First off, tell us what part of the Carolinas are you from and where you reside?
I’m from Charleston, SC. James Island to be exact. Right now I reside in Atlanta.

How long have you been writing professionally?
I’ve been writing for about seven, eight years now. I started writing with Urban Pages Magazine in Charleston, then I continued from there. Now I’m the music editor for Ozone Magazine, and I’ve been there for about four years.

Unlike a lot of people in the Hip-Hop world today you actually went to college and graduated. What college did you graduate from and was writing your major?
I graduated from the University of South Carolina, and I rep the Gamecocks all day. I didn’t major in writing in college, but I minored in journalism, so that’s where I got my background and training.

Writing is something a lot of people develop a passion for over time. Was writing always your passion?
I won’t say it was always a passion, but it was always an outlet for me. I realized in high school that I was good at creative writing, and I always liked writing. I wrote a lot of poetry, I even wrote rhymes back then [Laughs]. It just kinda came natural for me, just to put my thoughts and emotions on paper. And over time I think I got good at it because I read a lot and really studied what I read. That made me a better writer.

Most people in the music field aspire to rap, sing or produce. You mentioned you wrote a few rhymes, Have you ever consider an actual career in rapping or song writing?
Back in college I used to rap. You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t nice. We used to always rap before we went out to parties or just hanging around the dorms. Everyone used to do it back then. I recorded a few songs with my boys, but I wasn’t seriously trying to be a rap artist. It was just something to do. My bars were tight though [Laughs].

If you did become a rapper what would your name be and why?
Back in the days I used to go by Richard Banks. I used to be a big Wu Tang fan, and around that time the whole Clan came out with new alias', like Raekwon was Lou Diamonds, Method Man was Johnny Blaze, etc. Me and my boys in high school came up with new Wu names and I was Richard Banks. I used to tell girls at other schools my name was Richard and everything. But if I were a rapper today I’d be Roper. Just Roper and that’s it, man. I mean, that’s my last name, and I believe rappers should just be themselves. Real names, no gimmicks.

How did you get your start writing for published Hip-Hop publications?
I started with Urban Pages, which was a rap magazine in Charleston around 2002. It was a real small local mag, but I was able to get experience and learn the business through writing for them. Then I moved on to write for other magazines, newspapers and websites.


You now work for Ozone Magazine and been music editor over at the mag for awhile. How did that come about?
I was writing for a bunch of publications and making a name for myself, but I really wanted to get with Ozone. So, I started reaching out to people I knew that were affiliated with Ozone, so they started putting in a word for me. I actually went down to the first Ozone Awards in Orlando, like, I’m gonna meet Julia Beverly, who’s the owner of Ozone, and see if I can get a job or get to write a story or something. I went down there, and I didn’t meet her, but I did met other editors with the magazine that finally put me in contact with her. I sent her some of my work, she like it and I started freelancing for Ozone. After a few months, a staff position opened up, she offered it to me and I moved to Atlanta.

Being that you work for Ozone Magazine I know you probably have a lot of crazy ass stories .  Who was one of the weirdest people you've ever interviewed and why?
I really don’t have too many crazy interview stories. I try to only interview people that I’m a fan of, and most of the time they’re hella cool. But believe it or not, Pachino Dino from Charleston was one of my craziest interviews. I interviewed him and he was telling me about all his charges and trouble that he had gotten into, and he was saying it so causally, I was like, “oh, this nigga is crazy.”

Ok, who was one of the most interesting person you've ever interviewed and why?
DJ Khaled is interesting. He keeps saying “We The Best” in his interview. He didn’t really have much else to say. But we do an Ozone Sex Issue every year and last year I interviewed Joe Budden’s ex-girl, Tahairy. I interviewed her about sex, so that got very interesting.

Ozone Magazine has covered the road to success for a lot  of artists. What artists have you covered in the beginning stage of their career that you KNEW were going to blow up?
I knew B.o.B. would be a star one day. I loved his music, but I honestly didn’t think he’d get this big, this fast. I knew KiD CuDi would blow when I first heard him, and that was before he got with Kanye, because his music was good and it was different. J. Cole is another one. But I think Drake was probably the biggest one. I interviewed Drake a couple years before he got with Wayne. I’ll never forget it, I told JB we should interview him and she was like, “no, our readers don’t listen to this.” But I was a big fan of his, so I did it anyway, and snuck his story in when she wasn’t looking [Laughs]. And look at him now.  But I’m over the new artist section on our magazine, so I interview a lot of artists that go on to blow up. I take pride in being able to see and hear the talent, and predict who’s gonna be successful in the future. 

Are there any artists you'd like to blow that haven't gotten their "big break" yet?
There are always new artists coming up that just need that big break and they’ll be outta here. I’ll say that Skewby, Tha Joker, Fly.Union, Kendrick Lamar, Jigg, those are newer rap artists that if you haven’t heard of them, they got next. But Jody Breeze is probably the main dude that I thought would break, but he never really did. I thought Jody was gonna be like T.I. or Lil Wayne by now.

You recently started your own company called "Million Dollar Dreamz". What exactly is Million Dollar Dreamz?
Million Dollar Dreamz. is a multimedia company that I start in 2009 with my business partner Sam King.  The way we’ve built MDD is to have all the media tools that an artist needs to be success. So we do photography, videos, put on shows, graphic design, host mixtapes, parties, music production, songwriting, engineering, management, everything. Anything that an artist needs, we can do. So basically, we make dreams come true. We’re not a label, but one day we might transition into that, but right now it’s a multimedia company and a brand. So anything coming from the MDD brand is something of quality.

Your 1st artist is Warren Jae. Where is he from and how did you hook up with him?
Warren is from Columbia, SC. I got on his music about 2006, through Myspace. I heard his stuff on there, and I thought he had potential. I reached out to him and he started sending me new music as he recorded it. Just over time we built that relationship until we got to the point he wanted me to manage him. At the time I wasn’t managing anyone, I was just writing. But I really liked his music and I helped him develop for so long, I decided to officially manage him. It’s been going good so far. I really feel he’s one of the best rap artists to ever come out of the Carolinas. And we have a lot of things lined up, so stay tuned.

You write a lot of articles that require extensive research and you also do blogging also. Which would you prefer to do?
I actually like blogging better. That’s just because it’s instant. I can blog an article and post it, and have people commenting and adding feedback right away. If I write something for a print magazine, it might take me days to do research, and then weeks or months for the article to come out. So just like the fast pace and response time of the blog game better.

How do you feel when people make comments that blogging is ruining the Hip-Hop culture because  it's so opinion based and focuses more on hating than praising? Do you agree with that?
I don’t agree with that, because all blogs aren’t opinion based or hating. It just depends what blogs you go to. Nahright, 2DopeBoyz, Onsmash, those are some of my favorite blogs, and they don’t hate or give their opinions, they just give you the music. So it just depends on what sites you choose to visit. And also, I don’t think hip-hop is ruined. You can say sales are down, hip-hop is dying, but look around, the economy is down, sells on everything are down ‘cause people are really hurting. But musically, I think 2010 has been a great year for hip hop. There’s been a lot of great music that came out, and a lot of dope new artists have been introduced through blogs and the internet. Technology is changing hip-hop, I don’t think it’s ruining it.

A lot of Carolina artists, mainly SC artists, feel like you're not using  your job with Ozone as leverage to get them featured in the magazine. What's your take on that?
I think that’s ignorance. Look at how many Carolina artists that I’ve gotten featured or interviewed in Ozone. Mista Taylor, Pachino Dino, Shelly B, Dirty Den, Mica Swain, Lil Brod, J. Cole, Little Brother, Mac-A-Don, Gemstar, Varsity, Bettie Grind, Carlos Cartel, a bunch of other people, I just interviewed Boss G. And most of those artists wouldn’t have gotten that look if I wasn’t in that position. And at the end of the day Ozone isn’t my magazine. Also Ozone is a national magazine, and I have a responsibility to interview artists that are hot all across the nation. I can’t just focus on SC. And you know how many rappers are out there trying to get on? It’s impossible to interview everyone of them. I can’t interview all 50 SC rappers that perform at Open Mic Mondays in Columbia. Or that open up for Pastor Troy at Kush in Charleston. It’s just not possible, because if you compare them to artists that are blowing up in other markets or that are major buzz and movements, I can’t make an argument for them when we’re in those magazine meetings trying to figure out who to interview next. But that doesn’t bother me. There are artists in Miami the be like, you don’t fuck with Florida. Or people in Texas like, y’all be sleeping on Dallas. That just comes with the territory.

Out of the Carolina artists you've written about in Ozone  who do you feel has what it takes to compete on a national level?
The Carolinas has a lot of talent. I think Lil Brod is ready. Shelly B and Mica Swain have that talent and quality sound. I think Boss G really has the grind and image to make it. There’s a lot of talent in the Carolinas, but a lot of artists don’t have the total package. You have to have the music, the grind and the image to make it. There are a few, but a lot of people don’t have all three to compete nationally.

In your opinion, why do you feel the Carolinas hasn't had as many breakthrough artists as areas like Texas, Florida or Georgia?
Texas, Florida, Georgia are major markets with major cities. The Carolinas, outside of Charlotte, don’t have cities like Miami, Atlanta, Houston, that have populations of 300,000+ people to start building a fan base from. Plus the Carolinas don’t have the same resources, finances, talent or local music industries to compare with other markets. There are many ways to make it, but in my opinion, a rap artist has to leave the Carolinas and get into other markets to make it. The same way that David Banner and Big K.R.I.T. got outside of Mississippi or Yelawolf got out of Alabama, or J. Cole moved from NC to New York. Go to those other markets and network with people that can really help your career. I mean, there are Carolina artists that leave, but honestly they don’t have the talent, grind and image to get on and stay on. J. Cole did it. People might say, “oh, no one knows him in the Carolinas.” But while those same people in the Carolinas are sitting there saying that, J. Cole is touring the country, rocking out shows and his talent is winning people over. They don’t care where he’s from. 

Last but not least, what does Randy Roper as a writer have planned for the future and what plans does Randy Roper the executive have planned?
As I writer, I’m content with where I am at as a hip hop journalist. But I want to write books, so I’m looking at getting a book deal and becoming a published author soon, so you can look for that in the future. As an executive, I’m going to build Million Dollar Dreamz. to be a major company, break a few artists and close some major deals, in and outside of music. That might be happening sooner than later, but it will happen. 
Randy Roper
(Charleston, SC)