Otherwise known as Ricochet from Universal Soldiers, this guy's unique flow is simply amazing. Check what he had to say about past material and what release he's hanging up the mic with!
First up, introduce yourself to the people.
Ric B (for Branson), formerly Ricochet of Universal Soldiers and I also move in certain circles by the name of Juggla Redz.
Where abouts are you from and how do you think this influences the content of your music?
North London, born and bred. I'm currently a resident of the Edmonton slums. I've been shaped and moulded from birth by life experience. What you hear now is based on thirty years of that… although I reckon I've crammed 50 into 30.
How would you best describe your style of rapping and how many years went into developing it?
Intense. Braggadocio to the point of humorous. Man need to listen at least three times before they can clock even half of what's going on in there. I look at this shit like it's science. Flow gotta match content bar for bar, whatever the subject matter. I feel like my style now has directly evolved from 'Slanguage' (everyting before that was still me trying to find myself). That's 12 years of practice before the main event! In any other field I'd be considered a slow learner…
How long have you been rapping and who are some of your biggest influences?
I remember writing my first rhymes at 13. I used to rap American (like everyone else). I was about 16 when I took the name Ricochet. That coincided with me changing my style to something more real, accent-wise. I guess that's why I stuck with the name more than anyting else.
Late 80s, it was Rakim, Kane, KRS-1, Public Enemy and Ice Cube. Kool G Rap blew me away on the 'Live and Let Die' album. I remember buying that tape in New York off one of them man on the street in '91. Nas, Wu-Tang, Big L, Pun… I could go on forever. I got Saigon bumping in my whip at the mo' and of course, Jigga.
What one record or rapper most made you wanna get into music when you were starting out?
Rakim's 'Move the Crowd'. I can still remember seeing the video and being blown away by the slickness.
How did you and Ultra hook up and what releases did the Universal Soldiers drop?
I was running this local music workshop in Edmonton back in '98. Man would come down and spit. Ultra passed through a couple of times and I knew I'd found the element that I was missing in what I was trying to do. Up until that point I'd never properly thought about being one half of a crew, but the potential in the partnership was too big to pass up.
I pushed for us to collabo on what was going to be a one-off project, just an EP. But we recorded enough tracks to put out two. That was 'Street Veterans' 1 and 2. After that we put out the compilation CD in 2001 and everyone on road was buzzing off what we was doing. At that point we could've split but we made the decision to do a proper album with two lead singles, 'Heavyweight Product' and 'Life's Like A Movie'. The LP 'Slanguage' dropped just over two years ago, September 2004.
What's the current status of the group and do you see this changing any time soon?
Universal Soldiers folded when 'Slanguage' come out. Ultra was away at the time but we'd already talked it all out and agreed that our ting was done. He didn't want to rap no more and the struggle we'd gone through had drained us, especially when we hadn't seen nothing come back to us financially.
He's involved with the grime ting now, but behind the scenes managing artists and shit. Promotions and all them tings. I didn't do nothing with music for 6 months to a year after 'Slanguage' then I just started recording odd tracks for the hell of it. Next ting I know, I got a solo project… Mad.
How refreshing is it to be creating solo material as opposed to restricting yourself to the confines of a duo?
You know what? One ting I told myself was that before I retire I got to do something on my own 'cos if there's one drawback to 'Slanguage', it suffers from being one-dimensional. Before Unisols I was a lot more experimental lyrically but the Unisols product was built around the shit that we was going through on a daily basis and didn't allow room for anyting else.
That album is probably one of the most introspective tings to come out of England. The slang and everyting. We was properly in our own world…
What projects are you currently working on and when do you think they'll drop?
Only one project, 'No Pressure'. That's my retirement gift to the rap game. It's set to drop April 2nd 2007 but you know how these tings run. It'll probably end up being July.
Can you let us in on some of the tracks you've been making and what producers have been handling the beats?
Ha ha, you'll find out soon enough! Let's just say that you're gonna get the chance to see the many faces of Ric… Certain demons I wanted to wrestle, tings I wanted to say that I didn't feel comfortable tackling when in Unisols.. But nuff of that street shit too.
I always got to cater for the man on the corner 'cause I'm that guy. But I'm in a slightly different place now. That's the idea behind Grand Vision Entertainment, the imprint for 'No Pressure', having the ambition to flip the street hustle into something much bigger. Production wise, I got Evil Ed, Fly, Sundragon, IQ, some French guy DJ Diaze and a couple of other up and coming producers…
Are you tied with a label at all or are you handling business yourself?
Grand Vision Entertainment. That's the logo and the movement for this project. There are various tracks on 'No Pressure' that are linked to other labels for intended release but I can't say no more than that right now.
Since you first entered the world of music, what's been the biggest changes to the industry?
Everyting's gone soft… It was going soft when our first record come out but now! Jesus. It's like man have lost touch with their reality. Everyone wants to live in a MTV video. It's crackers. Maybe it's 'cause I don't crave fame. If I wanted to be a clown I'd have joined the fuckin' circus!
Who are some of your favourite artists or recent times and who'd you like to get some collaborations going with?
Alicia Keys and Jill Scott are off the hook. If Billie Holiday was alive I'd hunt her down and beg her for a hook-up for real. Ditto for Garnett Silk.
How should people keep up with what you're doing?
Have you got any shout out's or messages for the people?
I wanna big up everyone that's contributed to 'No Pressure' so far. The whole Evil Ed family tree, the Grand Vision Entertainment team and of course Big Smoke magazine. Plus, everyone that's shown love and support for me and Unisols since '98. If it weren't for the fans I wouldn't do this. That's why I gotta retire in style…