I happened across Ralphy London’s latest body of work, Fifteen Winters, a few weeks back on Soundcloud. There’s a lot of hip-hop out there today and I do my best to hear as much of it I can, but it’s rare that I feel like I understand where an artist is coming from on a record so early on into hearing it.
Released through London’s media company Rugraps, Fifteen Winters feels like it truly comes from the eyes, ears and mouth of Ralphy London, covering street-learnt life lessons and stories of self-reflection with the heart-on-sleeve confidence of an artist who truly knows his craft. Consistent flow is taken for granted in the age of the internet mixtape, but lines like ‘my life is a collage of a whole lot of scars, but I make it look so beautiful they call it the arts’ keep you listening like you're reading along to each word with the liner notes in hand.
Whatever he’s been doing for Fifteen Winters, Ralphy London has gained the patience, self-assurance and musicianship to produce something that feels instantly classic (my girlfriend compared the opening track London to Song Cry off The Blueprint, so that gives you an idea of how classic we’re talking).
It’s a piece of work so good it had me eagerly reaching out to learn more after just a few listens, with Ralphy agreeing to take on a few questions to tell us a little more about the inspiration behind Fifteen Winters. Press play above and check out what Ralphy had to say on fashion, the Fifteen Winters philosophy and the best thing about being a rapper...
So you just dropped Fifteen Winters, how does it feel to have that out?
I’m actually relieved to have had it all in one piece in time for the release date. I work so well under pressure that a lot of the records on this album were recorded just a few days prior to me delivering it to the people. Overall I’m pleased with the buzz building around Fifteen Winters not only as a body of work but also a mindset.
The idea of ‘Fifteen Winters’ is consistent throughout the tape and crops up time and again - what does it mean?
The term Fifteen Winters symbolizes a lengthy climb to success, whether you’ve put 2 or 20 years of work I encourage people to view Fifteen Winters as an infinite amount of time in which we should all be prepared to invest.
What do you feel when you listen through the project? Are there any particular tracks or verses you like the most?
I can’t say that there’s a particular verse I like most but I will say the second verse on Loyalty will always be a personal highlight of mine seeing as how I actually typed parts of it out on my phone at my dad’s funeral. Overall when I listen through the entire project I feel comfortable knowing it’ll INSPIRE, which was my sole purpose.
How did you get into doing music?
Well, my stepdad was a DJ in my early years and that gave me such a wide variety of musical influence it’s always hard for me to pinpoint my biggest inspirations. I’ve absorbed so many different things from different places in the culture it’s like my musical gene pool is one big melting pot! Just to name a few, some of my favorite albums are 2-Pac’c The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, Outkast’s ATLiens, Big L’s Lifestylez ov da poor & dangerous and Nas’s Illmatic.
Take me through a normal day in the life of Ralphy London
I just try to stay as productive as possible man, with so much social media expectation placed on indie artist these days I have no choice but to be glued to my cellular device or iPad haha. But aside from that dude honestly just being able to relax and eat some good food makes my day.
What's the best thing that's happened to you as a result of being a rapper? Quite frankly just the simple fact of being PAID to TRAVEL, that’s amazing.
What’s planned for the rest of 2015?
PRODUCTIVITY man that’s all I can say. I plan on releasing at least 3 more EP’s this year alone. There’s a very good chance that a Fifteen Winters II will see the light of day, I don’t know.
I write about a mix of music and fashion... I’ve gotta find out if fashion is important to you?
Of course man, like I said on ’14 summers’ … “My daddy was a coke dealer, my mother was a coat killer so here you have it a fly ass dope nigga..” haha, that’s so REAL. My ‘look’ has evolved so much over the years though, these days my style is more edgy/rebellious than anything. I’m not really into the whole ‘flashy’ scene. I’m more of the no socks, dirty vans, antique jewelry, wrinkled crewneck sweater with shorts and Doc Martens kinda guy.
And finally, what’s the best thing about being a rapper?
HAVING A VOICE, I tell people all the time as long as I can get a message to the masses I couldn’t care less about anything else that comes with it.