REKS Speaks About Singing Abilities, And Why "R.E.K.S." Will Reach New Fans
Exclusive: REKS reveals that he has learned from watching Black Thought, Mos Def and Pharoahe Monch's mic skills, and why he made a song about trying to quit smoking at his son's request.
Earlier this week, HipHopDX revealed our latest conversation with Lawrence, Massachusetts emcee REKS (a/k/a Rhythmic Eternal King Supreme). There, the Showoff Records rapper spoke about his protective love of Hip Hop, and respect for peers like Skyzoo, Torae and Blu. While REKS is known for tracks dedicated to the culture, his March 8th R.E.K.S. reveals more depth, as the rapper truly delves into family, addiction and his place in the world.
Further in DX's conversation with REKS, he spoke about his singing abilities, something that the gifted emcee is bringing more and more to the front of his show, quitting smoking, and what he plans to do to really make an industry impression with this intricate album on its way.
HipHopDX: You have fuller songs on R.E.K.S., like "Mr. Nobody." These aren't just raps, they're songs. Tell me about the fuller structure you're evolving to...
REKS: I definitely wanted to do that. These are aspects of me that have been there from day one. I've always tried to play with [songs] and adding melodies to the music that I make, but also trying brand new formats of scripting these verses. I write every day, so I write to try all different kinds of techniques, in improving myself. On this album, I was able to touch on so many varied topics, and at the same time, touch on new ways of constructing these rhymes and brand new ways of affecting the crowd that's gonna listen. I just wanted to give them a real piece of who I am as an artist, and thought it was a great platform.
DX: Is that you singing, among the song vocals on this album?
REKS: Well, some. On "This Is Me," that's not me. That's DJ Corbet - props to him. I'm very anal [retentive] about having other people write hooks for me; he wrote that hook for me, sang it, and did a tremendous job. On the "Cigarettes" track with Lil Fame, that's actually my brother Attica Bars, who I'll be a lot with in the future. I wrote [that] hook, and he just sang it for me. I did the ad-libs on the "Mr. Nobody," I did "Drunken Nights" [from Statik Selektah's 100 Proof: The Hangover] and "Telescopes" [from Grey Hairs] and different songs like that. But I wouldn't put myself in the category of Pharoahe Monch or Mos [Def] or Black Thought even; I'm nowhere near their abilities. They're tremendous writers, tremendous vocally [gifted]. I hope I can achieve that, and it's something I'm still working towards.
DX: You mention "Cigarettes." That's an interesting song. Plenty of emcees rap about weed endlessly, but the cigarette song is a rarity. Joe Budden's "10 Minutes" is obviously a pillar in that, but tell me about what's behind your song...
REKS: A lot of that record stems from - not just cigarettes themselves, but from the lives that we live, and the struggle that we deal with on a day-to-day basis, livin' these lives. Through that, we all have our vices. We all turn to something: weed, drink, other means. For me, I'm a habitual smoker. I've been goin' through a serious situation, tryin' to quit smoking. I have children, and I deal with it on a daily basis. My son, he wants me to quit desperately. I fight that demon everyday. It's the cigarettes that calm me down.
DX: I've told this to Statik Selektah in interviews before, but I'm curious to hear from you. Showoff is so talented, but puts out so much material it's hard to stop and recognize releases before another's being announced. You put a lot of time and work into this album. Not just the label, but what are you going to be doing to make sure it gets the attention and time to breathe it deserves?
REKS: On [R.E.K.S.], I think we got it right, man. I think we got a lot more people in tune to helping us, and assisting us in making sure that this record gets its proper due. Matt Conaway [of MAC Media] is on board now. Brick [Records] is on board now. Showoff [Records] is doing what it needs to do, and Clockwork [Music] is doing what it needs to do. Now we have all the wheels in motion; our machine, albeit smaller than other machines, is all effectively doing our jobs to counteract the lack that Grey Hairs had. Grey Hairs [was all based on] word of mouth. I know that this R.E.K.S. project will be a lot of word of mouth as well, but I think we've stepped it up a notch with this one. We approached this one a little differently than we have in the past. I didn't end up touring Grey Hairs until a year later. This one, I'm going before, during and I won't be home until the record is out there for the masses. While I'm on tour, being able to hit every radio spot, do an interview with every station, website and blogger that's out there. Being on board with these things, on my behalf helps [the label's] job. Them doing their job helps me do what I do [too]. We're all on point with each other to make sure the wheels are in motion.