Exclusive: The New England emcee and Florida producer break down their bond and reveal how the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and Trayvon Martin's murder influenced their full-length album together.
Lawrence, Massachusetts emcee REKS is set to release a new LP with South Florida producer Numonics. HipHopDX recently had a chance to speak with the two of them to discuss their upcoming effort, REBELutionary. The project began after REKS temporarily relocated to the Sunshine State for some work-for-hire. “He did a feature for the J. Nics project [The Product] that I produced, and he’s also on my [Revelations] album. And from there, we just developed a really good rapport,” explains Numonics recently. Their success together eventually spawned the idea of an artist/producer album. “He said to me, ‘Hey I wanna start doing projects with one producer.’ You know, he mentioned [his album] Straight, No Chaser with Statik [Selektah]…and you know, he asked me if I wanted to do something.”
REKS notes that their flourishing chemistry helped make the project possible. “The idea was to come out with something different from both of us, but that we both connected on.” For two artists with a limited working relationship in two regions, REKS’ and Numonics’ unwavering assessments of one another’s abilities made this chemistry possible. “Like first and foremost, I really feel that he’s a Top 5 emcee right now. He’s one of my favorites; I’ve been listening to him for a while,” asserts Numonics. Similarly, REKS praises Numonics’ ability to emulate his own form of a Boston sound, made famous by artists like Edo G and 7L & Esoteric. “There definitely is a sound with a slight influence from New York. You know, a deep, gritty boom-bap sound,” states REKS. “And he [Numonics] can make that sound.”
During the REBELutionary recording process between 2011 to early 2012, REKS and Numonics experienced a turbulent several months that had an impact on their creative psyches. “We really set off to make like [an] overly like, social and political album,” says Numonics. “All the things that happened during the time period of us recording that album, like the [10 Year] Anniversary of 9/11, [the nearby murder of] Trayvon Martin, a lot of different things occurred during that time period.” REKS also notes that these events inspired the two to send a message to the youth that wouldn’t sound preachy or dated, a goal which he believes they accomplished: “There’s a real deep conscious. However, were not looking down on the youth…we’re just painting a picture.”
Both are excited for the release of the album, considering the upwards trajectory of their careers in the last decade-plus. Perhaps REKS’ biggest claim to fame is his long list of collaborative efforts with producers, having cut tracks with 1990s legends like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and others in just the last 10 years. “I’ve worked with [Large Professor], Alchemist, just a who’s-who of producers,” notes REKS. “It’s an honor…quite honestly, I didn’t’ picture it (happening) this way.”
Similarly, REBELutionary is a big next step for Numonics, who's nationally-distributed physical album also now comes to vinyl through Gracie Productions. He’s worked with a few underground artists like REKS, Freddie Gibbs and Co$$, but he’s also been in the studio recently with artists like Blu, Ras Kass and Planet Asia. He’s optimistic about his prospects going forward: “It’s up to the people to decide if they like the record or not, but at the end of the day I feel very fortunate to be put in the situation…it’s just good to be able to get something out there that’s official with the label and to be in touch with a great artist like REKS.”
The rest of the summer should be a busy one for REKS and Numonics, between tours and prepping potential releases. REKS will be touring with Sean Price and Termanology throughout July, and begins a European leg in the fall. The duo has promotional shows on August 1 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and August 15 in Boston, Massachusetts. After that, concrete dates for collaborative performances are up in the air, though they will take place in August, with shows on the West Coast and in the Northeast.
While REKS will be on tour for the better part of the year, Numonics will be logging plenty of hours in the studio. “I’m trying to put out eight projects in the next 12 months, six of those are artist/producer projects with a few instrumental albums.” However, he doesn’t foresee this keeping him out of the spotlight. “We’re trying to set up a lot of things with shows right now, you know, just with [REKS] having Straight, No Chaser and a combination with this album coming out, I feel we’ll be on the road a lot.”
REBELutionary hits the shelves July 24 via Gracie Productions. Stay tuned to HipHopDX Monday (July 23) for an exclusive full-length stream of the album a day before release.