When an artist wants to evolve in his craft, at times it takes specific and necessary moves to take them to the next level. You can go from starting one path and then, transitioning to another one. Other times, it takes an artist to do everything in order for their career to reach another level. As for this, Chicago-native, Los Angeles-based rapper Ramaj Eroc, he went from being a high school basketball player, on his way to the NBA, to pursuing a career in music. His dedicated effort has landed him multiple shows throughout Los Angeles, while working on his next move in establishing a mini-tour in other states. We took a moment to interview him about his input on how he feels about independent artist receiving support from GrungeCake as a platform to showcase their music. His upcoming music releases and more importantly one of his biggest performances coming up at the Block Party LA this Saturday, May 9. So, get to know who the artist Ramaj Eroc is before heading out to the event.
So, we are aware that you will be performing at Block Party LA and is that your first performance?
Oh man, I’ve performed multiple times but this performance is one of my biggest shows. I’ve been performing since I was 17 years-old and I’m 23 now.
Are you originally from Los Angeles?
No. I’m originally from Chicago but I lived in Los Angeles since 2011. I like it out here because I don’t have to worry about snow.
What can you tell us about yourself and your music? How did it get started?
I started writing music since I was like 11-years-old. I didn’t get serious until I was 16-17 years old. When I was a junior in high school and I played basketball while in high school. I wanted to be in the NBA but then I gave that up. I started to pursue rap music and ok I cannot quit once I start. I’m going to put all my effort into it because I did quit basketball and that was something that I loved. So, that’s how it all started. Then, I dropped mixtapes back in the days but it’s not like it really count because I was still learning. Me and my brother was like: We need to take our career to the next level. We gotta move and it was between New York and Los Angeles. In 2011, we moved to Riverside, CA and then in the summer of 2012, we moved to LA. So, I’ve done some shows and performed plenty of places. Last year, it was a Brokechella, Airliner, and so many places I cannot think of up-top. When it comes to music, I do everything myself. I write my own music, record, mix and master, promote, book my own shows, and do my own social media. I do everything. I don’t have no PR, no manager, and no booking manager.
Do you ever feel like it’s a lot for you as an artist?
Oh, that’s all the time. I know I see a lot of artists online saying that they are doing this and doing that. Yet, I go to their Twitter and I see that they got booking agents and PR that’s helping them. I’m like: Okay, you are doing it? I just feel like whenever I get a PR or when that happens and / or a manager, I’ll already know the ropes of it. So once I get someone that specializes in these areas, I feel that my career will take off so much more than what it is now.
Exactly. I feel like that is a lot of stuff for an artist to do.
Yeah. It’s a lot of sitting behind the computer.
It’s similar to what some of us do at GrungeCake, except the journalists do not record music.
How were you selected to perform at Block Party LA?
Nikki Nichelle: She is part of the Block Party LA and the staff. I attended last year’s event even if I did not perform. I just wanted to go because there was some people in the lineup and I just wanted to attend the event. What I needed to do is to attend these events and get my face out there. Then I got connected with certain people. Then in the fall of 2014, I hit her up and asked if there was any way that I can perform. She ended up giving my music to Ashley the CEO of the Block Party LA and she ended up liking my music. We set up a meeting, we talked about it and she told me I was selected for it.
Does it mean anything, that you got selected to be in this lineup?
Of course, as an artist that does everything by themselves, it is an accomplishment for me. I feel that Block Party LA is a big event. It’s hard to come across events and / or festivals to get booked for them without a manager. This is huge for me. I told my family, my friends, and people from Chicago that are supposed to come out here. This is a big thing and I’ve been promoting it. I’m not one of the artists that get a show and wait on the show. No, I promote the show and I’m showing the Block Party LA staff that I am happy they selected me. I’m going to do everything to promote and do all that.
Have you been practicing for the show or are you prepared? How do you go about it?
I just pick the songs that I perform and listen to them probably a week before. I don’t necessarily practice or do anything like that. For this show, I have something different because I have two R&B singers that will be doing background [vocals] and a trumpet player coming. I’m trying to get this show to be different than all my other shows. Instead of just rapping and being an average rapper. Getting an instrument player and background singers will work. It will help me do what I need to do in 15 minutes. I gotta do what I gotta do.
Do you get nervous at all?
Every show I get nervous. It doesn’t matter if there are only 10 people at the show, because I still get nervous. I can still mess up and I’m trying to gain as many fans as possible — even if it is five people. I get nervous but once I get onstage, I’m here now and no point on getting nervous.
Yes. I was at SXSW at the APW event and there was an artist (Tory Lanez) that performed and it wasn’t great. Then, I went to see him perform somewhere else the following day and it was just about the same performance. That’s when you know it’s a wrap.
Damn! Tory Lanez? That’s crazy.
Yeah, I was dissapointed because in his music video, he is lit!
The projecs he be putting out is fire.
What is your latest track at the moment?
It’s “Niggas and Bitches”.
Okay. I was listening to that track earlier.
I was surprised that it got that much love. When I was recording it, my brother was here and I was doing a lot of screaming on the song. He was like: “Bruh, that is weak”. When I dropped it, there were a few numbers at first but out of nowhere, I started seeing my plays on Soundcloud increasing. I never knew that this was going to be one of my popular songs. What was crazy was that in the part, “Do you wanna be my side hoe, do you wanna because I treat em’ like”, I searched my lyrics on Twitter and tons of people were quoting that line. I was like, this song is really getting around — for real.
People understand — that’s why and they feel you because some are going through it.
That’s what I was going for because I wrote the song. I had the beat and I was saying, “My nigga, my nigga”, but I also wanted females to like the song as well. So, I said “My bitches, my bitches” but then I said females don’t like that and they don’t like being called that. That’s what made me say, “Ain’t no disrespect when I say my bitches, my bitches” and it came out well, with all those plays.
When I saw the title, I was like: What is this and let me hear this track because I need to know what he is talking about.
Aye! I mean that’s what music is about. I know there is a lot of profanity [but] I still send a message. That’s how I feel music should be even though some people may say [things] about all the cuss words. I used the term “nigga” and “bitches”, trying to make it right since society sees it as bad but I’m not saying it in a bad way. That’s what I was really trying to get at with that song.
Can we expect any upcoming releases that we should be on the lookout for?
At this point, I do not know. I’m in the middle right now and I am working on two projects right now. One project is called, “Back on the Track 3” and “Last Train 2”. Now, “Back on the Track 3”, I’m going to drop because I’m producing all my own beats. So, I’m doing everything but I do not know when it is going to drop. Then, “Last Train 2”, that’s the one I want everything on from the best features, the best beats, and lyrics. I’m working on both but there are no release dates. I want to drop the perfect single and I’m at a stage in my career that I’m tired of just dropping music. Especially, if it’s not going to get the proper promotion that it should get. I’m just holding back on just releasing anything. I got features dropping soon, where I am featured. That’s why I am trying to build away from social media because that’s one thing I feel I need to work on. My Soundcloud, Twitter, and Facebook is okay but I need to get away from the Internet to do shows, events, pop-ups, and all that. That is what I need to work on because if I cannot hold my city down away from the computer, then there is no point.
That’s true because that’s two different things: Social media and real life. I know a lot of artists that on social media, they’re up there but in person, we do not really know who you are.
Are both of your projects different?
It’s definitely different. “Back on the Track 3”, that I am releasing first, is going to be samples. It’s kinda of when Kanye West used to sample back on Late Registration. It’s samples, it’ soulful, and more jazzy. The second project is going to be more commercial but at the same time, you will hear the lyrics and the instrumentation. It’s to let people know that I can make beats and I produce. It’s like the old J. Cole when he first came out. Let people know I can do certain stuff because that’s going to open the market for my brand. People are going to want to come to me for beats as well and features. They’re definitely going to be different.
We want to know: What do you think of GrungeCake? Why do you think this platform is important for independent artists?
I think that any platform for independent artists will work. Especially, if you are targeting that. Any artist, we need that because we don’t have major support from ‘Pigeons and Planes or ‘DJ Booth’. They mainly post main artists or people with PR. So, GrungeCake you know, that’s what supports us because we don’t have that. All these blogs say they do but when you go to their blogs, all you see is Wiz, Drake, Big Sean, Kanye West, and Nicki Minaj. You see major artists and that’s why I support your platform. I support it 100%.
GrungeCake likes to focus and support emerging artists because there isn’t a lot of platforms that will give you the opportunity. Since many of these websites select who they feature, based off of the artist’s followers and not their music. That’s just the reality.
Yeah, and that’s why I support it 100%.
We appreciate that.
That’s the industry and you can’t change it. You just gotta do what you gotta do and hopefully people follow the movement. If they do not follow the movement, then you gotta work harder.
After Block Party LA is over with then, what will be your next step?
Tons of promotions and background stuff that not many people see. I’ve been meeting with tons of people. I’m trying to put together a little tour away from Los Angeles. I’ve performed so much out here that I’ve come to the conclusion that my exclusivity has ran out. So, what I’m trying to do with my brother is a tour out in San Diego, Phoenix, Houston, and places away from Los Angeles. On Soundcloud, you can see where most of your plays are coming from, so we are trying to hit those cities. Giving those fans a chance to see us perform instead of oversaturated LA by performing over and over again. I think that the art of becoming a major artist is being exclusive. If you are not exclusive, then people are going to be like: “Oh, he performs in LA all the time and I can catch him next time.” When you go to places like Houston, some people are going to feel like they need to come to your show because you’re not there. They think: “This is the only time I can see him”, and they need to attend. I have tons of stuff coming up. It’ll be coming soon but I do not know when, at this moment. There are music videos I plan on shooting for certain songs. A music video is a huge part of an artist’s career. I appreciate the interview that you guys are doing on me. It’s hard out here and especially living in LA.
Yes, and we appreciate your love.
See Ramaj Eroc perform live at Block Party LA on May 9.
For more Ramaj Eroc, just click here.