Rapper Ron Slyda reflects on the unjust way he ended up behind bars and delivers his latest video for “Walking Backwards.”
Rapper Ron Slyda is on his way to earning a life as a law-abiding citizen free from probation. As he sits in a jail cell for the third probation violation, Slyda finds himself “railroaded” into a similar unjust position that MMG rhymer Meek Mill and others have been caught up in way too many times before. After spending the past three years dealing with the difficulties of his probation, the Valholla rapper has yet to let the unjust setbacks from his teenaged mistakes effect his passion for making music.
It all started from a gun case he caught as a kid. He got three years for illegal possession of the gun and was labeled a habitual violent offender. A decade later, Slyda moved into a new home and didn’t update his address on his driver’s license, which was unbeknownst to him a violation of his habitual status and was placed on probation in 2015.
“My first violation came by me not answering the door at 5am for a probation search that led to a bullsh*t charge and resisting arrest because I was not ‘asleep’ but considered ‘hiding’ after that I was placed on house arrest for that violation,” Slyda explained.
Slyda did as much as he could for his music career without breaking the rules until he returned home an hour late from a show one night. Once his second probation violation hit his record, that’s when the real challenges began. While on house arrest, Slyda had to carefully utilize his resources to record and shoot videos without leaving his property.
“Even with videos like “Walking Backwards” we had to strategize around my limited mobility,” Slyda said. “Young Wild Panda loved that sh*t tho (Laughs). He’s a fiend for anything that challenges his creativity and we came up with a way to show how I was feeling when I did that particular track.”
In his new video for “Walking Backwards,” Ron Slyda portrays his emotional state when he was first going through the motions of his sentencing. Directors Young Wild Panda and Armando Valdes capture him sitting at his kitchen table as he vents his frustrations about life with a pack of cigarettes, pills, his drink of choice, and more in front of him. The ending will make you understand just how bad was at the time, and how much he’s matured since then.
Watch Ron Slyda’s video for “Walking Backwards” above and read Valholla’s recent conversation with him about the video, working from behind bars, and his release date from jail below.
Q: Can you talk about how you violated your probation most recently?
RS: This is my actually 3rd violation but before you write me off as a numbskull, let me explain. My first violation came by me not answering the door at 5am for a probation search that led to a bullsh** charge and resisting arrest because I was not ‘asleep’ but considered ‘hiding’ after that I was placed on house arrest for that violation. The next violation came because I was an hour late getting home after a show. The third and final that I’m currently incarcerated for was actually given to me for not completing 10 hours of community services for that month. I was given the option to go to probation hearing (aka kangaroo court) where if found guilty for not completing the hours I would be given 5 years or I could take 15 months and terminate the probation upon release so I chose the latter so yeah basically I was f**king railroaded.
Q: Thinking back would you have taken probation as an option?
RS: Hell nah, honestly so many things factored into that decision at the time you know? I mean man I am doing shows, videos, interviews, I’m getting calls from major Dee jays and artists in the city for features, getting invites to sit and talk with labels and on top of that, my new hustle is legal and I’m co-raising my two boys…I wasn’t a street ni**a anymore. I’m a CEO with people who depend on me so losing more than a moth of freedom after not getting more than a traffic ticket in 10 years, seemed devastating but now that I’ve been given this bid, I look back and see that I was in a lose-lose situation from the beginning.
Q: Do you think probation is a setup for people of color to potentially slip up?
RS: Absolutely the statistics speak for themselves. The minority of this country is the majority of the incarcerated and on probation. It’s crazy that in here their even labeling Latinos as whites on paper, its sad true but true. Probation is in no way conducive to making anybody a productive citizen. Schedules that restrict impromptu meetings and advancement’s opportunities in any field are the norm. It alienates flow from family and friends. I was not allowed to pick up my kids without a court order; I couldn’t attend school events or even their doctor appointments or birthday celebrations. Creating a void and giving me a smaller presence in the life of my sons and impeded my role as a young black father. Its like they never want you to rise above the negativity that is the role and keep you penned down stressing the exceptions and that’s on everything I love.
Q: What year were you first put on probation?
Q: Can you talk about the case that landed you on probation the first time?
RS: (Laughs) I don’t see why not they definitely can’t do nothing more then they already did…Well it all started from a gun case I caught way back when I was a kid in zoos. I already had a gun case on my record and was out on bail for a conspiracy to distribute and manufactured cocaine. All and all they ended up dropping the dope case after the lead detective, Daniel Fernandez, took a fall corruption (you can look it up) and I got 3 years for the gun and was labeled a habitual violent offender after my 2nd offense that status meant I would have to be checked on every year for a the rest of my life. I was young. I signed the papers not knowing what I was reading small story short, 10 years later, I moved into a new place and didn’t update my address on my license, which was a violation of my habitual status and was placed on probation.
Q: How was being on probation limited you to work on your music career?
RS: It really pushed my come up to a crawl. The parameters alone cut my productivity down in a game where consistency can make or break you. Listen, they had me on a show restriction and I was only allowed to do shows after a 2 week notice was sent to my P.O. with proof of booking (deposit slips, flyers, etc). I was given a curfew on days I was in the studio and wasn’t allowed to record no later then 11pm, no what matter. So what you think it was like? My manager could hit me up like “Yo! They want you at SXSW, A3C , blah blah” and then we gotta be like “ Oh Slyda can’t leave the state” or “Oh you have to let him know two weeks in advance”.
I missed features with some major artist off the simple fact they had sessions booked too late. On the other end, Dot (president and A&R for Slyda Music Group) would hit me up for meeting with the labels and potential artist he wanted to work with and I was stuck needless to say the probation made it 10x harder for me to get things done. Even with videos like “Walking Backwards” we had to strategize around my limited mobility, Young Wild Panda loved that sh*t tho LOL! He’s a fiend for anything that challenges his creativity and we came up with a way to show how I was feeling when I did that particular track.
Q: What advice would you give others involving probation?
RS: I don’t know what everybody situation might be but I know the mindset of some one who doesn’t think they can or want to do jail time. You might feel like because you’re not in a cell, that you’re free but that’s far from true. You might think that “I can live a normal life while on probation, I don’t break the law” but that’s where things get tricky. Things you normally do now are all criminal acts and punishable by jail time. No more holiday trips, no more late night at the job or taking on open shifts, no more traveling. Hell waking up late can have you back in jail. They don’t accept excuses. This isn’t your life you’re just an inmate walking around trust me anything you can do to sever ties with the court of law do it expeditiously My G, probation is a trap.
Q: What’s next for you after being arrested?
RS: The world chico and everything in it, LOL! But on the real I’m the type of person who sees the positive in bad situation I may not have my freedom but I got time to think and clear my head. I’m writing music everyday and this time I spend reflecting on my life. I’m seeing place I could use change. I’m in here working out and staying away from that unhealthy bullsh** and doing a lot of reading so basically I’m sharpening myself up, mind body and soul (Mind Block 333). I’m releasing a new album soon as I jump (no not the fresh out of prison struggle raps). I’m linking back up with Young Wild Panda and dropping a slew of videos and making moves with my management team, Valholla, doing shows and traveling to spread the religion that is me. S/o to everybody whose been riding with me and keeping it real. Ni**as ain’t saying nothing! See y’all in 7 months, peace out…