Ransom: The Payoff

Jersey City rapper Ransom, formerly of the duo A-Team, has been eyeing the rap game with frustration for quite some time. In the past, he wondered why the respect earned from the streets and internet fans did not translate into a record deal. More recently, he was angered by Joe Budden’s decision to place him and former partner, Hitchcock, on a Mood Musik 3 track together without his sign off. Today, in spite of a new situation with Babygrande Records and rumored major label negotiations, Ransom remains dissatisfied. Regardless of a somewhat weary outlook, the rapper is confident that his contribution is bound to be recognized. Gearing up to release the mixtape Street Cinema on April 29th, Ransom reflects on the impact of the beef with Budden, his self-sufficient career trajectory, and what fans can expect from his new project. AllHipHop.com: The last time you spoke with us, you were gearing up to put out Ransom Note and the beef with Budden had not popped off yet. A lot has happened since, how do you feel now compared to back then?Ransom: I feel the same, I put another mixtape out. Nothing really changed with me, I still feel like I’m the best. AllHipHop.com: You were also talking about not being signed yet, but now you have a situation with Babygrande…Ransom: We just linked up and got something done. I got a couple of things I’m working on now. I think that my fans will really be surprised, probably in the next couple of months when I finish up these next ventures I’m working on. A lot has changed since the last time we talked, but I’m still frustrated. I’m gonna stay frustrated, even when I’m on, or even when I’m rich, money or no money. That’s how I am, I’m never happy.[Ransom "No Introduction" Video]

AllHipHop.com: How did the deal with Babygrande come about?Ransom: I went up there and with met Chuck [Wilson] and he was feeling what we was doing. He checked the internet, he didn’t really know who I was but he did his research. He called me up and said, “I definitely want to f**k with you, so let’s do it.” We got it done.AllHipHop.com: Word is you have a major deal on the table as well…Ransom: I got some stuff that I’m working on. I’m not one of them artists that say, “Yo, I got this 9.8 million dollar deal on the table,” I’m not with that. I’m not trying to jinx it. When it get done, if it get done, everybody will know.AllHipHop.com: Do you think the buzz from the beef with Budden helped you?Ransom: Nah, I don’t think it helped me. If I got a couple of his fans that hate me more or like me more, maybe. But other than that I don’t care, me and him know. It was never really beef. When it was going on, he called my phone several times, just me and him though. Like I say all the time, people are like, “Joe’s nice.” Yeah, but he’s just dissing me, he’s not telling the truth, those are jokes. There’s not one thing that I said that wasn’t true, but only me and him could know that, the fans don’t know that. They just hear me call him gay, but they don’t really know that he is. I don’t mean to blow him up like that but hey. If you ever met him, you would know. But the fans, they don’t know. When I say fans, I mean the Internet, I don’t mean the streets.

"There’s not one thing that I said that wasn’t true, but only me and [Joe Budden] could know that, the fans don’t know that. They just hear me call him gay, but they don’t really know that he is."

AllHipHop.com: What about the people at Babygrande, who as you said did their homework on you and didn’t necessarily know about the A-Team prior…Ransom: Yeah, it probably changed their aspect like, “Oh yeah Ransom, let’s hop on it.” I think it helped that probably. They just want to sell whatever they gonna sell—10, 15,000 copies, and that’s good profit for them. And if somebody’s beefing, they don’t know what it’s about or whatever, but they know beef sell records, mixtapes, ringtones, whatever—it sells everything.AllHipHop.com: You felt disrespected by Joe Budden for putting you and Hitch on a track together after you had broken up. But do you think he did that with bad intentions, or as a fan of the A-Team?Ransom: He’s a manipulator. He’s the type of dude…he did that to show people “I’m the king of Jersey, look at what I did, I got the A-Team back together.” He’s one of them type cats, he play a lot of mind games and s**t.AllHipHop.com: As far as the back and forth between you and Budden, he claimed that hehelped you as an artist, steering you away from the gritty street freestyles that you were known for in you’re A-Team days…Ransom: That’s just the opposite. I remember him telling me “When you rap you gotta put as many metaphors as you could so people will listen,” that’s what he used to tell me. I was never-if you ask anybody who listened to Ran-matter of fact nobody listened to me before A-Team, but Jersey City people know. How I used to rap is how I rap now. I never used the metaphors; that was never my thing. But I was unknown, and Joe used to come around, and Hitch was a metaphor rapper. We used to rap about guns and s**t like that, so they got together, they did a couple freestyles first. I was just in the background. Joey was like, “You gotta put metaphors so people will listen,” so I started doing metaphors, I was good at it. I got good at it ‘cause that’s what I do, but that wasn’t me. That was about the only thing he told me. He never told me, “Yo, spit from your heart,” he never told me that s**t. That’s what I did, that’s what I always used to do. That n***a is not a teacher, he not as smart as everyone thinks he is, he’s dumb. AllHipHop.com: So the type of more personal songs that you make now, that’s what you wanted to come into the game with originally?Ransom: Exactly. But at the time when we was rapping, that right there wasn’t popping. So my whole camp- the A-Team thing- that’s when Fab was popping and it was the Lox and that kind of rappers who didn’t really talk about anything in specific, just spitting hard, hard bars and hard lines. At that time, that’s what it was. My s**t wasn’t nothing like that. AllHipHop.com: Do you think people still see you as the same type of rapper you were from you’re a-Team days?Ransom: I don’t think people are listening. When people hear rappers say, “gun” that’s all they hear, they don’t hear anything around the word “gun”. You could be saying “put the gun down,” or “use the gun only when you have to.” But people just hear the guns and say “Oh, he’s a gangster rapper, or he’s a street rapper.” I don’t want to be pigeonholed like that.[Ransom "Grind and Hustle"]

AllHipHop.com: So do the people at Babygrande see the whole vision?Ransom: I’m not sure, I’m not really sure. I got a lot of records in the stash, where if people hear them, they’ll be like, “This is not regular Ransom.” But I don’t think people are really ready to hear stuff like that from me. Remember, I never had a situation, I never had a budget, I never bought a beat, I never paid for a feature. So all the stuff you hearing is just from me, it’s my doing, it’s in my studio. So the way I’m doing it is harder. Just imagine if I had a budget? Pain and Glory 2 is done, if I put that out, wow, people are gonna be like “This guy’s crazy.” I just don’t want to put a street album out, and it just get blown in the wind like the first one. I mean the first one, people recognize me from that one, but it’s still not an albumAllHipHop.com: Street Cinema is coming out, can you talk about what you’ve got in store with that?Ransom: Street Cinema is a mixtape, and as usual when it drop it’s gonna be the best mixtape that’s on the market. But it’s going to be in the stores this time, and I’m sure it’s going to be bootlegged in the streets. I just think motherf***as is going to go cop it, man. You know the work I put out, I spend a lot of time on what I do so I can make it right. AllHipHop.com: You’ve been showing a lot of range on your mixtapes with different concepts, so what sort of ideas are you bringing to this project? Ransom: I like to go out the box as far as concepts. Like this one freestyle I got on there, I changed my voice to make it sound like I’m an older man, like 56 years old. And I’m dreaming; I had a deal, I ruined it and I’m just talking about all the s**t I did wrong and what I could’ve done right; I cheated on my wife, I went to the clubs, I wasn’t concentrating on music, record labels were raping me, my friends took all my money, so that’s crazy. But I got a whole bunch of concept s**t, I switch it up, that’s what I do. AllHipHop.com: Who are you going to have on there in terms of collabos?Ransom: I just have Stack Bundles on this one, I believe. I think it’s a classic joint that [Stacks and I] did, every CD I have that I try to put out, I’ma try to have him on it, if it’s either an old verse or I find new verse. That was like my brother.

"Every CD I have that I try to put out, I’ma try to have [Stack Bundles] on it, if it’s either an old verse or I find new verse. That was like my brother."

AllHipHop.com: You’ve lost some allies in the game over time, so who is on your team now? Are you still cool with Clue?Ransom: I’m still cool with Clue, I ain’t got no problems with Clue. Stack Bundles was my real ally. I mean I f**k with a lot of industry dudes, I wouldn’t even say industry dudes. I f**k with a lot of rappers, like Jadakiss, the whole Lox, Santana, S.A.S., Skull Gang all that. That’s pretty much it. I don’t really mess with a lot of rappers, or they don’t mess with me. I don’t know which one it is. AllHipHop.com: On your bio, you’re quoted as saying that when all is said and done, you’ll be one of the most influential artists of all time. Do you really feel that?Ransom: I truly believe that. I mean when it’s all said and done, I’m not saying two years from now. When it’s all said and done and everybody go back to the records and the archives and they like, “Wow, look at his body of work, whatever happened to this guy,” you know?AllHipHop.com: You talk a lot about how people are going to look at your music in hindsight, is that because you’re still unsatisfied with how things are now? Ransom: Yeah, that’s a good perception. Like I said, I’m gonna be frustrated. I’m not a content guy. It might be in my mind, but f**k it, it’s in my mind. It gives me an edge and it makes me write what I write, so sometimes I create edges for myself. But yeah, I talk about a lot of stuff in hindsight because people will suffer, they will know. They will know, I guarantee it. I won’t leave until they know