I can't stop listening to Ramriddlz.
More specifically, I can't stop listening to "Call Me," a relatively brand new song that Ramriddlz released on his SoundCloud a couple weeks ago. Like most of hip-hop I originally considered him an afterthought, but now I've been wondering if he might actually have a strong future in music. The song, "Call Me," was produced by two frequent collaborators by the names of Chillaa and Jaegen, and features someone named Nemesis. It currently sits at just over 135k plays on SC as of this writing, and I would wager I'm personally responsible for an embarrassingly high number of those.
Some of you might be asking, "wait, who the f**k is Ramriddlz?" Fair enough. If the name sounds familiar at all, it was probably through first hearing the rumors that Drake would be bestowing his coveted cosign to the Toronto upstart. The song in question was the intriguingly titled "Sweeterman," released last year. The music video was the first exposure I had to Ram, after a snippet of Drake over the beat surfaced along with rumors of him remixing the record. A Drake co-sign is a big deal, so of course I had to watch, and... um...wow. The video was hilarious, but when I passed it along for others to watch they didn't know whether I was serious or not. Here was someone who looked like he couldn't yet legally buy alcohol, dancing like a jackass in a mansion surrounded by women, in front of an aquarium, and on the beach, all the while holding a big, goofy smile and singing about some oustandingly crude and ridiculous shit. It was Internet gold.
Some choice lines: "She don't sing song, she catch ding dong," "hotty, wasabi, she got that nani, tsunami," and maybe the best, "On that Insta G, she want my Insta D, and then she swallow." Was this a joke? It was definitely a joke. The Chiquita banana girl holding a joint on his shirt, the Sweeterman persona, the fact that he looked like he was about to bust out laughing the whole time. But then I found myself restarting the track. It was insanely catchy, and remembering that Drake might jump on the song I began to look for clues as to why that song? Was he on to something? Comments on the video pretty much accurately described my thoughts on the song, statements like "this is the most fire trash i have ever heard" or "at first i thought it sucked but today ive found myself replaying it 20 times. just too fucking catchy." It was so bad it was good, but the more I listened I began to think it might just be good.
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Finally, Drake dropped his long-awaited remix and... left Ramriddlz off of the song?!? I was disappointed but I didn't know why. This was one of the most successful artists in music taking over a song from someone who had one song to his name. I should have been ecstatic that I didn't have to hear Ramriddlz, but by that point I had attached him to the song. I couldn't hear a "Sweeterman" without the Sweeterman himself.
Then "Call Me" came out. It was the same Ramriddlz again, the tropical R&B, the Sweeterman persona and lines like "took them jollies, on my mollys, never salty, no lie" and "call me if you want your back broken." But then I heard it again a few days later, and I couldn't stop playing it. Were those steel drums? Why have I never heard of Nemesis before? Why are these melodies so great? At first I couldn't tell if it was the music or novelty that drew me in, but after "Call Me" I was pretty sure I actually enjoyed what I was listening to.
I had to get deeper. I found that he had released a mixtape a month prior, the P2P EP(yes, that stands for "Pussy 2 Pink") and prepared for SweeterSZN. The verdict, it's not for everyone, and rap conservatives/traditionalists might as well steer clear, but it's a cohesive project that pulls inspiration from much of music's current trends. In terms of sound, he's riding the same melodic, half-sung wave that's not far off from, say, a Makonnen, a Post Malone or even a Fetty Wap. He's got flashes of PartyNextDoor (see: "Splenda"), and with content that's about 90% getting laid and 10% doing drugs it's not a stretch to compare his subject matter to that of an immature The Weeknd.
As a whole, I wouldn't be surprised if he actually blows up. The production is tight, and his juvenile carelessness and energy permeates his music. On the surface, the shit he says is almost painfully childish, but I can't deny he's got similes for days, and once you get past things like "shorty hump like camel" there are enough obscure references to add a deeper layer beyond the adolescence. Ram's lighthearted earnesty is the draw, and that if you can make it past the utter lack of introspection and novelty, there's something to be enjoyed.
I'm not saying Ramriddlz is going to crumble the foundations of hip-hop and change the world with his music. I'm saying that I think I can hear what Drake heard, and that I wouldn't write him off just yet. I won't be surprised if he outgrows the 15 minutes that Drake's "Sweeterman" remix gave him, and continues to boost his popularity as an artist. He obviously received the Drake co-sign, Travi$ Scott has allegedly been bumping Ram on Snapchat, and his play counts are impressive. If nothing else, "Call Me" is a goddamn good song, and with the island/reggae influence surging as of late ("Hotline Bling," "Cheerleader," etc.) I could see it being a hit song attached to someone else's name. Call me crazy, I can take it, just make sure you also call me in a year to admit I was right.
[By Brendan Varan. He's patiently awaiting the comments on this one. Follow him on Twitter.]