IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What city and state are you from?
RAS CITY: When you ask me what city I am from the answer it is a little more complex than you would think. I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but I grew up moving a lot. At the young age of two my family decided to move to sunny south Florida. Then again at the age of 5, my family moved to Toronto in Canada. I will never forget that move because we drove across the country. Some of my first memories where in a car driving: Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, all the way up to Toronto, driving through major cities all over the US. At the age of 8, my parents took me on my first plan ride to visit their home country in the Caribbean, Jamaica. As you can see from a young age, before I even hit the age of 10, I had already lived in and seen several cities all around North America and visited the Caribbean. During those early years of life I guess we are all trying to find out where we are from, because being from somewhere is not just about being born there; it’s also about embracing the culture and exploring the downtown and the uptown. At a young age I had to learn to adapt to living in different places so I learned to make my home wherever I was. So when you ask me where I’m from, I’m a New Yorker at heart but really, in my mind I’m from Home, and Home is wherever I’m at. This is part of the reason I call myself Ras City. Ras is a title, it means Prince or King; so in my mind, I feel like I’m a King in whatever City I’m in.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What is your music background?
RAS CITY: Growing up in a Jamaican household, reggae is in my bones, so I guess I’ve always had some kind of rhythm. My first musical experience was at the age of 10. I was part of a bongo and conga drum band. The band consisted of five youth, three boys, two girls and our drumming teacher, who went by the name Kofi. Kofi suffered from multiple sclerosis. He was paralyzed from the waist down, which made him even more efficient with his hands. To this day I have not seen a more skilled drummer. It was a humbling experience. It showed me how great you could be if you put your mind to it no matter what the obstacle. We would perform in front of schools and small events. I soon became interested in playing the drums (not just the bongo but the whole set). Although I was not formally trained I learn about rhythm and keeping the beat when I was in the bongo band. I would play the drums on the weekends, but I never did latch on to a band. My love of the drum eventually made it to a computer. I later started to get interested in music production. I grew up listening to hip-hop, not so much the popular rap we listen to today, but I mean classic hip-hop, before the bling, before the gansta raps and the golden era of hip-hop. I used to listen to groups like Public Enemy, Special Ed, De La Soul, MC Lyte, Kid and Play, Big Daddy Kane , Mystro Fresh West and Queen Latifah, just to name a few. One of my first favorite songs was “Planet Rock” from African Bambatta. Now a day you don’t find hip-hop groups dressed up with feathers on their head, with a producer playing live MIDI and adding live sound effects to the voice on stage with a DJ. I’ve been listening to Hip-Hop all my life. I used to watch Rap City all the time. From Rakim dropping his lyrical mastermind, to the East Coast,West Coast feuds with Pac and Biggie. I decided to become a hip-hop recording artist in 2007. I started out doing local performances in Miami and Toronto at artist showcases. I did that for a couple years. Although I was starting to gain a local buzz, at the time I wasn’t happy with the music production of some of the songs that I had recorded. I took a pause on rapping and I started to teach myself how to make beats and produce music. I opened up a sound recording studio in 2009; RasCity Studio was born. I self taught myself how to produce, record, mix and master music over the next 4 years. I worked as a sound engineer while mastering my writing style. As a recording engineer I worked with all different types of genders of music, which enhanced my musicianship, learning something different from each act I worked with. I gained a fairly good knowledge of the engineering and musical aspect of creating a great song. In an attempt to polish my new found skills, I recently have been fine-tuning my musical experience by attending Full Sail University. Over the last year I have been studying a lot of advance Musical Theory and Music History.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Why do you want to record and release your own music?
RAS CITY: I am a second-generation writer. My father Basil ‘Kusoonogo’ Lopez is a published author. I learned my niche for writing from him. I am a hard worker; I spend countless hours in the studio. There is a lot more to producing a hit record than the average person would think. It can be hours or days, or weeks or sometimes years to get all those right pieces together to get that magic. Life is an emotional roller coaster, if you can take those experiences and transform them into something people hear, but not just listen to, but really mean hear to the point where it’s felt and it touches you, that’s beautiful music. Through my music I learned to express myself. Through my expressing myself I learned to make good music. It took some time, but though all these experiences I learned to take my emotions and channel it into my music. I feel as though when I perform my music I want listeners to feel the emotion I was having at the time I created that record. I am very passionate about creating music, there are a lot of talented, passionate artist out there, but it’s the one who works hard with that passion that really stands out. If one of my fans is listening to one of my songs and they feel the emotion I was having at that time, even if it’s just for one second I feel like my job is done. I make music to share emotions and experiences, because that’s what life is, shared experiences. When I make music I want the listener to have the same enjoyment I had when I was recording. I love making music. I want to spread that love. God has blessed me with a gift.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your songs about?
RAS CITY: My songs are about my life experiences. The album “Diamonds N Liquor” is a compilation of songs I made while I was living in Orlando, Florida. I write songs about going out to the club, and club hopping which was something I used to do a lot in Miami when I first started rapping. I got a song called “Out My Face” because I just feel like I need a space and people stand too close to me sometimes. I have another song on the album called “Ace of Spades”, where I compare my life to a poker game, because life can be a gamble at times, and you have to take a risk, and somebody will catch you bluffing if your not careful. I love to write songs for the ladies as well. I write about whatever is on my mind at that time when I’m in the recording studio. Near the end of the “Diamonds N Liquor” album has the song “Hangover”. I take elements from life and conceptualize them. When I do work on an album I like to stick with the concept and keep continuity. What I would love to do more in the future is features and working with other artist. You never know where the music will go when you mix different minds together. There is an excitement to it; I always look forward to getting creative with creative people.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Who is your fan base directed towards?
RAS CITY: My fan base is directed toward anybody who is feeling that track at that given time. It could be a teenager or an adult. I aim to make songs for everybody.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Who are your musical influences?
RAS CITY: I was a big Special Ed fan as a kid. As a teenager I loved most New York rap like QueensBridge rappers such as Mobb Deep, Rapper Noyd, Cormega, Capone and Noreaga and Nas; and Brookyln rappers such as Foxy Brown, AZ, Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z, and Fabulous. I also loved the Wu-Tang Clan. I was big into the Miami Music scene too love artist such as Pitbull, Rick Ross, Trick Daddy and DJ Khaled. Over all my biggest musical influences are Jay-Z and Fabulous.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How would you describe your music to people?
RAS CITY: My music is a combination of modern hip-hop production, mixed in with live instrumentalist, blended together with a New York Style of rap. My main Producer I work with outside of myself is from Florida. So I mix together different styles and elements of the North and the South to create my own brand of music. When you listen to one of my songs, you enter my City, my world, if you will, for 3 to 5 minutes; RasCity.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What makes you stand out from other artists?
RAS CITY: The two things that make me stand out are my culture and my production experience. I have an African first name, with a Hispanic last name, born in New York and I grew up in Toronto with Jamaican parents. In my experiences I have gotten a chance to meet a lot of people around the world and I try to always connect with people. My experience in playing instruments and sound engineering has only helped to improve my writing and song creation. Understanding the details of what happens in the post-production of a song gives you a lot more awareness when you are recording.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are some upcoming projects you are currently working on?
RAS CITY: I just recently released my first LP Album, Diamonds N Liquor. I am planning the Diamonds N Liquor Tour, which is scheduled to start in Europe in October 2015.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
RAS CITY: My short-term career goals are to become a touring artist. I have experience as a recording artist. I feel as though a lot of act never get past the studio. I am looking to make that leap this year, to take my talent out of the studio and start to perform around the world. 10 years from now I want to be working as an executive producer, bringing more artist out into the scene.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How can your fans access your music and contact you?
RAS CITY: www.rascity.com
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