fbpx

Bay Area Hip-Hop with Rexx Life Raj

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Listen to this episode:

Powered by RedCircle

 

Bay area artist Rexx Life Raj (real name Faraji Omar Wrightz) is in album mode with “Blue Hour” set to drop soon. The new album is his most personal yet. It was largely recorded after his mother passed away and before his father did too — which was within a three-month span of each other during 2021. The personal grief of both losses influenced the sounds of the new music. 

 

While recording this music was one way Raj coped with his grief, he also wants the album to do the same for others going through similar pains in their own lives. The deeper purpose behind Blue Hour is to create a safe space to talk about grief, especially amongst black men, where the topic of mental health can fly under the radar. 

 

Raj wants Blue Hour to honor his parents, who instilled in him an entrepreneurial spirit from an early age. The album will be his fifth — all released independently. A tour will follow later this year too. For a closer look at Raj’s process behind his art, listen to our full interview. Here’s everything we covered:

 

[3:03] Bay Area’s Influence On Raj’s Music

[4:51] Rexx’s Entrepreneurship Spirit Stems From Parents

[7:07] Did Rex Ever Consider Taking A Record Label Deal?

[8:13] The TikTok Effect On Artists (Pros & Cons)

[11:25] Content Strategy For Raj’s Newest Album 

[14:25] Why Grief Is Such A Big Theme In Rex’s Music

[17:40] How Raj Is Coping With The Loss Of His Parents

[24:10] Personal Goals For The Upcoming Album

[25:53] Post-Album Tour Plans

[30:40] How Tapped In Is Raj To Local Tech Scene?

[32:42] E-40’s Entrepreneurship Skills

[36:37] What Is Raj Most Excited About?

 

Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSS

 

Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.co

 

Guests: Rexx Life Raj, @rexxliferaj

 

This episode was brought to you by Highlight. Build the community of your dreams on the blockchain. The new company is backed by leading investors like Haun Ventures, Thirty Five Ventures (“35V”), and more. Learn more at highlight.xyz

 

 

Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! ratethispodcast.com/trapital

 

Trapital is home for the business of hip-hop. Gain the latest insights from hip-hop’s biggest players by reading Trapital’s free weekly memo

 

TRANSCRIPTION

 

[00:00:00] Rexx Life Raj: When it comes to numbers, like, you can buy followers, you can buy comments, you can buy likes, but a lot of people will tune in for the spectacle, you know what I’m saying? Like, it’s a lot of followers who are just like there for the show. Like, you’re really good on the internet so we just want to watch you on the internet.

[00:00:15] Rexx Life Raj: But it never translates to anything real. It’s like, that’s why looking at engagement is such a big thing. Like, I’ll look into followers, but then I’ll look at how many comments, like, I’ll be looking at that kind of shit. Like, how many comments you got? Like, how many people are really tapped in? What’s the engagement like on all platforms? ‘Cause that’s how you can really tell

[00:00:39] Dan Runcie: Hey, welcome to the Trapital podcast. I’m your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip-hop culture to the next level.

[00:00:59] Dan Runcie: Today’s guest is Rexx Life Raj. He’s a Bay Area artist known for the Father Figure trilogy and his upcoming album, The Blue Hour. In this episode, Raj and I talked a lot about the inspiration for this album and what brought him up to this point? Raj, unfortunately, lost both of his parents in the past year so one of the big focuses for this album was grief.

[00:01:21] Dan Runcie: What are the things that Raj had done to process that, him being able to navigate that and some of the coping things that he had done over the year and how that prepared him to be in the mode to create this album. So we talked about the process for that. And we also talked about some of the things he’s done to market and push the album.

[00:01:38] Dan Runcie: He has a blog, he has a trailer, and being able to truly document the process. So we talk about some of that balance that a lot of artists have between the marketing they need to do in the actual product that they need to put out and share with their fans. We talked about that and we also talked about how that relates to TikTok.

[00:01:57] Dan Runcie: TikTok has been one of the growing debates with a lot of artists in terms of how they put their content out there and record labels wanting to push them to do things, but Raj is in a different position. He isn’t signed to a record label. He is independent. He still does distribution through EMPIRE. So we talked about that decision as well and how he looks at some of the broader trends, whether it’s TikTok or, thinking more broadly, he does have a tour coming up as well to promote the album.

[00:02:24] Dan Runcie: So we talked a little bit about what it’s like doing festivals versus doing tours yourself. And this was a really good episode. I think a lot of the independent artists will appreciate this. A lot of the independent creators will appreciate this as well because a lot of you are taking a more bootstrapped approach.

[00:02:42] Dan Runcie: You know, it’s going to be a longer game, but a lot of the decisions you make need to line up with this strategy and Raj to someone that’s doing it on a successful level. So I hope you enjoy this chat. Here’s my conversation with Rex life, Raj. All right, today we got the one and only Bay Area native Rexx Life Raj here. How are you doing, man? 

[00:03:00] Rexx Life Raj: Yeah. I can’t complain. How are you doing?

[00:03:03] Dan Runcie: I’m good. I’m good. I’m excited for this. And it’s good to talk to the artists that are from here, and especially you because you have always had the Bay Area such a clear and prominent focus in your music and your music videos. And I really feel like it’s a character in your art in a lot of ways. Can you talk a little bit about the influence Bay Area has and how it shapes what you put out? 

[00:03:25] Rexx Life Raj: Yeah, man. I think that the Bay Area is just like such an influential place and you see it in terms of just the way, like our lingo spreads, that the sound of the music spreads, you know, the dancing that comes from here, everything is so like cultural and impactful that I feel like if you’re from here, it just comes out of you without even trying. Because you know, people always tell me,

[00:03:45] Rexx Life Raj: like, they get that from me and I don’t even be trying. It’s just like who I am. So I think the Bay Area is tight ’cause it’s like a blend of so many different people, but at the cooler of the culture, everybody HiFi for real, you know what I’m saying? And that’s really what it is, you know. So, yeah, I love the Bay Area, man. 

[00:04:01] Dan Runcie: Yeah. It’s like not everyone needs to do HiFi straight up music, but I feel like you kind of find your own spin on that, right? Like, you can see the origins, but you took it in your own direction. 

[00:04:10] Rexx Life Raj: Yeah, it was like, I think that’s what’s dope about art is that like, to me, art is people living in this life and taking these experiences and it goes through your filter and it comes out how it comes out. You know what I’m saying? So I took an artist of life around me and this is how it comes out. But I think you could still feel like the Bay Area in it just ’cause, you know, this is who I am and where I’m from. 

[00:04:31] Dan Runcie: Yeah, for sure. And I think, too, looking at your background, I know that your father was a big influence. Not just in your music, but also how you approach your career as someone that owned businesses and I feel like I see a similar thread with how you’ve went about the business side of music, especially as an independent artist.

[00:04:51] Rexx Life Raj: Yeah, for sure. Like, like you said, my dad was an entrepreneur since I was born. I think he had, like, he worked at Coca-Cola up until I think a couple of years before I was born. And then after that, it was pure, like, entrepreneurship. He got tired of working for people. He wanted to set his own schedule and kind of just be in control of his own destiny.

[00:05:09] Rexx Life Raj: So that’s all, I really know, like my mom worked at Cal up until I was like three or four, but then she started fully working with my dad in the business. So it was kind of like where I come from. I don’t even really know what it feels like to work a job. Like, I worked for a summer job while I was in college, but everything I know is kind of like building it from the ground up, building it from scratch and, you know, nurturing it and watching it grow.

[00:05:32] Rexx Life Raj: And it’s kind of what I do in every avenue in like in music, in the brands I have outside of music and just kind of all I know. 

[00:05:38] Dan Runcie: Right. And I know with that path that takes a lot of patience and likely a lot more patience than you’re seeing from some of your peers that may be doing other things, whether it’s with major labels or others.

[00:05:48] Dan Runcie: And I can speak to that too, from running a bootstrap business and just seeing how it is with others that are going a different path. But how has that been from your perspective? Just balancing obviously the patience, but knowing the long-term outcome that’s on the other side.

[00:06:04] Rexx Life Raj: Yeah, man. I think it’s just something that’s kind of ingrained in me from, you know, seeing my parents ’cause they had that business for like 30 years and with was so many ebbs and flows in the business, but just knowing, like, it’s something sustainable that’s going to carry you for the rest of your life. It puts a different perspective on it. And also it’s like, I come from a football background and I was the o lineman.

[00:06:26] Rexx Life Raj: I’m used to not getting, like, no shine and no glory and just putting in the work, you know what I’m saying? It’s kind of what I come from. So I feel like it’s like that with music and for me, and you could probably relate when you doing something like this, it don’t feel like work. You know, you’re just having fun.

[00:06:41] Rexx Life Raj: So I’m not looking at it like, oh, this is hard. This is tedious. It’s like, nah, you’re, you’re building something. It’s a blessing, bro. I get to build something from scratch that people resonate with, you know what I’m saying? And it’s like, people are finding value and meaning in it. So it becomes like, even more purposeful for me. So I was just like, bro, I’m blessed, bro. I can’t complain about too much. 

[00:07:00] Dan Runcie: Was there ever a point that you did consider doing a more traditional record label deal? 

[00:07:07] Rexx Life Raj: Not really. I mean, we, I want to say a few years ago we took a few meetings with some bigger record labels, but I think my situation with EMPIRE, for me personally, is just, you know, it’s ideal, you know? ‘Cause I can move out when I want to move. I can kind of do what I want to do. There’s no restrictions on me. You know, you hear stories about the majors. You’re on a schedule, or you’re shelved, or you can put out something. People have been waiting for, like, a year to put out music and, you know, it’s such a big system that people get lost in it, you know what I’m saying? You’re just banking on having somebody in a building that’s rocking with you and you hear stories about those people leaving and now you just kind of, you know, up in the air. So it’s like, you hear a lot of weird stories, but for me, the situation I’m in is just, it’s solid. I can’t, I can’t speak on what happens down the road or if it makes sense, maybe it don’t makes sense then, but for right now, it’s like, what I have is pretty tight.

[00:08:00] Dan Runcie: I hear you on the weird stories. The one I keep hearing right now is people talking about the labels, trying to make them put out TikToks, right? Label wants them to put out a TikTok before they released the track, before they released the album. What do you think about that? 

[00:08:13] Rexx Life Raj: It’s interesting, but I think about that a lot. It really makes me sad, you know what I’m saying? Like, when I really think about, like, but it makes me sad cause it’s, like, if you’re an artist and you don’t want to do that, and that’s kind of, like, ’cause some people have that persona and personality where it plays into that, you know, they’re good at the internet.

[00:08:30] Rexx Life Raj: Some artists are really good at the internet, but I feel bad for the artists who just want to make music. And now they feel like they have to do Tiktok and be less organic and it don’t feel right. Like, to me, that’s not tight, but at the same time, it’s a platform that’s enabling so many up-and-coming creators because the algorithm over there is crazy.

[00:08:49] Rexx Life Raj: Like, I remember when I first got on TikTok, I had, like, 50, 70 followers who just followed me over to TikTok, but I will post things and they will go, like, fake viral, like 30,000 views, 40,000 when I only have 50 followers. So I’m like, it’s a game that you have to play. Like, you can go over there and bullshit and fake go viral by accident, you know what I’m saying? But it’s kinda like, it’s kind of contingent upon the artists, but I see, you know, it needs encouragement on both sides., 

[00:09:16] Dan Runcie: Yeah. And I think we’re also still just so early that we’re likely going to see more types of content that can be put out when someone puts out a TikTok, right? Because I feel like when it started, it was people doing these dances that are just in this like vertical screen.

[00:09:32] Dan Runcie: But, all right. They’ve expanded the timeframe. Like, it doesn’t have to look like that. It reminds me of, like, when MTV first came out, you started to hear a little bit of that, right? Everyone thought it was just going to make people to these, like, phonies that just did these, like, Milli Vanilli dances and stuff like that, but then it, then it evolved. So I feel like that could still happen, right? Just ’cause like you said, the reach is so massive.

[00:09:55] Rexx Life Raj: Yeah. No, I think it’s happening right now because I feel like from what I’ve learned in my experience is that fans, like, people who are fans of you are, who are becoming fans of you actually want to know you. And I feel like, you know, with TikTok, it’s a place where you could be, you could be dancing and viral and all that, but you can really be personal and show people behind the scenes, like, I look like a LaRussell out of Vallejo. And he’s really good at, like, at the internet period, but like, he’s not really TikToking like playing a game, he’s just getting on there and rapping, you know what I’m saying?

[00:10:28] Rexx Life Raj: And people are receptive to that ’cause there’s a whole demographic who just want to hear people rap. So I think it’s really about finding like a little niche, something that’s comfortable for you, and understanding that, like, you’re not making content for everybody in the world. You’re making content for your people and finding your people. And like I said, knowing what’s comfortable with you and you can win for sure. 

[00:10:48] Dan Runcie: Yeah. And I agree with that, and that’s a good example of that, right? Like, I was just reading an article, I was talking about, yeah, the platform’s maturing and it’s going to be more niches and the more niches, yeah, the less people that are going to want to see these standard TikTok dances, more people are going to want to see bars.

[00:11:04] Dan Runcie: They’re going to want to see people wrap. So that’s a good point there. Shifting gears though, I want to talk a little bit more about your album, The Blue Hour and what you have coming up. You have the trailer for it. You got the vlog. I really like how you’ve built up and had the rollout for it. Can you talk to me about the strategy or the plan for how you want it to execute that all?

[00:11:25] Rexx Life Raj: Yeah, for me at this point, bro, cause I just understand like, everything is about content and it kind of goes back to what we were talking about with TikTok. Content is king, you know what I’m saying? And for me it’s just, I want it to have as much content as possible. So I had the cameraman, you know, my boy filming all these sessions. And then, anytime I’ll have a show, I have somebody film it or anytime I have ideas, it’s, like, let’s try to do this idea, you know what I’m saying? ‘Cause the more content you have the better. And so it’s just literally when I went into it, it’s just like, bro, follow me with the camera and just get everything.

[00:11:59] Rexx Life Raj: Then it’ll be shit in here that we could just slowly roll out and turn into a vlog. And then turn it into a documentary, like I’m actually shooting a real documentary right now that we’re starting to drop trailers for, but it’s just like, anytime there’s a camera, turn it on, you know? ‘Cause you could choose whether to put it on or put it out, you know what I’m saying? It’s like, it’s not like you have to put it out, but people want to see the process, like they want to hear the music, of course, but people want to see the process. They want to see how you create. They want to see the thinking behind it. They want to see who you’re collaborating with.

[00:12:29] Rexx Life Raj: It just makes that connection to your fans I think that much stronger. So it’s like when me, I’m just trying to involve them in as much of the process and my thinking as possible to really, you know, make them connect as much as possible. 

[00:12:41] Dan Runcie: That makes sense. Do you ever feel any tension with that approach? Because I know I’ve heard from other artists where they feel like when the cameras are out, they need to do this stuff. It makes them feel like they’re more of a marketer than they are an artist. And obviously, it’s a combination of both. But how was that for you? Especially as, you know, you want to be in album mode, you know, you obviously have a concept that you want to be able to do purely from an artistic person.

[00:13:04] Rexx Life Raj: Yeah, I don’t really have that problem, right? And it might be, ’cause I did have the camera on me at this point for a while. You know what I’m saying? Like, I’ve always had people following me with cameras, but also it’s like, I think, you know, if you have a good videographer, they’re not all in your face with the camera, like they might ask you questions every now and then.

[00:13:20] Rexx Life Raj: But the people I work with, they’re planning the cut. You know what I’m saying? It’s like, they’re almost not even in the room. To me, that’s the best kind of cameraman. It’s just like behind the speaker or you’re not even paying attention to him. And he’s kind of shooting you while you were in the booth ’cause it could be like a distraction. I think as soon as the camera comes on and you’re very conscious of it, it changes everybody. Like, this conversation with us will be different if we weren’t on camera, it’d probably be more candid. But since we know people are watching, like you kind of changed.

[00:13:47] Rexx Life Raj: So like, I think it’s really just, like, having a good cameraman is just like, they’re not really in the room. And then maybe after, you know, luckily I’ve had the camera videographers who are like, afterwards, they’ll contextualize it. Like, they’ll ask me a question or, like, let’s elaborate on this afterwards. But during the process, it’s really kind of like playing the clip and just recording.

[00:14:07] Dan Runcie: Right, that makes sense. That makes sense. Yeah. And I think for you as well, thinking about this album, specifically, a lot of the focus you’re talking about grief, and you want to be able to not just process your own, but helping other people with it. Why was that an important focus for you with this album?

[00:14:25] Rexx Life Raj: For me, because I think my music is very much grounded in reality, in my real life. And I feel like for me, like this past year, year and a half was the most insane, impactful year I’ve personally ever had in my life. And I feel like there’s no way that it wouldn’t come out of me, you know what I’m saying? It’s just, so much happened and there was so much emotion and everything built up in me and it came out in the music. And for me, it was almost like, you know, you went through all this shit and you felt all these feelings. There has to be a way that you can transmute this into something that can help people going through the same thing.

[00:15:04] Rexx Life Raj: And for me, music has always been like my favorite songs aren’t really the turn-up songs. They’re the songs that cut all the way, you know, I’m going through some shit or I need to cry or I’m in my feelings or something. And it’s like knowing that music has that capacity and knowing that it could be that like music has helped me in times where I was going through whatever I was going through and knowing that I have the potential to do that.

[00:15:27] Rexx Life Raj: To me, it feels only right to put that into my music, because like I said, I’ve done songs where like Moxie Jova, Shit N’ Floss where people turn up and it’s crazy when I perform it. But then I do songs like Time where it hits people on almost like a spiritual level, not even almost, it is a spiritual level in that feeling.

[00:15:46] Rexx Life Raj: That’s how I know this is my purpose ’cause I’m so attached to that feeling that people get where they’re just like turning up and having fun. So it’s like, I want it to create a space for people to be able to talk about grief, to be able to talk about it, especially for black men, because the experience is so much, but how we talk about it, like, with the homies, to me, it’s kind of like crazy. Either we talk about it, very surface level, or we don’t talk about it. And we hold these feelings in and we harbor it. And that’s why for me, like, going back to everything outside of the music, the music is one thing, but my rollout has been to be focused on like, letting people know, like, yo it’s okay to express these feelings if necessary, to talk about these things, you know what I’m saying? So that’s kind of been my whole thing with this, with this album.

[00:16:31] Dan Runcie: Let’s take a quick break to hear a word from this week’s sponsor. Yeah, I feel like this is generally gotten better over time where we are seeing more artists like yourself and others sharing their thoughts and being vulnerable. And I think we’ve seen it just more broadly in culture where people are becoming much more comfortable. And there is less of a stigma, especially with black men around checking out for your own mental health, being able to get awareness with things. But I still feel like there’s plenty of room to grow with that. So you, of course, you know, not just using yourself as an example, but being able to communicate that through music is going to help a lot of people. I know you mentioned that the past year and a half has been tough and I’m sure that a lot of people could likely relate to that for their own respective reasons. So there’s a timeliness here as well. And there are so many things happening that I feel like we’ve almost become immune to whether it’s things happening our own life or things happening in society where no, it’s helpful to pause because that doesn’t happen as often as it should. And things just keep going and going. 

[00:17:40] Rexx Life Raj: Literally, man. I mean, for me too, it’s like for people who don’t know, just to kind of like give you a synopsis of what’s going on. I lost both of my parents last year. I lost my mom in May, and then my dad in August and the majority of the album wasn’t really right before my dad passed. So it is sort of three months right after my mom passed. And it’s crazy because I remember something that she said to me that stuck with me, it’s like, when she got diagnosed with cancer, we had a conversation and one of the things she said was no matter what happens to me, I know you’ll, you’ll do something good, like whether it be music or whether it be, you know, just you talking about it or whatever. She’s like, I know something good comes from this. And I feel like one of the biggest things for me when it comes to grief is finding ways to honor the people you lost, right? So for me, it’s like, the album honors her. Me talking about, you know, when I’m going through honors her and that’s one of the biggest things for me, that’s why I’m so open about it because it’s like, yo, it’s one thing to go to the cemetery or, you know, wherever your place is where you honor the people you lose.

[00:18:50] Rexx Life Raj: But to me, like, I want to take action in some way to honor my mom, you know what I’m saying? So that’s kind of what all there is to me. 

[00:18:57] Dan Runcie: I mean, I could only imagine how you felt. It’s so sad just losing both of them in such a short amount of time and obviously, this album has been a point of catharsis for you.

[00:19:08] Dan Runcie: I’m sure. Just the process. And like you mentioned a few of the things you’ve done as well, but what are some of the other ways that you’ve been able to the best that you can cope and manage your own stress and grief with the losses and any and everything else in your life. 

[00:19:22] Rexx Life Raj: Yeah, man, music has really been a main thing cause it was really therapeutic for me, but I think being around friends and family, for me, and being able to talk about these things and cry when I need to in front of the homies and just get things out is important.

[00:19:35] Rexx Life Raj: I try to stay on top of like meditating. Like, I try to meditate two or three times a week, you know, I pray a lot, you know, anything that I could get these feelings out of me. One of the biggest things for me, it sounds funny, but it’s the Peleton, you know what I’m saying? For me personally, when I’m going through anything, working out is such a stress reliever, you know what I’m saying?

[00:19:55] Rexx Life Raj: So I had got a Peloton right when my mom got sick and it was something that like any time I built up extra energy or anxiety in my body, I’ll just go hop on the Peleton. And outside of me losing a little bit of weight, it just helped me mentally, you know, just working out. I’m really thankful for the Peloton, shout out to all the instructors and stuff on there.

[00:20:15] Rexx Life Raj: That’s really tight, but yeah, just find a way to get it out of me. Like, I do all the little stuff. Like I journal a lot, you know what I’m saying? Anything that could get my thoughts out and just kind of figure out what’s going on. ‘Cause I feel like people have these things in their head, but when you write it down and you can reread it and really see what’s going on in your mind, you can have better understanding of what you’re going through.

[00:20:34] Rexx Life Raj: So I did this thing called morning pages, which at one point I was waking up every morning. So what you do is you wake up every morning and you just journal for like two or three pages, whatever comes to your mind, you know what I’m saying? Like, no matter what it could be, because when you first wake up, it would be shit like I’m tired.

[00:20:49] Rexx Life Raj: And I really don’t feel like writing this. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, but the more you write, the more real feelings and thoughts come out. And what happens is if you do it for a long enough period of time, you start to see consistencies and you’re thinking in your feelings, right? So you might, for somebody who might be, you know, in a relationship, they keep having these problems in their relationship, and they noticed that they write about it every day, you know, or that you’re having problems with your dad or your mom or something that keeps coming up. And what it allows you to do is see it like, yo, this thing keeps happening and then you have the choice to take action, because if it keeps happening and you don’t take action, nothing’s going to change.

[00:21:27] Rexx Life Raj: But by you writing it every day, like you’ve seen it seven days, seven days, it forces you to take action and you can clearly see what’s going on in your life. So I really believe in that, I read that in a book called The Artist’s Way. I highly recommend like that for any artists or anybody just in the creative realm for sure.

[00:21:44] Dan Runcie: That makes a lot of sense. And I’ve heard similar with people doing voice memos as well. You know, just being able to have that steady, consistent thing that you’re putting out there because, yeah, over time it is going to be a reflection of where things are and just that habit of it’s one thing to journal, but it’s actually having a common practice with it.

[00:22:03] Dan Runcie: I’m sure that’s been huge. And I could imagine that even some of that has been a helpful reflection for you as you were putting this album together as well. 

[00:22:11] Rexx Life Raj: For sure. It’s crazy ’cause when I was going through, you know, basically being a caregiver for my parents, cause I was taking care of both of them. I didn’t really have time to do music because I was so consumed and taking my mom to chemo or radiation.

[00:22:26] Rexx Life Raj: And then my dad, he was already sick. So I’ll have to take him to dialysis and the Kaiser and I was, you know, cooking the meals and staying at the house, make sure everything is right. So I really was so overwhelmed with life that I didn’t even have the capacity to do music, but what I always did was I have a, in my notes tab, I have a note just called life notes.

[00:22:48] Rexx Life Raj: So anytime something would happen, like, I’ll have feelings, a lot of different feelings and emotions. I would just jot it down in the notes. So in my phone, I literally had, bro, just so many life notes because there’s music in everything that songs and the conversations you have with people are songs. Like, these feelings that you feel, these experiences that you have can now be turned into music.

[00:23:10] Rexx Life Raj: So even when I couldn’t necessarily make music, I was just taking notes. So when it became, like, after my mom passed and I started going back to the studio. Like, I had just so much to draw from, you know what I’m saying? So it’s not like I had to sit and even think about now, what am I going to write about? What am I going to do?

[00:23:29] Rexx Life Raj: It’s all in the notes. So it’s like the album was written before it was written and it had to piece it together. 

[00:23:34] Dan Runcie: Right. That makes sense, right? It’s like documenting the process, like, like anything. And I do think that just being able to have that likely helped the product of it, too. So, and I know that that was coming out soon. You’re definitely excited about where things are heading.

[00:23:49] Dan Runcie: Do you have any particular milestones or goals that you have that you’re trying to hit with this album? I know that you’re not signed to a major record label, so some of those same types of things may not exist, but a lot of it may be a bit more on the personal side for what you have. Is there anything that you have that you’re shooting for, that you have as a particular milestone?

[00:24:10] Rexx Life Raj: Not necessarily numbers-wise ’cause I feel like as soon as I do that, I can set myself up to not be happy if I don’t hit those things. So I don’t really be tripping off numbers. Like my thing, when it comes to numbers is as long as we’re on the up and it’s better than what we’ve been doing, then we’re doing something right.

[00:24:26] Rexx Life Raj: But my whole goal and intention with this album was to help people who are going through what I was going through. Like, that’s all I was thinking about. And I see it, you know, in the songs that I’ve released, my DMs be crazy with people who are either, you know, it’s a lot of people in my DMs whose parents are ill right now.

[00:24:44] Rexx Life Raj: So they resonate with the music. It’s even more people in my DMs who are going through grief. And the music is helping them process in any way. So to me, that’s the win for me, you know what I’m saying? Like, that’s the win is the music helping people navigate through life and shit. The numbers are just numbers and the numbers be fake a lot of times, like, you know, so I don’t really be concerned about the numbers, you know what I’m saying?

[00:25:05] Rexx Life Raj: But for me, it’s just being intentional in what I put into the music and just hoping that it resonates with people. 

[00:25:11] Dan Runcie: And it sounds like it already is, like you said, if you’re having the folks of the DMs hitting you up and responding to it, that’s great. And I got to imagine that being able to potentially see that impact in person at some point would likely be an ideal thing that I’m sure people would connect with as well. Are there plans to tour, do live shows after the album’s released? 

[00:25:33] Rexx Life Raj: Yeah, we already got the tour locked in toward the end of the year. I’ve got a few festivals, actually have a festival on Sunday. I just did one in Sacramento. So we got a lot of little festivals and shows coming up but the actual tour is set for the end of the year so I’m super excited.

[00:25:49] Dan Runcie: Nice. Do you prefer festival performances or do you prefer your own tour stops? 

[00:25:53] Rexx Life Raj: I prefer my own tour, you know what I’m saying? ‘Cause what a festival, especially for artists at my level, you never really know how many people are there for you and it’s tight because it’s a bigger crowd so you can win new fans and festival experiences are always super fun, but like you alluded to earlier, just the connection that I’ve made with the people that I know I’ve made that connection with is different.

[00:26:17] Rexx Life Raj: You know what I’m saying? It’s, it’s spiritual. That’s the only word I can have for it, bro. ‘Cause I’ve had shows where, you know, I’ll perform a song and people cry, you know what I’m saying? It’s like they came for that song, you know what I’m saying? That came out of my brain and for whatever reason, it resonated with them.

[00:26:33] Rexx Life Raj: To me, that’s just, you know, and to have people sing songs in unison. And it’s just like a different type of connection when it’s your own show, but festivals are tied to them. And I love festivals. 

[00:26:44] Dan Runcie: Yeah. I feel like, especially for independent artists, a mix in general is what people do thrive in. And I feel like that generally makes sense, but especially for independent artists, your career is already built on the long game and touring is a much longer game than a lot of festivals, right? Festivals, their upfront cash should be great. It could be bigger than what you may get from an initial stop, but like you said, you don’t know if they’re necessarily there for you, but you could be reaching out to new fans versus at a tour, even if the total audience may not be what it may be in that festival crowd, all those people are there to see you and you build on that and you’re going there with the next album. And the one after that, like, that’s where that long game is that lines up with that independent mentality. 

[00:27:29] Rexx Life Raj: Literally, man, and I’m happy you said that ’cause I be trying to preach that to, you know, any up and coming artist that asked me for advice. It’s like, that’s what I’m focused on. You know, the touring. That’s what I look at. Like, even when, you know, everybody has a moment and niggas be laid on the internet and shit look cool. My first thought is like, can I sell tickets?

[00:27:48] Rexx Life Raj: Are they selling merch? ‘Cause in real life, that’s, what’s going to sustain you. Like, have you built maybe another business or brand outside of yourself? Because the internet shit is cool, but real life is what’s going, what gets you paid in the long term. So, yeah, I’m happy you said that. 

[00:28:05] Dan Runcie: Oh, yeah. I had this piece that had gotten some traction recently that was a breakdown on why your followers are not your fans and the followers, exactly, it’s the internet shit that you’re talking about, right? It just doesn’t always line up. And we both know people that have millions, tens of millions of followers, but they can’t sell when they actually go to show things and makes you question, okay, were all those true numbers, legit stream numbers and all those things? And you can’t fake actually, to have actual bodies there, like watching you perform a concert. 

[00:28:38] Rexx Life Raj: It’s the only thing you can’t fake, man. That’s what I’m saying. Like, the internet is really, but at the same time, like if you play the internet correctly, you can make money off the internet as well.

[00:28:47] Rexx Life Raj: Like, you know, don’t get it twisted, like there’s money to be made on the internet. But as far as sustainability, like, I’ve only seen it this way, you know what I’m saying? And like you said, everything can be manipulated. And even when it comes to numbers, like you can buy followers, you can buy comments, you can buy likes, but a lot of people will tune in for the spectacle, you know what I’m saying? Like, it’s a lot of followers who are just like there for the show. Like, you’re really good on the internet so we just want to watch you on the internet. But it never translates to anything real. It’s like, that’s why looking at engagement is such a big thing. Like, I’ll look at the followers but then I’ll look at how many comments, like I would be looking at that kind of shit. Like, how many comments he got? Like, how many people are really tapped in? What’s the engagement like on all platforms?

[00:29:30] Rexx Life Raj: ‘Cause that’s how you can really tell. ‘Cause it’s been harder to, like, for instance, on Instagram, I think I got like 80,000 followers, right? But there’s been artists who I’ve seen that had like 20,000 followers, 30,000 followers, even less, their engagement is way higher and they’re selling way more tickets than me.

[00:29:47] Rexx Life Raj: And I’m like, damn, dude. Like, that’s it. Cause you damn near made all your followers believe to the point where we following you not only on here, but we following you in real life to the stage, you know? And that’s crazy to me. So yes, it’s an interesting game for sure. 

[00:30:04] Dan Runcie: Yeah, that’s a good example. I mean, you’re seeing it that way because you see it the other way, too, people that, you know, you got tens of millions of followers and then less than a thousand people, like the last photo, what, like, no. 

[00:30:18] Rexx Life Raj: Something’s not clicking. Something’s ain’t right. But, yeah, for sure.

[00:30:22] Dan Runcie: So you’re the Bay Area, and of course we know there’s a lot of tech investments happening out here. And I know that you are interested in things outside of directly making music as well. What does that side of things look like for you? Have you got involved in the investing side, looking at different startups and companies?

[00:30:40] Rexx Life Raj: I’m kind of tapping in ’cause I have friends who are really in that world. Like my girlfriend works for Facebook, so she’s fully in it. One of my best friends, he works for Google, so he’s fully in it. And then one of my good friends who I went to college with, Jason Robinson, he has a VR/AR software, it’s called Playbook Five.

[00:31:00] Rexx Life Raj: And so he actually just did a pitch in Menlo park, Denver last weekend, pitching to investors. It’s lit, it’s really tight. Like, you put on the Oculus or whatever, and it’s for kids to learn, like, kids in high school and middle school who are trying to play any sport in college. It teaches you all these schemes and game plans and everything you can learn through a software, but what’s he trying to do is make it accredited. So say, like, they’re trying to go to Cal to play football and Cal runs a three, four scheme on defense for the players who aren’t like four or five stars who are getting directly looked at by the school. They can look at Playbook Five and be like, oh, let’s check this kid out.

[00:31:37] Rexx Life Raj: He’s fully accredited in our scheme. So they bring him in and he fully knows what’s going on. And so like this, seeing the homies do stuff like that, you’re automatically drawn into it because that shit is the future, you know what I’m saying? And then he’s telling me like, like I said, how he’s pitching and he’s looking for investors. He’s down in Austin ’cause he knows Bowman down there now and he’s moving around. So I feel like this being out here, you get consolidated in that and you’ve learned shit on accident, you know what I’m saying? So I haven’t actually invested in any companies, but I’m for sure, just like watching and learning the landscape as much as possible.

[00:32:09] Dan Runcie: That makes sense. You get up with E-40 at all? I haven’t linked up with E-40 in a while, but anytime I hit E-40, he pick up and he chat with me, Gmail, like, real cool dude. Man, like I love E-40 ’cause any, like I said, anytime I hit him and ask him for tips and wisdom. He’s always there for me, if I need them on a song, he always did. So shout out to E-40. 

[00:32:29] Dan Runcie: Yeah. ‘Cause like, think about the investment thing, I mean, obviously both in Vallejo and…

[00:32:34] Rexx Life Raj: He’s the man. 

[00:32:35] Dan Runcie: He is the man. Anytime I see it, I’m like, I see his name everywhere. I’m almost surprised when I don’t see him at certain deals now.

[00:32:42] Rexx Life Raj: E-40, he’s going to sell you anything. He sells sausages. He sells lumpia. He got E Cuarenta Tequila. He got burritos now, the hood burritos at the store, like, when you think about entrepreneurship and just real rap independence, like, E-40 is the pinnacle, bro. Like, he’s giving niggas the blueprint for so long and he’s been doing it. That’s what I’m saying. Like, pure longevity, you know, he’s like, who’s been doing this independent shit for as long as he has and has been that great at it?

[00:33:15] Rexx Life Raj: It’s not too many people, you know what I’m saying? So shout out to E-40, man. He’s been ahead of the game for a while. 

[00:33:20] Dan Runcie: And his products are good, too. I mean, we know that there’s a lot of artists out there that have stuff that doesn’t always click, but his Earl Stevens wine is award-winning, like, it has gotten a shout-out from all those like Napa and Sonoma County celebrations, whatever they call them.

[00:33:36] Rexx Life Raj: And it’s gonna get you faded. I didn’t, boy, I, like, take some of that and be, oh, like, oh God, E-40 is crazy! What is it called? 

[00:33:46] Dan Runcie: I know what you’re talking about.

[00:33:48] Rexx Life Raj: Yeah, it ain’t no joke, bro. You trying to get drunk, you gotta bring some of that. It’s crazy. 

[00:33:54] Rexx Life Raj: Oh, man. That’s wild. That’s wild. But Raj, man, I’m excited for you. You got a lot to look forward to this year. Obviously, I know that a lot of it hasn’t been the easiest, but when you’re looking at the rest of this year, then also in 2023, what are you most excited about? What’s getting you excited, looking forward to where things are heading and where you want to, where you want to take things? I’m just excited to drop the album and just see where it takes me, hit the road again, go to Europe, you know, do all the things that come with dropping the album, because I feel like for the last year and a half, I’ve really missed that.

[00:34:27] Rexx Life Raj: So just like everything that comes up on our music, you know, like, I think the next phase of my career is like really focusing, focusing on other artists from the Bay who I think I have a lot of potential and kind of like giving them game and wisdom and putting them on. So I’m working with, you know, a bunch of different artists in the Bay and just kind of focusing on them and giving them a shot ’cause it’s, I think it’s a Renaissance happening in the Bay, you know, in the underground music scene that not too many people know about. I feel like it’s really coming to light and you get to see how diverse the music scene in the Bay is ’cause I feel like for a while we were just known really for one thing, one sound. But it’s so much dope shit happening in the Bay, you know what I’m saying? Like, from bills like ‎Elujay, to, there’s this singer in Vallejo, she’s really tight, named Tyler Lauren. She’s really cool. My brother, The Dakota Wytefoxx. Michael Sneed who’s doing all that shit. My boy, JAMMY, you got, you know, I think her username is thuymusic. She’s doing a lot of jazz. It’s like, it’s so much going on in the Bay, you know, and I’m happy to that it’s actually in the light that it deserves at this point.

[00:35:30] Dan Runcie: I know, that’s legit and thinking about all the activity, too, I’m sure you saw it as well. The Golden State Warriors started their own record label and I’m like, if there’s any sign that there’s something… 

[00:35:40] Rexx Life Raj: I did not know that.

[00:35:41] Dan Runcie: Oh, you didn’t hear this?

[00:35:43] Rexx Life Raj: No, tell me about it. I did not know. They started a record label?

[00:35:46] Dan Runcie: Okay. I’ll send you the link to it after we’re done, but yeah. So the Golden State Warriors started a record label and they are planning to sign and support the artists that are local in the area, right? Like they want to invest in the talent here and using their arena and using the concerts that come through as a platform, maybe some of their own documentaries. They’re trying to use that and use that as a platform to push these artists. 

[00:36:10] Rexx Life Raj: That’s crazy. No, I did not know that. That’s actually insane. That’s tight though. That’s interesting. I need to read the article because that’s crazy. 

[00:36:17] Dan Runcie: Yeah. I’ll send it to you. Yeah, because I actually just interviewed the guy that’s running it, David Kelly. He’s their Chief Business Officer over there. So yeah. I’ll send you the link to that too.

[00:36:26] Rexx Life Raj: Dope, man. I appreciate that. That’s clean. 

[00:36:29] Dan Runcie: Yeah, for sure. But Raj, before we let you go, is there anything else that you want to plug or let the Trapital audience know about? 

[00:36:37] Rexx Life Raj: Man, I’m dropping The Blue Hour soon. Appreciate you having me, man. I appreciate anybody who’s watching this who’s been a fan of me for however long and, you know, stay tapped in, and I appreciate y’all. 

[00:36:48] Dan Runcie: Yes, sir. And where can people find you?

[00:36:49] Rexx Life Raj: Anywhere, man. Google. I’m on every platform, Rexx Life Raj, R-E-X-X-L-I-F-E-R-A-J. You know, if you know how to use the internet on your phone, you can find me. I’m everywhere, man.

[00:37:05] Dan Runcie: That sounds good, man. 

[00:37:07] Rexx Life Raj: All right, man. I appreciate you. 

[00:37:09] Dan Runcie: If you enjoyed this podcast, go ahead and share with a friend, copy the link, text it to a friend posted in your group chat, post it in your slack groups, wherever you and your people talk. Spread the word. That’s how Trapital continues to grow and continues to reach the right people. And while you’re at it, if you use Apple Podcasts, go ahead, rate the podcast, give it a high rating and leave a review. Tell people why you like the podcast that helps more people discover the show. Thank you in advance. Talk to you next week.

Dan Runcie

Dan Runcie

Founder of Trapital

Share this episode:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Listen and follow to the Trapital Podcast:

"The stuff that Trapital puts out is fantastic. Really interesting insights into the industry, artists trends, and market trends."
Mike Weissman
Former CEO, SoundCloud
“You tell the true stories. Not just the end product, but how you get to the end product. Your point of view on it is dope.”
Steve Stoute
CEO, UnitedMasters and Translation

Subscribe to the Trapital Podcast

More from Trapital

Get updates on new Trapital episodes, upcoming guests, listener Q&As, and more.