Reverie is a young and promising female rapper from LA. Representing the new underground rap scene in California, she likes to remind her mission: giving 'real hip-hop' to the masses. We met her after her last show in Paris, few months ago.
With her gift for poetry since a very young age, Reverie found in rap the perfect outlet to express herself as a teenager. With a brother Louden making beats, she recorded her first mixtape (Castle in the air) at the age of 17.
After several mixtapes, including the great Transition Mixtape (find the best songs from it at the playlist at the end of the article), Reverie dropped her first album Sitting Upside Down in 2011. As a real entrepreneur artist, she organizes her own tours and even manages a clothing brand on her website www.reveriepug.com
We, at The BackPackerz, only heard from Reverie several months ago but she already blew up the spot in our weekly playlist (see Heavy Rotation 26 - Girlz Edition) or in our Facebook group Hip-Hop by The BackPackerz.
When we heard that Rev' was coming for a show in Paris, we obviously offered an interview to meet and talk with the young phenomenon. A great moment when Reverie enlightened us about topics we like on The BackPackerz like women in rap or her opinion about digital music platforms. Find the whole discussion below and don't sleep on our playlist at the end of the article.
The BackPackerz: I was wondering what your first steps into hip-hop were… How did you get into hip-hop?
Reverie: When I was younger I used to listen to the hip-hop that was on the radio. And after that I said to myself “oh, I want to try writing rap”. It seems to me that anyone could write rap, so I did it and yeah that was like a dream and I recorded my first song in my years of high school, in the closet you know, and that's where my music has been made ever since: in closets you know.. (she laughs) But it was cool and then I ran my first project when I was 19, in 2009. It was called Castle in the Air and now, 5 years later, I'm doing a show here in Paris… It’s fucking crazy, man. It’s working.
Ok and can you tell us a bit about the LA Hip-Hop underground scene? Because it seems to be really massive now…
Yeah, it’s really cool! The LA hip hop underground scene is crazy right now, there’s a lot going on. The next generation is finally back, really. The music on the underground scene is evolving so much in many ways, there is a sound becoming crazy, samples are insane, you know, the beats in LA... And it’s cool on the LA scene because a lot of artists like to work together, it’s different from other underground scenes where people want to keep everything to themselves, you know, they’re scared to share. On the scene where I’m in, everyone’s so cool with each other, we try to collaborate with everyone, it’s love, everyone’s really supportive, I really like that about that scene.
Plus there are a lot of crazy things taking place for our careers like the show 'The Cypher Effect'. They had their show like 2 weeks ago. It was at the Basement A1A, with Gavlyn, Self-Provoked and King Lil G. Louden was there too. There was like 1200 people there, and they were there for all of us, to watch our freestyles, it was dope !
Let’s talk about this new album coming out! You have this track on it, Russian Roulette, on which you described portraits of wasted lives; it seems to be like a leitmotiv throughout the album. Can you talk a bit about that? About this main theme?
Yeah, you know when I started the project, I didn’t have a concept in mind, I didn’t know what I wanted. I was just ready to make a new album. And then we were recording in the studio for about a month. We had a studio at the time at my homie’s, he had a medical marijuana dispensary and he let us used the top floor as a studio. After like a month into it, one of my friends passed away, he killed himself playing russian roulette. That was the middle of the album and it was so dramatic and crazy. I never lost somebody like that... I just wanted to call the album Russian Roulette, because of that.
We really like your featuring with Murs, and we were just talking about the LA hip-hop scene. Murs is like the “big guy” of this hip-hop scene, so how did you meet him?
You know, Murs was actually the first person I have ever heard as an underground rapper. When I was in high school, I started listening to rap and I was watching the LA Channel and I saw Murs’ video for his song 'Bad Man', and I was like 'wow, who is this guy? He’s so cool!'. He’s so much better than everyone else on the radio.
By the way, this is a funny story about me and Murs. The first music video that I ever shot when I was like 18, I was wearing a Murs shirt, because I was already a big Murs fan. When I moved to Seattle, one day, I was on MySpace and I saw Murs had a show just the night before I arrived in Seattle and I was “oh my god, I missed him, he was here in this town and I didn't manage to see him...". Then I wrote a message on his wall like “oh I missed the show, I’m so sad”, and he wrote back to me: “I’m actually doing another show tonight”! So I went to the show, and then I was saying to him “oh hey it’s me from myspace!” and he said “oh yeah, I know, I’ve seen your video where you were wearing my shirt, it was dope!”. We just chatted up, we just talked the whole fucking time. Since then, we’ve been cool, it’s been 5 years now, we’ve done a couple of songs together and I’ve done features on his albums. He’s my favorite rapper, so working with him, having his respect, it’s dope to me!
I have to ask this unavoidable question. You’re a female emcee, so what is it to be in that men’s world?
I think it’s cool being a female emcee nowadays. The game is really changing for females. Right now it has passed the tipping point. Now you can’t really say 'oh she’s good for a girl', because there are girls who are better than all the guys. And it’s cool because I think I’m one of those females, I’m part of it, you know, like me, Gavlyn and all these girls that are coming up right now. Shit, a few years ago it wasn’t like that, let me tell you it was a different game for the females. A lot of guys have been sitting around to work, but they always have that kind of thought you want to suck their dick or that you’re hot bitches, and 'no! I’m a fucking rapper so fuck you! Don’t talk to me like that!'. It’s really different now, I love it.
But, at the same time, for people that are not really aware of underground hip-hop, female emcees are Nicky Minaj, Iggy Azzalea, this type of girls, so it’s changing for us, hip-hop fans, but for the rest of the world is it really changing in a good way? I’m not really sure…
As for that, I think it’s a good thing, I don’t necessarily agree with how female emcees TV-portrayed themselves but at the same time there are so many bounderies being broken off. In the mainstream game as well, Nicky Minaj for example, she has broken every single album sales and sold out stadiums. I don’t even know lots of her songs, I’m not really a big follower of her, but undeniably she is changing the game you know. Good luck everybody else who tries!
Yeah but it’s the same recipe as Lil’Kim 10 years ago, the only change is that those girls are top sellers right now...
I don’t want to disrespect Lil’Kim but I heard that Lil’Kim doesn’t write her lyrics and Nicky Minaj says she writes her lyrics but I don't know.. and then at the same time I got this impression that Iggy Azzalea she’s getting up there right now, she’s on fire! I think it’s good, first of all, because she’s white. She’s the first white female rapper to do it big! I respect that but I don’t really listen to her music.
I used to criticize everyone on the radio, I used to do that. Even a year ago, fuck the radio, they’re white, they’re killing hip hop! But who am I to judge? Hip-hop is just evolving, it’s like rock’n’roll, there has not been just rock’n’roll, there’s punk, metal, heavy rock. That’s the same thing now with hip-hop: there is the radio shit, there is the lyrical shit like my shit, there’s the trap shit, the Spanish rap.. So fuck up! Let them do what they want to do. Who minds? Being so judgmental at people, I consider it as a weakness of mind, I think when you left judgments aside, your mind gets clearer, so I’m trying to influence myself on that.
What do you think about new ways of making music, of promoting music (Soundclound, Bandcampa and all the digital music platforms..)?
Yeah, I love using the Internet, that’s a central part in my career. I couldn’t afford to pay for a billboard, do anything, I don’t have any money, you know. You have to be signed with somebody, you have to know the right person who can spend thousands of dollars in a studio, but now all that I have is A thousand dollars so that affords you to have a studio in your closet, like mine. With the Internet, it’s easier and more accessible now. A lot of people hate it, older rappers that are irrelevant now and hate on the new generation like 'you guys have it easy because we had to work hard back in the days, we didn’t have the Internet'. But I’m like you know what, you were lucky too back in the days, because now everybody raps! That’s what I said, now you just need a hundred bucks and you’re ready to make a sound, it’s so easy, so you have to work hard to stand out.
Special thanks: Reverie, Rita, Marie and Nouveau Casino.