Ransom FA brings the Granite City to the main stage of the grime scene, whilst exuding nothing but positivity and genuineness. From starring in BBC’s The Rap Game to going on and hosting his show, The Rap Trip, the buzz surrounding Ransom FA is a testament to his work ethos. And unsurprisingly, his new release is emblematic of that. Plus who doesn’t want to listen to grime that gives shout-outs to Nicola Sturgeon?
SNACK caught up with Ransom FA ahead of the release of his new four-track EP, Momentum.
How have you found the past year? It seems as if you’re still working hard, with the new release of Momentum.
Yeah, I guess Covid has been a bit of a difficult one. You know, everyone is tired of just being held up for so long. But for me, I’ve tried to keep moving forward and keep that energy going. That’s why this release is called Momentum, because we’re just trying to keep pushing forward.
It’s great to hear grime lyrics that rhyme Raekwon with ‘yer da sells Avon’. How do those Scottish references travel down south?
Haha. Well, I’m down South and I say them, so they have no choice. I guess what I’ve noticed over time is that some of the references may go over people’s heads; but music is like that worldwide. We listen to American music and half of us don’t even know what they’re referencing the majority of the time. I was raised in Aberdeen, so when I put that in my music I feel people can relate to the authenticity of what I’m saying even if they don’t necessarily understand what it means.
Although I’m sure if anyone heard ‘yer da sells Avon’ they’d still be like, ‘nah, I can’t have my dad selling Avon’.
You’re also routinely maintaining your loyalty to Aberdeen FC with choruses filled with the ‘Stand Free’ mantra.
Stand Free is an interesting one; if you’re from Scotland you know it’s the Aberdonian football slogan, but when you take it away from football it has a different meaning. I think for any individual pursuing anything it’s the perfect representation that you don’t necessarily need a big movement or big label behind you. Stand free and still get things done. That’s kind of how I’ve seen it in my music and people have resonated with it.
I saw that you also filmed within the stadium?
Yeah, it’s crazy. As time goes on, I’ve built up my connection with Pittodrie. It feels surreal, playing football as a kid and dreaming of playing inside the stadium, to then go on and film a couple of music videos in the grounds alongside BBC Scotland’s Insider Guide to Aberdeen. It’s a sick feeling.
You are between Aberdeen and London, but did you feel a move to London was necessary for the career?
Well, it’s an interesting one. People ask me that quite a bit. It was more to take full advantage of the situation after The Rap Game; there were a lot of opportunities and events in London. I felt it was important to move down here for my career.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching your journey on the show. From AJ Tracey to Stefflon Don, you met some serious titans of the industry. Any particular ‘wow’ moments?
We met a lot of people, but for me, Ghetts was one of those pinnacle moments, cause he’s always been my favourite MC. His talent is sick and he’s such a humble guy. Even recently he messaged me wishing me luck – you just can’t fake that kind of shit. He’s such a real and genuine guy.
Alongside Ghetts, who else were you listening to in the early days?
I grew up on both grime and hip-hop because of my older brother, who was heavily into grime from 2002. So this is like Sway, Bearman and Aggro Santos. I just felt like grime was the UK’s answer to rap, and they’re technically very similar. It’s about the speed and time. But I would say I lean more to grime because it was more representative of the stuff I knew.
It’s always the big brother that moulds the music taste.
Yeah, legit. I always wonder who helps the big brother get their taste?
Good question. Funnily enough, I was reading your brother’s blog, The Black Scotsman, and it touched on you supporting Ghostface Killah. What was that like?
It was a crazy time. A couple of the Wu-tang were there in Glasgow for it and I’m sure you can imagine the energy was nuts. Ghostface Killah is someone I grew up on, so to be asked to support him was quite a surreal moment. And that was a few years back now. I would have been maybe 19 or 20.
I’ve opened up for so many people now, from Skepta to Big Narstie, and that was one of the main ways I was able to get a lot of people to recognise me in Scotland. I realised from a young age that you can earn respect in this industry by rubbing shoulders with those who already demand it. Particularly when Scottish rap was not being taken seriously. It was the best route for me to gain respect.
It’s great to finally witness the credibility of Scottish rap and grime grow to a UK wide level.
Definitely, and I think that’s the case within the likes of The Rap Game and these things as well. Since the first season now, there’s always a want to have a Scottish person involved. It’s becoming something they almost have to have.
And of course, after The Rap Game, you went on to present The Rap Trip. How have you been enjoying the role as a presenter?
Yeah, that was great fun. I’m loving the presenting process. I’ve done a fair few things now, but I also did a football documentary last year with Goal on YouTube, called the Jadon Sancho Dream. It followed kids from areas who don’t have good links to the football academies or those that have become maybe a bit too old; it’s worth checking out. I just like speaking to people and it also lets me show people who I am. So yeah, it’s an aspect I’m really enjoying.
Can you tell us more about Ransom HQ?
Essentially it’s a studio space that I’ve set up in Aberdeen for artists to come in and explore music in a way that wasn’t possible before. Unfortunately, the infrastructure we have there isn’t good for artists in the same genre as me. I wanted to give the young team an affordable chance to use the equipment that I used to come up. The engineer I first worked with is running it at the moment, but unfortunately, with Covid, it’s been difficult to keep running everything. But the mission is still there. Hopefully we can do something different with it and change things in Aberdeen.
Hopefully, we are due to hear more voices coming from Aberdeen, then. Any listening recommendations from home?
Yeah, definitely. There are a lot of young artists coming up, so I’m just trying to get myself in a position where I can help them and get things going. But yeah, I could list a few: my mate Gidd Gamz, who’s a sick artist, is going to be doing a lot. Then there’s JusHarry, another young guy from Aberdeen that’s doing crazy bits right now. The scene is bubbling up. I’m just looking forward to coming back up to Scotland post-Covid to try and solidify that infrastructure.