photo credits: Rober Adam Mayer @photorobnyc
Ransom was born in Brooklyn in the 1980, but after some severe family problems, spent some time in foster care, before being reunited with his mother and relocated to New Jersey, where he grew up. He started his rap career around 2000 and he began to get some major recognition when he formed the A-Team group along with the New Jersey rappers Hitchcock and Joe Budden, who left the formation shortly after. Affiliated with Dj Clue, the A-Team released several successful mixtapes like the Hardhood series, that led the duo to being close to sign a Def Jam contract.
In 2006, the group split up, they started separate careers and Ransom released “Street Cinema” in 2008. Afterwards, due to some disagreements, Ransom and Joe Budden started beefing: the rivalry somehow went left and from the music it became more serious but, around 2010, Ransom was arrested and spent two years in prison for illegal gun possession. When he came home he was more focused on his music career, releasing several solo projects as “Pain and Glory”, “Soul Killa”, “History of Violence”, “Greatest Rapper Alive” and “1%”.
In 2018 he announced his retirement from the Rap scene, but between 2019 and 2020, after joining forces with the Rochester’s rapper, 38.Spesh and his Trust movement, he found new motivation and took back the microphone, releasing during this year a series of classic mini-albums ( Director’s Cut 1,2 and 3, Deleted Scenes and Crime Scenes ) , entirely produced by the outstanding Canadian producer Nicholas Craven, and killing a lot of featured tracks.
In our opinion, thanks to the incredible display of talent, skills, consistency and lyrical content, that Ransom has showed off during the 2020, his could be considered one of the best “comeback” in the history of this genre and he should be enlisted as one of the best rappers of the year thanks to the great contribute he gave to this Culture.
So we feel really lucky and proud to have been able to have this quick conversation with him:
Peace Ransom, It’s a great honour for us to have the chance of sharing your story and your incredible talent through our platform. In fact, we firmly believe that you are one of the best MCs alive and a 2020’s HipHop MVP candidate, but somehow your amazing talent is not recognized enough yet. You have been involved in the Rap game for a long time, so we would like to start asking you when and how did your story in Hip Hop begin? Can you also tell something more about the duo A-Team, and why did you split up ?
I’ve been rapping for about 23-24 years. Started out writing for other better-known artists such as Puff Daddy, Vita (From Murder Inc), La La Anthony, etc. A-Team was a group of me, Hitchcock, and Joe Budden put together around 2001-2002. We had success early then Joe left because his solo career started to take off. Me and Hitch continued on and dropped several projects before splitting because of creative differences
Since the A-Team split up, around ‘06-’07, you released lots of mixtapes including, for example, “Street Cinema” (2008), “Pain Glory” (2014) and albums as “The Proposal” with Statik Selektah (2013), The Soul Killa (2015) or “History of Violence” (2013) .
In your opinion, what are the most important and defining projects of your career before 2018 and why?
I would have to say “Pain & Glory” was my most important. It was my first solo project and I was going through a lot at that time!
More or less in 2018, after the release of your “Greatest Rapper Alive” Lp (2017), if we are not wrong, you were very close to your retirement as you already felt underestimated…
What can you tell us about that period and that decision you were taking ? And what made you change your mind (luckily for all the real Hip Hop fans)?
I retired after that album because I had several opportunities to do some executive work behind the scenes and that’s what I did. I worked with several labels helping develop talent on their rosters. The last project I put out was “1%” ( 2017) and I thought it was a classic, critically acclaimed but far from the success I expected.
Came back in 2020 heeding the advice of fellow great 38 Spesh and with the help of Nicholas Craven I put out my first project in years “Directors Cut” and here we are!
I once said that my life was a work of art
Couple strokes on a blank canvas to hurt the heart
Had a brush with death before I could learn to talk
The painting’s on the wall, don’t wait for the verse to start
You people could view it all
When the weapon’s out you would hope that I knew to draw
Tried to frame me for a case that they knew was lost
Guess I was too involved
Hire a sketchy lawyer that claimed that he knew the law”
RANSOM – “Master Peace” (2017)
In fact, 2020 has been an amazing year for you: the “Director’s Cut” series with the canadian producer Nicholas Craven contains some of the best raps and beats of the last years, then, now, you’ve just released “Crime Scenes” as an exclamative point to finish the year! You have also joined the 38 Spesh collective, the Trust Army, to form a really dangerous and powerful set among the underground rap scene… How would you describe your 2020? And How did this connection with 38 Spesh come about ? What the Trust Movement is bringing to the table of the Hip Hop game?
2020 has been amazing! I always say you won’t know who you are until your back’s against the wall. A microcosm of the state of this world. I’ve known Spesh for 15 years roughly. We’ve done multiple features in the past and always had a good relationship. This year we just had a conversation and thought it would be CRAZY if we just joined forces and that’s what we did. My self, Che Noir and 38 Spesh is undoubtedly the best collection of MC’s to form since The Firm, WU Tang, Juice Crew, etc. We’re going to TAKE OVER!!!
We demand justice for Breonna and George, I pray that you rest well
When I was locked, I witnessed a murder right in the next cell
Thе COs beat that brother to death for smuggling Nеxtels
Killed him while he was cuffed and I bet that made all their chests swell
Elderberries with fresh kale, immune to your viruses that infect males
In tune with the Bible and its possessed spells
No need to test Hell, we felt the brother’s pain
He was suffocated with knee, now the country’s waiting to exhale […]
Now they say it’s Kap, you thinking we should kneel
How they held us back will be a secret still
You don’t hear them screeching wheels
You don’t hear them shots fire, firearm I keep concealed
Plantation cops hired, they’re here to police the field
American dream, you sleeping if you believe it’s real”
RANSOM – “Hereditary” ( 2020)
The underground Hip Hop scene is in great shape, at the moment. Many are comparing this to a new “golden era” or a “renaissance” moment… You have a great experience and you crossed through different eras,
What do you think about this historical moment in Hip Hop? And what do you think are the requirements for the underground scene to keep remaining relevant in the next future?
I love this moment in time and I will lead the way to the forefront! Before the “underground” had no identity, especially sonically. It was basically anyone who didn’t make it mainstream. Now thanks to artists like Roc Marciano, Griselda, and TRUST there’s an identity. There is an aura and a feeling. As long as we keep that, we’ll be fine.
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The Streets got a way with these hours as time management
Waving sticks like it was magic and try to vanish it
Gotta use your advantages
Sit calm cause the wrong cast could lead to bandages
Trust your word to live at the table, don’t get entangled with […]
Vision is too vivid for your cameras
Prison was like living in a canister but I knew the parameters
Yea,Death’ll make you part of the surface
Go and buy that fake love but respect is harder to purchase
Muzzle up the mutts cause all that barking is worthless
If you friendly with a clown then you probably part of the circus
Pray to God in them churches but on the streets you better be raising arms with a purpose
Staying calm when you nervous (Stay calm)
Yea, They say that better late than never, Never late is better””
RANSOM – “Blacula” (2020)
In your lyrics, you often share vivid flashes of your troubled youth and some of your jail and life experiences: Who is Ransom now and how have you been able to find your way to stay out of problems and to be the more mature man that you are now?
Ransom is a family man. I have a wife and kids and I’m not delusional like the rest of these other guys. I don’t party, fraternize or hang around people and places I’m not familiar or comfortable with. My philosophy is the less voices you hear, the less confusion you’ll endure.
I’m still trying to trust what my wife says
I feel the pain in them future tears that she might shed
I reminisce when that shank was taped to my right leg
I came a long way from them cookies stuck to the white bread
Juvenile delinquent trying to prove what I was thinkin’[…]
Y’all kind of new, I’ll let it sink in , No need to pursue it ‘cause I been king
But I been in them sewers where it’s stinking, Blood from a tortured soul
that’s flowing fluid through my ink pen
Implying I’m the one, defiance with the gun
What’s the point of chasing some bread if you’ll be dying over crumbs?
The truth is always seen and almost never heard
That’s why when that altercation took place, I never said a word
They say that a proper burial ground is what our death deserves
But how you’re six feet underground and never left the curb?
That’s kind of deep, just let me catch the words
What kind of sheep runs from a shepherd’s herd?
Never followed any consensus, I been came to my senses
I told y’all people what the one percent is
And I ain’t want to vent it, but I’m back with a vengeance” […]
Live by the gun and die shooting it
I pray I never use it again, I pray that I don’t get used to me not using it
(Y’all know what I’m talking about) Yeah
I pray that I don’t get used to me not using it.
RANSOM – “ JD’s Revenge” (2020)
What shall we expect from you in 2021?
In 2021 I plan to TAKE OVER!!!!!!!!