Atlanta rapper Ralo finds himself juggling a whirlwind of emotions. It’s only been one week since he was released from prison on federal charges, when Ralo hopped on a call with Complex for his first official interview. Despite leaving a life behind bars behind, he confesses that his sense of freedom is incomplete.
“I'm happy, but I'm in the middle of happy and sad because things didn't go as I thought it would go in reference to me coming home,” he says candidly. “I thought that I would be free, but I'm not really free like that. I'm in the halfway house, and I'm prohibited from coming out the building. So, like, it kind of sucks that you can't go nowhere.”
Amidst the challenges of his release, though, Ralo is choosing to spotlight the positive aspects of his life. Shortly after being let out, Ralo knelt down and prayed. Later, was greeted by an enthusiastic circle of family and friends eager to celebrate his return. Notably, Lil Baby marked the occasion with a substantial gift of $50,000 in cash. "That was an amazing feeling," Ralo says, reflecting on the overwhelming love he received.
Ralo then unleashed his raw and authentic single, "First Day Out," which he recorded on BandLab. The track serves as a cathartic outlet for the rapper to express the mix of emotions weighing on him.
The rapper hints that the pain and vulnerability heard on "First Day Out" will present on his upcoming album. Ralo also notes that the album, which is set to be released under 300 Entertainment—the label he signed with in November—will be a passionate body of work that blends hip-hop and R&B. “I want to be very passionate on my album,” he adds.
Ralo doesn’t disclose a release date for his new album, but assures fans it will be worth the wait. In the meantime, he’s just taking the time to walk in his new path. “I’m fighting for our Lord’s cause. I’m on Godly time,” he says. Check out our interview with Ralo, where he talks about life after prison, new music, and more.
What was it like to receive love from your friends, family, and artists like Lil Baby who pulled up to celebrate your release?
That was an amazing feeling. I can't even describe that feeling. The love was remarkable. I didn't get the disappointment until I actually got to the house.
Have you felt and seen the love you are getting from fans online?
Oh, I feel it every time I get a glance at social media. I think the whole world sees the great embrace that the people have given me, and I'm highly appreciative.
Congrats on signing with 300. Why do you feel like they were the right choice?
When I first started rapping, I had my first song with my mans. I had paid him a pretty penny for a feature, and that was my first single that I ever worked on in my career. I took that single over to 300, and I asked them to give me a chance. I guess they didn't see it at that moment, but Selim [Bouab] and I always kept in contact. So whenever I did records with his artist that was signed to 300, I always went through Selim. We just developed that friendship, and I always felt like that  was home for me. I always felt like they always seen the artists get worked with. I always see the grand impact of what they did for the artist. So not only are they family, but they got a good team; they got good energy over there.
You dropped “First Day Out” shortly after being released. What was the process like of putting that record together?
I've been recording all my music on my cell phone. I learned how to record my stuff off BandLab. It's an app that allows us to record. Then I sent my music out to my engineer. And I also was able to take a lot of hiss out my voice because when I was going to studios, they used to kind of make my voice annoying a little bit. But with the BandLab [app], I can hear the clarity in my voice. I can hear the pain. I can hear the rawness. I can hear the passion in my voice with the BandLab app. When you're going through things, that’s when it’s best to get in the studio or in the booth, because I was going through a lot at the time and I had not seen a lot of people show Young Dolph love. I've seen a lot of people just turn their back on him or whatnot. And I just wanted to embrace him because he always looked out for me. Anything I needed him to do, he was always there for me, up and down. Every bar on there, I kind of just lost my temper on that song.
"My ultimate goal is just to find peace."
Was it hard for you to share those thoughts?
I mostly freestyle. I went on the Internet, and I was seeing a lot of the blogs… You know how they troll. The Internet be undefeated. So my first line was, “I never did no lame shit to none of y'all,” and I wanted to emphasize that I ain't never did wrong to people. I always was there to help. I always was there to support some of the artists that we see that are big today. You know, I embraced them when they needed their first feature. They needed their first hit. They needed their first post on Instagram and Twitter or whatnot. And those things played a key factor in their career. I pulled up their video shoots or might have let them open up for me at different shows when I was hot and they wasn't. So I wanted to emphasize: Let's remember where we all came from. Because at the time, Young Dolph did the same thing for me when I wasn’t that hot. And now you see people just adamant about ignoring his passing, like he didn’t have kids or a girl at home that really loved and cared for him. Some of us, we forget those things, and it’s best for honorable people to just bring remembrance to those things because if we don't know our history, then we'll never have a great future
You mentioned recording a lot of music while you were inside. How many songs do you have in the vault?
I recorded like 48 songs, man. I put a lot of people on it. I got my upcoming album; I got a couple of people on it. I got some artists that I've been wanting to work with all my life on the album.
Speaking of your forthcoming album, what can fans expect?
I mean, Selim, he big on hip-hop and the drill thing. And I put a little bit of that inside my “First Day Out,” but I want to be very passionate on my album. I put a lot of R&B and hip-hop on my album. But my thing is hip-hop is like 40 percent down right now. So, like, people going back to passion of the music and classical music and timeless music. So I put a lot of debt and a lot of pain on there. I put a lot of passion in it. You know, I fought for women because I had noticed, they gave my fiancé an apartment based on income due to the fact that we had our first child. And when they gave her an apartment, I was able to live with her and I was able to utilize the house as a trap house or whatnot. At that time, I was able to still go home to her. And in her apartment complex, there was a lot of dudes staying with women that had the similar situation that she had. Those dudes was using the women up and when they used them up, they said fuck them. So I felt like that too because I gave people places to stay. When I went to prison, I ain't never seen out a dollar from anyone. So it reminded me of when I was in the projects and dudes were staying with women and did the same thing that these dudes and females did to me. So I kind of felt their pain.
Have you felt any pressure to release music now that you’re back home? Have you wanted to take a break to decompress?
It is on my mental health statement because it is like my personal diary. So I'll be able to vent and listen to it over and over, and whatever mood I'm in, it helps me get through that because it's hard for me to talk to certain people about certain matters that I be going through. And so you can find a beat and you could just rap about it. It was never about the money to me. It’s just being able to relate to myself and being able to relate to it in my car. I ain't never even thought nobody was buying my music. I ain't never even thought nobody listen to it.
What are your goals for the next chapter of your life and career?
My goal is to always try to teach others how we can be amongst each other in villages and stuff. I was on lockdown in the shoot; they call it “special housing unit” in prison. They call it the “hole” in certain places. They keep you on 24-hour lockdown. You can't come out of the room. So I was able to just read books about the history of us as people, whether we Black, white, or anything. We wasn't designed to be independent of one another. We was designed to help one another. So I want all of us to help one another. So my ultimate goal is just to find peace. I'm happy. I ain't never even think I would be going on the trending charts on YouTube and stuff like that. But without it, I'm still happy without getting a show. I'm still happy without getting the advance. I'm still at peace, because I love my girl. I love my kids. I love my people. I love my friends. I love my label without it. I still can call and talk to all these different individuals. I try to stay away from the desire because it’s a poison and sickness in us, and that’s something that we need to work on no matter what color or where we come from.
Is there anything you want people to know about you right now or anything you want to set the record straight on?
You know, when I was on the streets, it was always, Fuck 12,” and we always against them because that's what I was taught as a child. But when I went down the road and went to different prisons, I needed some of the counselors. I needed some of these case managers. I needed some of these people, and I had to find, like, everybody that is a part of law enforcement is just not fucked-up people. We have to know, like, that the enemy is within evil and good. It's either you're going to fight for a righteous cause or you're going to fight for a wicked one. And we have to be able to define which one we’re fighting for. To set the record straight, I just want everybody to know right is right, wrong is wrong, and not according to the streets knowledge, but according to our Lord, according to our human nature, according to mankind, according to people. I did wrong. But I no longer glorify that lifestyle. So that’s what I'm doing over here. I’m fighting for our Lord’s cause. I’m on Godly time.