Rory Allen Philip Ferreira is an artist with a bit of mystery. He’s lived in eight different cities and gone by five different names. He’s never had a publicist or a PR campaign, and yet he’s been acclaimed by The New York Times and The Needle Drop and his records sell for $150 a piece.
“You have a PR campaign and I have a myth,” Ferreira says. “I’m banking on my myth paying for my children’s children’s children.”
Let’s dive into the myth of our Nashville Artist of the Month, the uncompromising artist, R.A.P. Ferreira.
He’s a poet of scholarly whimsy, rapping casually and poetically about Rhonin, paladin, 1950’s beat poets, Garcia Lorca and other expressions of enduring wisdom.
“One time I was at a gas station and I read on the stall of the bathroom wall, “What’s the purpose of life?” And someone had actually written back, “To be the eyes, the ears, and the consciousness of the creator of the universe…you fool.”from “Leaving Hell” by R.A.P. Ferreira
But finding that unique R.A.P. Ferreira voice started with a bit of trial and error.
“I had to transfer high schools in New Hampshire because I beat a dude in a rap battle, and then he beat my ass because of the sh*t that I said. I tried to rap tough and gangster. I remember telling my dad and he was just like, ‘Why’d you say that stuff?’ And I was like, ‘It’s rap! I wanted to win’ And he was like, ‘Well now you see what happens. You better mean everything you say.’”
(Hold onto that lesson because Ferreira held onto it too.)
Ferreira went to college and started a blog that became very popular.
“And that’s how I made money,” Ferreira notes. “Them adsense was making cents for me.”
On the blog occasionally he’d interview rappers. One time he got this particular nudge from Open Mike Eagle.
“He was like, ‘So what’s up? You rappin?’,” Ferreira recalls. “And I was like, ‘Not really, I run this blog now.’ And he was like, ‘Man, you should make a tape or something. You should get back at it.’”
And so he released “I Wish My Brother Rob was Here” under the rap name milo.
Rappers flex their abs, they’re all fit and lean, I’m 19 and fine dining means a Kid Cuisine.from “Backpacker’s Sermon from Mount Jansport” off milo’s “I Wish My Brother Rob Was Here.”
Since he’d run a music blog, he knew other bloggers, and reached out to a couple including The Needle Drop’s Anthony Fantano aka “The Internet’s Busiest Music Nerd.”
“Anthony Fantano wrote back and was like, ‘BING! Let’s go. This is my rap album of the year.’ And so once he did that, that the effect just rippled.”
It rippled back to Open Mike Eagle who was on the record label Hellfyre club which then signed milo. But that did not last long.
“My debut album, my label doesn’t ship out any of the units that sold,” Ferreira states. “People are coming to my shows when I’m on tour and they are like, ‘Give me my money, or I’m gonna hurt you, Milo.’ I’m like, ‘Bro, I’m on a label, they’re handling that.’ Months and months go by and I’m not getting paid. Yeah it sucked very bad.
So he ditched the label, moved back to Milwaukee and released his own stuff, which did really well. And then he had a son but there was a cause for concern regarding his family.
“Milwaukee, had, and I’m not sure if it’s still true, the highest rate of incarceration amongst Black men in America. I’d just had my first kid, who was a young Black boy and I was just very self conscious of that climate,” Ferreira relates. “I was like, if I had the means to move my family, why would I not do it? It’s not about me at this point, it’s about my kid. So we moved to an island off the coast of Maine.”
There he opened up a record store and called it Soul Folks. It became the embodiment of his artistic ingenuity.
“It was a good way to keep a constant stream of new vinyl coming in. We were converting it to rap and then putting it back onto the shelf and selling it,” Ferreira explains. “Getting rid it it. Making money off it. It was like some ill, ‘We are boiling the bones to make broth. We are using every part of the animal. We’ve made a nice wallet out of the skin.’ Like, we are wasting nothing as people participating in rap.”
Soul Folks is still going strong. In fact, he will be opening a new location in Nashville, where the winds of change have taken him. And with a new city, came a new name, from milo, to his initials Rory Allen Philip Ferreira, AKA R.A.P. Ferreira.
“Bruh it’s cold,” Ferreira says. “My grandma, when I was a kid would be like, ‘Rappin Rory Ferreira.’ And she would do this thing and then as you get older you are like, ‘Yeah, I am Rappin R.A.P Ferreira.’ That’s my name.”
And that is the myth. That is how R.A.P. Ferreira went from getting beaten up for the words that he said to getting praised for the words that he is saying. With each step he has grown into himself as an artist.