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Artist: Ralph Real, aka Ralph Washington, 26 Where'd the name come from? It came from a lot of my friends. They know me when it comes to who I am. I'm real in what I do with my life and music. We were playing around with a lot of names, and for some reason, Ralph Real stuck out. It tells how real I am in life and about my spiritual walk and how I stay positive.

Describe your sound/style: My current sound is definitely a high energy, soul/funk-oriented style of music. It's taken from different acts like George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic and a lot of Stevie (Wonder). I try to bring those old elements, but also bring in the new. It also has a John Legend sound. It's definitely in a neo-soul category. Old school soul mixed with a little hip-hop and rock and you've got Ralph Real.

You've been in a number of local bands like Hexbelt and The Kenton Shelley Band. What made you decide to strike out on your own? I went out on my own because so many people would see me with different bands, and they would say, "Man, you need your own band." It seemed like I was becoming too overpowering in the bands. There weren't really any soul bands around here. The only one that I really dug and thought was good was Third Power. They helped me along.

Your first album, "Ralph Real, Real One," is described as Christian hip-hop. Is there much of an audience for that in York County? There was a bigger audience, but not in this area. "Real One" took me really far. I went on tour in Africa. There wasn't a big audience here for Christian hip-hop. It's hard to find gigs outside of churches and conventions.

If you could share the stage with any band or artist, who would it be and why? That would definitely be Stevie Wonder to the fullest. If I could share the stage with him, I'd probably cry. It goes much deeper than music. When my mom and dad got divorced, my dad would pick me up on the weekends, and the only thing in his tape player was Stevie. It taught me a lot of elements of music and how he played keys, his voice, his range, his energy on the stage, his breakdowns, everything about him.

Plug one other local band: My boys in Chuggernaut. I think they're the hottest upcoming punk band. Second would be Soul Cry. She's the hottest poet right now. She's cool, calm and collected all at the same time. When it comes to hip-hop, it's Djuan. He's blowing up. . . . And Paradise Movement from York. I like them because they're not your average looking rappers. They're white suburban rappers dressed in flannel shirts and Vans.

Shoutouts: I definitely want to give a shoutout to Mellow D Studios, my boy Doug Forney at Mellow D and Skollaz Entertainment. And also one more would be the Hip-Hop Alliance in York.

JASON COX, FLIPSIDE STAFF

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