INTERVIEW – Rell Rock: « As a woman you can do whatever you set your mind to without being viewed as a sex object »

How old were you when you discovered hip hop for the first time and what made you want to become a rapper?

I actually grew up listening to it so basically all my life but the age where I were able to understand the true meaning I had to be around 12 maybe 13 but I’d say at 11 I wrote my first rhyme and I knew that’s what I wanted to do the… passion was there, the fire was lit.

You released your first album at the age of 14 on your own label Zock Rock Records. How did you create your own label at such a young age?

Actually my dad started the label in the late 80’s, so the only life I knew was do it yourself, indie type of label, be a owner of your masters. Once he saw that I loved doing and being around music he made me part owner and had me release my first album at 14 and by the time I turned 21 the label was signed over to me to carry the torch.

Do you produce your own music? If not, who are you working with and what do you look for in a producer?

No, I stay in my lane, just a artist and writer. I look for producers with unique sounds, like Zone Beats from Minneapolis, Xplosive who is from Europe, did some work with Nicki Minaj and others, and a New York producer Chyna Black who produced for Foxy Brown and Wu Tang Clan. Did some EDM work with Tony Quattro in New York and some other European producers. Currently I’m working with Froback. who did some work with R&B artist Jhene Aiko and Teedra Moses…. He is based in London. We’re actually working on a 5 track EP right now.

Your « Uptown Anthem Freestyle » is very political. How important is it to you to tackle social issues in your lyrics?

It’s very important to tackle social issues to me because its time for Hip Hop to grow and I speak what’s organic to me. I am aware and concerned about world events, everything is not a party. I try to have balance in all the music I do. Since day one, on EVERY album I do, my first album I speak on physical abuse of women with a song called Broken Hearts, and social issues with songs like Change, Black Girl Lost, Black Excellence, Survive with Saigon, and many others. Every project I do will have some sort of message, its part of who I am.

Your bio says that you’re not “afraid to set yourself apart from the ‘norm’ expected in Hip Hop especially for women”. What do you mean by that?

As far as not being the norm I mean in hip hop there’s certain ways females are viewed . It’s either sell a lot of sex or hide behind a crew of men, talk about how sexy you are and what you can do sexually. With me I talk about everything, and I’m not scared to be different. I’m here to prove that as a woman you can do whatever you set your mind to without being viewed as a sex object. You can be the boss of your own company and not always have to be put into the male dominated Hip Hop world thru another male rapper. And also I’m edgy and witty but at the same time a realist when it comes to writing music .

Which women inspire you?

Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, Oprah, Madame CJ Walker, and a list of women inspire me, for different reasons, some their art, their words, their business sense…….Any woman that stands up for herself is my inspiration….

Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why?

Yes because I’m all for female empowerment and human rights…not extreme with it but I rather encourage women than be in a good position than to beef or fight with them.

What are you listening to these days?

J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Dave East, Jay Z, Nas, Lauryn Hill… I don’t do much listening of the mainstream new artist on radio, because it causes me to lose my sound and brand, I come from listening to the ‘Golden Era’ rappers, so it helps keep me grounded to the foundation and I add what I do which makes it new and fresh.

Your third album American Hustle was released last fall. What are your upcoming projects?

I’m working on a 5 maybe 6 track EP with London producer Froback Beats we don’t have the actual title for it yet but it will be interesting with some new sounds.

What do you think about Madame Rap? What should be changed or improved?

Madame Rap I have nothing but love for the lane and light you are giving to female emcees and rappers, improvement comes with time, but your good with me. Nothing but love!

Find Rell Rock on her website, Twitter and Soundcloud.

Éloïse Bouton

Lire l’interview en français ici.