Los Angeles, California – the home of some of the most iconic names in hip-hop history. Recently there’s been a magnifying glass on the city, with films like Dope and Straight Out Of Compton bringing the temperament and lifestyle of LA to the forefront of popular culture. It’s also a breeding ground for a new generation of talented MC’s who are changing the game. We had the pleasure of speaking to one such talented MC with dreams of taking over the game. Meet Ronin Gray.
Tell us about your background – how did you get into hip-hop?
I grew up in Los Angeles, California listening to gangster rap. Eazy- E was my favorite rapper as a kid. Rap was easy for me to identify with because I was in the streets living much of the life rappers were talking about. I was in the 2nd grade the 1st time I ever memorized a rap song and performed it. Since then I have had a love for the music.
Your name Ronin means Samurai with no lord or master. Can you tell us the significance of the name, and how you came up with it?
A name tells you who a person is just like any other word can define an object. I grew up around gang members my whole life living in LA. I lived the gangster life but made a conscious choice not to become a gang member. Rather, I would create my own gang and start with a clean slate. Money was my primary objective. Why be a follower, when you can be the creator and the leader.
Tell us about your music – what inspires you?
Most of my music is written from emotional conflict within myself. If I perform a record, and I am angry, more than likely I was expressing my feelings about the situation in my life. I used to perform every day while I was incarcerated as a young boy and even later on as an adult when I went to prison. Something about creating music makes me feel free – even when I physically wasn’t.
Tell us about your latest project “Red Dragon.” How long did it take to record? What do you want people to take away from it?
I worked on The Red Dragon EP for about a year. Most of its production is from a producer named CP. Who is originally from New York City now residing in Los Angeles. I thought it would be a good idea to mix things up with a producer who has different ideas about hip-hop music. It’s very sample based. I just wanted to put a piece of art together that I was allowed to be as raw as possible. Songs like “I Can Fly” are very deep with content. I will admit my music is not for children. If it were a comic book I would liken it to a graphic novel for adults.
How have you grown from your first project The Takeover?
The Takeover was an incredible project. Sonically it was a more West Coast-based sound which is why on the Red Dragon I went completely left. With the producer/engineer who’s name is Gelow of westbound studios I was able to build a good Comrade and an understanding of finding someone who can help me execute my ideas with great industry quality sound.
What’s your take on the current status of the music industry?
I believe the ball is in the hands of the independent artist. But even a good independent artist has to be willing to come up with either time or money for marketing and promotion. You can have a great record but if you don’t invest in that song who will hear it? I am not a major artist I am an independent. But I will continue to produce market and promote product and inch my way across the world wide web until I crack.
What are your goals as an artist?
Ideally I’d like to go on a national US tour followed by an international tour. I would sell merchandise such as beanies, hats, jackets, T-shirts, and CDs. Magnets and stickers. I would be happy if I could experience this for one year. I believe it would be a very lucrative opportunity for me if properly planned and executed. Following that, I would like to help develop another artist as I’ve done for myself. And then move into producing my motion pictures and books/graphic novels. I know that my story will get the attention of troubled youth. These are of course short term goals. My dream is massive.
Do you have any last words/shout outs for our blog readers?
Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. For more info, please check out my website. www.RoninGray.com make sure to follow me on social media Instagram Twitter @RoninGray and I would like to give a big shout out to all my Brothers and Sisters down with the Triple “O.”