If you’re from the Bay, you’re probably very familiar with Rexx Life Raj. If you’re not, listen to “Handheld GPS,” and you’ll be sold. Not only does the Berkeley rapper carry the West Coast’s signature sound, his versatility and ability to include substance in his lyrics proves his worth in this rap game. Read more…
One spin of Father Figure 2, and fans can retain all the life advice and wisdom stemming from Rexx’ journey in the music biz, especially after ditching a promising career in football. “Where I Belong,” the follow-up to “Handheld GPS,” serves as a record of growth and coming into his own. Some call him the “Father Figure” while others call him “Dad.” Either way, he must be doing something right. At just 27, Rexx has already caught the attention of one of music’s greatests, Pharrell.
For those who don’t know, who is Rexx Life Raj?
Yo, what’s up? I’m Raj. You’re here with [a long list of fake nicknames]. I’m a rapper/singer. Just a creative from Berkeley, CA.
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe my sound as a very humble, modest, gentle giant. That loves music and cool people.
You’re from the Bay. How does being home compare to places like LA?
Being home and LA is two totally different worlds. I fuck with LA, but it’s a place where I can’t spend too much time. Especially doing what I do and doing music, you see… it’s a lot of weird shit out here. It’s a lot of not authentic shit out here. It’s dope though. What’s dope about LA is that you can come out here and it’s a melting pot for hella different producers, singer/songwriters, and artists. So you bump into a lot of people, but it’s not as genuine to me as back home. Back home, people are usually who they say they are, and they’re chill and they can conversate. Out here, it’s a little more about the game. And clout: trying to strategize and move, and all that kind of shit. You gotta get used to it.
Do you feel like it’s harder to convince people elsewhere?
Nah, I think I’m pretty solid.
Because I feel like the Bay doesn’t get as much light in the Hip Hop world.
Yeah, I feel like everybody in the Bay knows that. We’ve all been thinking that. I feel like the Bay is a little bubble, and I think it’s because of the type of music and the tempo, it doesn’t really translate everywhere. You know, that 90’s tempo rap shit. It translates in southern California, but it’s hard to take that shit everywhere. Right now, trap tempo is universal, so it can go everywhere. But the Bay is fasho a mecca of hella creativity and coming up on these new ideas and new sounds and shit.
Talk about your new album, ‘Father Figure 2.’
Father Figure 2 is damn near just a continuation of Father Figure 1. I called it Father Figure 2 because I’m on the same shit. To me, this album is about my growth as a person, my growth sonically, musically, spiritually, and I feel like it translated well into this album. I’m still on that same shit. And what I did on this one was I had my dad kind of narrate the album. So it’s pretty crazy. It’s my parents, both of them. I had this long conversation with them one of the last times I came back from LA, and my parents are hella funny and they just talk hella much, but they dropped a lot of gems and shit. So I took this conversation and chopped it up. And it was pretty much along the same lines as what I was talking about, so it kind of narrates the whole album.
You talk about wanting to be a “Father Figure” to others, what is your own relationship with your father?
I have a real strong relationship with my father. He basically developed me into the dude that I am today, like my outlook on life, and my perspective about a lot of shit. He instilled everything in me, from how I see myself in this world as a black man and how I’ll be viewed in this world. And trying to maneuver and move and just knowing what comes along with it. So he’s been really influential in my life.
What do you want fans to get out of this project?
Like I said, it’s all about growth. And that’s what I want people to get from me. ‘Cause my whole journey has been about growth and that’s the underlying message in all my music. And that’s why I think people gravitate towards it. It’s because we’re all striving towards something, we’re all trying to grow toward something. And my journey has been that and this is the evolution of that growth. If you can get anything from it, just grow and flourish.
The music industry is no joke. What’s your take on it?
The music industry is a joke. The more I really be around it, it’s all smoke and mirrors. It’s not really what you think it is. People aren’t who you think they are. A lot of this shit is pay to play. When you see people rise to the top, a lot of it is not by luck. It’s a lot of strings and shit being pulled. It’s a game for real, but it’s dope because on my journey, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of genuine people. And I haven’t had to be a real part of the bullshit, but you gotta know what it is. It’s smoke and mirrors. Everything is not what you think it is — most of it is not what you think it is.
Talk about linking with Pharrell
Linking with Pharrell was crazy. Nima, who’s the VP at Empire… KP is who I really got tapped in with. He’s one of the guys who runs i am Other. And him and Nima linked up, and Nima was playing him some new artists he was working with. And he played him my shit and he hella fucked with it. That same night, KP came to my studio in Berkeley. I played him some shit, and he was hella cool and he was fucking with it. He left, they took him to the airport and then he called and he was like, “Yo, I played it for Pharrell. Pharrell wants to meet Raj.” So I think it was that weekend or the next, we mobbed out to LA. Went to the studio with Pharrell, we sat in on two sessions with him. It was just cool since then. Played him some music, he play some of the shit he was working on. And it’s been cool ever since. They brought me out at Complexcon, which was hella crazy.
Is there a collab coming?
I don’t know, we’re trying to put some stuff together.
You’re only 27. What’s your end goal?
My end goal is to be happy. I don’t really have like a monetary end goal. I want to be at a place in life where I’m happy with myself, I can provide for the people around me, put my friends and family in a better positions, and make everybody happy. That’s my end goal.
What was the moment you decided to leave football for music?
It wasn’t like a particular moment. My thing with football is like, music has always been my passion, football was just something I was good at. I was like the big athletic nigga. Like I was always too fat to play Pop Warner football shit, so I always played flag football. When I got to high school, I was good, I ended up getting scholarship to Boise State (shout out coach Carter, shout out coach Pete, all that shit), so I went up there. But the whole time, everybody was like, “Bro, you going to the league, you really finna go to the league.” In my mind, that was never the end goal for me. This was just like, I got this opportunity to get this scholarship, to get a degree, and have this experience that not a lot of people have, so that’s how I went into it looking at it. So I did that. I played four and half years, got my degree, and then I was back to music. Because that was what I was gonna do anyway. But what I got from it was the education, the experience, I got homies now. Some of my best friends are in the league, they play football. So I live vicariously through them.
What’s a normal day in the life?
In the morning, I still help my parents with their business. They run a delivery service back home. They’ve been running it for like 30 years. So, in the morning I’ll wake up from 10am to maybe 3pm. I do deliveries and shit for them. I help them. And then after that, it’s just pure music. Figuring out branding and businesses, and business moves and stuff like that.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
At this moment… I got a little playlist called protect your Rexx. For a minute, I was off this Smino shit. I play a lot of Mick Jenkins. A lot of PARTYNEXTDOOR, for the mood. Kendrick — I was off the Kendrick shit a lot. It’s a little variety in there.
Who’s your favorite artist?