Underdog of the Month: Ruddy Came Thruu

In our inaugural Underdog of the Month feature, we shine the light on Bloemfontein rapper Ruddy Came Thruu, whose album 1634 – released in July 2021 – was beautifully crafted but overlooked.

By ubereatzz 

Ruddy Came Thruu, government name Thabiso Mohlouoa, was born and raised in Bloemfontein in the Free State. He is currently studying a degree in finance at a university in the Vaal.

His love for writing started in primary school. He was always one of the students everyone was excited to listen to when he went up to do his prepared speeches in English because his topic choices were always riveting and intriguing.

Ruddy Came Thruu describes himself as being a prolific writer from a young age. His first time ever writing to a beat was to Cassper Nyovest’s 2014 hit ‘Doc Shebeleza’. The instrumental wasn’t available at the time, so he used the last part of the song, where Cassper lets the beat ride with no vocals.

It started off as poetry, then it quickly developed into him wanting to be a ghostwriter, because he didn’t want the attention that came with being a rapper. But he quickly realised no one could ever deliver his work to the masses better than he could. So, while in Grade 9 in 2014, he recorded his first song called ‘black & white’. Ruddy describes it as “hella cringe with a flow that was horrendous”, but it was a huge step towards him becoming the artist he is today, and since then, he has never stopped writing and making music.

1634

The first thing that struck me about 1634, Ruddy Came Thruu’s latest album released last year, was the cover art, which shows him in a red jacket looking like he is deep in his thoughts on one side, and him in a blue overall about to smoke on the other side.

The cover art seems to have taken inspiration from the 1999 blockbuster film The Matrix’s red pill and blue pill concept, which refers to the choice between the will to learn and accept a potentially life-changing truth or remaining in a state of ignorance.

“That is actually a perfect way to put it, as when I spoke to my photographer, I told him I am giving the listeners two perspectives in the tape, as there are two sides to the stories I tell,” says Ruddy Came Thruu. “For example, I speak on money’s bad side on ‘paper drugs’ and then, on ‘heart of a G’, I speak on money’s good side.”

From the first track ‘Fede’, the rapper starts it off with a snippet of a poem called “Hey Black Child” recited by a child. Ruddy opens his verse with the words, “I’m heavily a n*gga, heavy on the liquor/ Heavenly I’m sent, nah, I’m a demon.” The verse lays the foundation for the listener to grasp the rapper’s mental state as he put this tape together. It also makes him relatable.

Ruddy Came Thruu’s ability to set the tone using the first few lines at the beginning of his songs or verses is impressive – very few rappers are able to do that.

The beat to ‘Fede’ was made by Widawon, who Ruddy grew up with and is inspired by. “He sent it to me about two years ago, before I put the tape together,” Ruddy says. “I am not the type to write off beats that I do not feel, so I let it breathe for a bit; then, one day, I played it and it just clicked.

“Those first four words, ‘I’m heavily a n*gga’ is me basically saying I embrace all the stereotypes associated with people of my skin colour, but I will not let them define me. I’m black and I am greatness; that’s what we need to instil in the young minds of our little sisters and brothers.”

The skit was from an interview he watched. “This young girl was reciting a poem she wrote about black children,” he says. “Historically, we weren’t allowed to have dreams; you were destined to be either a teacher, a nurse or a police officer. But times have changed; we are the children of the generation who said, ‘enough is enough’. Our parents worked hard to allow us the chance they never had, so we need to use every single opportunity presented to us to make something of ourselves.”

 

Emotions

Ruddy has an ability to make the listener feel his emotions as though they were their own. When I bump  ‘ain’t for us’, the second track on 1634, where he goes, “No, no, no, don’t fall in love/ This ain’t me just acting tough/ We are still living way too young/ Commitment really ain’t for us,” I feel like he is speaking on my behalf.

The song was inspired by his bad luck in relationships. “Most of the time, they weren’t working, so I said, let me focus on the music, ’cause relationships ain’t for us,” he says. “The crazy thing is, about six months after I dropped the tape, my luck in relationships changed.”

On ‘evil desires’, one of my favourites on 1634, he speaks on not being able to trust those around him, as he senses their jealousy towards him. He raps, “Can’t tell a friend from a foe, a girlfriend from a h*e,” pondering on his various connections as he becomes increasingly successful.

The 16-track project is limited on features, as it largely consists of solo Ruddy songs. K Beats, with whom Ruddy released the solid joint EP 2faced in 2020, is featured on ‘another jay’ on 1634. “I selected K Beats for this one because it’s an upbeat song, and I also came on it with the same flow and delivery as the beat,” says Ruddy. “K Beats has that chill vibe that represents how you ‘calm down’ once you hit a smoke.”

As I chat to Ruddy, the realisation I come to is that the majority of the features on 1634 are individuals he knows well. He reveals he placed Meccamind on the first part of ‘topic\pride’ because the beat suits his style. “This is a boom bap song because it’s got that rapper persona, that ‘I know you mess with me, but you don’t wanna show me you mess with me’ kinda thing,” Ruddy says.

Karabo, Meccamind and Reba appear on ‘topic\pride’. “The second part – ‘pride’,” he says, “I felt it needed two vocalists, male and female, to provide two different perspectives. In high school, Reba and Karabo were two leading figures in the school choir, which I was also a part of, so I just had to put the two of them on it.”

Ruddy grew up with Nalah, who’s featured on ‘paper drugs’. “We’ve been classmates since we were like seven or eight,” Ruddy says. “I explained the concept of the song to her, and she liked it. She asked me to pass the beat and she went mad.”

‘cookies & cream’, which features Karabo, was recorded at Karabo’s apartment. “I did the hook, but I didn’t like it,” Ruddy says. “So, I rewrote it, and asked him to sing it because I knew he’d know what I wanted the song to sound like. When he did record, I felt like he did the hook justice.”

After listening to his music, it’s clear Ruddy has a promising music career ahead of him. He has been featured on a fire single by K Beats, called ‘Trouble’, which dropped earlier this year, where he traps, showing that he is more than just a boom bap rapper.

During the time I was conducting this interview, Ruddy unfortunately had his laptop stolen when his place got broken into. “I had about 24 songs on there,” he says, “enough for two or three EPs. So, now I must start from scratch. Luckily, I still have the beats and lyrics, so I will have to re-record all those songs. I was planning a listening session for a select few. This will still happen after I get these songs recorded again. I have also set up a roll-out to give DJs my new single to launch, as it will be a bit different from my usual sound and visuals planned.”

Bless your ears and check out 1634 by Ruddy Came Thruu on Spotify and Apple Music.

This interview appears in issue 21 of our monthly ezine available for purchase here.

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