Ricky James Interview

Ricky James Interview

Who is Ricky James?

Ricky James Interview

Who is Ricky James?

Ricky James is a rapper and producer from Boston, MA, that currently resides in NYC -- where he is pursuing his dreams as a hip hop artist. I got a chance to sit down with him on FaceTime and talk to him about how his journey is going.

Where are you from?

I’m from Boston, a little area called South Shore. I’m from Hanover, Mass.

Are you a huge Boston fan?

Huge boston fan. Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, everything.

Fuck the Pats, man.

I get that a lot in New York. [laughs]

So how’d you get into music?

I started off producing in the garage type thing. Shitty beats freshman year of high school. Uh, it wasn’t until my family got me this Mac computer with Logic Pro on it that I started making beats for other rappers, set up a little recording studio at the homie’s and started making music that way. Started rapping on my own after a lot of the old heads graduated.

What were your first beats sounding like?

Shitty. They were trash. They were very synth-driven, as I was trying to make 808s and heartbreak-type stuff. Shitty synths and shitty orchestral beats. It took me a while, about two years to get alright. By junior, senior year I got nice with it. I started doing samples and stuff around then.

What’s your favorite era to sample from?

Me, personally, it kinda depends. I sample a lot of records my dad was playing. My dad thought Bob Marley was a prophet, read all the books on him, so I was born with that stuff. I have the same birthday as Bob Marley so that was a big thing for him as well. The first thing I ever sampled was “One Drop” by Bob Marley and I thought it was a fire sample. Neil Young, The Clash, the Grateful Dead. He was a huge Dead Head, so like, I was sampling all those type of records first and foremost.

Yeah I feel that. I feel a lot of people get their music taste from their parents. So like, if he has you listening to like, classic rock and Bob Marley, that’s kinda really influencing your vibe and essence. Has that really impacted how you create music?

Yeah I think it definitely broadened my spectrum of what i do. But it's funny, cause like what super got me into music was I had two older sisters who were singing and doing talent shows growing up. I gotta watch them grow through the punk rock phase, orange hair, pink hair, the whole nine yards, which was wild to see as a younger brother. It wasn’t until their boyfriends started pulling up blasting rap that I got into that genre. 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Trying, first CD. I’m not even joking, T-Pain got me to wanna make music. I’m serious. They’re what got me into the whole like, DJ Premier, Gangstarr, TCQ.

Migos or Beatles?

Ima say Beatles because where I grew up they were huge. I understand you’re from ATL, so you’re gonna say Migos, but for me it’s the Beatles. Migos are the next Beatles. Migos are the new Beatles, but truth be told, I didn’t even know who they were until my roommate put me on them. I fuck with them heavy though.

You said you roomed from Drew, how was growing up in Boston with an Atlanta roommate? How has having that connection to someone bringing that Southern vibe and energy affected your music?

Huge. Huge bro. A lot; immensely. For Boston rap, it’s very rooted in 90s hip hop, TCQ, Gs, big L heads. It’s all just bars. All the mixtapes and stuff I dropped in high school and even college were all bars. It wasn’t until I started hanging out with my roommates from the South who put me onto Migos, Future and etc., that I started to branch out in my own work. Like, it’s funny -- I was in the chorus growing up and in high school. I was the lead singer of an acapella group.

Is that your whole thing?

That’s how I got girls, man. I wasn’t getting any playing time on the basketball team. The only way I was getting girls was singing to them [laughs]. But back to your question -- yeah, it’s had a huge impact with most of my friends being from the South now, and I am starting to go back to singing.

You can see that, especially with “Don’t Play Me.” You can hear the Southern sing-songy melody, the lean rap, that soulful rap. You went to Syracuse -- how has that impacted your growth as an artist?

I don’t owe everything to Cuse, but Cuse was responsible in my personal career and as a musician. Everyone I hang out with in New York are people that I went to school with. All of my immediate friends are Syracuse grads. I applied to mad music business schools, wasn’t getting in, but got in there. I was about to just be a rapper and not go to school.

Was your dad supportive of it?

Yeah, he’s my best friend. I was ready to be a rapper, but then I got that acceptance letter from Cuse and it was the best day of my life. He believes in me and has been really supportive. What’s awesome is you want to surround yourself with people that you believe in, but also believe in you. It’s like, I can say yo, this dude’s the man and top of his game, but they believe in your work too and just help grow it into something more, organically.

Can you tell a little about that and why you decided on the name for your mixtape? What’s the inspiration for Renaissance Man?

It’s about an individual that excels in many different types of fields. I use Childish Gambino as an example; obviously I’m not him, but it’s something I strive for. A well-rounded individual. That’s the goal for me, to be a full on Renaissance man. I feel that I’m doing that on a small scale right now. I own and operate my own recording studio, I’m a producer, engineer, direct my own music videos, write stuff for rock bands, writing shows for homies, jokes for comedians, all that jazz. On a micro level, the album was a platform to display that as a mixtape/mtape series. I can rap on anything, sing R&B tunes, and everything in between showcasing my versatility.

That’s hard man. How did the features for your mixtape come apart?

As I said earlier, it’s all my homies. Huey P was my roommate, so it’s only right that we’re on songs together, since we’ve been kicking it all the time, freestyling and etc. My boy Kyrie Lee was just a homie I met. It’s just friends that also make music, it just happens organically.

That’s how it’s supposed to be. So we talked about your relationship with Huey P. Can you tell us about your favorite tracks from the album?

Yeah definitely. The tracks with me and Hue are some of my favs. “She Know” is one of my haves because it is on some R&B shit. “Juicy Suit” too. But my favorite stuff is what I’m working on new. I’m already working on volume 2.

What else is up for Ricky James? Vol 2?

I got a big song with a big rapper coming out hopefully end of summer -- definitely end. It’s a banger, I’m super hype about it.

I’m excited, super excited.

Thank you, bro.

We met each other through Drew when I interviewed Mike Nasty in your studio, is there -

Yo, Mike Nasty in the other room right now!

Oh word? Is there any Mike and RJ collab coming out soon?

Deff what I’m trying to make happen soon.