"It hurts to see the cultures most iconic figure in such a predicament. I can't say it's others duty but I pray brothers pay it forward".-REKS (Speaking on DJ Kool Herc)
If you’re a fan of Golden Era ‘90s hip-hop then look no further than REKS. HipHopGame had the opportunity to speak to REKS about his upcoming album R.hymatic E.ternal K.ing S.upreme, to working with DJ Premier, President Obama as well as hip-hop's support for Kool Herc (or lack thereof).
On March 8th your set to release your 3rd album titled R.E.K.S. (Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme). How do you think your new album stacks against 2008's Grey Hairs album?
I feel excited about this album and extremely satisfied with the final product as it stands. I feel there is a growth in this album from Grey Hairs. This is a more personal album for me. I say this because I touch upon topics on R.E.K.S that give you pieces of me I left untouched on Grey Hairs. I wasn't afraid to be vulnerable on this album. Grey Hairs was more a lens pointed at the industry and its surroundings. R.E.K.S is a lens on Corey Christie and his surroundings.
Your latest single, The 25th Hour, produced by the great DJ Premier has been generating tremendous buzz as of late. Has the response from the record been everything you wanted it to be?
I'm never going to be completed satisfied as an artist. I feel we can always make progress and strides. I do feel this has been the most successful beginning to a project I have thus far in my career. But this is just a new pebble in the pond, a new checkmark on the board of accomplishments. I will always salute DJ Premier for the artist he brings out of me and I look forward to working with him in the future.
Speaking of The 25th Hour, in the final verse you said, "Bumpin Ricky Ross, kids are off track, they lost". Were you referring to the substance and content in today’s mainstream hip-hop?
I feel substance and content or lack thereof is not merely in the mainstream. We have artists in all aspects of this game who simplify lyrics to get ahead in this culture. I mean no disrespect to Rick Ross just stating a point in regards to the type of artists kids idolize. I feel Rick Ross offers something to this culture I cannot ever in my career. There are kids who can relate to what he preaches. What I preach is different. I do need to speak out when I feel kids need and many times desire an alternative. To feel the trap and the perils of it are the only realities a child will ever know is to deny that child reality.
I'm not the biggest fan of the "hipster swag" era of hip-hop but it wouldn't bother me at all if we had a consistent balance on radio and TV with the different styles and genres in hip-hop. If everyone say an artist like Sha Stimuli would get fair airplay as an artist like Drake does I think hip-hop would be so much better off. As much as it frustrates me as a fan I know it has to be frustrating at times for you as an artist to get exposure in a era when style, not skill sells?
Exactly! I couldn't agree with you more. I enjoy music from artists such as Rick Ross, Lil Wayne and even Drake. However, to be force fed their music is where radio and the media as a whole fails us. I would love to be able to hear Freddie Gibbs and Big Krit as much as they play Nicki Minaj and Jay Z. My palate requires balance.
Anybody that has ever heard a Reks record should know that you don't bite your tongue on any issue or person. You've spoke on people from Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, to Bill O'Reilly to President Barack Obama. In your song Pray For You (The Homicide Note),you said "Sorry mama, but f*ck Obama, I ain't really seeing no change". With now over two years in office, how would you grade our current president?
I voted for President Obama and I was excited for even the slightest bit of change. I have yet to be satisfied with the job he has done. More of the same in my opinion. Also, the Black community as a whole should hold him (President Obama) more accountable rather than placing support because he shares our skin tone. Many will deny it but it’s fact. I don't fuck with politicians anyway. They just as grimy as the police officers who should serve and protect and choose not to. I won’t lie, I got caught in the "Obama hysteria" and hype. I do believe he can make some difference. He just hasn't proven capable yet.
Jumping back to the new album, you have a song titled “Mr. Nobody” and you speak on growing up young with no father as well as watching your mother struggle to raise a family. The album as a whole may be your most personal release yet. Do you have a personal favorite record off your new album?
I'm still taken it all in and I don't see a personal favorite as yet. “Mr. Nobody” touches on some personal issues I dealt with in growing in my household trying to become a man. My step father stepped in as I got older and helped raise children as his own. He is the only father I have ever known. Shout out to any man who handles his responsibility but even more props to the men who step when its not even there job.
R.E.K.S. is flooded with stellar production, from Hi-Tek, the Alchemist, Nottz, the legendary Pete Rock, Statik Selektah and DJ Premier. You've mentioned before of being awestruck with working with Primo but is it another producer out there that you would love to work with?
I'm still amazed when I look at this tracklisting. Growing up I remember opening my CD booklet excited to see the production credits and who came with that heat for Biggie, Nas, Scarface, etc. I still have so many I would love to work with like RZA, Just Blaze, DJ Khalil, Madlib…I could go on forever!
My favorite song off the new R.E.K.S. album is “Mascara - The Ugly Truth,” when you spoke on the treatment of Black people and entertainers in the media as well as the Tiger Woods situation and more. How did that song come to be?
I just look at the way we are portrayed in the media and the way we gravitate towards lighter skin because of it. No matter what veils we put on we can't mask the struggle. We cannot let time tell us our wounds are healed when they slap a Band-Aid on. The history of the black man in America is long and it is painful. Acknowledgements in February are not enough. A Black President is not enough and reparations will not be enough. We have a history of scars that have past on from generation to generation and we can debate forever but this is the reality I know.
As a man that lives, breathes and respect the culture of hip-hop, what are your thoughts on the recent illness of hip-hop proclaimed founding father DJ Kool Herc?
For me, unlike any other genre of music, hip-hop artists flaunt money, bling and financial status so much that it's unfortunate that someone like Kool Herc has to struggle the way he is. I feel that all these rappers that claim to be "makin it rain", should "make it rain" on Kool Herc’s medical bills.
Amen. It hurts to see the cultures most iconic figure in such a predicament. I can't say it's others duty but I pray brothers pay it forward. It's only right, I pray for his fortune indeed.