Ru AREYOU / WHAT’S GOOD(?)
While Hip-Hop has a long history of multi-talented artists – producers who rap, rappers who sing – few can claim a track record that includes heading a creative label, producing for Chris Brown, dancing on Justin Bieber’s world tour, as well as being a decorated martial artist, winning the 2001 US Open open forms competition. Ru AREYOU is a Sacramento raised, Los Angeles based jack of all trades who’s honed his skills across these mediums for close to a decade & is seeing his audience grow tremendously over the past year.
SHAOLIN JAZZ (interview by Myk Blauuw) got a chance to speak with Ru AREYOU about his background, tour life, and what drives him creatively.
SJ: For the folks that don’t know you, can you give a little background on yourself? Who is Ru AREYOU?
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SJ: You seem like you do everything. Give me a rundown of the different creative outlets you have?
Ru: There’s so many things I do to express my creativity, but it has to start with movement, just freestyle dancing and how that connects to my music. I’m blessed that I’m able to express myself in so many different ways. That’s how I tie in with my name – Ru AREYOU? It’s almost a question to myself, but that’s my name, so it’s also the answer.
SJ: The first thing we connected on was the music – you produce, rap, sing, etc. What are some of the highlights of your music career, so far?
Ru: I guess it’s kind of a tragic situation, but at the same time it’s definitely also a highlight. I did the song Real Hip Hop Shit for Chris Brown. It’s sort of considered his first rap song. That was back in 2010. I wasn’t even 21 yet. Another one would be working with a lot of Sacramento artists who have built up their fan bases: Chuuwee, Soosh*E! who’s on Hot 103.5. You never see him anymore, but another artist named Illecism.
SJ: One thing that you’ve been known for in your career is linking up with a single artist and producing a full project with them. Can you talk about some of those projects and what the creative process is like?
Ru: That process is tight cuz you get to really know the artist and the shape your art around their art rather than just saying, “here’s beats, rap on this.” It’s a different kind of connection because you’re connecting their preference and frequency with your art. To be honest it’s one of my favorite things because you get to learn about the artist and you get to pick and choose what you like from them to highlight. One of the dope ones was Life of a Backpacker with Konkwest & Chuuwee because that was honestly one of my first projects collaborating with artists. I had just met them and all of a sudden we started working and the goal for all of us was to just make music. Also, working with Illecism, we did Drunken Masters. We’d literally go to the store and get different kinds of beer, like Tsing Tao from China, and we’d drink that type of beer and it would set the whole vibe. We’d put on some visuals, some Kung Fu flicks, and really just vibe off of the environment that we were putting ourselves in.
SJ: Two of the imprints that folks see you connected with are AwesomeAwesomeShxt! and Alora Sounds. Can you talk about those?
Ru: AwesomeAwesomeShxt! is my collective, which means Awesome Awesome Souls Here eXtending Thanks. I am the co-founder of AASHXT along with Natey, who used to be my roommate in LA in 2014. Alora Sounds is my independent label. I’ve built it up very slowly, but I want it to be quality music that when people first hear about it, they’re like “how have I been missing this?” The name Alora comes from a beat collective/group I was in with two other artists: B.Lewis & Insightful, back in 2008. We ended up going our different ways, but I didn’t want the name and feeling of that time to die, so I just wanted to put it to something.
SJ: Switching lanes here, I know your history in martial arts runs very deep. Can you give a rundown – when did you first get into martial arts and where did it take you?
Ru: When I was two or three my grandfather used to watch me and we would go to this 99 cent rental video spot and rent all of the Kung Fu movies. From then on, I fell in love with martial arts. It felt so natural to me. My parents encouraged it and put me into Taekwondo class at age four. I kept doing it and at age 9 I started doing creative martial arts/extreme martial arts, which involves creating your own choreography or what’s considered a form, in martial arts terms. You get to make your own stuff, do flips, and wear these dope ass uniforms, so that really attracted me as a kid. After the creative martial arts thing, I started going into the entertainment business and doing extreme martial arts was the thing that brought me out to LA.
SJ: What was your first gig?
Ru: When I was 16 I got an entertainment business agent (shout-outs to Block Agency who I’m still with now) and my first job was this random music video. After that it was just small gigs, just trying to make it and eventually that turned into my first Grammy performance in 2010 with Justin Bieber and Jaden Smith.
SJ: It seems like that’s when your dance career, which incorporates martial arts, took off and got you where you’re at now. You just came off of a really long world tour with Justin Bieber. How did that come about?
Ru: Being on the Purpose world tour was definitely a highlight of my career. There’s a creative director and choreographer named Nick Demoura and he actually gave me my first dance gig for an artist named Austin Mahone. Over the years Nick was really cool working with me and in the entertainment business it’s really who you know and who you work with well and in 2015 I get a call from him asking me, ” What are you doing for the next 2 years?” I was like, “Probably be at home making beats” haha. Then he asked me if I wanted to go on tour with Justin Bieber. I was like, “Um…yeah!”
SJ: It was such a long tour that took you all over the world. What was that like and what was that experience like for you as a creative person?
Ru: Being on tour, it was very eye-opening for me. I kind of lost myself for a second but traveling around the world really opened my eyes to who I am as a person.
SJ: How have you seen your fan base change and the people that support you since being on tour with Bieber?
Ru: While I was on tour I was getting so many views from people who wanted to see me (“this is Justin Bieber’s dancer”) and hopefully getting a glance of him or something, haha. I did get some dedicated fans out of it which it is hella tight. It’s wild – there’s a fan account I have from a girl in Ireland, two girls from Brazil have another one for me, two other girls from the UK have a Ru AREYOU UK fan group, and there’s Ru AREYOU Estonia, haha. I’m really looking forward to connecting more with these folks because I’m really grateful for their support.
SJ: So, to wrap up, we have some quick questions. What’s your favorite city you’ve travel to so far in your career?
Ru: Favorite city I traveled to would definitely be Rio de Janeiro in Brazil
SJ: If you could pair up any two martial artists (dead or alive) together for a new film, who would you put together?
Ru: If I could choose anybody, I’d want to see Bruce Lee back on the big screen of course and I would have Jet Li with him.
Ru: Damn, I don’t know bro, that’s hard. Right now, I’d want to collaborate with Kendrick Lamar or maybe Travis Scott. Somebody out of this world with their creativity.
SJ: It feels like you’ve already lived so many different lives: you were a martial arts superstar when you were pretty much a baby, the music is taking you very far, but dancing is taking you all over the world, your label, Awesome Awesome. What’s the thing that you want people to take away from you and your work?
Ru: Realize You. Just sit back and indulge in who you are. Contribute to the universe. It’s a scary thing, but just realize who you are and be that. At the end of the day, creators never die because what we create continues.
To learn more about Ru AREYOU visit the links below:
Posted on January 15, 2018, in Uncategorized and tagged art, artisamovement, bboy, bgirl, breakdancing, california, chrisbrown, creative, dancer, drummachine, editorial, hiphop, justinbieber, liveperformance, liveshow, losangeles, magazine, media, music, news, newspaper, producer, ruareyou, whatsgood, zine. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.