Here’s my latest article with Chicago-born Rapper, Ramaj Eroc. Very talented artist and looking to get this published elsewhere!
With two well received mixtapes under his belt, the smooth flowing lyricist Ramaj Eroc is ready to shoot for the stars with a debut album in 2013. Slated for a summer release, Ramaj told me about his plans for ‘Fall of ‘96’ and the process in going about a hip-hop album.
The trend in the recent history of hip-hop has led to artists taking mixtapes more seriously. Up until a few years ago, rappers tended to use the medium of a mixtape to rap over beats made famous by their fellow artists and as a present for the fans. Whilst this is still the case to some extent, there is certainly a lot more thought being put in nowadays. Ramaj argues that mixtapes are now on a similar level to albums in terms of the manner in which they are put together. A case in point would be ‘Rich Forever’ that Rick Ross dropped in January, at one stage the most downloaded hip-hop mixtape ever, which spanned 18 songs and featured the likes of Kelly Rowland, Nas, Drake and John Legend. This drop from Rozay really did set the tone for the rest of 2012, building excitement ahead of the much anticipated releases of ‘God Forgives, I Don’t’, ‘Self Made 2’ with MMG and Meek Mill’s debut album, ‘Dreams and Nightmares’.
For an unsigned, independent artist like Ramaj Eroc, the mixtapes ‘Last Train to Japan’ and ‘New Pair of Glasses’ have proven crucial for the building of his fan base, where he has proven his undoubted musical qualities. “You want people to see you’ve got hard bars, you want people to know you can rap” reveals the artist.
He is further looking to bolster his following through regular live shows and features, all things he is arranging and negotiating off his own back. Without managers, booking or PR agents, Ramaj believes that by putting in all this extra work, that he is separating himself from other unsigned artists. “A lot of independent artists don’t make it happen like I do” Eroc stresses. Through speaking to unmanaged artists such as Ramaj Eroc, I have learnt how difficult it really is to break into the hip-hop industry. Without putting yourself out there and seeking to get sighted, a talented artist who can spit real lyrics is nothing. Without financial backing, Ramaj relies on social networking outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter as key mediums for him to spread the word and get heard, in the hope that he will get noticed.
The title of the debut album itself, Fall of ’96, refers to the year in which the Chicago born rapper begun Kindergarten. The artist relates the release of his first album to the starting of school, unsheltered from the support from those around him, and beginning to learn on his own in a new world. Although noting above that mixtapes are nearing the level of albums, Eroc argues that this project is going to differ in terms of “the work ethic and content that goes into it”. He has already been in contact with producers Evelution, Joey Cutless and Hona Costello in regards to the building of the album and is negotiating features as we speak.
The thought process for this project is completely different this time. The LA-residing rapper argues that the first step in going about the production of the album is crucial and without due thought, planning and attention you are unlikely to fully do yourself justice from the offset. “The first stage to me is knowing what direction you want to go.. because if you don’t know what direction you want to go then you’re going to be all over the place.. the approach is the first step of where you want to go with your album” he points out.
I was keen to find out how he was going to go about the making of the album. He was flexible on the number of producers he was looking to get on board. He reasons that he would happily have a different producer for each different track. Albums such as Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”, indicate that this ploy can be successful, as K-Dot used the help of various producers to create his critically acclaimed masterpiece. It seems likely that the lyricist will call upon the services of a small set of producers, yet he points out that there is nothing wrong with having one sole producer for the whole album. For instance, “Take Care” by Drake was largely produced by Noah “40” Shebib yet it was still a great success, going platinum in the United States. For an artist, the production appears to be largely down to personal preference, with no right or wrong path to go down.
In terms of the final product itself, Ramaj Eroc feels “the order of the album is one of the most important things”. This slightly surprised me. In a generation of downloading and shuffle, where CDs have become outdated, it is rare that a listener plays the album from back to front. However, the artist, real name Jamar Core, feels that you must get the right balance. This includes mixing up the club bangers from the more mellow relationship talking tracks. “Basically it’s just like a rollercoaster, you don’t want to have one straight sound or one constant sound for more than two songs” he states.
In terms of Ramaj Eroc’s overall project and career, he feels he has the talent to go a long way in the genre, highlighting names such as Lil’ Wayne, Kanye West and Jay-Z, which signifies his immense ambition. Yet he remains a realist with his feet firmly grounded, admitting that he’s not quite at the spot yet where he wants to be. Sighting dedication and motivation as the key ingredients to allow him to fulfil his dreams, from talking to the man himself I certainly feel he has the lyrics, the charisma and the drive needed to fire his way through hip-hop.