New York hip-hop has changed drastically from what it once was. There are still those rappers who champion the traditional New York sound and aesthetic, but there is a new wave that has been ushered in with more focus on melodies and influences from outside genres creating a new sound entirely. One of the artists who has been part of this artistic revolution is the multi-talented Harlem native Ro Ransom. Ro is a rapper in a traditional sense but he is more than that. His music touches so many different genres and calling him just a rapper would be putting him into a box. Ro Ransom’s music is emotional, dark, experimental and he is heavily influenced by late 90’s R&B. With his latest EP Possessed which is the follow-up to last years Momentum he tapped into his earliest influences that first inspired him to make music such as Aaliyah, Missy Elliot, and Destiny’s Child just to name a few.
The project is his most personal yet and finds him pushing himself to the limits musically, and touching on the different emotions one goes through during a breakup. This combination of things helped Ro create his most polarizing project yet. Crafting something that will stand the test of time. There is a song on there for everyone he even has a song titled “Countdown” that was inspired by the movie i that I could hear playing on Z-100, you’ll be blown away by his ability to transcend genres.
New York rap is going through an artistic change but at the core, it’s still dripping in that New York swag and that’s not going anywhere. Ro Ransom is the perfect example of this along with others. It might not be the golden era of hip-hop that we all know and love but it’s some damn good music and we have to give respect where it’s due.
I had the opportunity to speak with Ro Ransom to find out what makes the rising Harlem star tick. We discussed his unique dressing style, musical influences, anime, touring with pop star Dua Lipa and much more. If you’re not familiar with Ro Ransom Possessed is the perfect place to get started. Check out the interview below along with what might be Ro Ransom’s best project yet and get acquainted with Harlem’s rising star.
1. Being from Harlem do you feel like there are certain expectations put on your music?
- In a sense yes. I didn’t take the easy route being a rapper from Harlem, but at the end of the day, I have to be myself. For me to try to fit into a mold of who I’m really am not I would be living in hell. It’s funny because I’m still equally as Harlem as anybody else. Everybody in the hood knew me and knows me as that dude whose on his own wave.
2. Your young but you have been doing this music thing for a while and you dropped your first project in 2012. When did you first get into rapping who were some of your major influences musically?
- I wrote my first rap around 6th grade. Back then all I listened to was Eminem, as an 11-year-old if you weren’t signed to Shady Aftermath I wasn’t f*cking with you. I was inspired by a lot of the artists who inspired the ‘Possessed’ project. That was kind of part of it for me was just stripping everything back and going back to 11 year old me, the sh*t that made me fall in music. Like Aaliyah, TLC, Destiny’s Child, and Missy Elliot.
3. I would say you have a unique style dressing wise as well as musically. Outside of music who would you say influences your style?
- Freiza from Dragonball Z, Hisoka from Hunter X Hunter, Pegasus from Yu-gi-oh. Honestly, a lot of cartoon and video game characters because I was always the person that would escape through those forms of media. So I related to those characters more then I did whatever fashionista’s name I could drop at the moment.
4. Since we’re on the topic of Anime what is your favorite anime at the moment and what’s your favorite of all-time?
- Well, one that’s currently out right now is ‘Banana Fish.’ I fuck with it because it takes place in New York and going back to your first question it kind of reminds you of what my New York kind of felt like or my experience of it. I would have to say as cliche as it is now to say, is Death Note, the real answer is Dragonball Z, but Death Note is no filler just 30 episodes jam-packed and your on the edge of your seat.
5. For someone who is not familiar with your music, how would you describe your music to them?
- I would say that it’s dark. All my music wether I’m rapping or singing is all dark, it’s all electric, sexy, moody. For me listening to my music, it feels like walking around the Lower Eastside at night. It feels like being in Chinatown at night getting into some sh*t.
6. Last year you opened for Dua Lipa. How did that opportunity come about and how was that experience overall for you?
- It’s funny to this day, I still kind of exactly know the truth of why I got that opportunity. I just knew when it came up I was taking it. I know that part of it had to do with the fact that we are with the same booking agency but I also know that there was other people up for it that didn’t get it. It was f*cking amazing. You get to see how much work it takes to be at that level and be on that trajectory that she’s on. I learned so much on that tour as far as stage presence, the way she interacted with the crowd without saying a word and how she uses her body. All those type of things I took away from that.
7. Last year you dropped your ‘Momentum’ mixtape which was very successful. How does Possessed differ from it and did you take a different approach when creating ‘Possessed’ then you did with ‘Momentum’?
- I think that ‘Momentum,’ ‘Possessed’ and probably the next project that I’m thinking about in my head all kind of live together in a certain way. There all different sides of me. When I got through with ‘Momentum’ I knew that I wanted whatever I did next to be more feminine. I just knew there was an energy in me that I wasn’t attending to. That’s how you get songs like “Countdown,” “Take Control” the whole thing really. I really just leaned into a different kind of energy but still in my own world. Also, it was two very different head spaces. Making ‘Momentum’ I was in my typical bag of making music. When I was making ‘Possesed’ I was going through some sh*t. I was coming off a crazy breakup, f*cked up, not home, I was in LA, it was a whole different mentality for me going into it. It’s very vulnerable and emotional even in the flexing songs.
8. One of my personal favorite tracks on the project is “Wraith” can you tell me a little bit about how that came about?
- I think “Wraith” is the centerpiece of the record in a way. It encompasses everything, everything else floats around “Wraith” in a sense. I was in a dark place, I was emotional, broke, upset, and high as shit. I just felt like I want more for myself that’s what that song really was. No matter what I’m going through or what I just went through, all I know is that I want more for myself then what this is right now. It was me being in a dark place and still having a sense of ambition for pushing forward. Even in the vocal performances and the singing you can hear the emotion in it, at least for me.
9. What’s your favorite song on the project, at the moment if it changes?
- Right now I would have to say “Wake Up On You” it definitely does change. “Wake Up On You” is another one Brenton produced. It’s so mischevious to me, it’s devious, it’s fun. It’s a song I can listen to it and there’s no baggage on that song. I might listen to “Take Control” and be like damn I remember the situation, but “Wake Up On You” is a fun song that feels sexy and it’s always fun to listen to.
10. What’s the meaning behind the title of Possessed for you?
- Oh man, there are so many different meanings. Just to run off a few, the main concept of it was being possessed by feminine energy that being the driver of me making the record. It also had to do with the concept of material possessions not being able to save you from your demons. So it’s like the possessions end up being possessed by the demons. I touched money, I’ve been in whatever car I did all that, but I still felt like shit. There’s a lot of different motifs of me trying to work through my demons as far as that’s concerned also like I said the feminine spirit all of that is there.