Led by its first offering, “Canvas,” Bay Area rapper and self-proclaimed “Berkeley superhero,” Rexx Life Raj, recently announced California Poppy 2, produced by Kyle Betty, the highly anticipated sequel to his 2018 EP of the same name.
DG:Tell me your whole inception into music — When did you first become interested in it? And, how did it all begin for REXX LIFE RAJ?
I was born into music. My family, on my mom’s side, were all singers and played hella instruments. My dad was heavy into Reggae. He played Bob Marley and the Wailers 24/7. Eventually, I found rap and R&B and lost myself in it.
DG:Now you’re from Berkeley, CA, correct? So growing up in the ‘Athens of the West,’ who all did / do you consider to be your strongest influences?
I think my biggest influence was the city itself. It’s always been super diverse, and a hub for radical / different thought. Just growing up here is super influential.
DG:At what point in time, specifically, did you even opt to pursue music on a professional basis?
In middle school *Raj laughs* Ever since middle school, I’ve been in a lot of different rap groups. I think it became really real when I graduated college in 2012. That’s when I’d say I became “professional,” because I could never see myself getting a real job.
DG:What particular string of events actually led to your current signing to EMPIRE? And why exactly an indie over a major label venture?
A random Retweet in like 2014 / 2015. At the time, my manager was the radio host at San Jose State. He heard one of my old songs from a Retweet, and brought me to the school to do a few interviews and shows. After he graduated, he got a job at Empire and offered to manage me. Now look at us!
DG:Your other new single is entitled “Bounce Back,” and it features G-Eazy & Jay Anthony — Tell me about this particular track; how did it come to fruition?
A bunch of us were working on songs for G’s project. We did a bunch! One this night I told Reece – producer of the song – to pull up. We made the song from scratch that night. My hook was actually a reference for a bigger artist to sing. We left the studio that night, and I didn’t hear anything about the song until they told me that ESPN really liked it. And the rest was history.
DG:Of course “Bounce Back“ is also part of a campaign with both ESPN MUSIC and NBA PROGRAMMING — How did this newly established business venture even come about? And what exactly does this pairing up actually entail?
I don’t even know how it came about honestly. You would have to ask G’s team. Somehow ESPN heard it, and thought it fit well with basketball season. Now it’s played randomly throughout the games and on the station. It’s a blessing.
DG:That said, how do you classify your overall sound and / or style?
I would call it Introspective-Melodic-Blap!
DG:Where does your moniker originally derive from?
It started as a clique of friends in high school who all rapped, and eventually tranformed into a commune of creatives from visual artists to rappers / singers.
DG:Switching gears here, what exactly do you want people to get from your music?
I think that’s super subjective. I try to rap about things life has taught me, and experiences I’ve been through in hopes that people can get something from it that helps them grow. That’s what made my favorite artists my favorites.
DG:If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Sade, D’Angelo or Erykah Badu. They influenced my music the most. I vividly remember hearing them on the car rides home. They all helped me to understand music in different ways. Opened my eyes to a lot.
DG:If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?
Sold out Oracle Coliseum in Oakland. Having home have that much love for me would mean a lot . Thats fa sho the dream!
DG:In terms of longevity, what do you feel it is that will continue to sustain you in this grueling industry?
Honesty in my music, and being myself. This shit is so saturated with so many artists sounding alike and looking alike. The ones that separate are the people that are 100% unapologetically themselves. That’s a lane that no one else can get in. It’s distinct to you.
DG:Do you have any other outside / additional future aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
Other business ventures. Things that can employ people around me, and eventually lead them to becoming their own bosses. In this system, that’s the closest thing you get to freedom. Just being an inspiration to others.
DG:To date, what has been your biggest career moment(s), at least thus far anyway?
Doing my first headlining tour in Europe. The idea that my music has travelled that far and touched people way across the pond blows my mind. I have homies who’ve never left the state, let alone the country. So to be able to travel off of doing what I love is a blessing / major accomplishment.
DG:Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?
In the Berkeley Hills with a wife and 3 kids, eating a completely vegan diet, while also living 100% sustainably and in accordance with mother-earth.
DG:As for the immediate, what’s next for REXX LIFE RAJ?
Music, music, more music…and videos.