It would be a childhood football game against Mystikal and the entire No Limit staff that would lead to Rei’s inevitable rap career. Fast-forward to now and the New Orleans-born rapper has since released a handful of mixtapes and performed with the likes of Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Curren$y. Rei took some time to speak with us and share some insight on his musical career so far.
First off, how was your football game with Mystikal and the rest of the No Limit crew when you were younger?
It was fun. I used to hate playing football because I was smaller than all the other kids, but I enjoyed myself. I can honestly say that it was one of best days of my life. Those guys are like immortals to me.
DJ Toomp has helped significantly with your career by being a great mentor. What would you say has been one of the most important things he’s told you, or given you advice about?
Toomp has taught me to keep the honesty in my music. Him and I rarely talk about music. We talk about life–he’s older than me so he’s been in the situations that I’m going through, and gives me his best advice. Women, aliens…[laughs] we talk about it all.
You’re influenced by the greats: Outkast, Eminem, Big L, Nas and many others. Are there any other influences from rap or other genres of music you look up to?
I never was influenced by Big L. Not saying he wasn’t amazing but I never had a chance to hear him. I love Linkin Park; I think Mike Shinoda deserves his own continent. Kid Cudi understands me; Pharrell [too]. The Fray, Frank Sinatra, Freddie Mercury, Audioslave–I listen to more rock than rap I think.
Since 2008’s Spaceships & Satellites you’ve released a handful of other mixtapes. How do you feel you’ve improved as a rapper since then?
Structure. I was a loose cannon; just rapping. I could make a mixtape back then but didn’t know how to make a song. I’ve cut back on rapping on other people’s beats a lot [too]. Everything is original production. I have always been about concepts and stories. That element of my music will always remain.
You’ve also opened up for a handful of artists including Drake, Kendrick Lamar and CyHi the Prince. How was it opening up for those guys, and what have you learned from performing with them?
It was all a learning experience. Some of those guys will be legends in time, so I can imagine what it was like when Nas used to talk about rocking those hole in the wall clubs with Biggie an Wu-tang. Some of them I actually spoke to, made friends with and learned from, and some of them I didn’t. Curren$y told me to be my own record label and [to] always stay true to myself. Out of all the acts I’ve opened up for, he’s the one that stood out. One time we were in the club and he bought me a bottle of Chaundon, and told me to keep doing what I’m doing. That meant a lot coming from him.
Tell me a little more about Reject Society. Where does the name come from and do you plan to expand upon it? Like incorporating not only artists, but other ventures like clothing, and other art/creative outlets?
Reject Society is like a safe haven in your mind–an attitude. The ability to turn rejection into something beautiful, in an unorthodox fashion. My homegirl Carmen was joking with me and said, “Rei and the Rejects!” and I was like “WOW! That’s it.” I don’t want it to seem like a rapper who came up with a cheesy name for his crew though. I have been creating music for kids like me my whole life. The kids who feel like they have been rejected by society. I want to expand: clothes, films, skate DVDs, art
, sketch comedy, cartoons. The world will be Reject Society.
Lastly, what’s next for you? Any upcoming releases or performances that you can tell us about?
Rise of the Rejects is coming in September. That’s my next body of work. After its release I’m going to try to get a tour going.