From Brooklyn to South Florida, poet turned rapper, Rel. B is crossing boarders with his YZUP movement. His debut mix-tape “It’s Not Bragging” shows diversity, word play, wisdom and skill. I had the opportunity to talk more about how his love for music came to be and whats next for upcoming artist Rel. B. Hang Ten!
AG: What certain qualities do you look for in an artist when you do a collaboration or a feature?
Rel. B: It takes creativity and the ability to use words in a way that other people aren’t using them and the passion for working
AG: So your from Brooklyn correct?
Rel. B: Yeah
AG: Dope I’m from Queens, how has moving from New York to Florida influenced your music? Do you feel you have more of a northern sound or more South FL?
Rel. B: I think it’s a good balance of both, I didn’t start getting into music until I started writing poetry, I grew up on reggae- my parents are the most jamaican parents you’ll ever meet. I didn’t really get into rap until my sister bought me the “College Dropout” album in sixth grade, I have a really open mind when it comes to music
AG: Have you ever thought about doing a rap/reggae collaboration?
Rel. B: My dad keeps trying to get me to do it, I’ll take his word for it, it just hasn’t happened yet.
AG: How long does it take for you to put a track together?
Rel. B: It varies, sometimes Koolie can start playing a beat, walk out of the room on his cell phone and I’ll have two or three verses done. Or sometimes, I’ll have to sit on a beat for like a week just so I know what I want to write about so it really does vary.
AG: I looked on your sound cloud and found a previous project “Lost in Soho” was that a previous mix-tape or an EP
Rel. B: It was just… (chuckles) a project to be but kind of like a miscarriage we all wanted to work for it but it just didn’t come out the way we wanted it to.
AG: How have you grown from “Lost in Soho” to “It’s Not Bragging”?
Rel.B: On “It’s Not Braggin” I really started to find my own sound and I started to trust myself more musically instead listening to what everyone else was saying- I stopped second guessing myself.
AG: Are there any labels or group you’d be dying to work under right now?
Rel. B: G.O.O.D music, Star Trak & Fool’s Gold.
AG: I think young northern rappers are really starting to make a name for themselves (A$AP Rocky, Joey Bada$$ etc.) are you confident to be added to the throne?
Rel. B: I don’t want to just add to an era I don’t want to be labeled as a New York rapper or a South Florida rapper, I want to be able to cross borders. Me being from New York that’s always going to be part of it, New York will always be home, I just want to expand and see what the rest of the world has to offer.
AG: When your writing/recording do you have any needs or pet peeves?
Rel. B: I like to smoke, but I also hate when people are in the session that usually aren’t there and they try to tell me how to do things.
AG: Who are some artists you’ve looked up to since your childhood and who are some artists that you look up to now?
Rel. B: My parents had me on ALOT of reggae so I grew up on messages from Bob Marley, The Wailers, and Beenie Man. Kanye West was the first artist that I really grew attached to now I look up to people like Jay-Z for his business initiative, also 50 Cent and DJ Khaled who can sincerely say they started from the bottom and gave it a whole new chapter.
AG: Any producers?
Rel. B: Just Blaze, Timbaland, Missy Elliot, Pharrell, and J. Cole.
AG: What would be a defining moment in your career?
Rel. B: This is how I’ve always envisioned it- I’ve pictured this in my head a million times. It’s me on stage with maybe about 20,000 people screaming “REL. B! REL. B!” I also want to have a close relationship with my fans I want them to feel like they know me.
AG: How did South FL rap influence you when you were younger?
Rel. B: Well my friends were having me listen to Crime Mob and Trick Daddy- people I’ve never really heard before it was all new to me but it helped me decide what I wanted to sound like. Also me and a few people in my neighborhood would battle rap, and this one time another rapper embarrassed me because I didn’t really have anything to say back to him, so I went home and I started writing. I started to become very interested in battle rapping, that’s what gave me a sense of maintaining who I was.
AG: How do you feel about going main stream? Many people say it changes the artist.
Rel. B: What we plan on doing is just keeping it here and as long as we gain listeners I think were in the right position. We’re not reaching out to labels begging for them to listen but were not against it either I just want to make sure things stay the way they are now, I wouldn’t be anywhere without my team- I’ve got a strong team they’re the ones that get me to where I am today.
AG: Any singers you’d like to work with? Not rappers or hip-hop faces?
Rel. B: Frank Ocean for sure, he’s talented. The Lumineers and also Matt and Kim they’re from Brooklyn to they’re sample was featured on my song “Daylight”.
AG: Do you haven any upcoming projects we should be looking out for?
Rel. B: We have “The Wave” video coming out soon, I also have an acoustic project coming out and an early summer mix-tape called “No Evil”. We also have a mini Florida tour we want to do.
AG: Any last thoughts?
Rel. B: Last thing you need to know is about our movement “YZUP” it’s a play on words. It’s a collection of like minds. People say I’m young but I have an old soul like I’m wise beyond my years, I take it as learning from mistakes of others. What I thought about when I was younger was that, if I’m not here anymore what’s the one message that I want to leave to the world and it was always “Wise Up”. Wisdom is your only weapon is what I’m really trying to say.
Interviewer: Andrea Garcia @dreafool