“If you don’t stand on your word, you won’t stand on nothin’,” 448 Riq says.

The rapper’s stance on loyalty is strict. In this case, he felt some type of way about a media platform that tried to reschedule an interview with him. “We already gave them a date that they were cool with, but now they want to change it.” Not on Riq’s watch.

448 Riq may only be 20, but he abides by a strict set of rules. He arrives on time or even earlier, is a firm believer in sticking to scheduled dates (clearly) and will work with you only if he believes you’re a genuine person.

Hailing from Belmont Avenue, 448 Riq (real name: Tyriq Preston) has been making music only since last year, but the sophomore rapper has taken Baltimore by storm. He dropped his first music video, “Pound Talk,” in January 2022, and his trajectory rose from there. He capitalized on the momentum by releasing his first full-length project, “Trap Champion,” in September of that year.

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Riq’s artistry is hard to define. His delivery comes off as unenthused, but he balances it with in-your-face, heavy-hitting punchlines. That, mixed with his ability to weave everyday Baltimore dialect into his rhymes, garnered enough appeal for him to be labeled one of the top rappers in the city by many fans. This reporter labeled him “rookie of the year” in 2022.

“Trap Champion” propelled Riq into the same echelon of rappers that he frequently collaborates with, such as OTR Chaz and Roddy Rackzz. “I used to get on the bus and listen to them in my headphones. It’s just an honor that I’m talented enough to be up there with them and be mentioned with them,” he said. “I feel like people don’t understand where I come from or what’s really behind my music, but they do.”

Riq looks to his peers’ work ethic for inspiration, but late legendary Baltimore producer WhiteBoy’s knack for staying in the studio influenced him even more. WhiteBoy, born Christopher Morton, would routinely book 10- to 12-hour studio sessions, so Riq did the same while working on his latest project, “Free the Cartel.”

“WhiteBoy was a big push to Riq taking his music seriously,” locally renowned engineer Krueger said. “Me and Riq had countless long night sessions with him just straight rapping. He is so young, so to have that kind of work ethic at his age along with his talent. I know he’s gonna go very far and all his success right now is only the beginning for him.”

WhiteBoy grew up in the same neighborhood as Riq and grew close with Riq’s older brother before developing a tight bond with Riq himself. “[WhiteBoy] believed in me from the start; he pushed me and was always giving me game on the business side of music. He really gave me the whole blueprint on music,” Riq said.

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He described the day of WhiteBoy’s shooting death in August as one of the toughest of his life. But, even after his passing, WhiteBoy is still helping Riq navigate his music career. The first single and the intro to Riq’s “Free the Cartel” project, released approximately a month after the producer’s passing, is “Trappin On a Sunday,” WhiteBoy’s favorite song by Riq.

The video for “Trappin On a Sunday,” which opens and closes with video clips of WhiteBoy, has more than 14,000 views on YouTube since being uploaded in mid-September. The song is a nonstop barrage of clever lyrics, such as Riq “making this go over there like Peyton Manning,” and having his “‘youngins putting you in a press” like Samuel L. Jackson’s role in “Coach Carter.”

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“Everybody loved it. I’m talking even before I put it out, people were tryna buy the song off of me,” Riq said. “Then [director] Clay Stackks put the vision behind the video and put the whole thing on another level.”

Another level is what Riq’s career reached once “Free the Cartel” debuted. The project, which came out last month, is a 21-song, 50-minutelong effort that never overstays its welcome and flows seamlessly. A lot of artists shy away from longer albums, but Riq said he wanted to reward his fans for staying patient.

As a proven student of the game, he said he aims to embody the positives from each era of rap. Riq lists Jay-Z, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole among his influences, but his depth of rap knowledge goes deeper. He also name-checks rappers such as LL Cool J, Jadakiss and Cassidy (the youngest of the three yet still more than twice Riq’s age) because of their delivery and authenticity. How many 20-year old rappers would name those three as some who’ve helped them sharpen their tools?

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While Riq is a fan of a lot of artists who paved the way, he’s more selective of today’s artists when it comes to who he is willing to partner with. He rarely works with rappers outside of Roddy Rackzz and OTR Chaz, Ot7 Quany and NASG Chaz, the latter of whom shares manager Kevin Edmonds Jr. with him.

Riq worked on a collaborative project with NASG Chaz titled “Law 4,” a complementary pairing that stemmed from real chemistry between the two. Chaz described working with Riq as “motivating” with “no time being wasted.”

“‘Law 4′ was to show both of our versatility and to show how East and West Baltimore can come together and give the city great music,” Chaz said.

As hardworking and naturally talented Riq is a rapper, he wants to continue his career in the industry only for five years. “Rap ain’t really fun because you’re continuously a target,” he said. “Sometimes the fame gets overwhelming ’cause I just want to live a regular life. I’m grateful for everything, nonetheless. I’ll always appreciate the fans.”

So what is he planning on doing when that time is up?

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“I want to invest into the kids. Kids really hold onto sports, so I want to build a boxing gym and a basketball gym,” Riq said. I’m so humble because I know where I came from and didn’t have too much, so I want to really figure out how I can invest into their dreams and expand their way of thinking.”


Taji Burris has covered the Baltimore music scene since 2015 for outlets such as The Working Title and The 4th Quarter, and now at the Baltimore Banner.

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