Wrap Up And Watch Out: Ratlin
Ratlin only been on the scene for a tender two years, yet the lyricist’s authentic style and lyrics grabbed the attention of the underground - which saw him pocket an OMA last year, hailing as the ‘Best Newcomer’. With his third mixtape ‘Crown Me’ dropping in December and the ‘Infinite Possibilities’ EP already sorted for 2013, The Wrap Up’s Shireen Fenner speaks to Ratlin about future projects and the idea of getting signed…
The Wrap Up: Hi Ratlin. Let’s take it back in time - your dad was a producer. How did he influence you as a musician?
Ratlin: My dad played a major part of me getting into music. As you said he was a producer; he’s worked around many artists. He did give me that spark to start rapping, but it was more of a self-decision. It was the people I was around - life experiences and what I’ve been through in my short period of time gave me the power to talk. [It also] made a lot of people want to listen.
TWU: Tell us about life after dropping your first mixtape ‘Youngest In Charge’ in 2011.
Ratlin: That was the crucial biting point for me. If I thought the people didn’t like it enough, I don’t think I would have continued making mixtapes to that extent - I maybe would have carried on making music, but not as seriously. ‘Youngest In Charge’… I loved it, everyone loved it, I done a few videos and in no time ‘Summertime In Mexico’ came out. Off that I won the ‘Best Newcomer’ Award at the OMA’s in 2011 – I’m just getting over that, I was happy about that! This December I’m dropping a mixtape called ‘Crown Me’.
TWU: You have quickly built a name for yourself in the scene. How do you think a rapper maintains a good reputation in the UK?
Ratlin: Stay positive and keep being yourself; don’t change for anybody, that’s what people want you to do. Once you change, you fall off. If you continue being yourself and making the music people liked in the first place, you’ll have no problem as a rapper.
TWU: What is it that you love about the UK music scene that sets it apart from the US and the rest of the world?
Ratlin: We’ve got our own sound, a traditional sound. That’s what some artists in the US are trying to catch onto now. We need a bit more unity; if we had that there would be nothing stopping us. There’s not a lot of support, if you’re not already a team no one is willing to give that extra hand. [But] we’ve got our own sound, that’s what keeps us different.
TWU: What is your take on getting signed?
Ratlin: Getting signed… that’s something that comes with how talented you are and how much work you put in. I have no problem with getting signed, but it’s getting signed to who and for what. If a deal comes along down the line then I’m grateful, but right now it’s just music. You can get far on your own, but it depends how far you want to get and where your dream lies - it depends where you want to be as an artist. I’ve only been in the game for two years so I ain’t rushing anything.
TWU: A lot of the content in your songs focuses on how little you had growing up and how hard you had to hustle to get by. Has music saved you from a risky path in life?
Ratlin: Not just yet, I’m still me and I’ll continue to be me. I wouldn’t say I had a hard life coming up, but I went through a lot of stuff coming up. What I’ve been through has made me who I am today. I’m a very smart guy; I would have come up with something else to do. I didn’t plan to start rapping, I started music as a hobby and people started liking it; I saw the business in it. I would have come up with a plan B.
TWU: Your new mixtape ‘Crown Me’ is out in December. What’s the idea behind the name and what can we expect from it?
Ratlin: ‘Crown Me’ is about the fact that everyone wants to be the best and everyone thinks they have got talent. Me personally, I don’t think rappers are touching me. They don’t hit the subjects I hit; they can’t switch it up, they’re not versatile like me. They might have a few hits out there, but they don’t reach out to the people and touch people’s souls - they just make people like [their] music. ‘Crown Me’ is something completely different to what every other rapper has thought about - my dreams are something crazy. I want that crown; I want to be crowned a legend.
My other mixtapes had a few features, but I’ve never really reached out to other artists. On this mixtape, every single track apart from two have features; I’ve got around 20 UK artists on there. I’ll be premiering a lot of the songs soon on BBC 1Xtra. I’ve got people like G FrSH, Squeeks, Benny Banks, Harry Shotta, Blade Brown, No Lay, Sincere, a singer called Karina from Birmingham and a singer called V.
TWU: Following that, what is next for Ratlin?
Ratlin: After ‘Crown Me’, ‘Infinite Possibilities’ is going to be out, my seven track EP - it’s already finished. I’m just waiting on the right release date and talking to a few majors because I’ve got a few signed people on there. It’s gonna be more of an iTunes thing, so get your 79p out because I’ve given away a lot of mixtapes - now it’s time to get a little bit back so I can continue. There’s a lot in store, don’t sleep on me. Next year I’m [also] planning on releasing a mixtape called ‘The Lost Tapes’ - that will be another free mixtape with every song that I haven’t released yet - it might be a double CD, it might be a triple CD.
Words: Shireen Fenner (@Shireenxoxo)
Edit: Maz Khan (@MazHalima)