Ryan “Ryanito” Larranaga walks into the studio wearing nothing but black. His combat boots indicate that he is going to war, but he is not fighting a war in the typical sense. There is no blood being shed, only his own sweat and tears that he puts into making his music. He is fighting to make an impression on the music industry as well as the world.
As he enters the studio he sits on a black couch next to his sound engineer Moe Martinez. The wood panels on the walls are filled with hanging guitars, a picture of Bob Marley, and a painting that says, “Music is what feelings sound like.”
Martinez starts the beat as Ryanito listens intently. He takes a puff from his e- cigarette and bobs his head to the beat as he begins to rap the lyrics to his song about gun control. A satisfied smirk comes across his face as he says, “That’s gonna be so sick.”
Ryanito is different from many rappers and musicians of today. He is involved in every aspect of making his music from the lyrics that he writes to the beats he produces to marketing himself. He is constantly planning his next move.
“Everything I do has strategy, everything I do has purpose to it... all the way down to moves that I make, timing on things...,” he said. “Strategy is the key to life. If you don’t have strategy then you’re not making headway. ... I honestly feel like I’m better than the next guy, call it cocky or confident, or whatever you want to call it, but I think I have the ability to make major moves happen because I have the mind-frame of a general. I’m not just a soldier.”
Ryanito’s father, Roberto Larranaga, was the man who introduced him to good music. Growing up he had him listening to legendary artists such as The Beach Boys, Tom Petty, The Beatles, and Buffalo Springfield. Most importantly, his father made him realize he could sing.
“The best times I can remember is driving in my dad’s 1980 Chevy Astro van,” Ryanito said. “Him blasting The Beatles on the radio and I’d be singing to it and he’d turn it down just to hear how I sound and then turn it back up again and that’s when I realized, ‘Man I’ve got a voice. I can really make something happen with that.’”
2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Michael Jackson, The Temptations, Eminem, The Jackson 5, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Monkees, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin are all artists that Ryanito considers to be inspirational.
“I wish I could be every single one of those people and that‘s really what I strive to do with my music that A: I have a unique sound, but B: you’re like ‘Damn this is reminiscent of something I’m used to,’” he said.
Ryanito has been involved in music since he was young. Growing up he was the lead of plays and performed in talent shows. He was born on November 2, 1986 in Shady Grove Hospital in Rockville, Maryland.
When he was seven years old he moved with his family to Frederick, Maryland and grew up across from Fort Detrick.
His dad served in the United States Army for 19 years and fought in the Vietnam War. His military mindset definitely impacted Ryanito’s upbringing.
“He raised me with a lot of the same principles, a lot of the same strategic thinking and know-how, practical application of things that the military used,” Ryanito said. “My dad taught me tactics that he used to use in Vietnam (and) when I was younger I used to play hide-and-go-seek and I would win.”
After his father retired from the military he became a successful locksmith and owned his own company. Ryanito credits his father with keeping him grounded while he was growing up.
“I learned at a very young age how life works because my dad was always real with me and that’s why I can say that 90% of the time he was telling me straight up facts like this is what it is,” he explained. “This is what life is like. Don’t get it twisted.”
Musical talent runs in Ryanito’s family. His dad used to play in a band called Los Vagos. His brother, Rob, can play the guitar, and his mother, Karen, can sing.
Some of Ryanito’s fondest memories growing up were going on road trips with his mother. She has always been the person he goes to when he needs someone to lend an ear.
“When I need to talk and make sense of things she’s there to listen,” he said.
His mom is not only proud of his accomplishments such as his music video Down to Cut, but she is also very impressed with his business mindset and ability to make big things happen.
“She loved the video and everything,” Ryanito said. “I know she was interested in how everything came together and was asking me about ... how do I pull these strings and how do I do all this stuff to make stuff happen because ... clearly I’m on my own and I don’t have anyone else supporting me. I’m the one making it happen.... She’s definitely interested in what I do.”
Ryanito also had support from his grandparents who always encouraged him to pursue his career in music.
The best piece of advice his grandmother gave him was, “Know the difference between want and need.”
“She was a great lady,” he said. “Her whole life saved money. Her whole life took care of her kids, was really family-oriented. She loved me unconditionally. I think overall she could be in my eyes my guardian angel in a lot of ways. There were times that I was depressed and down and her words got me through it. ... It’s been six years since she passed away and I will never forget her face. I will never forget how much she cared for me and what she did for me.”
Ryanito’s grandfather also played a big role in his life but unfortunately passed away before he was able to hear any of his music.
“He taught me things about science, things about math, a lot of things about ingenuity and innovation,” he explained. “He was a great inventor. He had so many things that were extremely relative in society now even down to the microwave to credit card scanners to cell phones to all kinds of things. He had a great career with the Navy, took care of my dad, my uncle, my aunt, and (he was a) first generation immigrant that came to this country and held it down and basically allowed ... me to be where I am.”
In 2005, Ryanito’s father decided to move to Florida and his friend Rikk Ran$om introduced him to the Maryland brotherhood that would become his family for the next four years.
The brotherhood provided him with protection and friendship. It not only made him look at the world with a different perspective, but it also taught him strategic and tactical thinking when it came to surviving in the streets.
“I was real quiet but every time I spoke people listened to me,” he said. “The motto is: Loved by few, hated by many, respected by all and I really live by that...”
However, Ryanito also saw the down side to street life. Rikk was being taken to jail every few months and he knew that was not the path he wanted to follow.
“...It’s like when you do that kind of thing you do it for life and that will always be a part of me but I knew that I didn’t want to be dead and I didn’t want to be in jail so (instead I wanted to) make something positive,” he said. “I learned how to rap.”
Rikk and Ryanito’s long-time friend Aaron “Tyson” Maney were always very supportive of his music and would often make tracks with him.
“I used to record on a fucking laptop that I bought for school with a fucking computer microphone in my bathroom and that was 2007, 2008,” Ryanito said. “Tyson used to jump on shit with me and (that’s) how I got him to start rapping. Music was my escape. Smoking weed was my escape because I was living a crazy lifestyle.”
In 2007, Ryanito was introduced to DJ Carnage who was the first person to put him on a track. He recorded two songs: The first song was called Politics and the other was a remix to Gucci Mane’s song Purple.
DJ Carnage was also the first person to teach Ryanito how to build his own home studio so he could successfully record his own music.
Two years later, he decided to move to Florida. The day he left Maryland he recorded a song called I Need You in which he talks about his decision to change his life.
Ryanito credits the day he recorded this song as a defining moment in his career. The song encompasses a few different themes, one of them being the struggle between man, and two things that will always be close to his heart: His grandmother and his hometown of Frederick.
In November 2010, Ryanito met DJ Purfiya who helped him launch his career and introduced him to a lot of influential people on a global level as well as a local level in the music industry.
“Look man, you come to me with some money (and) we’ll get your first mixtape going,” Ryanito recalls the conversation he had with Purfiya that night.
“This is when I had maybe 15 songs to my name, 20 songs to my name but the 20 songs were like the deepest shit that I could come up with at the time and even those I didn’t release all of them...,” he said.
With Purfiya’s guidance and Ryanito‘s talent, his first mixtape titled 1 Life 2 Live was released on July 11, 2011, and #4 The Ladies Mixtape followed shortly after on November 25, 2012.
DJ Purfiya has played a significant role in Ryanito’s rise to fame as an artist. He trained him to promote and market his own music. He taught him what it meant to be relevant in the music world and how to appeal to a demographic. He also introduced him to the music scene in Florida.
The empire Ryanito has started to build from the ground-up is a reflection of his hard work and dedication. He will only continue to push the limits in order to spread his messages to the world about politics, economics, people, and society.
“I like classic music. I want music that is going to be (around) for 60, 70, 80, 100 years versus something that’ll be on the radio for five years and then you’ll never hear about that person again,” he said. “That’s my goal. My goal is longevity. My goal is historical importance and my goal is to make good music.”
Currently Ryanito is a host on "Coffee and Donuts" and has since released The Cosmic Guide LP with features from Cliz, Shade Sheist, Ocean Symphony, Monteasy and more. It is available on all platforms worldwide.