Armin Hariri, or “R-Mean,” has been improvising rhymes since his days as a young schoolboy in Amsterdam. Today, he is “spitting” lyrics with top names in the rap industry, such as Grammy-nominated artists Joe Budden and the Game. With an album coming out later this spring and another by the end of the year, 2013 will be a busy year for the rapper. R-Mean spoke with the Weekly about his journey thus far, and what’s yet to come.
Lilly Torosyan: You were born in Los Angeles and raised in Amsterdam by a single Armenian mother, and moved back to the U.S. to pursue a rapping career, obtaining a doctorate in pharmacy along the way. What motivated the transition from medicine to music? Was your family supportive of your decision?
R-Mean: My mom was definitely skeptical about the whole music thing, as any parent would be, I think. She didn’t take me seriously until a few years later, when she started seeing glimpses of success and people actually approaching me on the streets. But I used college as a tool to move to L.A. So as long as I was doing my school thing, there wasn’t much she could be mad about.
There was never a transition—it was more just me being the Gemini that I am. Once I enrolled in college, I was going to school and doing music at the same time, not really thinking that I was going to graduate, because I was so focused on music. But, I was able to balance both and graduate anyway. In school, I was always leaning more towards the sciences, but when I realized medical school would mean I’d have to give up music (which was never an option for me), I decided to go to pharmacy school as the next best thing, if you will. It’s definitely an accomplishment and I’m happy I did it, but I’d much rather heal people through music than medication though.
L.T.: For those who have seen your freestyles, it is evident that your rapping style is very lyrical, passionate, and poetic. What do you draw your inspiration from?
R-Mean: Growing up in Europe, my influences in hip-hop were the real passionate artists, the ones that did it for the passion of the art form first, and getting money second—the “underground,” if you will. So when I started rapping, I never even thought of “making it.” I just started rhyming because I loved hip-hop so much. Little by little, I started getting recognition. But to this day, it’s all about doing music for the love of it, before anything else. I just love the art of rap. Spitting [freestyline]. Touching people with my music. I don’t just rap because the lifestyle seems attractive. I rap because I have something to say.
L.T.: Who were your musical idols growing up?
R-Mean: My influences have been many: Michael Jackson, Metallica, Nirvana, Bob Marley, Wu Tang, Gang Starr, Tribe Called Quest, KRS ONE, Big Pun, Nas, Pac, Big, Jay-Z, Eminem. My idols, however, have been Michael Jackson, Nas, Method Man, and Eminem.
L.T.: Your latest singles feature established rappers Joe Budden and The Game. What was it like working with these rap icons?
R-Mean: It was definitely a stepping stone for me, and long overdue. I’ve been a fan of both artists, so it was definitely a blessing to work with them.
L.T.: Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming album, “7 Deadly Sins”? When can we expect to hear it?
R-Mean: “7 Deadly Sins” is by far my best work to date. The whole project is like a movie that takes you on a ride, dedicating one song to each sin. The intro track is of me speaking to God, and an outro [conclusion to piece of music] that serves as the “deliverance” from the sins. It’s very conceptual, deep, and lyrical—the kind of hip-hop I love most and people love me the most for. I’m very excited for it. We’re aiming for a release in April.
L.T.: What else does the future hold for you?
R-Mean: Right now, it’s all about “7 Deadly Sins.” We’re busy shooting as many videos as we can off this project. Once it gets closer to the release date, I’ll definitely be touring, and doing a lot of radio and promo. I’ve also already started recording for another project, which will drop towards the end of the year. So, God-willing, 2013 will be a great year. Much Love.
To find out more about R-Mean and his music, visit his website at www.rmean.com.