Hell Rell: The Facts Of Life
During the rise of the Harlem-helmed Diplomats in 2002, Hell Rell was watching from the sidelines thanks to a government-sponsored vacation in prison, serving two years for drug charges. However, he was able to contribute to five tracks on the groups frosh effort, Diplomatic Immunity, including a freestyle recorded over the prisons phone.
Upon his release the Bronx-born Rell immediately submerged himself in the studio, appearing in everything from music videos to mixtapes, culminating in the release of last years debut solo album, For The Hell Of It. A stark contrast to the Harlem World residents, Hell Rell has introduced a more rugged sensibility to the Dips flashy style. I can honestly attest say that Im one of the key figures to the street credibility of The Diplomats, he says. Its perhaps that same insight thats propelled his status from role player to starter to with his team to cult sensation alongside a constant barrage of street albums and perhaps surprisingly a fan-created Internet phenomenon. While his various YouTube videos have shown signs that there is little more to Ruger Rell than just tough talk and unbridled arrogance, as
Hip Hop DX sat down with him it turns out that was only the surface. In Hell Rells world everybodys just a guppy, and hes the big fish in the small pond.
HipHopDX: In one of your [viral video] Ruga Stories, you gave one hundred dollars to a homeless man you walked past on the street. How do you think that others can help in the combat against poverty in our communities and worldwide?
Hell Rell: I mean, at the end of the day I do shit like that sometimes. You gotta understand we live in a fucked-up economy, and its to the point where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Guys like the dude I gave a hundred dollars to, if shit was hard for him before the economy was twisted, what do you think it is for him now? I do things like that sometimes. At the end of the day you never know whom youre helping, and Im scared of the word karma. When you do dirt, you get dirt. I did a lot of dirt, so Im trying to balance my scale of justice.
DX: Have you ever considered doing charity work, or starting a foundation towards those causes?
Hell Rell: Yes. Im trying to start an entrepreneurial class called I Believe I Can Make it 101, and Im in the process of getting sponsorships for it as well. Id like to go on a statewide tour, similar to what Donald Trump does when he goes state to state trying to show people how to properly invest in property, Im trying to do the same on an urban level. You have some kids who think the only way to get a Maybach is to sell some drugs or get in the rap game, and there are a million other ways - a million other hustles - for the urban youth to make money.
DX: What kind of hustles do you think the youth can do aside from getting an education, or even rapping or playing sports?
Hell Rell: First of all you have to make a list out of all the occupations where you can make money while youre asleep, and the Internet is one of them. Bill Gates is a prime example of a person who makes money while theyre sleeping. When youre in the system, the economy is not set for people who have to buy and sell. If I have to spend $1,500 to get three grand back, its kind of fucked up, as opposed to where I receive money on hand first before I ship out the product. The Internet is a wonderful way to make money, man. Ive seen people make tens and twenties of thousands of dollars each week at home, just going online and checking their PayPal account.
DX: I see. Are you making any money off of the Internet?
Hell Rell: I mean, I do what I do [Laughs].
DX: In part four of your Ruga Stories you referred to yourself as a walking filet mignon. How could the average Joe get to that level where they too can be considered one?
Hell Rell: [Laughs] I mean, you might have to acquire a couple different-colored pieces of jewelry. [Laughs] I mean, when youre a walking filet mignon you gotta have something on you thats expensive, so where as when you go to the Bahamas or a third world country they tell you not to wear your jewelry otherwise the natives will chop your head off for it. Youre a walking filet mignon the minute you step into a third world country.
DX: In 2006 came the directorial debut of Camron in Killa Season. You played a prominent role in the film as well. Tell me about the entire experience.
Hell Rell: I was the co-star, and at the end of the day me and Cam went in the studio and worked on the soundtrack together. Killa Season was pretty much a lot of improvisation, meaning that we made things up as we went along. I had a hand in creating the plot to the movie, so it was a nice experience for me.
DX: In one of the scenes a cop approached you in a corner store, and you hid some drugs in a tub of peanut butter. Could that be considered a legitimate manner of disguising crack from an officer?
Hell Rell: Thats what you call quick thinking. [Laughs]
DX: Which brand of peanut butter would you suggest best?
Hell Rell: if you had to use peanut butter like Ruga Rell did in the movie, I would suggest you use Jif [Laughs]. Its easy to smooth it back over, and itd look like you never touched it, because its already creamy. No homo.
DX: Not the chunky one? Strictly the original?
Hell Rell: The straight creamy one. No homo.
DX: There was also another scene in the movie where drug mules would defecate out the drugs. Is that something youve seen in person? I cant imagine that being a pleasant experience.
Hell Rell: Usually in real life you have guys that are specifically for that shit, so if Im a kingpin or I have any type of cartel-like organization, I would pretty much have people do that for me, because I really wouldnt. But that process actually does happen if you have smugglers that are going into other countries and bringing it back over to the States. Everybodys familiar with the process: they swallow it, then shit it back out when they return.
DX: On the cover of your debut album, you were depicted smiling, yet your teeth were replaced with bullets. Were you worried about any form of backlash, considering todays watchdog-sensitive consumer?
Hell Rell: Not really. Actually it was pretty conceptual, and it was a good promotional tool. When you want to sell records - you want the product to move you sometimes have to do things that will get attention. I sold 30,000 records in stores just by it being on the shelves. I didnt do any promotion for the project, but a person would walk in there, see the cover and cop the album off the strength of it. Even if someone didnt buy the album, that guy would still know who I am. I went to a lot of stores, and a lot of people were telling me, Were getting a lot of good responses off the cover. So it was definitely a hot promotional tool.
DX: You know youve gained a cult following over the Internet with this thing called Hell Rell Facts. Are you aware of those?
Hell Rell: [Pauses] Hell Rell Facts? Whats that?
DX: Theyre a list of fictional facts created by fans used to describe your toughness. Would like to hear a few of them?
Hell Rell: Yeah.
DX: One is, The cure for AIDS was found almost 30 years ago, but Hell Rell didnt let them release it because hed rather watch homos die slow.
Hell Rell: Wow. [Laughs]
DX: Another one is, Hell Rell watches prison executions for entertainment.
Hell Rell: Aw, man [Laughs].
DX: How do you feel about people doing things like this? Youve become a cult sensation of sorts.
Hell Rell: Thats crazy! Whos making this stuff?
DX: Its from random people from all across the globe. Its been going on for about a year or so now.
Hell Rell: I take it as a compliment. If anybodys gonna spend that much time on me [Laughs]
DX: What is a Red Caf to you?
Hell Rell: I dont know. At the end of the day Im big on names, and that shit just sounds silly. Red Caf? Come on man. This is what Ive been saying about New York Hip Hop: we need more originality. Lets come up with hotter names; lets swag this shit out. Its like me: you can expect great, quality music from me. And at the end of the day people love it, thats what Im known for and thats what I do. Its an evolutionary process, like from a caterpillar to a butterfly.