We had the good fortune of connecting with Darren “DC” Collins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Darren “DC”, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I’m from Little Rock, Arkansas. My background and upbringing definitely impacted the man that I have become. I’m one of eight children. I grew up without a Father in the Ive’s Walk Housing Projects on the south side of Little Rock. My Mother worked as a presser at a dry cleaners all of her life. How she made it work was a miracle to me. She did the best that she could. Growing up where I grew up, there wasn’t a lot of supervision nor a solid male figure in the home. I saw way too much in the streets at such a young age. Drugs, shootings, prostitution, drug addiction, violence and sexual assaults. I was actually a victim of sexual assault as a kid also. I saw too many friends die at such a young age. I learned early on that it was survival. I was a good kid by nature but my environment made me tough. I say that in a humble way. I learned from all of the people that I saw and interacted with. Certain principles and morals. Some good and some not so good. So many kids go through so many traumatic things early on and never recover. I look back on it all and realized that giving up or quitting in life was never an option. The things that I have survived and overcame instilled things in me that I carry to this day. You don’t work, you don’t eat mentality. Music was always something that I loved even as a kid. It was an escape so it’s a no brainer that I ended up creating music later in my life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
There’s really no short answer to this one. First, my stage name is THE RIDAH G.O.D and that simply means being a ridah for what you’re passionate about. I’m passionate about GOD and my life’s path ..and the periods in between the letters is myself showing respect for GOD for allowing me to be here.
I’m a rapper or recording artist. I make songs about the things that matter to me such as reality, trials, love, politics and so much more. What sets me apart from other artists is the fact that I am me. There is no other person that walks in these shoes because they are mine and mines only. My story, my point of reference and my testimony all matter. That.. is what makes me unique and sets me apart.
I started taking music seriously around 1994. I planned to major in journalism in college at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock but that didn’t work out. I started to realize that college wasn’t my path and music was more meaningful to me. I dropped out of college, got a job and began my quest on the path in music. I started out with a group that was formed with my two nephews (AMD and STACY P) along with two best friends (RICH and STACY DUBB) We were called The BLACKH.O.O.D.S. The funny thing about that is that Stacy P and AMD were rapping since jr high school. During the ninth grade, I entered a talent show and stole one their written raps. I pieced it together, cut a cassette tape with some instruments and then entered the jr high talent show. To my surprise, I killed it! LOL! It was during that very talent show that I met Stacy Dubb. We became good friends. AMD met Rich in jr high school at another school and they became good friends. Later we all got very close and started messing around with music. That’s how it all started.
Fast forward, here I am still doing it. The group ultimately disbanded. Rich left for the military and it was never really the same without him. We all later reunited and made some dope tracks. Some time after all that, we lost our brother Rich. His passing was devastating and a huge blow to us. I miss my brother deeply. The crazy thing is that I never intended to be doing music alone. After I left college, there was no turning back. Myself along with Stacy P later formed a group with some brothers from the old neighborhood called SUITED -N- BOOTED. We went on to add to the legacy of rap music in Little Rock and Arkansas. We did some great things in being apart of that group. I continued on after my time with that group. I went on to drop some mixtapes and some underground projects.
Going through so many ups and downs as an artist will either strengthen you or it will wear you down into submission. I never signed a contract for a bad deal on my journey in this music. I chose to continue educating myself about the music business and perfecting my craft. I’ve never had huge success as far as huge amounts of money and fame. Being from Arkansas has been a gift and a curse as an artist. I say that because where I’m from, the market here never caught fire compared to other areas in this region. We’re right next to Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Missouri. Many artists have broke out of those markets. Only two have broke from here nationally.. Pretty Tony and Bankroll Freddie. I’ve been fortunate to move around and live in other markets to see what’s going on. Arkansas has some of the most talented rappers, musicians, singers, producers and writers in the country. What I also realized, is that a lot of those very same talented individuals weren’t willing to sell their souls. We’ve seen so many examples of what can happen in the music business. The highs and the lows of other major artists. So, many here have just pushed forward in independence using the tools available in this digital age. I’m not a huge fan of what rap has become on a mainstream level. I also hate the division that is being pushed in the culture. I want to be very clear as I can be when I say this, there is NO age limit in rap. Period. That wasn’t started by us. It was started by the ones in the highest chain of command in the music business. NO other genre has to deal with that at all. All older artists in other genres are revered and respected as the pioneers that they are. Never.. an issue about age. Only in hip hop that seems to be a problem. It’s caused strife and headaches for so many. I’ve seen rappers quit because the very people that they love fell victim to that created nonsense. Rappers have the same freedom to make great music well on into their latter years. God bless all of the ones that didn’t fall victim to it. Rap must undergo a major change in order to evolve the way that it was meant to.. the way that it was destined to. Rap is nothing without it’s pioneers. The genre is only 47 years young. Really think about that. I say all that to say, that those are some of the things that I have overcome on this journey. Life happens and survival is a must. I don’t sell drugs. I work a job.. a nine to five to pay for the things that I need to maintain as an artist. Many are shame to say that but I am not. It needs to be said for others that may read this article. Everybody has a path to take on this planet and everybody’s path isn’t the same. Some take shortcuts, some go the long way. What’s destined to be always shall be. Never surrender your dream, your vision nor your gift. Fight for it and never stop dreaming. There is no such thing as being too old in doing what you love and what you’re passionate about. Lastly, these are all the things that matter to me, what shapes me as an artist and fuels the things things I write about. This time.. is what it all led to on this musical journey. It’s never over. Sometimes the journey only starts on the other end of the suffering, the sacrifice and it is then, the breakthroughs happen. Arkansas will be one of the greatest stories ever told when it’s all said and done. I believe that.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’d definitely take them around to see the natural beauty of my City. There are so many beautiful places throughout Little Rock and all over Arkansas. There are also so many great places to eat here. From soul food to vegan spots. Whether you go to the hood or the suburbs, great places to find great dining are in those areas. I don’t want to name names because I know that I will leave some out. Whatever your taste, Google it and great options will pop up. Trust me, I’m from here and live here and I still google to see what’s around here. I’m always pleasantly surprised. Always. The River Market is good for entertainment. Actually all over downtown and midtown are. The Riverfront area is just beautiful. North Little Rock and Little Rock have plenty of great places to visit and enjoy!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Most definitely. There were a collective of individuals that impacted my life in ways that gave me drive to keep going on my path. That there was some sense of worth to my life. There were people that I saw as a kid that were so called bad people such as drug dealers and hustlers. Some of those very people saw a Light in me as a kid and were kind to me. They didn’t have to be but they ‘chose’ to be. Many of the old folk as a kid poured into me no matter how bad or lost that I seemed to be. It always seemed dark around me but I guess they saw a Light in me as well. As a kid, a guy that grew up in the projects named Ricky Jones was the ‘guy’ that I looked up to. He was a street smart guy that was handsome, had charisma, well liked, he was loved and he was respected. He was a great basketball player. I watched him. I saw how he treated people. He had this huge Light in him. He was tough but he showed me that it was ok to be yourself. He had a smile that would light up the room no matter where he was. He was solid whenever it came down to do what he had to do in the name of the neighborhood he repped. He had principles and morals though. He had swag with his fashion sense and all the girls were crazy about him. That brother was the guy that was ‘my’ example. He showed me the way by his example. Or course there were educators, coaches and many people that impacted me in ways that they will never know. There’s too many to name. I’m still being impacted by others even in my adulthood. John Lemon Sr. was definitely a huge influence on me. That man loved me unconditionally and I’m forever grateful to him. My sisters Nadean and Brenda, words could never convey how grateful I am that I had you two. Lastly, I wanna thank my deceased Mother for doing the best that she could to make my life better. She made something out of nothing time and time again so that we survived. Thank you to everyone that poured into me even in the most subtle of ways. Thank you.
Other: Contact: email@example.com
Photo Credit: Fredrick Baltimore for Dinky Designs