Roddy Ricch Reveals His Vulnerable Side on New Track “Heartless”

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Roddy Ricch begins to open up to fans on “Heartless.” (Courtesy of Twitter)

Alexandra Lange, Staff Writer

After an artist finally breaks into the industry and achieves massive success with an album or song, there’s always enormous pressure for them to follow up on that success with something just as good — or even better. For Roddy Ricch, this pressure was at an astronomical level. His debut album “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial,” released in Dec. 2019, was one of last year’s biggest hits. Fueled by the success of “The Box,” the album has already been certified double-platinum, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 and helped Ricch pick up six Grammy nominations. 

Aside from a few features, most notably his guest appearance on DaBaby’s megahit “Rockstar,” Ricch has not released any music since his debut album. Fans have been anxious to hear where Ricch will take his sound after already reaching such unprecedented heights. 

Ricch finally gave fans a glimpse into how he was planning to follow up on his massive success during his performance at the Grammys on March 14. Before delivering a unique rendition of “The Box,” he debuted a new track, “Heartless.” 

From only hearing the first few seconds of the new track, it is clear Ricch is not trying to make another “The Box” or copy the sound of his debut album. Some artists who achieve huge success often try to follow up that project with something very similar in hopes of achieving the same high regard, but it seems Ricch is taking his sound in a new direction for his upcoming album, “Feed Tha Streets 3.”

Backed by a full band, “Heartless” is much more stripped-down than what we have previously heard from the 22-year-old Compton native. Instead of opting for the trap production of most of “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial,” “Heartless” features orchestral instrumentals, including a harp, horns, trumpets and keys played by Ricch himself. The only hint of trap production comes at the track’s end, which features pitched-up vocals and echoing synths over acoustic strings and Ricch’s reverbing lyrics. 

While the entirety of Ricch’s forthcoming project will most likely not feature this same orchestral production, it is a welcome change from the 808s and hi-hats heard on most rap tracks. Ricch’s vocals are able to complement the raw instrumentals in a way that most rappers would be unable to compete with. “Heartless” has a very similar vibe to Ricch’s 2019 Trap Symphony performance, where he played some of his biggest hits alongside an eight-piece orchestra. This Trap Symphony performance played a big role in distinguishing Ricch from other rappers, so “Heartless” only further solidifies the fact that Ricch is truly in a lane entirely of his own.

Especially when paired with Ricch’s soulful lyrics, the light keys and full-bodied horns add to the emotion of “Heartless” and give it a poignant touch not usually heard in rap. Over the two-minute track, Ricch chronicles the struggles he faced growing up in the streets and the losses he has experienced. 

He begins the track saying, “This life left me heartless, b—-, I came from apartments,” referencing his early life growing up in the streets of Compton. He uses a play on words to explain how becoming rich and famous has changed his street status, revealing, “The money turned me to a target, got a Hellcat Dodge it.”

In one of the song’s most touching lines, Ricch cries, “I hope you lookin’ down on me, I hope you’re proud of me.” While it hasn’t been confirmed, many have speculated Ricch is paying homage to his mentor Nipsey Hussle, who was shot and killed in 2019. Ricch and Hussle had a close relationship, both being Los Angeles natives, and released what would be Hussle’s last song, “Racks In the Middle,” together in 2019. Especially considering the context of Hussle’s death, the next line of “Heartless” hits even harder, as he reveals “a 9 millimeter gotta ride with me” for protection in case he ever finds himself in a situation similar to what happened to Hussle.

Ricch expresses similar sentiments in the track’s verse. He shows a much more vulnerable side of himself as he speaks on the harsh reality of life in the streets and realizations he has come to as he has gotten older. He specifically references his role as a father and a son, saying, “’Specially ’cause I got a lil’ one one, ’specially ’cause I got an OG.” The emotion in his voice is palpable throughout the song, but this particular line resonates even further through the combination of his vocal harmony and the expressive instrumentals. 

Telling Complex he wants his next project to be “more vulnerable” and that he plans on “bringing fans into his world more,” Roddy Ricch is living up to those promises with “Heartless.” Not only is he refusing to box himself in, Ricch isn’t letting the pressure of stardom get to him — a win not only for himself but also for music fans everywhere.