It's been 15 years since Richmond's own Sons of Funk blasted into the top ten of Billboard's Top 100 with their hit "Pushin' Inside You." Now, with a new album in the works, Sons of Funk singer Rico Crowder talks with Radio Free Richmond about the impact of Richmond's music on his youth and how he hopes to shape the city's musical future.
Radio Free Richmond: The Richmond music scene of your youth was a big part of why you got into music. Can you describe the musical landscape of the city at the time?
Rico Crowder: When I was growing up, the music scene in Richmond was wonderful. What we had was the Richmond talent show that was held in the Richmond Auditorium. It allowed people from all over the Bay Area -- Richmond, Oakland, Vallejo, Berkeley. It was a battle royal. You had to be next to Michael Jackson to be in that talent show. There were people like En Vogue performing. Everyone that came out of there was super successful. On top of that, when I was coming up, almost every house in the neighborhood had a band. Everybody had a group, everybody was doing something with music.
RFR: What first got you into music?
RC: I was around a lot of people who taught me a lot -- bass, keyboard, guitar. I was very fortunate for these influences, but it really started with my dad who taught me singing. He's the one who got me in the talent show. It was all on from there. It was a really wonderful thing.
RFR: Was there a moment that changed things for you -- that got you into the industry?
RC: It has to be when I met Master P. Back then he was just going by Percy, but from the moment we met I knew we were gonna go far. I was at my friend Alamo's barber shop and this man walks in. He's about 6'5", large in stature, with about five guys behind him. He comes up to me and he says, "Hey, you're Rico, I've heard about your music." We get to talking, and eventually he says, "How about this, if you ever make it big, you help me, and if I ever make it big, I'll help you?" At the time I was broke as hell, so I said "Sure!" And that was the beginning of our friendship.
A little while later I moved to Los Angeles. I had a sign from God that if I didn't move to LA in the next 72 hours I was never gonna make it in the music industry, so I did. By chance, I see P there and I give him this song I wrote, "Pushin' Inside You." He said, "Man, how about I make you one of the biggest R&B groups out there?" Master P signed us to No Limit, his record label, and the rest is history.
RFR: How do you think Sons of Funk influenced the music scene in Richmond?
RC: What I've seen is that many groups are being more conscious about what they're saying. I see a lot of bands that want to go back to that old, feel-good music that brings on love. You can never have enough love, and these songs from the Sons of Funk, what they're bringing to Richmond is songs of love.
RFR: What do you want to be the legacy of Sons of Funk?
RC: I want to uplift Richmond and tell them that we have love here. We can still do the Richmond talent show here, and we can bring that back to the youth. All they have to have is something to clamor and work for, and all the destruction will stop. I promise you. And when I get back to Richmond, I'm going to do a reunion talent show and I'm going to have something for the youth. I have to replenish my city, and I have to give back because I got so much from Richmond.
To learn more about Sons of Funk, click here to view their website.