Written by Calvin Schneider
917 Rackz is only 16 but he’s already making some serious waves across the city. Referring to himself as Drill Shady, Rackz has proved time and again to be one of the most lyrical of the NYC drill rappers. The Sheepshead Bay rapper has only been dropping music for about a year, but has gained nearly 150k views on youtube and over 1 million streams on Soundcloud. He may be young, but Rackz has definitely earned his place among NYC’s best rappers.
Music Xclusives sat down with 917 Rackz to talk about his recording process, Russian influence, haters, and more. Stream his new song Special and check out our interview below!
Tell us who you are and what you’re about.
My name is 917 Rackz, I’m from Sheepshead, Brooklyn. I’ve been on my rap shit, mastering it, going crazy.
How old are you?
Why the name 917 Rackz
917 is the area code. I’ve been Rackz since middle school. Kind of gave myself that name, and I had to put something in the front. You know what I mean? Cause I can’t just be Rackz, that would be hard to search up or whatever. So I tried mad other shit and I didn’t like it. I just woke up one day like yo, let me put my area code.
How long have you been putting music out?
Around a year now. My first video was like in the summer, so that’s what I consider really putting shit out.
What’s high school been like? Do your classmates say anything about your music?
Nah ‘cause like bro. In 8th grade, that’s when I started rapping. Basically when I started getting a little buzz or whatever, we weren’t in school, we were online. I ain’t really get the whole, “oh my god that’s Rackz in my school” experience.
Why do you refer to yourself as Drill Shady?
I’m obviously not as lyrical as Eminem. But like, I feel like I’m the most lyrical in the drill community. So Slim Shady, Drill Shady.
When you first started rapping, who were some rappers that you were looking up to?
There’s a lot of them. Like for my melodic shit, A lot of people haven’t heard my melodic shit. YNW Melly obviously he be on his singing shit and I fuck with that. I know it sounds generic but like Lil Tecca, Lil TJay, Uzi. Bro, I was into them before everything went crazy with them. For rapping, there’s a lot of people. Basically the whole drill scene. They all going crazy. I fuck with everybody.
Did you start making melodic or drill tracks first?
Melodic. Facts. When this bitch broke my heart. It was like 8th grade, I was on my Bryson Tiller shit. It was dirt ‘cause of the engineering, feel me? It was on Garageband on my phone. I don’t do it no more. But songs like Circuit, Payback. Those shits was all on Garageband.
Why did you decide to switch over to drill?
I just got so like used to it. And it’s like so easy now. First thing that comes to my head when someone says pick a beat, it’s a U.K. drill beat.
What producers do you like working with?
Any artists that you would like to do a collaboration with?
I mean, I ain’t gonna hold you. I can’t like speak on it. Everything in the streets is messy now. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I guess like, I don’t like it ‘cause if I make music with someone, I got their beef, you know what I mean? That’s wack, so. I guess whichever side reaches out to me first. I ain’t choosing sides.
Do you have a ritual when you’re making music?
Nah. I gotta write it before I find the beat. Then I find the beat.
Most people do it the other way around.
Deadass, and I don’t really understand that. I be like walking down the stairs or something and I’ll think of some crazy punch line ‘cause I’m all about wordplay and punchlines. I’ll think of some crazy punch line, I’ll write it down. The lyrics keep flowing, and I start getting hype. I don’t need drugs to write. I get hype when I come up with some crazy shit.
What’s something you look for in a beat?
Yeah, facts. Hard drums, feel me? Them kicks, the 808s gotta be really hard. Facts. I don’t like the simple drill melodies no more. Little simple piano, I don’t know if you know what I’m talking about. I need some samples. Some next shit, you know what I mean? I don’t want that simple drill shit.
Do you think that you will drop a project at some point this year?
Yeah. I got some shit with my son Hightech, feel me? He was on Red Dot. I just had a lot of songs, so I just put that in an album. I put it out just to put it out, to see what it did. It’s doing decent. So me and Hightech, we got like a little EP maybe mixtape. We still haven’t decided yet.
What was the recording session like with Hightech when you were recording Red Dot?
Yeah, boom. I wanted to talk about that. So like my son Hightech, he was buzzing when I was in middle school type shit. So everyone knew him. I fucked with his music so when I reached a certain level, I reached out to him. He hit me back. We got to it. I just sent him a beat, and obviously the Red Dot beat. And I’m like this shit type crazy. I wrote to it, and I had a fire verse. I’m like this is a heater! We went to the studio, got it done. That’s that.
You got this song, Tsar, where you mix Russian into your verse. Did you grow up in a Russian household?
Facts. My family, my mom she’s more like, American. I was born here and she moved here when she was little. We’re not even Russian like that. We’re New Yorkians. I don’t know even how I speak it so fluently type shit, but I just do. I speak English with my mom.
Do you think that you’ll do more songs mixing Russian into your raps?
Yeah. I was thinking of doing that with Hightech, because Hightech is Russian too.
What do you have to say to the haters that give you shit because you’re a white drill rapper?
I mean bro, all this hate shit? I don’t think they learned their lesson about trying to stop me. Clearly it’s not working. I don’t know what they’re trying to achieve, and I don’t really block haters, so feel me? Once I tell you suck my dick and block you, you can’t unsuck my dick. So they’re tight. I got the last laugh. So I don’t really care. One thing I realized, I used to get mad at hate, right? But look. If someone really doesn’t like you, they not gonna pay attention to you. Facts, like if I don’t like a girl I’m not gonna look at her. So if they don’t like me then why are they making all those comments, or in my DMS or whatever they doing all that on? It’s ‘cause they love me. They just expressing it in a different way. That’s facts though. Hate is love and love is hate. Shoutout to Isight he taught me that.
Your numbers are consistently rising and you’re making the right plays.
That’s one thing I’m proud of myself. Like, my numbers are pretty consistent, you know? I don’t got one song that’s at a million and the other ones a couple thousand. My numbers are pretty consistent. I think that’s a good thing. That’s a thing with a lot of these rappers. They one-hit wonders and they end up with no one caring about them.
Do you feel like being from Sheepshead and being from New York has helped shape your sound?
I mean, yeah. All the homies in Sheepshead is rapping. All New Yorkers making music now, literally everyone is a rapper. I don’t know. I can only speak on behalf of myself, but I see a lot of rappers stealing flows. A lot of rappers got the same flow now. I mean a lot of them unique, but everyone’s sampling each other’s sound type shit. The lingo and the flows and shit, yeah.
What’s something that you want the world to know about you?
I soon be a lyrical legend.
What’s something that you’re looking forward to in 2021?
To blow the fuck up. Hopefully. Concerts, obviously. Crazy events. More people, bigger artists to work with.
Interview conducted by Calvin Schneider