Retch is one of rap's bubbling young personalities, but his career got put on hold when he was booked in February earlier this year for violating probation. He's made some positive news since coming home, though, as his voice is featured prominently throughout N.E.R.D.'s forthcoming album No One Ever Really Dies, most noticeably on the Rihanna-assisted track "Lemon." He also dropped two impressive songs in "First Day Home" and Still Up's first single "2-Eleven." Now he looks to capitalize on those moves with a new EP which boasts no guest appearances and features production from TakenForGranted, J. Dot, and J Breez. "2-Eleven," "I Need," and "Ordinary" are the standouts for me so far. He also dropped the video for his second single off the project, "Pop Me A Pint"—you can watch that above.)

We talked to Retch about what he learned about himself while he was incarcerated, how his voice ended up on the new N.E.R.D. album, how his personality has sometimes overshadowed his music in the past, and more.

Check out the album stream and read our interview below.

I remember you mentioning when we were on a shoot last year smoking a blunt that Pharrell reached out to you. You wasn't sure how he was going to use it, though. How does it feel to be all over the first N.E.R.D. album in years?
It all happened kinda organically. I made a video on Instagram that went viral in, I don't know, 2013? I was out with Action Bronson at some shit for Revolt TV and they told me and Big Body Bes to go to a designated smoking area. We were out there chillin' and what not, smoking something under the Hollywood sign, when a bunch of older people popped up and interrupted our whole flow. But it was casual, so I made the video and it took off. Fast forward, and I guess Pharrell was feeling the audio content and the rest is history.

Did you get a chance to talk to Pharrell?
Nah, his people were the ones that hit my people up. I haven't talked to him.

They use the sample throughout the whole album. Are they treating it like sample or are you getting a feature credit?
They definitely treated it like a sample. I'm out here, man! They did right by me. Pharrell also used it for a Kirk Franklin record last year. A lot of people didn't catch that one—they're probably not checkin' for Kirk Franklin.

And the "Lemon" record came out at a perfect time. You had just came home and dropped "First Day Home." What's the first thing you're gonna do when you go pop?
You know me outside of all this shit already, bro. You know how we coming with it. I’m gonna get me a pop bitch. TMZ it up, get into some scandals.

I always tell you that you could be a star because your music is good and you have a magnetic personality. But do you feel a way about getting more recognition for your antics instead of the music?
When you talk about shit like social media, people get attracted to lifestyles and personality. I do feel like my personality overshadows my music sometimes. I make good music with credible people, fly shit, but I think it works with each other compared to my earlier days. My personality is what draws people in, and I think they bounce of each other better now. People would see a video and do research and realize that my music is good. My personality is there. You can't change who you are.

Retch
Image via Publicist

You've always played around with different flows and this new tape offers some of that. Why did you decide to go in this direction?
If you go back throughout my discography, you'll see that every project has a different sound. That's really the most organic part about art to me—an artist trying to find a sound and experiment with flows and different types of beats and all sorts of different things. That's what I always tried to do. Polo Sporting Goods, this new project, and Finesse the World all sound different.

Speaking of Polo Sporting Goods, you know how much I love that album. Do you plan on going back to that sound and going between the two worlds of trap and I guess "traditional" rap, like storytelling?
Polo Sporting Goods is about to turn four years old. It was just the shit I was on at the time. During the time I was recording and writing Polo Sporting Goods, I was spending a lot of time at Alchemist's crib with Harry Fraud, Action Bronson, Big Body Bes, and all these different personalities. We were bumping mad Roc Marciano and it just kinda molded that sound. That was life molding the music. Can I say honestly that I'll ever get that sound back? No. Can I say that I can never get that sound back? No. I guess you're gonna have to stick around.

What did you learn from your stint in jail this past year or so?
I learned that I took a lot of things for granted. You take simple things for granted, the little shit, and when these things get taken away from you, that's when you appreciate them. I definitely learned to appreciate things like my career and family. I had real shit going in the world, and here I am sitting around these motherfuckers. And that shit don't discriminate, it could happen to anybody. Look at Kevin Gates and Meek Mill—you got niggas with paper who are burdened with these circumstances. There's multi-millionaires in jail on the same tier with drug addicts, clean-cut dudes, hood niggas, street niggas, and motherfuckers that were doing dumb shit. It doesn't discriminate, anybody could be in that situation.

Meek has been dealing with his situation for 10 years.
That shit is wack. Free my nigga Meek for sure. You know I really fuck with Meek heavy. That's the voice of all young street niggas, I don't care. If you're really one of them type of niggas, you gotta fuck with Meek, man. That hurt our whole community.

On Instagram, you mentioned that you're not doing Best Friends with Dash, you're not doing Retchy Lo, you sold most of your Polo. What's changed for you this past year?
I'm just on different type time, man. It's life. You don't like the same shit today that you liked in the ninth grade, you know what I'm saying? Simple as that, ain't really too much to it.

You came home with your weight up, you look brolic. Did your son Blaze recognize you when you came home?
[Laughs.] Yeah, man, that's my twin right there. I was in there getting it in to Hot 97 and Power 105. I fuck with the Power at 5 mix, that used to be it. Shout out to 105.

When can we expect a full-length project?
I mean, shit, stick around because we got a bunch of shit going on. Right now it's Still Up.