In this interview, Messiah Ramkissoon shares his musical journey as an independent artist committed to authenticity despite pushback to conform in the music industry, his calling to be a voice for the voiceless, and his motivation to create positive change in the world. Believing the creative process is sacred, Messiah expounds on finding purpose and living out that purpose through words and action. With plans for ongoing musical creation and contributions to the culture, Messiah inspires others to be true to themselves.
Photobombshell’s Interview with Independent Artist, Messiah Ramkissoon
Photobombshell: Hi, Messiah! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and message with me. This interview stands out because of the challenges overcome to get to this point! Artists have so much going on, but I know this message worth the wait.
You and I have worked together on promoting some of your music through playlisting in the past couple of years, and that was when I truly connected with you and your sound. Much later, I saw a video of you performing “Sharika was a Champ” at the Apollo, and it was like puzzle pieces coming together. I had actually seen that video many years ago and started connecting the dots. I was then and am still amazed by your incredible talent, the power and conviction behind your words, and the masterful delivery with pause and pace in your creative works. How did you start as a writer, artist, and MC?
Messiah Ramkissoon: My music is inspired by my love for the spoken word and my calling to be a voice for the voiceless. It influenced me to begin written expression at a very young age. Being Trinidadian born and coming from a Caribbean background, alongside being the son of a Rasta, my home growing up played the sounds of old school reggae. Those artists also embraced a message and purpose around their music that revolved around freedom and empowerment of the community. The only difference is my approach came via Hip-Hop. One of my spiritual mothers, an artist, Ms. Queen, encouraged me to create at the age of 5 after seeing my love for writing.
Photobombshell: Talk to us about the experience of being Trinidadian and Caribbean, making music in New York.
Messiah Ramkissoon: Making music in my city is motivational because New York has so many gifted creatives that we inspire each other to keep raising the bar high. New York is the city of discomfort that is a catalyst for growth. The creative process has always been sacred to me beyond the superficial illusions that so many get lost in. The word is sacred and will exceed all of our lifetimes. It will be our legacy, so I must be intentional about my message and my caliber as an MC.
Photobombshell: I love that. In arguably one of the most difficult markets musically, you see the challenges as a calling to level up and focus on intentionality. That is truly amazing. With a bevy of gifted creatives in New York, I imagine there is no shortage of inspiration around you. Artists pull inspiration from so many sources. I am curious about what inspires and motivates you to continue to write and create.
Messiah Ramkissoon: My inspiration comes from many places. It can come from a wisdom-filled conversation with my father or a conversation with a young person on Riker’s Island who I’ve mentored. It comes from my struggles and experiences that provide new information, perspectives, and also loophole to add value to. It comes from knowing I’ve overcome many hurdles because I’m here on purpose with important work to do.
Photobombshell: From Trinidad and Tobago to a youth incarceration activist in the United States, your journey has been inspiring and motivating to read about on paper but even more beautiful to hear through music. What has your musical journey been like, and how has it aligned with your life experiences thus far?
Messiah Ramkissoon: My music journey and personal journey align in the sense that I’ve been a leader since childhood, which led me to call a meeting with my friends to start our first rap group called The Royal Alliance. I was 15 years old at this time and the youngest in my crew. Music also reflected how ahead of my time I was mentally at a young age. It was cool to allow intelligence to meet the streets then, and my music conveyed that. I was a truth seeker and a messenger via my art upon first stepping into the booth.
Photobombshell: What are some of the major challenges you face as an independent artist?
Messiah Ramkissoon: One of the struggles is being authentic to self in this industry. It’s almost like a relationship that likes the idea of you but fears the responsibility of embracing you. They love the idea of a gifted artist with a fearless voice speaking truth to power, but few possess the courage and/or testicular fortitude to publicly stand by that. We get a Kendrick or Cole once every 15 years, but there is a limit to how much authenticity is allowed hence why the independent lane has opened up so much for artists.
Photobombshell: Given the challenges of the industry, I am a firm believer that every creative needs a support system. Who makes up that support system for you?
Messiah Ramkissoon: The support system includes my closest friends and family. They are the people who keep me grounded, who speak life into me, and who never make me feel crazy for stepping out into an industry where my type remains a rare breed.
Photobombshell: I love that. We all need solid people in our corner. Whatever they are doing, they are doing it right! What are some of the ways that your friends and family support you as an independent artist?
Messiah Ramkissoon: My family and friends support me in several ways. Firstly, they keep me grounded with genuine love and honesty. I used to use my cousins as my A&Rs after leaving the studio, and always appreciated their feedback, whether it was a thumbs up or constructive critique. It made me sharpen my sword even more in my earlier stages. Secondly, they support me by attending my shows, buying my merch, giving me words of motivation, and acknowledging my wins, big or small.
Photobombshell: I love hearing that. I am also excited to hear about the future for you and your music. What plans do you have for the next few years?
Messiah Ramkissoon: I see myself becoming an even more significant asset to the culture through my creative contributions. I see myself traveling the world, reaching different continents, countries, and cultures. I see myself inspiring upcoming creatives to know that they can be true to themselves and redefine success through the lens of self-empowerment versus creative enslavement. I see my merch business, Black Fathers Are Necessary, reaching more people while influencing healthier families within our culture. I see myself creating more opportunities for youth coming from oppressed communities. Last but not least, I see myself continually growing artistically.
Photobombshell: I love that you have this visualization for your goals and how it all follows one mission with a singular focus. As someone with a clearly defined message, what advice can you offer fellow artists struggling with finding purpose?
Messiah Ramkissoon: To artists seeking their purpose, I would say look within. Upon childhood, most of our community where raised by the TV and external factors, now social media. It requires unplugging from the world and tuning into one’s self mentally and spiritually. There is no one way to get there, but once you are intentional, the purpose will find you, often at the most unexpected time.
Photobombshell: If you could speak directly to upcoming artists with a message, what would you tell them?
Messiah Ramkissoon: Remember that the ground we stand on is sacred as artists; if you don’t know, do the homework. Stay true to self, as long as that self aligns with integrity, healthy purpose, and vision. Remember your value, and sometimes that it requires patience, although your ambition wants success to be expeditious. Your art is an asset to be the CEO of your journey instead of a slave to someone else’s.
Photobombshell: Messiah, thank you so much for taking the time to work with me on this. I am so honored that you would share your story with me and such valuable mindset advice to the independent artist community. Do you have any specific releases set for 2023?
Messiah Ramkissoon: My next music project, “The Eye Of Freedom 3.0,” will be released in the early summer of 2023! I plan to release a spoken project later this year as well.
Photobombshell: I love to hear it! Please keep in touch and send the releases to me here to be included in the release calendar! Thank you again so much for the collaboration here. Come back any time with updates. I look forward to what you do next! For those interested in hearing more from Messiah Ramkissoon, connect with him on his website and stream his music everywhere you listen!