Flavour chats to 21-year-old underground UK rapper Ben Ridley about his music career, his plans for next year and his also tell us what the wildest thing is that he’s ever done. To find out, read on!
When and where did your love of music begin?
I remember going to a pram store with my mum when I was in year 2 or 3 and hearing Eminem on the radio there, it sounded really fun but I didn’t start writing then, everyone was heavily influenced by So Solid then also kids used to drum on bins and recite so solid lyrics, that made me imagine myself rapping but I didn’t write an actual lyric till I was in year 7.
What’s Ben Ridley about?
I’m about letting people know they aren’t alone in their situation, I’m about bringing people together through shared experiences and after all that; I’m just about getting you through boring and monotonous moments with cool melodies.
Where do you want to go with your career?
I got where I am just by practising my craft constantly, always trying to get better and keeping my brain active thinking about how I can get more exposure. I don’t think I can say exactly where I want to be because if possible I’d like to outdo all the people I admire and respect so that if someone’s admiring my work they can aim to go past my level and we all get better entertainment.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
I love that lyrics allow me to vent a lot and say some things that might not be heard if I just said them in normal conversation or a speech. In a way it allows me to be a secret talkative person [laughs]. I love the competition side of it too; I really try to make my stuff sound better than everyone else’s, regardless of the support they might be receiving from labels or whatever. Highlights in my career, I’ve met and worked with a lot of people but I don’t like to name drop, I’d say finishing my latest project “Practice Makes Perfect III: The Heart” it was a magical morning, one day I’ll try and make a re-enactment so I can share that day and the build up.
What motivates you?
I’m motivated by the fact we all have been given quite a short amount of time to live on this earth and do the best we can with our energy, and time is running out; that’s what keeps me from procrastination, I’m also motivated by my son, he’s a few months old and I just want to give him every opportunity there is.
Is hip-hop dead?
I don’t think so, I think it’s more alive than ever now, there’s so much variety and whatever you choose to listen to within hip hop is available in abundance. I can’t complain, I love it.
What 5 songs are you listening to at the moment?
Money Trees by Kendrick Lamar
See it to Believe It by J Cole
Girlfriend by Prince
Be Still by The Killers
And Kids in the Narm by myself [Laughs] I honestly play that every day, it’s really special to me..
Who is your music inspiration?
So many people but to keep it short, Michael Jackson, Prince, Jay Z, Kanye West, Giggs, So Solid Crew, Dizzee Rascal and The Kings of Leon; all for different reasons.
How would you describe your sound?
Truthful, bold and developing new school hip hop.
Tell me about Practice Makes Perfect: The Heart III
It’s basically the story of my life age 19-20 on music, with a few bits and bobs from other parts of my life, I tried to basically show the listener my mind frame and thoughts from a very sad place to a bold and “ready for whatever” place, which is what I feel happened to me. It’s completely originally produced by Catalyst Beats, Versechild and Cyrus who is a member of my team TNGR (The Nuu Game Republic) it features every artist from TNGR aswell as G.H. (Grands Hill) and poet Suli Breaks; you can download it for free on my website www.benridley.com
What do you want people to take away from your music after they listen to it?
I’d like people to feel encouraged to approach everyday with a bold heart and to know that we all have the same feelings pretty much and so none of us should feel strange. I also want people to bob their heads uncontrollably when listening to me in public spaces [Laughs].
How does your culture influence you and your music?
Growing up my parents played a lot of Nigerian music made by artists of my specific tribe (Igbo) I learned the meaning of the lyrics to the songs, they gave a lot of advice for everyday situations, from that I thought that lyrics are even more magical when they help a person’s self development. All African music is known for making people dance and move, so I think that’s important too.
Which three artists would headline your dream concert?
That’s a tough one I’ll say Kanye West, Andre 3000 and Jay Z.
What sets you apart from other artists out there?
I feel my lyrics go in to details never heard before and every song has a message for someone even though some aren’t obvious.
Have you met anyone famous, who has left you completely star struck?
I bumped into Asher D just walking around Peckham one day it was a funny story that I’m saving. So Solid are legends to me.
What’s the best piece of advice you received since entering the industry?
Keep your brain active
What can we expect from you in 2013?
Got an EP/Mixtape in the works called “Higher Learning: The Bubble” going to blow your mind in all ways possible.
Quick fire questions
What was the first record you ever brought?
Damian Marley and Nas Distant Relatives
What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
Stripped down to my blue pants on my birthday for my friends …. I was eight.
Finish these sentences
You never leave home without…Headphones and iPhone
If you were in charge for one day, you would….Tear down the Government and make a system where the people vote for every decision, then kiss Pixie Lott …. and Jamelia
The future is….Yours if you prepare for it today.
All I want for Christmas is…Peace and mind and happiness for my loved ones.