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Frederick, Maryland, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015

Frederick, Maryland, United States
Established on Jan, 2015
Solo Hip Hop Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




Hi Everyone. I know it’s been a while since my last post. Life has been a bit crazy as of late; nonetheless, I’m back with a new post.

This past week I had the privilege of photographing the second annual Frederick Music Showcase, hosted by Frederick Playlist. Frederick may be a small Maryland town; however, there is a lot happening up there and the music and arts scene is exploding.

This year, history was made at the showcase. For the first time ever, the Weinberg Center for the Performing Arts featured a hip hop artist on its stage. That artist… Retro/Ricole featuring Da’Mood Band and Passport. Here’s a little background on him:

MC Retro/Ricole (2 names Retro orRicole) appeared first to the listening public as a member of Center Of Attention (later changing their name to Razor Eaterz) in 2005 releasing mixtapes & albums until the groups amicable split in 2009. It’s when in 2010’s critically acclaimed Passion Park (LP) w/ the single “Another Eagle” released by the artist that his presence was felt.

He’s shared his music with major hip hop artists such as Wale, Wiz Kahlifa & Yelawolf. His music has been featured on WKYS 93.9 Kiss It or Diss it & website gaining praise consecutive nights.

– Bio via
I’ve been a long time fan of hip hop music and I’ve gotta tell you not only is Retro a gifted lyricist, his overall sound and precise beats are better than some of the mainstream artists out there today. Not only was Downtown Frederick (aka the DTF) on their feet the entire time, the energy in the room was infectious and knew no race, creed, or color.

Retro closed his show by inviting his mother on stage and dedicated his performance to his late grandfather who, according to Retro, “would be proud.”

Well done, my man. I can’t wait to catch you again soon! - Paul Berrios

"From The Audience: The Frederick Music Showcase Vol. 2"

Remember the inaugural Frederick Music Showcase? Hard Swimmin’ Fish, The Knolly Moles, Heavy Lights and Old Indian broke the ice, so to speak, for more local acts to follow in their footsteps and share the stage of our historic downtown theater. Needless to say there was much anticipation for this year’s event — who’s gonna play, what will they wear, what are we going to eat and drink, and most importantly, where’s the afterparty? The answers brought joy to us all: Retro/Ricole feat. DaMood, Katie Powderly and the Unconditional Lovers, Silent Old Mtns., and Freddy Long Band; who cares; Monocacy Brewing brews and Pork Authority BBQ; and where else, but The Cellar Door.

Retro/Ricole kicked off the night with a high energy performance. It was­ the first ever live hip-­hop performance at the Weinberg, as we understand it. Backed by the rockin’ six-­piece band DaMood, flush with keys/synths, trumpet, and trombone, the showman Ricole led a song-­blending set that got the crowd moving like only hip-­hop can. With a cast of collaborators­ featuring masked dubstep dancers, lovely backup singers, guest emcees­ and a few shoutouts to the crowd, it felt like a real family affair. There were hands clapping and waving overhead. There was an upright bass, an electronic drum kit, heavily distorted guitar, and on a few songs, there was even a ukulele. Overall, Retro/Ricole’s performance was a kind of variety show bearing new sights and sounds at every turn. And the people dug it. - Nick Ring

"Frederick Playlist Mr. Sunrise Review:"

“You’re talking about coming out here and standing women on their heads. You’re talking about being the dealer. Well, all through tradition, in order to be the dealer, you gotta hold the cards.”

It’s an old professional wrestling promo — that’s where that passage comes from. It eventually gives way to a soliloquy from Ric Flair, screaming about “the toughest guy in studio wrestling I’ve ever seen in my life.” The scene comes from a time when the production of pro wrestling was so small, you could hear individual shouts from fans watching on as these beefed-up super heroes spatted off taunts and challenges to their dancing partners. Call it cheesy if you want, but anyone who’s even remotely a fan of the stuff can attest: It’s a pretty great sequence.

It also appears on Retro/Ricole Barnes’ latest LP, “Mr. Sunrise,” during the outro of “Out Here Causing Trouble,” a menacing four-and-a-half minutes of aggressively dark hip-hop that’s as confident as it is memorable. Even PassPort Sport’s verse flows with antagonism and arrogance, resulting in a flow that vaguely echoes 1990s-era Chicago-scene speed and an attitude as crass as Juvenile in his dirtiest moments. It results in something you can’t not listen to, if only to see how far these guys are willing to take it.

Yet that’s what makes both Retro/Ricole (as an artist) and “Mr. Sunshine” (as an album) an inspiring listen. The guy’s flow is hungry like a man who needs the genre more than it needs him. The production recalls a time in hip-hop where simplicity could be affecting without a touch of gimmick or synthesizers. The tone is sometimes confrontational and almost always alive. And the attitude? It’s so oversized that even if he’s not selling a million records, you better be damn sure he believes he should be.

That much is understood right from the jump. “Up” smashes you in the face no less than one second into it, accentuated by a funky processed keyboard line riff that gives the track a fun edge. Once he comes around to talking about beefin’ with Kanye West and the backbeat drops away ever so slightly, it harkens back to the beginnings of rap music, complete with conga sounds and hand claps that were most prevalent back when the art was still fun and pure.

“Spooning” keeps the groove’s tempo up, even if it’s slightly bogged down by a silly refrain about cuddling. In an era when rap music has been explicitly sexual, somewhat sexist and unforgivingly misogynistic, Retro/Ricole earns himself a tiny number of points for saluting the snuggle, even if that soft heart hardens elsewhere. Like, for instance, on “Camera Lenses,” which is “dedicated to all the girls that live in my lap.” Maybe it’s just a product of the times, but a hook centered around Facebook likes suggests both Retro and Ricole can do better.

All is forgiven with a track like “1-5 Live,” however, where after dropping the fact (yet again) that numbers don’t lie, Barnes seamlessly offers a nod to Jay-Z’s 2001 classic kiss off, “Takeover,” in a manner that’s surprising and welcome. On top of some hauntingly sparse production, it puts the MC’s ability to switch flows on centerstage and that showcase serves him well. It’s a marriage that has all the potential in the world to find a home in heaven.

But as for where Retro/Ricole resides now … well, that’s actually the most praiseworthy aspect of these 11 tracks: He’s not afraid to call Frederick home, even going as far as namedropping Fort Detrick in one instance. “Down” invites Cubs The Poet to offer up a poem, a cappella, and instead of being dismissed as corny, it comes off as a nice display of unity. “Maryland 02” takes Barnes back to the year he graduated high school on top of a thundering beat that warps in and out of psychedelia. And the snare drum that serves as connecting tissue between “SpellCheck” and the title track adds flare to his feeling as he declares, “The love of my city is unconditional.”

And with “Mr. Sunrise,” there’s no reason Retro/Ricole Barnes’ city shouldn’t love him back. Swift wordplay. Adaptive flows. An original approach. Nods to hip-hop’s history. This guy has everything anyone could ever ask of not just a rap artist, but a musical mind. Sure, he gets a little lazy sometimes with the girls and the hashtags and the consistent red-faced vocabulary, but at the core of all this is a true artist. A true artist who is ready to take the next step. A true artist who is devoted to his craft.

He’s got all the cards. Now do yourself a favor and listen as he deals.

*** 3 STARS OUT OF 4 *** - Colin McGuire


DMV’s own Retro/Ricole drops off his 11-track project titled Mr. Sunrise. With production coming from Chuck Inglish, Retro is hoping to shine brighter and garner the recognition he deserves. Spin through the cuts below and make sure you keep an eye out for the DMV spitter. - Jay Holz

"A Q&A With Retro/Ricole Barnes"

Retro/Ricole Barnes will perform this Saturday as part of our Block Party at the 200 East Art Haus. We recently caught up with him via text messages (yes, that’s true) to talk about his latest LP, “Mr. Sunrise,” some of the rapper’s influences, and the current state of Frederick hip-hop. To lean more about Saturday’s event, click here.

First off, big things are going on right now with you. You recently dropped a new LP, “Mr Sunrise.” Honestly, it’s a jaw-dropping album. It’s been on constant repeat at my house (and that’s a difficult feat to accomplish). You’ve been called up to perform at the Block Party at the 200 East Art Haus on Saturday. What strikes me about the album – not only does it flow, words/music, all that … it comes down to the music. It is SO dense, in a real good way. What’s your process with conceptualizing and laying that all down on record?

I really appreciate you taking the time to listen and in turn, listen again. It’s really fulfilling when I exceed expectations. I treated the production alone of “Mr. Sunrise” (all beats used from Chicago MC/Producer Chuck Inglish’s Instrumental mixtapes “WRKG” and “WRKOUT”) as if they were assignments. I listened to each for the entire summer of 2013 before even writing a lyric. I wrote lyrics to them for the first time that winter, and then finally recorded in the spring of 2014. Not until I was satisfied with the mixing (thanks Sacrifice!) did I want to release it – which was an entire year later. So as you see, my process was rather lengthy (laughs). I envisioned the LP having a certain sonic, visual and social effect. When all those things finally came together, it was time to release it to the public.

You and I talked a month ago about the timing of releasing the record. You said at the time, this felt like a “summer record’ and it was important contextually to drop music on people with the right climate. By the way, you just might be the first “climate aware” hip hop artist in history.

Wow, you might be right on the “climate awareness” tag (laughs)! I felt “Mr. Sunrise” couldn’t be experienced properly in pea coats and corduroys. Hell, the cover art is yellow. Certain colors and sonics just sound better in certain climates. I believed the sound and presentation wouldn’t heighten the listener’s senses in the dead of February. I released it on my birthday, May 8 – the music sounded like an 80 degree afternoon into the evening. It was only right for me that warm weather be correlated with the songs.

“Mr. Barnes, you got the whole world ahead of you,” is a lyric on the record – words spoken in transition to the second track, “Maryland ’02.” Is that an older, wiser you going back in a time machine speaking to a younger version of Ricole?

I’m speaking to the younger me and the listener at the same time. “Had I knew then what I know now.” I’m just speaking on how it’s never too late to start living and winning at life, no matter what mistakes were make in the past.

Words of wisdom. So the third track, “Out Here Causing Trouble,” with Passport on board with you, there’s trouble allegedly being roused. What grabs me is this descending melody in the middle of it. It makes it so outstanding. When you say it took you a long time beginning in 2013 to process and do this album, I can believe it. It leads me to segue back to our conversation a month ago where you were namedropping Thundercat and Flying Lotus – that’s some heavy duty musical forces right there. I have to believe listening to some of that wild creativity subconsciously made its way onto the creation of this album?

“Out Here Causing Trouble” is exactly what it felt like: Two children misbehaving on a rap record. Passport’s flow on this one is flawless to me. At the current moment, L.A.-based producers/musicians like Thundercat, Fly Lo, Terrace Martin, Tyler the Creator, Dr. Dre, etc. have been creating the most invigorating hip-hop music of the last couple of years. They all inspired me somehow during the making. I harmonize a lot on the album. I was listening heavy to the Beatles at the time, believe it or not. I always loved their harmonies on songs like “Girl” and “Because,” and for years wanted to incorporate more harmony into my brand of hip hop because of that music.

Oh yeah, I detected some hints of Marvin Gaye on your first track, “Up,” with the whispers of “get up, get up” in the backdrop.

Indeed! Any musical reference to the ’60s, ’70s music era was an ode to my late grandfather who passed away last year. He loved that music.

I have to then go back into that time machine to 2010 when you recorded “Passion Park.” That first track, “Another Eagle (Knowledge remix)” reminds me of some interesting things Mos Def and Talib Kweli were doing with their restart of Blackstar – juxtaposition of the musically rich past with the future present, but the listener comes away with something that resonates on different levels. Describe your thoughts on that version of Ricole. And is there some kind of creative tension when you pit Retro with Ricole? Or maybe I’m wrong, maybe they play well with each other?

Yes, I’m glad you asked that question. The “Passion Park”-era version of me was all about bringing a golden era style delivery to modern day ears. I’ll take a Mos and Kweli comparison any day, by the way! I have two names for a reason. There definitely is tension between the two worlds. With “Mr. Sunrise,” I finally merged them together, which took years to do.

Talk about your last track “Down,” you got collaborators with you – Cubs the Poet with a spoken word piece that brilliantly snaps the puzzle together, followed by Sacrifice and Jade Hurdato kicking things to another gear to conclude things.

Yeah, “Down” was the perfect album closer to me. I wanted to shine some light on two of my brightest friends and collaborators in Cubs and Sacrifice. I wanted to start the track offering enlightenment but couldn’t think of two better artists. The crazy thing is that Jade Hurdato’s vocals were already included in the instrumental, which was pretty dope! The song assures friends that we won’t look down on you if you try.

Talk about the state of hip-hop in Frederick, circa 2015. Honestly, as someone relatively new here, quality hip-hop is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Frederick. But this album (and coming across J Berd’s material) has forced me to take notice and wonder what I’ve been missing in terms of the music scene here, particularly hip-hop in this city.

The state of hip-hop in the city is pretty interesting. I can honestly say it’s a reflection of the bigger state of just hip-hop in general. I’ve been fortunate enough to build relationships with local hip-hop artists throughout the city over the years. I’d like to think I played a part in opening doors for the “powers that be” to be more accepting of a genre and culture they may know little about. PassPort and I originated from a group named Center of Attention [later changing our name to Razor Eaterz]. We were lucky to come of age in the MySpace era. By way of social media, I’d like to say we helped to create an awareness locally. Even before that, J-Berd and his team were making moves. I agree when you think of Frederick – hip-hop never even crosses the mind upon first impression. However, my mission from day one was to change that perception. I’ve been fortunate to headline major festivals in the city and share stages with other local artists in different genres.

You must be looking forward to September 5 with the Block Party at 200 East Art Haus and before that, a film screening of “Ex Machina.” There’s some incredibly fun chaos afoot all day. You’ve seen the place, right? I never thought we’d see a venue like this popping up like – it’s like a bona fide club. For your set, what can we expect? Some interesting onstage collaborations?

In regards to September 5, I’m happy to just be a part of history in a sense. I’m a product of the arts in Frederick, a kid that grew up in the city, had friends from all walks of life, dabbled in all forms of art, bundled it up into what you see and hear today. I know I can speak for my peers when I say that 200 East is a dream fulfilled! I would go to 9:30 club in D.C. and Sonar in Baltimore and just envy. “Why couldn’t such a celebrated arts city like ours not have a place for musicians and visual artists to call our own?” I thought this for years. I visited 200 East for the first time last month and was moved, like really. I have a mean show planned for the Block Party. Live shows mean a great deal to me – you’ll see! I don’t want to reveal too much now (laughs). - Roy Ghim

"Hip-hop's 'independent filmmaker' releases new CD"

"I think I wrote my first rap when I was 9 years old," Ricole Barnes said, and laughed.

He was listening to Dr. Dre, Wu-Tang and Tribe Called Quest at the time.

"I actually wrote it down. It was about a girl I knew. She had picked on me the day before. It was kind of my first battle rap."

They're still friends, and Barnes is still writing hip hop. Tonight, he'll perform a CD release party at Cafe 611 for his album "Passion Park."

"I have a very vivid imagination," Barnes said. "I like to tell a lot of stories, kind of from a childlike perspective."

Telling stories through hip hop is a lost art, he went on, listing Slick Rick, Ghostface Killah and Nas as a few who are known for their storytelling skill.

"If you listen, a lot of their records are very vivid. They're like the equivalent of Scorsese and Spielberg. I try to be like an independent film director."

Like an independent filmmaker, who sometimes writes, shoots, directs and edits a film, Barnes has managed his writing, recording and promotion himself.

"That's kind of the blue collar work ethic, as far as my music goes. I never wanted to get big and overblown. That's not really the direction I'm aiming for."

Barnes, 26, was born and raised in Frederick and graduated from Frederick High School in 2001. He was always known as being a rapper, the kid who would freestyle at the lunch table. His "rapper name" became Retro, a nickname given to him by a friend and fellow musician, who told Barnes he was an old soul.

In 2003, he traveled to New York when his cousin was recording an album at Quad Recording Studios, where legendary artists have recorded, among them Biggie Smalls and 2 Pac.

Being present in the studio was a turning point in Barnes' life.

"To be in that studio, from a historical standpoint, that's where I had an epiphany -- that I should pursue this seriously."

Before then, he had been "rapping just to rap," he said, but by 2004, he began putting out material to the public. He's performed in the group Center of Attention for five years, though they recently changed their name to Razor Eaterz. His most recent release, an 11-song album, is available for free, via download, in part because he borrowed beats from various artists.

His song "Think Different," on "Passion Park," is based on the MAC ad campaign and people -- such as Einstein -- who were thought of as crazy but changed the world.

The characters in "The Morning Ride Home" came to Barnes in a dream.

"The Real Ghostrider" is a musical version of an Indie horror thriller.

"I'm rapping like I'm possessed," he said. "I'm fighting this ghost throughout the song."

As a bonus, the album is free of profanity.

"I didn't want to be censored," he said.

The title was a spin off of Prince's recording studio called Paisley Park.

"You go to the park to get on rides and have fun," Barnes said. "Each of the songs is like a ride. ... Each song is like a vignette."

What: Ricole Barnes album release party

When: 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15

Where: Cafe 611, 611 N. Market St., Frederick

Tickets: $5

Information: 301-631-1460 - Lauren LaRocca


Retro/Ricole Discography

Studio Albums:
Pay Attention [Center Of Attention] (2008)
The Decline of Western Civilization Pt. IV: The Hip Hop Years [Razor Eaterz] (2009)
Passion Park (2010)
Mr. Sunrise (2015)

X-Mas Man (Christmas) (2011)
3 Suns (2013)
Kid Celestial (2014)

The Self Titled Mixtape Demo [Center Of Attention] (2005)
Projects Mayhem (2005)
Strickly 4 Her (2005)
The Self Centered Mixtape [Center Of Attention] (2006)
Retro's A N*E*R*D (2011)
Guilty's A Pleasure (2012)



A message from Retro/Ricole:

Peace world, 

I released my LP/Mixtape Mr. Sunrise in the spring of 2015 yet it continues to make waves amongst the people. Receiving coverage from the likes of influential sites such as Karen Civil Civil Selects and a raving review from The Frederick News Post's Frederick Playlist Reviews section, the project is deemed my best yet. In addition I collaborated with Maryland's largest craft brewery Flying Dog Brewery to release music showcasing several of the states finest artist and creatives I became the first hip hop artist to perform at Maryland's historic Weinberg Center for The Arts in 2016. If you take a liking to the music please don't hesitate to cover it. Be on the lookout for the new album No Valentine Cupid Kills in spring of 2016 via Carbon Synergy Music & Media. Please let me know your thoughts. 

Thanks for your time and consideration. 


Offical Bio:

DMV (Frederick, Maryland) MC Retro/Ricole (2 names Retro or Ricole) appeared first to the listening public as a member of Center Of Attention (later changing their name to Razor Eaterz) in 2005 releasing mixtapes & albums until the groups amicable split in 2009. It's when in 2010's critically acclaimed Passion Park (LP) w/ the single "Another Eagle" released by the artist that his presence was felt. A subsequent amount of mixtapes and EP's followed until his sophomore (LP) release Mr. Sunrise in 2015 appeared reintroducing him to a new batch of listeners proving why he is one of the most esteemed MC's regionally. Equipped with the ability to explore all sub genres of hip hop and music in general, Retro/Ricole uses the song landscape as his I-pad of sorts and each world is an app.

Retro's live shows have been much attended and talked about. Sometimes choosing to perform with a DJ or live band depending on the climate. Retro has performed at many venues in the DMV and abroad, from major festivals in his city to opening for national acts. He's shared his music with major hip hop artists such as Wale, Wiz Kahlifa & Yelawolf. His music has been featured on WKYS  93.9 Kiss It or Diss it & website gaining praise consecutive nights.  In addition to his stage set he's hosted many events in his hometown.

Being fortunate to come of age when hip-hop was at a crossroads meaning old enough to remember the golden age but young enough to be raised in the new school. Retro/Ricole equates his choosing in which type of hip hop to create depending on which side the coin lands. "Still a nerd but rock star too, I live in 2 regions, under and above ground whichever I choose at the moment." Major or Independent Retro/Ricole's mission is to finally hang amongst the stars, liftoff has began.

Band Members