RIC SCALES: Intellectual Ignorance
Most rappers will put out their music on iTunes, Bandcamp, or even Soundcloud for about 10 dollars or free in hopes that someone listens, except Ric Scales, who released his debut album, “Intellectual Ignorance,” produced exclusively by Oceanside’s 4th World, through direct-to-fan email by request only, via a Facebook post. And this unique tactic, described by Scales as “the only way the project would see the light of day,” exceeded his expectations by a landslide.
On Aug. 17, 2016 at 10:12 a.m. Scales posted on his Facebook page, "I've been saying for a while now that I had new music for y'all. I've run into plenty of obstacles recently, but I feel it's time to make good on my promise. Not going for the fan fare with this one. Something special for those who have been rocking with me to show love for all the support... Drop me your email if you want the album in its entirety for freezie. #GetFRESH#FunkYourLifestyle."
Immediately emails started dropping in the comments and his direct messages. Within a couple days he had over 200 email addresses in his public comments alone. “I only expected like twenty emails,” says Scales. And his immediate reaction as they came flooding in was, "Fuck, I have to send out all these emails now?”
The feedback, according to his Facebook comments and tags say, "IT IS AMAZING;" "been waiting for this for years;" "fire;" "fresh;" "dope;" and "if you like funk, breaks and ill rhymes, this project is definitely for you."
Scales was working at his warehouse-day gig with Absolute Board Co., a company that makes all the Z-Flex skateboards and the original Penny Cruisers, when he posted the initial post. “I skipped lunch that day,” he says, utilizing the time to send out emails.
He says he knows all of these people from rocking shows, battles, and a trip to New York to compete in a Team Backpack event. “People that I'm sure never have heard of me until the 17th have hit me up with emails,” he says. “I'm guessing that it became a, ‘what’s all this noise about,’ kind of thing.”
The decision for his direct-to-fan release with no public link to listen or buy the album wasn’t necessarily strategic, or initially intentional, but the personal connection to individuals in a social-media age proved to be a new and beneficial tactic. It’s as if each person got credit for supporting as opposed to giving money or clicking a link behind closed doors. And when people commented, the post then popped up in their feed, providing as a chain of promotion and exposing new people to it that might not have seen it initially. It’s the law of the heard, a domino effect, and everyone in the San Diego hip-hop scene was doing it.
According to Scales the album had been finished for over a year but was held back due to “creative differences” with its producer 4th World. There are no features on the album, also attributed to creative differences and a "low-key power struggle.”
“We couldn’t really see eye to eye on the most important aspects outside of the music itself,” says Scales.
“Basically, we were supposed to release this album last summer. He was mad because he wanted to do some Purple Rain shit and record like 100 songs and pick the best 10 or so. 4th decided to take on every bit of work for the project, editing, mixing, mastering. I told him not to. He said he didn’t want anyone else touching his shit. When it came time to make videos he refused to send over the tracks and basically pulled the plug. We didn’t talk for almost a year. We ended up patching things up and deciding to add a few verses and things. The date just kept getting pushed back. Then he just decided to put the album out on Bandcamp without talking to me. We argued, he took it down and was basically like you can have your accapellas and the tracks, but you can’t have the instrumentals and I was like ‘fuck you.’ So I eventually just decided to put it out for free, due to the fact that under such odd circumstances I don’t want any money involved. Not to mention the amount of time and effort that went into this project, this was important to me.”
It is not uncommon for a producer to be so perfecting and protective of their work that it is stalled and held back due to aspects that fans might never notice. Nor is it uncommon for rappers to loose sight of projects due to various obstacles. These are common roadblocks that come with artistry and human collaboration of various sorts. Scales wasn’t willing to let go so fast. This is Scales third or fourth album technically, all which he says he does not plan on releasing because he feels he has grown significantly since recording them, making “Intellectual Ignorance” his official debut.
The album starts by sounding like you are sitting in a small-jive bar with a live band warming up as some brother you’ve never seen before starts spitting bare lyricism over the mic with a fresh groove and confident charisma. It is called “Alpha,” samples Kergeskezu Favagok, and is followed by a comedy skit of voicemails over the nostalgic opening loop of "Moonlight In Rio," by Luiz Bonfá.
Overall 4th World’s production is composed of musically-rich samples. It is immediately clear that 4th World is a music connoisseur with an eclectic array of taste. Genres range from cinematic sounds resembling the triumphant scene from a 20th Century Fox film in “Spark,” to jamming-rock by Frank Zappa in “Techtonic,” or a jazzy-tenor saxophone in “Fools Gold.”
“Credit where it's due,” says Scales, “4th made every beat and killed the shit out of the scratch routine at the end of “Housin,” an anti-sucker emcee ballad that leads by example.
Scale compliments this array of soundscapes with sturdy lyrical content, his strongest attribute being his quality consistency and robust personality that shines through his cadence and flow. He has a classic voice in a generation that is leaning towards voices with scratchier essences; more of a Jay Z type sound then a Kendrick Lamar or Currency sound for example.
“Always hold my shit down with little hesitation,” Scales raps in “Stations.” “Anthony Bourdaine cyphers with no reservations; show and prove, old school accreditation; if you ask me how I move then I'd tell you levitation."
The fourth track, “Fan Base,” is one of Scales favorites. It tosses back and forth between a simple relaxed-synthesizer riff and a climatic horn-honking counterpart. The lyrics are simple and standard defining: “Excuse my French, my steeze Eifel Tower; yours Twin, copy cats finna crash downwards; when I’m pissed off, clowns catch golden showers; you aint know? act like somebody told you bout it; and I came to audit the game; my audible flame cremate you, out your audio to shame; I’m sayin these rap niggas ought to be ashamed; that quality over quantity mixtaping is lame.”
Scales was born in Missouri, residing mostly in North Carolina until he moved to San Diego in 2004 to live and do music. Now at the age of 31, he spends most of his time with his 7-year-old son, his girl, like-minded individuals and working, giving what is left to reading, video games, Pokemon Go and of course hip hop.
“I wanted to attempt to prove that you could do something organically, without having to tag a thousand niggas,” says Scales. This represents the theme of his album, summed up in the last-echoing lines of “Fools Gold.”
“Focus on the things you're not, you lose sight of everything that you are. So keep walking in the right direction and the finer things aint that far. Do your thing ma! Focus on the things you’re not, you lose sight of everything that you are. Just keep rolling in the right direction and the finer things aint that far. Do you’re thing yall."
To get a free download link to the album email email@example.com and request “Intellectual Ignorance.”