New York’s Radamiz, 27, cleanses listeners with his music. He opens his latest offering, a brisk EP entitled Synonyms of Strength, by chanting: “I took all the evil out my homies.” Catchy, but it’s also a perfect snapshot of the way Rad’s music evicts sorrow from the spirit.
Radamiz’ passion for creation and his lust for life inhabited his 2019 sophomore album, Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes. The project saw Radamiz dealing with legacy and mortality, and the pursuit of perfection when perfection has to be man-made. On Synonyms, we have a return to Rad’s anxieties, as the EP deals with the duality of appearing hard and appearing human.
Much of Synonyms of Strength boasts moments of great spirituality. “GRATITUDE IS GANGSTA” captures the dichotomy of Radamiz’ existence. How his faith and his environment can come together to make a striking man, one unafraid of his demise. Synonyms of Strength is, in part, a learning experience. Each song brings us closer to ourselves and a better understanding of Radamiz’ morals and dreams. Though obsession played an integral role in the creation of this EP, as it does in all of Rad’s work, there is no fear that Radamiz is living an unbalanced life. The fire of making music fuels him in other ways, too.
Synonyms of Strength is a worthy listen, something of a tome in hip-hop form. Radamiz sounds proud of his work, and damn near jeers as we discuss his growth as a man and emcee. Look no further than stand out “I Am Blessed, I’m Alive, I’m Amazing.” His happiness is infectious. In these times, Radamiz’ sounding in love with himself and his humanity makes for a soothing listen.
“The blessing is just being alive,” Radamiz tells me before I start recording. “What I’m saying is medicine for me.” We could all stand to learn from Rad. Our full conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: It’s been just a month shy of a year since our previous interview. How has Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes changed your life?
Radamiz: There are people who listened to me for years and had me pegged as a nice rapper from New York. That’s part of my essence, but that is not the totality of who I am as an artist. Since high school and before then, I’ve always been about being well-rounded and trying things. I’ve had people who have listened to me for years and were like, “This is the first time I have gotten to know you.” I never went into my past for as long as I did. You may never see my grandmother in a music video. You may never hear me talk that in-depth for that long. As long as I keep creating, people will appreciate me even more.
Me going to the Dominican Republic for the “Know My Name” video… You have people that are not on Twitter, that are not influencers… They’re normal, day-to-day Latino individuals and are like, “Man, I was drawn to tears because I’ve never seen myself represented that purely.” It was an important project for me to do because it established the humanity in me and made me a real person. I’m proud of what that project has been able to do and how it’s changed the energy around me.
The last time we spoke, you said, “I have to make every moment as perfect as possible.” How did you make perfection for the new EP, Synonyms of Strength?
The perfection in Synonyms is just the rawness of, “Here are these ideas of how Radamiz feels in the present. Lemme not be clouded by other people’s takes.” One of the biggest things [on the EP] is rounding out the conversation when it comes to gun violence and losing lives. The conversation about women and how they’re spoken about in music. “Bendiciones” is a straight Spanish hook. English verses, but it’s still Radamiz. I’m total. These songs are all synonyms of strength because they all represent what strength feels like as an artist and human being. I don’t think I wasted a moment on this project.
In the music, I feel this duality between appearing hard and being a human being. How did that duality of man impact your creative process for the EP?
Nothing about the word “strength” is used as hyper-masculine. Nothing about it is, “I am over you. I have never been through pain.” It’s more so like… A man is supposed to be a leader, trustworthy, imperfect, but working towards [perfection]. I’m not of the mind that people are perfect. I believe [we] all make, and continue to make, mistakes. What are we gonna do to remedy certain situations? If I’m a man and I’m talking about “GRATITUDE IS GANGSTA,” I’m forgiving the shooter. It’s not just the lashing out, emotional reaction to a situation. How do I make sure tomorrow we’re okay? What does healing and acceptance look like? All of these things are being a man. That’s what I’m on right now.
How did spirituality play a role in this EP?
Spirituality is something that—specifically in music—exists so much. So many artists use the words God, faith, karma, angels. But, for me, it’s opening up the conversation that it’s not specific to a religion or way of life. I reference Daoism, Christianity, Jewish brothers. I reference Muslims. It’s not about my specific view on God and what that path looks like. It is an understanding of “There are more energies at play out here that we need to tap into and use to our advantage.” I think of music as “I’m an orator for what energy I wanna put into this world.”
Whenever you press play on my shit, I want it to feel like love. Without that, I’m nothing. That’s what gets me out of bed when the stats don’t line up; when the money isn’t coming in. You’re here because this is what makes you feel alive, putting good energy out there and reminding people that forgiveness is possible, and you can improve as a human being. And to not overlook the smallest of blessings. That’s what I try to write about. I’m not out here to blame the world. I’m out here to take responsibility for my actions and move forward from there.
Did you write a bar on here that shocked you?
Yeah! A lot of bars like that. “GRATITUDE IS GANGSTA” is one. I’ve never heard someone express rage and then forgiveness in the same 10 seconds. I’ve never heard somebody say, “Dominican, but I got love for all my Haitians.” I’ve never heard somebody shout out, “Thank God for hip-hop, thank God for Will Scott,” who is the project manager and marketing director for Payday [Records].
There’s so much truth I feel is not expressed, from me. If Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes is the past, how am I gonna move people forward to the present? I wanna bridge the gap between who I am in real life and who I am on a Spotify profile. How much of my actual perspective is in my music? What can I say, what can I stand for, that I stand for in real life and make sure it’s reflected in the music? As you update as a human, you update the music, and they coexist and intertwine in a way where you don’t know which one is influencing the other.
“Brodies, Wodies” was one of the first songs, and I’m like, “I took all the evil out my homies.” What’s that even mean?! Did I literally? Maybe! That just means, if you’re a good person, that’s gonna rub off. We purify each other. It is about the surroundings, so the better I become, the better everyone around me becomes. But, when you first write it, it’s just like, “This feels good,” and then it’s, “No, this is real.” Music makes you realize who you are a lot of the times.
How did your “obsession” with the craft impact the making of the EP?
I don’t wanna give you a rapper answer. The majority of this project was made while we were prepping the release of the last one. I finally had some distance [from the last project], and I realized, I’m already better than what I just released. I’m already getting better at being who I wanna be, sounding like myself when I hear a song or write a verse. For a long time, I hated the sound of my voice, the feeling of exposing myself. I’m hypercritical of every bar, and now it’s a beautiful experience. It’s not even an obsession with making music; it’s an obsession with just evolving.
My career doesn’t look like what everybody else’s careers look like. My goal is to be transparent, smart with my money. I have never existed in hip-hop before, and I’m a world person. Everybody can be my friend. I am an original, so let me expound on that as a human being first, and by the grace of God, it’s been coming out in the music. Before, I don’t think I could make a “I Am Blessed, I’m Alive, I’m Amazing,” and it comes out genuine. I wasn’t confident and wasn’t sure of my mind, my beliefs. Now, I can [be free] with my beat choices, with my voice.
I don’t even know how to best answer your question, but I think it’s just that: I get excited about evolving, and it lends itself to the music. I hope people give a fuck about that.