How $uicideboy$ became the multi-million dollar brand you never heard of (2023)

This story is part ofbillboard's third annual package highlighting the trends defining the independent music business.

New Orleans bred punk rap duo $uicideboy$ have never chartedBillboard Hot100or any airplay tally, but it's transformed its SoundCloud-era success into an underground empire — amassing 5.3 billion streams in the process, according to MRC Data.

Known early on for their shock rap style and depression-laced lyrics, the duo's origin story (which dates back to 2014) involved a long-mythologized suicide pact: if the music didn't work, there would be nothing left to live for . Luckily it more than worked. Today, cousins ​​​​​​$crim and Ruby da Cherry are entrepreneurs and founded their own label collective, G*59 Records, in 2017, distributed by Virgin. This year, $uicideboy$ signed a "strong eight-figure deal" with The Orchard; Meanwhile, the duo is on a US headlining tour that has sold nearly 500,000 tickets, including shows at Pier17 in New York and back-to-back dates at the Shrine Outdoors in Los Angeles, following the release of their latest album.Long-term effects of suffering.



$suicide boy$

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"When we started, we wanted to do the opposite of what everyone else does in rap," says Ruby da Cherry. "We didn't have nice cars or gold chains, so we just showed that we're losers and mixed in some shock rap and stuff about our mental health issues. We're just trying to get people's attention.”

$uicideboy$ has been completely DIY for a while. What made you decide to work with your managers Kyle Leunissen and Dana Biondi?

$crim:Ruby and I took care of everything for a long time. He took care of merch, graphics and videos, I took care of sound engineering and production. We had our roles, but at the end of 2016 we really needed help. Kyle has been a close friend since high school. I remember he called me one day and said, "They're skipping 70 grand every year." That caught our attention. For my cousin and I, $70,000 might as well have been a million back then.

From there, Kyle and our other manager, Dana, came over and we did a dry run, but it became a full-time job. These guys have been instrumental in getting us to where we are now and by taking care of a lot of the business side of things they have helped us focus on our creative stuff.

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The following year they founded their own label Grey*59, better known as G*59 Records. Why did you want to do this?

Rubin da Kirsche:$crim and I are from New Orleans. We grew up with [labels like] Cash Money and No Limit and those guys really inspired us because we loved seeing a gang of people acting as a collective and supporting each other and everyone. I come from a punk background. I've always said, "F-k labels, I'd rather start my own."

$crim:For us it's not just a business. The guys we signed at G*59 are brothers. We're not even necessarily looking for hits, we only sign people we're a fan of. I'm not trying to make a bunch of money with anyone.


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$uicideboy$ has a strong merch strategy with drops about three times a year. Ruby, do you still design everything yourself?

Rubin da Kirsche:I used to design everything and $crim gave his input. When we had managers, we also decided to get one of our buddies, Adam Arriaga, to take over [our merch]. I don't have the skills of a designer so Adam helps me to get my ideas out of my head and implement them. Our fans sometimes rant about "Ruby not making merch anymore" but what they don't understand is that I still approve and work on everything. Adam just has the skills.

How did it feel to be on the road again?

Rubin da Kirsche:$crim and I were high on drugs on almost all of our other tours. We never experienced it the way we should have because one of us would be high. TheLast gray dayTour in 2019, I don't remember at all. It's nice that we're both in the right frame of mind to take it all in. We didn't appreciate it that much back then. I feel so fulfilled during this tour.

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When did you two get sober?

$crim:My sobriety date is February 19, 2019. Long story short, I finally got to a point where I couldn't speak to Ruby or my team anymore. I was in a psychosis for about nine months from combining so many downers and uppers. I was literally out of my mind. The guys did the healthy thing and got to a point where they pulled away from me. You know it's hard to give motherfuckers like us consequences. Kyle told me on Thanksgiving 2018 that he couldn't see this anymore, and I walked away anyway. I said I'd get help, but I basically disappeared on it. Then I ended up isolated from everyone I loved. I got to the point of pain where it was unbearable and that's when I started detoxing at a place in California. To keep it up I've done a lot of therapy and am on a few 12 step programs that really help.

Rubin da Kirsche:I went to rehab on the night of October 26, 2020. It happened after we had a team meeting at $crim's house and I continued to the bathroom and snorted. At one point I took so much that I fucking fell asleep on them in the review. Then they had an intervention. I kicked, fought, cursed her. I said I would never speak to them again. Then I went and it was one of the best experiences of my life. It made me realize I had my head so far up my own ass. I thought I knew everything. I've tried my whole life to rebel because I hated myself so much. To clarify, I'm not completely sober, but I don't do opiates or hard shit anymore. I still smoke weed.

How did sobriety affect your last album?Long-term effects of suffering?

Rubin da Kirsche:I was still done with some of those songs, but we were both clean with a lot of them. We wanted the album to start out dark and then cheer you up. The album's final track, "The Phone Number You Have Dialed Is Not in Service," ends on a positive note; We say, "If life goes on, keep marching/Even if the finish line is far away or you have to push the car, keep marching." I've learned so much. I don't want to have learned how to be happy and feel good about my self worth and feel productive and productivenotshare that with others. I'm not going to sit here in this new room and then tell the fans that I still want to kill myself. $crim and I feel responsible for the messages we put out there.

$crim:When I got clean, I had this overwhelming fear, like, "Will I be able to keep making music when I'm sober?" Obviously that's bulls-t, and it took a lot of therapy to realize that.


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What message do you want to convey with your music?

Rubin da Kirsche:I think our music has a lot of substance. I remember that one day when we were recording a new song and we actually both had a heroin relapse that day. We wrote the song "Low Key". We looked at each other and said, "Let's write something real today." I think that's when $uicideboy$ really started talking about what our fans were going through, specifically with drugs, anxiety and depression. We all know [these things] exist and people act like they want to help, but they never do anything. That's why sometimes I hate the mental health awareness, it doesn't workOnlymake everyone aware. We hope that we can achieve more than that with our music.

Has a fan ever told a story about how your music has influenced them that stuck with you?

Rubin da Kirsche:I remember we played a show in Dallas in 2015, it was the first time we played a show in front of a crowd that was freaking out about the music. Later that night we sold our wares and I will never forget how this kid came to the table. He told us that the new mixtape we released got him through those tough times, like losing his mother to cancer a few months ago. Our jaws dropped. We didn't know what to say. That's when we realized, "$uicideboy$ is an ironic name - we're saving lives."

$crim:There were many times I was like, "I don't even know if I want to do this anymore," and hearing things like that from fans gives me a bigger sense.

They managed to be successful as independent artists. What is it like to achieve such a hard dream?

Rubin da Kirsche:To be honest, I don't think we ever processed it.

$crim:I just love making music. I work so much, which is not bad. That's exactly what I love. I always want to do more, more, more. But my team helps me slow down and absorb everything. If you're used to growing up without much, always look for the next one. We were doing a sound check the other day and Ruby just stopped and said, "Dude, let's just record this and stop for a second. Holy f-k."

A version of this story originally appeared in the October 23, 2021 issue of Billboard.

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