Ricochet Klashnekoff is a renegade London rapper 'mans' would follow into battle. His spirited street odes, loved by the capitol's pirate radio stations, ring out from the car stereos of rude boys and backpack hip-hoppers alike. And now–after a year of enduring false promises from every major label going–Klash is releasing his benchmark debut album, Lion Hearts, independently.
For those of you not familiar with Britain's favorite mutineer, let me acquaint you. In 2003, he dropped The Sagas Of Klashnekoff, a bombshell debut EP of anthems sandwiched between excerpts from the classic '70's movie Babylon. The biggest tracks–"Murda," "Jankroville," "All I Got"–were raw diaries of everyman tribulations delivered in East London "You get me" rap and "Me nah like him" Jamaican deejaying. Angry yet measured, base but complex, Klash's rhymes were an antidote to grime–he hit a nerve with youth who wanted more from their music than a fierce beat and some madcap emceeing.
"It's not about the idiot ting," says Klash. "Grown youths can relate to me. You don't have to be top thug. You can be yourself and still be cool. A song can change your life. I have people telling me 'Black Rose' [a poignant track about meeting his babymama and dealing with the death of his father] helped them deal with the death of their mum. Youths tell me I made them see a different way and elders appreciate what I'm trying to do."
Yet those unfamiliar with the subtleties of Klash's conscious lyricism remain confused–Klash still has to tirelessly defend his angst-filled timbres and aggressive name to journalists and check signers.
"People don't get it," he rails. "The Klashnekoff was designed for the common man. They're the guns of freedom fighters. There's a famous poster of Malcolm X looking out his window and he's holding a Klashnekoff. I'm in a revolutionary mind-state. But fuck my name. Tony Blair has a nice name, wears a suit and is responsible for killing thousands of people. I'm a product of his system. There's context to the name Ricochet Klashnekoff. There's context to all my lyrics."
This lyrical context couldn't be more evident than on Lion Hearts. Showing an increased maturity and clarity of thought, Klash issues a multi-pronged attack on the government and the fickle music business. On a personal level, he offers hope, taking listeners on an honest journey through his changing attitude towards the death of his father, his daily mission to provide for his sons and his struggle to walk a righteous path despite the distractions of street life.
"Society promotes unobtainable wealth," says Klash. "They pump it in our face 24/7. It breeds frustration, desperation and misguided values. When you're faced with few options you get caught up. Every man has his demons. I fight mine everyday. If you don't fight, the system eats you up. That's what my album's about: the fight."