Show & Prove: 41
Words: Peter A. Berry
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the Spring 2024 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

To engage with 41 is to tango with dissonance. For much of the world, that dance began with a viral one—an infamous trend attached to “Notti Bop,” the Brooklyn drill group’s sinister diss song mocking the 2022 stabbing death of a 14-year-old rival, Yonkers, N.Y. rapper Notti Osama. Released in October of 2022, the track is embedded with a sample from the children’s cartoon Backyardigans, as well as raucous shouts, militaristic drill percussion and callous taunts, a discordant hellscape of nihilistic violence and Nickelodeon whimsy. Before it was officially removed due to its macabre content, it was also the No. 1 trending video on YouTube and the subject of intense media criticism. According to 41 member TaTa, a jokey 19-year-old who doesn’t look or sound a second older than his age, it’s something between a teachable moment and a trophy.

“It’s just a big-a*s lesson,” says the rapper, born Zaire Tysean Rivera. In a January Zoom call, he and fellow group mates Kyle Richh, 21, and Jenn Carter, 21, oscillate between genuine reflection and loud cackles that sound like kids at the back of a classroom. They’re young, and as TaTa explains, their most controversial song was just one step toward new maturity— and success. “We way growner now,” TaTa tells. “We way wiser. That s**t was going too viral, and it was mad negativity. We went No. 1, though. A lot of niggas can’t say they went No. 1.”

For the trio, it was part of an ascension to current status as New York City’s next big drill act and a deal with Republic Records. They continued their rise with tracks like the EDM-infused “Deuce” and “Bent,” a narcotic affair that trades uber violence for something more festive and off-kilter. At press time, the Jersey club-inspired track has collected over 68 million Spotify streams, a statistical marker that indicates another sizable level up.

“It pushes us to work harder because now that we see that we [on] bigger stages, we see that it’s possible,” says Jenn, a spitter with a penchant for quippy wordplay. “We really in the stu’ working, [and] it is really paying off,” adds Kyle, the forceful spirit of the crew. “It’s a blessing.”

It’s an outcome from an authentic synergy apparent in this interview, which plays out much like a group chat or a conversation at a Brooklyn food court. Sorting through jokes and compliments, their responses ricochet off each other like a pinball as they recount their origin story with refreshing transparency and enthusiasm.

For his part, Kyle Richh, born Olatunde T. Fasheun, remembers writing his first rap at age 7. Later inspired by acts like Tay-K and Lil Wayne, Kyle began recording regularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. Jenn Carter, born Jennifer Oghenekevwe Akpofure, got into music in middle school. By the end of high school, she had learned to play the trumpet and the piano. “I ain’t know it at the time, but playing with those instruments shaped my rhythm and the way I rap,” she explains. “I’m obsessed with the beat before I even rap on the beat.” As a woman who raps about women in a world stained by homophobia, Jenn also found inspiration in the unabashed, lesbian playgirl charisma of Young M.A. “She helped me believe in myself,” Jenn conveys.

Having grown up as friends in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, Jenn and Kyle began recording songs together when the pandemic took hold of the globe in 2020. They used the BandLab app to make their first collaborations. By 2021, their mutual friend introduced them to TaTa. After the trio’s first studio session, they knew something special was coming together. “Before we dropped our first song altogether, we knew it was going to go,” Jenn maintains.” The energy in the studio was undefeated,” Kyle adds.

Their instincts proved correct. Released in January of 2022, “41 Cypher,” a cut that includes features from 41 affiliates Jerry West, Dee Billz, Jay Gelato and FMB Savo, was a drill adrenaline shot that’s since racked up over 6 million YouTube views. The trio showcased their connection again with their On The Radar freestyle, which currently has 18 million YouTube views.

By July of 2022, 41 signed a deal with Republic. Pulling from Jersey club soundscapes and customary New York drill, their records have grown more dynamic. Their latest project, 41 World: Not The Album, was released last November and showcased a versatile vision that eclipses their earliest offerings. More recently, Kyle unloaded “Trick,” a song that permeates a muted club beat with blunt raunchiness. It’s just another layer to a shapeshifting style that distinguishes 41 from many of their contemporaries.

“What makes 41 stand out sonically is the gritty sound of Kyle Richh’s voice, the lyrical delivery of Jenn Carter, and the livewire energy of TaTa,” says Ken “Duro” Ifill, former SVP, A&R, Republic Records and Operations Manager, Republic Studios NYC. “We haven’t seen a group like this in a long time, who bring different personalities and flows. They are all equally talented in their own right,” adds Damion Presson, Republic Records’ Executive Vice President of A&R.

With “Bent” still picking up momentum and a debut album in the works, 41 is pursuing all the glitzy accolades they can collect as they refine their chemistry. Like any rising artists, they want diamond records and cultural ubiquity. They aren’t there yet, but they could be one day. “We on the way,” Jenn maintains. For Kyle, they’ll need a certain attitude as they continue to climb. “We just gotta stay humble and appreciate all the blessings that we got,” he expresses. “This is just the come up,” TaTa declares. “This is only the beginning."

Read 41's Show & Prove interview in the Spring 2024 issue of XXL Magazine, on newsstands now. The new issue also includes the cover story with Gunna and conversations with Metro BoominDanny BrownTeezo Touchdown42 DuggJim Jones and Maino a.k.a. Lobby BoyzThat Mexican OTBabyDrillRapsody, actress La La AnthonyBigXthaPlugRob49Reuben Vincent, singer Tyla and producer Tate Kobang. There's also a look at how social networking has a chokehold on rappers' feelings, how hip-hop in 2024 is experiencing more wins than losses, and the ways in which kid rappers are thriving thanks to social media.

See Photos of Gunna's XXL Magazine Spring 2024 Issue Cover Story

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