

Coming from a small town in the Midwest, Street was floored when his single started taking off and pressure started to build. “I remember when it happened, I was chilling at the crib and I just came from my radio interview in Tallahassee and my boy calls me on the phone screaming in the background and then I heard my song playing.”

However with the national spotlight shining brightly, Street quickly ran into legal issues. The name Street was already trademarked by an Atlanta artist. He had to change in order to get to the next level of his career. “A & R is the initials of my government name Antonio Richardson. I knew A & R would make people curious, people always think I am referring to a representative from a label, but I am just me,” says the humble musician.

For A & R music comes naturally. “Sometimes I will think of the whole song in my head. Sometimes I will get into the feeling and really I don’t think about it when I am making it, I just let it come out. I don’t force my music. That is how you get the worst kind of music. I just let the beat come to me and I let the rest come out. I don’t write on paper anymore.”

So Fresh was a song that Jawn Blaze produced using a Jill Scott sample. Blaze and A & R finished the beat and laid the vocals in 45 minutes.

Although music comes rather easy for A & R, life has been difficult. A & R had to overcome debilitating poverty. “The closet in the living room was where we kept all of our pallets to sleep on,” he interjects before quickly changing the subject. “Obviously we didn’t have a lot of company growing up.”

A & R was born and raised in St. Paul, MN (Selby Side). “There was no other place like it in the world. It was like The Wire. I lived on Marshall and Milton. Back then my best friend got shot on two separate occasions in one day. I wrote a song called 6 In The Morning, about the shooting and the next day, when my house got raided.”

Despite the families economic plight, life in his home was generally upbeat. “My mother listened to the GAP Band, Switch, Bar-Kays, Earth Wind and Fire, that kind of music influenced me.”

With a shoe string budget, putting out full length albums has been challenging, so A & R consistently releases mix cds to keep his name hot in the streets. The end of April 2007 A & R will be releasing 3500 copies of his fourth mix cd, Do It Like We Do It For T.V. Do It Like We Do It For T.V. is the follow up to Greenhaven part 1 and 2 and All Eyes on Me 2007 and will feature 20 tracks produced by 2yn (St. Paul), Tek (St. Paul), Rock City (Minneapolis).

“One of my favorite songs on Do It Like We Do It For T.V. is Niggaville, in response to the Kramer fiasco. I explain the reason behind the word Nigga and how it is like a state of mind that a lot of people are in and the pros and cons of the word.”

In June A & R’s fifth mix cd, a compilation called The Best of A & R will drop. In 2008, A & R’s debut full length album will drop.

In parting, A & R has this advice for aspiring artists. “Stay consistent. A lot of people will put out an album that is really hot and then you won’t hear form them for three years and they expect to have that same buzz when they decide to come back. It don’t work like that. I also when an artist puts out a new project it should always “out do” your last project. If it is not close to it in quality then you should not even put it out. You should show progress project after project.”

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