CGuk | A Conversation With Ransom FA
Following the announcement of JD Sports' Christmas campaign ‘King of the Streets’ which is soundtracked by Shaybo & Toddla T, and features 31 of Britain’s brightest young talent from the worlds of music, TV and sport, we got the chance to sit down with one of the starts of this years campaign, BBC Rap Game UK’s Ransom FA. The Scottish raised talent features on the list alongside Central Cee, Jude Bellingham, Young T & Bugsey, Aitch, Kalvin Phillips, Ms Banks, Little Simz, ArrDee, Russ Millions, Michael Dapaah and Maya Jama, to name a few.
Within the interview we discussed being described as the best thing to come out of Scotland since Annie Lennox, embracing his Scottish heritage and using this to his advantage to break through in the UK rap scene, his unusual online friendship with Frankie Boyle and what sets Scottish music fans apart from the rest.
Check out the full transcript below. and keep your eyes peeled for more moves from Ransom FA over the course of 2022.
Your EP dropped in Spring, what’s the best compliment you got about it?
Somebody told me that I’m the best they’ve heard from Scotland since Annie Lennox, so I remember that. For me that’s kinda sick cause obviously I wanna build up a fanbase everywhere but it’s always good to know people in Scotland are still riding with me. So that’s the one that sticks in my mind.
You’ve been in a few cyphers over summer, hosted by Charlie Sloth and DJ Prospect, how did it feel to get back into that post-pandemic?
It’s been a bit crazy cause obviously the pandemic, at first it felt like a holiday. Everyone was relaxing, like this is great and as it kept going, you were like ‘ok this is becoming the new normal’, so it was weird getting your head around the fact that we’ve just spent a whole year, or year and a half doing nothing. Now events are opening back up, being able to hop in a cypher, I loved that. That’s what I live for when it comes to music so I was like ‘yes’. When Charlie Sloth was like, come through to the cypher, I was like ‘yes’, I need that energy! Then obviously DJ Prospect set up the one in Scotland so for me it’s been crazy, it’s been exciting. I feel like a child again, reliving these things for the first time, I love it. I love doing gigs and now shows are slowly coming back, we’ve just seen a lot of festivals. Next year should be even crazier because people are gonna go hard because of everything that happened.
What have you got planned for next year?
I’ve been working on the infrastructure of a lot of what I need to do. I’m working on a lot of new music, a lot of collaborations that I can’t confirm yet because they’re still in the pipeline. I’m working on a return to the TV in a few different forms because obviously I love music, but I do a lot of presenting and hosting after we did Rap Trip. There’s a lot more things I wanna show and bring to the limelight, it should be an exciting year because I’ve been pent up for so long, it’s time to unleash these ideas and I’m starting a couple of businesses; I love business.
Are the businesses music related?
Outside of music but in some ways it could relate to music, it's like a lifestyle brand and a clothing brand. It’s inspired because I was speaking to my sister and she was like, ‘ah there’s no streetwear brands specifically for females’ and I was like, ‘you know what yeah, that’s weird’. I know there’s streetwear brands that cater to that but me and my friend who’s really into streetwear decided we wanna do that and set that up. So that’s something that’s a bit random but we wanna set that up, we're trying to do everything.
You chose violence when you wrote that lyric: ‘Yer Dad sells Avon’ - what was the inspiration behind it?
You know what, that’s one of the things that we would always hear growing up in Scotland. Like, ‘you see you yeah, your dad sells Avon’ and everyone would get excited. I feel like I wanted to encompass all that feeling of growing up and a nod to all the people in Aberdeen. It’s not particularly anyone, I mean if the shoe fits, if your dad sells Avon, don’t get angry at me. But I felt like I wanted to say something that if you’re from Scotland and you know what I mean, you’d be like ‘yeah', you get me? Your dad sells Avon, I’m really not the guy that you should play on.
We hear good things about the Scottish legs of tours. What’s your favourite thing about performing to crowds at home?
When you perform in Scotland, I wanna say Glasgow primarily cause that’s the main hub. Obviously Aberdeen is my home, I’m trying to get all the other places just as popping but Glasgow is the place people go for music usually. When you go to Glasgow, I feel like people are just ready to have a crazy time. The thing is London’s sick but I feel like there’s still a built up scene and people that have to hold a certain image. But people go to Glasgow, the drinks are cheap so they’re already fucked up, that’s rule number one. But then everyone’s there to just get mad with it, that’s a proper Scottish term; get mad with it, get mad weird. So I feel like people come prepared to let loose and I’m not saying that doesn’t happen anywhere else, but in Scotland especially man, they get loose. I think that adds to all gigs when that happens. You go to Glasgow and everyone’s dancing, there'll be guy on eccies over there. One guy is just buzzing mate, like I don’t know what that guy’s on, but I wanna go there mate.
Coming from Scotland, did you find it harder to get your music heard than if you’d come from London?
It’s an interesting concept because growing up it was always like it was weird cause I had to find my own sound. Even now there’s Scottish rappers you could probably name but there’s not been one notable guy from the era when rap first came in, so when you were growing up there’s nothing that’s been on a pedestal that you’re like that’s what I aspire to. There were times where I’d probably be like, I wish I was in London, life would be easier. Or when I first started putting out music on channels, people would be like ‘oh he’s cool but nah his accent is a bit different’. Even if the bars were hard they’d be like, ‘the bars are hard but nah the accent’. So it’s just a case of it being difficult at first but after a while it became a unique selling point when Rap started to expand and it was a very London base. Then after it started to move up to Manchester, Birmingham, not that it wasn’t there but it started to get widely accepted. So for me I always knew originality and authenticity would take me further so that’s how I'd always see it. Like listen I’m not going to pretend to be someone else to take me further. I could put on an English accent, I can do that, or I can put on an American accent, I hate when people do that but I was always like why would I wanna listen to a person putting on a fake English accent when there’s English people there? Or why would I wanna listen to a Scottish person putting on an American accent cause that’s what I was growing up around? So I thought I’m just gonna represent me because if I want people around me to feel me then they’re gonna have to feel me and they’re gonna have to understand that the guys’ a sound loon, he’s a sound guy from Aberdeen. That’s what I do with my music, I put stand free, you’ll hear that a lot in my music which is the Aberdeen city football club’s logo. I just love the meaning of it cause I was independent and it’s important to stand on your own, don’t let anything hold you down. For me it kind of just encompasses one thing, so I wouldn’t change it but at times it was difficult. Every city has pockets now. I went to Ireland and saw some rappers there. Me and FOS did a show called Rap Trip and we went to Liverpool, we went to Bradford and each of these cities had a little striving scene, it’s good to see.
What have you been up to with Frankie Boyle?
I love that guy. We became online friends because I was posting some of his videos and he followed me. I was like, ‘Frankie mate I’m gonna sample some of your tunes one day’. His word for it was, ‘Ransom, fill your boots lad’, I was like ‘yes’, so me and my producers are working on a few things. We’re gonna get a Frankie Boyle sample, I actually wanna get him in the studio. I was actually talking to him online and I was like, ‘oh let me know when tickets are up for your show’ and he was like, 'bro don’t worry I’ve got you tickets’. I was like ‘great’ and so he invited me to his show and after that I went backstage and had a catch up with him and was just like this is sick. I grew up watching Frankie Boyle and then he was just like inviting me backstage and to his show! So we’re building our little connection, one day I’ll get him on a track, one day he'll bring me out to his show and I’ll crack some jokes. He’s a sound guy and the thing I like about Frankie Boyle, he loves Rap music. I know he loves Rap music so it’s sick to liaise with him. Hopefully in time I’ll be able to incorporate him into something that I do but I feel like it has to be perfect.
Do you think he’s got bars?
Of course! Have you heard his comedy? He’s got comical bars, he’s got lyrical bars. If he just formulated that, some of the stuff he says are so wicked and smart and not just a slapstick comedian. You have to look at the layers of what he’s saying, it’s almost like rap when you’re deciphering what he says.
What was your favourite part about shooting the campaign?
I’m in a scene with Jelani Blackman and we’re in this milkshake bar and me and him are the workers. We’re there making milk shakes living our life in this scene where we’re milkshake shop owners, a cool life. Then Ms Banks and Little Simz walk in and I’m like ‘yo bro, go get a collab, get it going’ and he’s like ‘yeah, I’m gonna do it’. So he walks over like, ‘can I get a collab?’ and she goes ‘no’ and I’m like ‘ohhhh’. So I’m the antagonist in this scene, I’m just there stirring the pot. Stirring the milkshake and the pot. Literally stirring the milkshake.
What’s it like to be in the campaign and what is your earliest memory of JD as a kid?
It is actually crazy being in this campaign because I remember growing up and every day from primary school, you need new clobber, you go to JD Sports and it was just ritualistic. Every week people were like, ‘JD sports’, even if you didn’t have money you could go to look and dream, like I’m gonna buy that, I’m gonna buy that. It’s crazy that all these years later I’m part of this campaign, I was thinking this the other day, do you know how much money I spent in JD sports? And how much stuff I wanted and now it’s crazy, years have gone on and I’m part of the campaign. It’s crazy, one of those moments you just sit back and think you know what? Nay bad.
Who would you collaborate with from the campaign?
Obviously there’s so many different people to think of in this campaign but purely because we're working with her, I’d love to collaborate with Ms Banks. It would just be wavy, she’s got a vibe and we would just be crazy.
Plus Simz says no.
Yeah Simz might tell me no, so I’m a bit scared. I saw what she said to Jelani.
I know it’s just a scene but I hope he’s not taking it personally.
He had to do it over and over and over again.
If you could pick one thing from JD Sports that you would like under the tree this year, what would it be?
I would just want an assorted bag of Hoodrich garments, I like Hoodrich, I like how they’ve come up. That’s a sick brand so just give me a duffle bag of Hoodrich, a little Santa sack, like he’s robbed the store. I do not condone that, I repeat no robbery of JD. Big up Santa, just make sure you bring me my Hoodrich.
We’ll put in a good word. Now if you could only wear one pair of sneakers forever, which would they be?
I can’t actually tell you the make because I’ve forgotten what they are… I’m thinking of comfortability and I’m thinking of style. If I was going style then I would go for the Jordan high-top court purples, they’re cold and I like how they sit but they’re not as comfortable as some shoes. You know who makes really comfy shoes, Puma. They have these shoes ***insert shoe here***. It’s kinda pointy but it’s not pointy, there’s layers to it, it’s a cool shoe by Puma and it’s very comfortable.
Worst gift you ever gave someone?
The worst gift, this is quite bad of me. This Christmas I was hella busy and I was meant to get my brother something but shit happened, I was much younger and these times I spent my money on other shit so I had a jumper which was nice but it wasn’t necessarily new but it wasn’t necessarily old. Listen, what I did was, I had a bag that new clothes came in, I folded it up and put it in the bag and I wrapped it up and I was like “Merry Christmas.”
Did he believe you?
He didn’t say anything, I lived with him at the time but he’d never seen me… I had a few pieces. I thought I was smooth that day and to this day, he’s never been like, 'you gave me a used jumper wagwan?’ Maybe he just pitied me, that’s got to be the worst gift I’ve given someone.
What’s a sure-fire way for someone to ruin your Christmas?
If someone interrupts the food somehow. If the food is delayed or does not exist on Christmas day, Christmas is cancelled. I’m old now, I get myself presents so that’s not exciting, what else am I looking forward to if not the food? If the food gets interrupted, or the food gets cancelled, I’m getting angry just thinking about it. I would not enjoy Christmas without food so the food not being there would ruin Christmas. If the grinch came and stole it, I’m just thinking of all the different scenarios that could happen to affect the food.