Getting to know Vancouver’s Snak The Ripper [Interview]
Vancouver, B.C. – Snak the Ripper has only been recording since 2007, but his gritty rhymes are spreading fast like a contagious disease. While some rappers push albums and mixtapes with the format of a drug hustle, Snak pushes his albums and music videos with a graffiti hustle. In 2 years, Snak has created a widespread, multi-faceted on-line presence, in addition to a thick fan-base. I met-up with Snak to discuss his new albums, and how he has translated a 15-year relationship with graffiti into rap music.
HipHopCanada: Although your career is young, you’ve freestyled for years. Is that right?
Snak the Ripper: Yeah. I’ve freestyled since I was 13 or 14. It was just something to do when I was drunk with friends. I didn’t take it too serious. But, a couple years ago when I was wasting my life and doing drugs, I had a lot of people tell me that I should pursue rap, so I decided to make an album.
HipHopCanada: You’ve done graffiti forever. How does your love of graffiti translate into rap?
Snak the Ripper:There are similarities for sure. I utilize my graffiti skills and put them into rap. One example is how I promote myself. Getting fans is like doing tags. The more tags you have, the more strength you have as a writer. Fans increase your strength as a rapper. The only difference between rap and graffiti is that there’s no money in graffiti.
HipHopCanada: Do you think that having a presence on-line through multiple mediums has played a major role in building your career?
Snak the Ripper:For sure, the Internet is my prime tool. Without YouTube, Facebook and MySpace, it’s like the caveman era. A lot of rappers these days aren’t even up on their Internet game. They don’t know. These days, more people spend time on the Internet and watching YouTube than they spend watching TV. I think the Internet is a good look. It allows me to connect to fans all over the world. Most of my fans aren’t even in Vancouver.
HipHopCanada: You were raised in the suburbs. How has that influenced your music?
Snak the Ripper:I never really felt like I fit-in, in the suburbs. If you put me in with other people out there, I stick out like a sore thumb. As soon as I was able to come out to the city I was a lot happier. I didn’t like the suburbs and I hated high school.
HipHopCanada: In addition to your regular fan-base, you have tons of teenaged fans. Do you think that your experiences of the suburbs and hating high school created an authentic dissonant quality in your music that kids can relate to?
Snak the Ripper:Yeah. When you’re anywhere from 12-20, that’s when everything is the hardest. I write a lot about when I was younger. That was the realest time in my life. Now I’m just lazy with my emotions. I’m like an old man these days.
HipHopCanada: You talk a lot about yucky stuff in your lyrics. What’s up with that?
Snak the Ripper:I’m a yucky guy. My family’s like that. My mom’s like that. I like to talk about dirty shit, but I’m realistic. I’m not going to talk about sawing off your head, because I’m not like that . . . I’ll pee on your head while you’re sleeping on the coach, but that’s about it. I’m not going to write about carrying guns ‘cause I don’t have any. If rappers carry guns and rap about guns . . . then all the power to them. But I’m honestly just a fat, regular guy [Snak belches].
HipHopCanada: I heard you say before that rap saved your life. Is that true?
Snak the Ripper:Yeah. When I started rapping, I was doing a lot of drugs. It was a rough time. I couldn’t see it at the time. But now that I’ve had the time to get better, I can look back and see that I was dying. I was literally on the verge of death. When I started recording, I started staying home more and just writing lyrics.
HipHopCanada: So rap and graffiti are outlets for you that help you stay off hard drugs?
Snak the Ripper:Yeah. I get out aggression through music and when I do graffiti it takes my mind off everything. I’ve seen graffiti function like that for people like my friend OAPH, who went out and did the craziest shit when he had just broken up with his fiancé. Rap and graffiti are good ways to distract your mind from stress.
HipHopCanada: If you had the chance to go mainstream and have radio songs with R&B hooks, would you do it?
Snak the Ripper:I already do R&B hooks. I do my own R&B hooks, you know? [Laughing] I would sign to a major label if I was allowed to do what I want creatively but I doubt that would happen. If I could keep creative freedom, they could dress me in glitter, give me Botox or whatever . . . I don’t care . . . I could use some lypo on my hips [Laughing]. But, I don’t even care about getting a record deal, because I currently have more freedom and I can keep a larger percentage of my profits without a big record label taking a massive chunk. I would rather just build my fans. Being rich and famous would be nice, but I just want to hit this at a level where I can tour and do music as a job.
HipHopCanada: How important do you think it is that you have a strong girl at your back?
Snak the Ripper:It’s so important. You know how they say that behind every successful man is a strong woman – it’s like that. During that time when I was all messed up, I met my girl and she pushed me to get my life together. It’s good to have her. She doesn’t necessarily like all of my music, but I don’t expect her to. Girls do like my music though, which is weird. I have a lot of girl fans that are into the whole bad boy/ dirty guy thing, but those girls are not the type of girls that I’m into . . . ‘cause those girls are crazy, [Laughing] . . . they can come to the show and buy my album . . . I’ll sign their booby. My girl is important for me staying productive. Without her, I’d probably party too much, eat too much Macdonald’s and have dirty clothes.
HipHopCanada: If you could be in a cipher with anyone, who would it be?
Snak the Ripper:Anyone from Tupac to Vinnie Paz, mainly people who have already died. I’d like to rap with Kurt Cobain.
HipHopCanada: What are your major music influences?
Snak the Ripper:Kurt Cobain. I grew up on Nirvana and I never get sick of it. In terms of Rap, I try to listen to everything, from the mainstream to underground. Sometimes I’ll listen to Neil Young for an entire month. I don’t base my source of influence on any one artist. I like listening to everything.
HipHopCanada: What are your new albums coming out?
Snak the Ripper:I have a solo-project coming out. It’s called Sex-Machine. It was originally going to be a mixtape, but it turned into an album. I’m giving it to my Facebook group for free and everyone else has to buy it . . . um, yeah. I have another album coming out called Boom Goonz. It’s with my favorite Vancouver/ West Coast rappers; Lesk One from California, Fatt Matt, Young Sin and myself. We have D-Rec and Engineer on the beats. Everyone has a unique style and sound on the album, so it’s dope.
HipHopCanada: Any shout-outs?
Snak the Ripper: Shouts out to HipHopCanada.com, EephinApparel.com . . . Ephin Apparel, my boy Vision at Ephin Apparel, Young Sin, D-Rec, the Low Pressure family, Boom Goonz, my girl and my family, Evil Ebeneazer, Stewy Ray. Shouts out to everybody out there with fake gold chains and fake gold teeth . . . everybody out there trying to be hard . . . shouts out to those guys! Keep trying.
Written by Christabel Shaler for HipHopCanada