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Rye Rye Is the Baltimore Club Kid Who Had to Grow Up Fast

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M.I.A., in an e-mail interview, says she was impressed with Rye Rye's tone and rapping ability, and her "willingness to understand what me and Diplo were doing."

They booked her shows and introduced her to a new scene.

"We were just interested in taking her out of her environment to show her a way to get out of Baltimore," M.I.A. says. At the time, Rye Rye was in her junior year at Dr. Samuel L. Banks High School.

"I was always the type of person very connected with everyone," Rye Rye says. "[People would] sing my song and imitate my voice in the hallways. But it was cool. Everyone knew who I was."

Later that year, M.I.A. invited Rye Rye and Blaqstarr on the 2007 Kala Tour. Rye Rye took her schoolwork on the road and e-mailed assignments to teachers.

"I was kind of worried because I couldn't go with her," says Rye Rye's mother, Diana Ross (no, not that Diana Ross).

But after speaking with M.I.A. over the phone, Ross felt her daughter was in good hands.

Before the tour, Rye Rye, who also lives with her older brother and two younger sisters, had never left Maryland.

"I knew about close places like D.C.," she says. "And I never really dreamed of going other places."

* * *

M.I.A. exposed her to new scenes and new styles of music, but Rye Rye says there's one thing she didn't inherit from her famous mentor: "A lot of people say I make M.I.A. music, but that's really the Baltimore club sound."

In "Bang," Rye Rye tells listeners to "Throw your [expletive] sets up" and "Ride up, throw it out and bang!" The tough-talk lyrics are sweetened by Rye Rye's candy-pop voice and kid-sister persona.


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