REKS: Thoughts of an MC Building Straight, No Chaser…

By Sunez Allah

How?  Why?  These are the questions for the artist that a writer asks.  For this writer, it’s because the Art is so profound it inspires more Art, propelling the worth of those just strugglin’.  To ask these questions is to respect the Art who makes a profession that robs one’s pockets the more brilliant you MC.  Now when you are just another great man naturally caring for your family and the money has parted ways with the Art?  That artist still makes the Art…right.  That’s REKS.

REKS, the Boston MC, immediately follows his strong R.E.K.S.(Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme) album of last year with an all Statik Selektah production entitled Straight, No Chaser.  Selektah keeps it break heavy, soul shelled and thickly layered.  All to let REKS speak on a multitude of issues all from the first person, raw perspective.  Such a simple formula executed profound who will notice if we don’t ask how and why?…

SUNEZ: Why an all Statik production?
REKS: Statik is my brother.  We’ve been family and it’s been like that for years. I’ve known Statik for over ten years now.  That’s my brother I can honestly say.  I always wanted to do a project like this and I think the timing was perfect.
SUNEZ: How do you prepare as an MC? What are some of your ways of developing the techniques?
REKS: Honestly it dates back to my adolescent years when I first started rhyming…I used to rhyme in front of the mirror constantly cuz I think you get to know what they [audience] would be looking at.  Before you can stand up in front of a crowd you need to be able to perfect it, not just my voice but my stance…To relay a message and get a message across you need to get that individual walk so that they can relate to you.  So I try to make sure that I’m engaging them when I’m on the mic, when I’m on stage.  First, that I have the audience under control.  Secondly, my cadence, my delivery, my flow, I literally practice those things. Working in front of the mirror all the time.  I think one of the lost aspects of music is individuals practicing those abilities.  I’m passionate about having the ability to not just draw you in through my voice but the way that I use my voice.  The way I say certain words, the levels, how low or high I get at certain points.  I will get them out higher or lower at certain points where the conversation with an individual is more passionate and when we start to raise our voice it gets more intense. What I saw with KRS-One at a show was he brought his volume level down low, just enough so he silence the crowd.  And the crowd just followed his flow and KRS is a mic controller with clarity and volume in his voice.  Those are some of the tried and true methods.  My main objective is to practice in front of others. I run and I rap while i’m running.  I make sure that my breath control is kept up.  There’s personally breaths that I actually take. Like breaths like I’m going under water prior to like actually delivering a rapid fire flow.  Me and Termanology like to call it Babble-On.  Get that Babble record and both of us have the habit of rapping through sections with rapid fire flows.  That’s a great question.
SUNEZ:  Word.  I really thought about techniques immediately hearing this album seems like a MC clinic when listening   Are these flows and techniques so measured you decide to display them on cue?

REKS:  I don’t think it’s that I have them in the pocket.  I just go where the beat takes me.  I like to formulate my voice to be an instrument, to be a part of the beat. Not like to compete all the time.  I want it to be delivered in the manner in which an individual can ride to on that said record. Statik really helped me in be successful in that and it was fun.
SUNEZ: The synergy with the featured MCs is real strong here too. With the features are you requesting them to follow specific techniques you have?
REKS:  I appreciate that. I take pride in that and I took time in that.  The features I selected were based upon what I thought individuals could add to the track.  In the situation with Slaine it was like 4 in the morning.  We had been conversating all night and we was just chillin. And we’re just building and decide to bang some shit out.  The title track we did and what I love about Slaine is that he never bites his tongue.  He’s always been clear cut about his message whether you agree with it or not.  He is very direct about his message and his upbringing and the trials and tribulations he’s been through.  That’s what i can appreciate.  I’ve seen him grow as an artist and as an actor over the years and I respect him highly with what he has to offer.  I appreciate having conversations with him.  With Easy Money, he’s a young gun and that brother right there is so talented and being able to utilize his abilities he’s going to have a big couple of years coming up.  There’s gonna be a lot of Easy Money.  Just amazing to work with him on this project.  I got to jump on his project coming out on Show Off Records.  Just a lot of phenomenal features.  When you feed off those energies it’s more frenetic.  It’s more of a  back in the day format as opposed to like someone emailing me [verses].
SUNEZ: What’s the process in picking beats from Statik?
REKS: I think Statik has a great ear for picking out a general sound that sounds right for an artist.  Now with every producer it doesn’t always work.  Some producers should give you beats so that you can decide.  But I trust statik when he will approach me with a certain record and say, ‘we have to do this one.’  I can see exactly where his vision is going immediately…Sometimes I just sit there and go through scores of them [beats] or i just go in.  It’s real simple and laid back.  You’re right. The beats go, we go natural, we gel, we know the sound we are going for and when to switch it up. It’s a natural chemistry.
SUNEZ: The topical content is extremely diverse and personal.
REKS: I wanted to show that I’m human, that it’s real in every individual’s life.  Like I get pigeonholed specifically as a conscious rapper.  I am a conscious rapper but at the same time I feel I want to cover all aspects of me as a man.  I’m not a hypocrite but some of my actions can be considered hypocritical…[On Striaght, No Chaser] I put myself in front of the telescope.  Instead of painting a picture of what others do I painted it of myself.  That’s the reality of relating to the individual.  They are able to see you as a human being, that you are keepin it real.  I like to joke around, have a good time, party. I drink Hennessy probably more than anybody but i make sure my kids are taken care of.  Nobody’s gonna do my job for me.   I make sure they are taken care of.  They will be cared for emotionally and the things that they need they can always come to their father.
SUNEZ: That’s peace my brother.