There aren’t too many rappers that can spit a hot 16 like Massachusetts wordsmith REKS. With a flawless track record and a work ethic that rivals the late 2Pac, the guy is destined to reach levels in Hip-Hop most only fantasize over. After notching four strong albums and traveling around the world to perform for adoring fans, REKS is not satisfied with his sterling underground status and has set his sights on the entire music domain. The Planet chopped it up with REKS about not being from Boston, the new album, being a former husband and father, his dream collaboration, being compared to Guru and more. Tune in or check the audio.
Planet Ill: There is a deep meaning behind your name. What it is stand for?
REKS: Well, it’s an acronym. It stands for Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme. I was a big fan of KRS [One] growing up and he had a big influence on me. I grew up in the Golden Era of music during the time Illmatic came out; so that’s how you get Rhythmatic. Eternal being forever, King being me, and Supreme to celebrate those before me.
Planet Ill: Your new album, Straight No Chaser, is about to drop. How have you grown since dropping Along Came The Chosen over a decade ago?
REKS: Well now I’m able to look into the mirror and self-analyze . By doing this, I realize who I am and through that I feel now I can relate to the people. I feel like the people’s people, because I am able to express myself in the truest form. There are a lot of people that can relate to the struggles in my life. Like I grew up without a father, lived in an impoverished area, getting married at a young age and now dealing with divorce, having kids and being a father are all things I talk about in my songs.
Planet Ill: Getting into that, many rappers put up a persona that they’re ladies men and many are reluctant to tie the knot, because it will hurt their image. As a rapper, how did being married at a young age affect your music image?
REKS: I don’t think I hurt my image too much, because I was still doing my thing. I was ill prepared for the responsibilities of marriage and a career. I wasn’t able to balance the two. It’s all in my music and I always said that I am not a great husband. I am great father, but not a great husband. It’s unfortunate that I wasn’t more aware when I was married. I was always on the road doing shows late night. As artists, we have a tendency to fall victim to life’s ills. Now I am glad to be wiser and have children where I am a part of their lives and I have a grasp on balancing the music life and family life. You live and learn pretty much.
Planet Ill: The new album is heavy in terms of Boston features, was this done purposely to give the city some light or was it coincidental?
REKS: It was coincidental. Honestly, I’m into choosing the right people for a particular beat. I’m not into getting that New York or West Coast flavor, because that’s hot at that time. I do have a tendency to favor certain artists for certain records and it just so happened I got Slaine on the “Straight, No Chaser” joint. Not because he’s from Boston, but because me and him have similar pasts and dealt with the same struggles such as, being a fathers, former husbands, and being on the road a lot. So “Straight, No Chaser” is a real song where we don’t hold back and air-out our pains. It is a real song and that is what I focus on when I put a record out.
Planet Ill: Why did you choose to have Statik Selektah produce your entire album?
REKS: Well, Statik and I always wanted to do it and there isn’t another producer that knows me like he does. He is a big part of my life not only in this music thing, but outside as well. He is the Godfather of my youngest son and he’s family. It’s not only a music thing. We always ride for each other. I feel we are the perfect combination, because we always push each other in the studio in order to get the best material and it been working great so far.
Planet Ill: A lot of people call you and Statik the modern-day Gangstarr, how do feel about gaining such a prominent comparison?
REKS: That’s amazing and it’s a great title to receive. Statik and I know we have a long way to go before we even come close to the catalog and accomplishment they’ve reached. It’s dope that people like the music that much that they make those comparisons, but I wouldn’t say that neither would Statik. Our main objective is to make quality music and it’s an honor, because we were raised on them.
Planet Ill: Why do you think Boston never had its heyday in Hip-Hop?
REKS: It’s a combination of many things. First of all, Boston is not a huge market for Hip-Hop even though we did have a strong underground scene in the late 90s early 2000s. Even though there was talent we didn’t have any like talent scouts or anyone looking for talent out there. I feel the biggest problem is individuals are so comfortable being the man of just the city and don’t feel they need to branch out.
Common touched on it when he said, “You find it hard to believe/because homie never been downtown,” and that’s the mentality there. The biggest radio station might play your song and you think you made it. I don’t feel I made it if I’m not being played out in Europe, Asia and different cities in the U.S. I have to be played everywhere in order to feel I made it and people in Boston don’t have that mentality.
Planet Ill: People have been calling you the King of Boston. How do you feel about that title?
REKS: I hear that a lot and I can’t be the King of Boston, because I am not from there. I am from Lawrence, Massachusetts and it’s nearby, but I am not from Boston. I rep Boston hard, because it is close. I lived there for many years and made my waves in the Boston. Again, I don’t want to focus on being the man in Massachusetts. I want to aim outside and conquer the world. I never had the mentality to battle upcoming artists in Boston, because my mind is on the bigger picture. If people call me that fine, but I don’t want it.
Planet Ill: You dropped out of college to pursue music, was there ever a part of you that wished to stay in school and is there any chance of you going back to finish?
REKS: I definitely have no regrets, because if I didn’t drop out, I would be in the position I am in now. I am happy where I am at. I am not comfortable, but happy. I feel blessed for all the lessons I learned. The song “Regrets” on the new albums touches on that. I talk about sometimes take a risk could be the road to happiness and never being content; you always have to strive for more. Undoubtedly though, I am definitely going back to get my degree no questions asked.
I don’t care if I am 70 years old; I am getting my degree (Laughs). I think it’s an important accomplishment for my mind, heart and morals. I want to show my children the dedication and the importance of an education.
Planet Ill: In the last 10 or so years you’ve dropped four albums and they’re all timeless, what is the secret behind your consistency?
REKS: When you’re dedicated to your craft then it is not difficult to do. I don’t want to put out the same music I don’t want to be cliché or redundant in my music. I don’t want to be that individual that had that spark and never made it. I feel I am making it now. I have a crazy work ethic. I have four albums in the vault now, but I am always in the studio making new joints… When Pac [2Pac] was in lab consistently that is the work ethic I want to be known for. I can’t sleep for a minute.
Planet Ill: Is there any rapper/producers that you haven’t worked with that you would like to?
REKS: There are a bunch of artists. Saigon, Kendrick Lamar and Big K.R.I.T. are up on my list. Scarface is another, because I was a huge fan growing up on him. RZA, Q-Tip, Nas, DJ Khalil and the list can go on and on.
Planet Ill: If you can bring back any rapper from the dead to do a collab with, who would it be?
REKS: Aww man…my pick wouldn’t represent my favorite artist, but if I had the opportunity it would be either Marvin Gaye or Sam Cooke. Marvin Gaye had the most scientific and impeccable vocals. If a dude like that can influence brothers like Stevie Wonder, it is crazy what that brother can do. Sam Cooke is just a “G” (Laughs).
Planet Ill: What is next for REKS?
REKS: Presently get the new album Straight, No Chaser. Then we touring. We hitting Canada, Europe and African so we really hit the road hard. End of the year look out for a couple albums I have with Hazardous Sounds who works with N.O.R.E. and I have another album going to drop at the top of the year, so look out.
Follow Us on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/planetill
Become a citizen of Planet Ill. Join our Forums
Join Us on the Planet Ill Facebook Group for more discussion
Follow us on Networked Blogs