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R. City certainly aren’t strangers to smash songs. Chances are, you’ve got something that they’ve produced and written somewhere on your playlist right now.
Among tracks for Usher, R. Kelly, Juicy J, Chris Brown, Ciara, Justin Bieber, and Future, they’ve blessed the world with multiplatinum, chart-dominating hits like Rihanna’s “Pour It Up,” Nicki Minaj’s “The Night Is Still Young,” and Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop,” to name just a few. However, that’s only one side of the St. Thomas-born brothers Theron and Timothy Thomas. They’ve got something to say their new single, “Locked Away” featuring Adam Levine – a taste of what’s to come from their forthcoming album to be released on Kemosabe/RCA records.
Both singing and rapping, the boys have always wanted to put out their own music—“It’s the only thing I’ve wanted since I was nine-years-old,” affirms Theron.
They had developed an incredible following in St. Thomas, becoming the Virgin Islands most popular and prominent group with countless sold out shows and multiple independent releases. Upon relocating stateside, they switched gears to focus on songwriting, while continually creating their own music. While working with Dr. Luke in Los Angeles, a mutual friend actually informed the iconic producer that the boys were artists in their own right.
“It’s crazy the way it happened,” admits Timothy. “We always made music, but that side of what we do was dormant. We got the chance to focus on it for the first time in the U.S. with Luke.”
“Luke came up to us and said, ‘Hey guys, let’s work on music for you!’” continues Theron. “We were shocked. We didn’t have a deal. We weren’t working on an album, and he just felt something and had to say it. He asked, ‘What would you sound like?’ As producers and songwriters, we’re providing a service. If I’m in a session, I’m giving Rihanna, Rihanna. I’m not giving her R. City. Whereas these are our songs. This is how we feel. This is what we want to say. This is what we represent.”
Instead of attempting to assimilate with the flavor-of-the-month, they dove headfirst into fashioning a singular style of their own. Now, R.City embraces cinematic hip-hop storytelling, Caribbean flavor, and pop palatability, yielding something uplifting and undeniable in the process.
“It’s our own genre,” asserts Theron. “We call it Caribbean hip-hop. There are elements of rap and the islands. This is the first time most people will really hear us, so we wanted to come out with something big.”
The new single, “Locked Away” [feat. Adam Levine of Maroon 5], couldn’t get any bigger. After resounding piano keys, the track bobs and weaves between vibrant verses punctuated by reggae-inspired percussion and a massive hook from Levine.
“Our writing style is conversational,” explains Theron. “I was thinking. We’ve been successful as songwriters, so if I met a girl I’m going to say, ‘I’ve got something going on already, but what would happen if I lost it? Would you still be here?’ Will those people who are there when it’s sunny, stick around during the rain? Those are the real topics we like to explore.”
“It’s a personal one, because our dad was locked up for about six years,” says Timothy. “Our mom held him down the whole time. There’s a different side of the song as well. It shows that real love.”
Now, R. City are delivering their message loud and clear. “I want everybody to know we stand for something,” Theron leaves off. “We’ve heard every negative thing you can hear. It doesn’t matter, we always just kept going. When you listen to our music, you can hear the passion and realness. We did it. If you’re trying to do something, do not let anybody stop you. Our music is a testament to that.”
“This is our statement,” says Timothy. “This is what we’ve always wanted to say and what we wanted to bring to the world.”