For the entire week The Real Hip-Hop has brought to you exclusive interviews with artists that performed at the 2016 Soundset Festival. The final interview is with Los Angeles emcee, Reverie.
Reverie, a poet and graffiti artist, used emceeing to take her out of the gritty, gang-ridden streets of Los Angeles. Only in her mid-20s, Reverie already has a clothing line and several musical projects under her belt but continues to hunger for more.
The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Reverie about performing at the 2016 Soundset Festival, her transition from the streets to the stage, her influences in Hip-Hop, and her upcoming solo album.
TRHH: What does it mean to you to perform at Soundset?
Reverie: I guess to be real about it, it means that I have been acknowledged by all the people I grew up looking up to, and still look up to as a Hip-Hop icon of my generation, which is a fucking honor. It’s a fucking blessing and a lot of work. It means that after all the shit I’ve been through growing up in Los Angeles… I came from a broken home, raised by a single mother who was never home because she was working her ass off to barely get by paying the fucking mortgage on our house, my brothers were in and out of jail, I was sniffing crystal meth, kicking it with the gang, getting arrested, and ten years later I’m performing at the dopest Hip-Hop festival in the country.
To me today is a monumental thing for me. It’s amazing. I’m living a fucking dream. My reality has become better than my dreams, which is a trip because ten years ago I was living in a fucking nightmare. It means a lot for me to be here. It’s a really, really, really great feeling. I’m really appreciative to everybody that put me on this festival and also to all the fans who came to see me today. It was a lot of people there to see me who knew my songs and my words. It’s just been amazing. This has been an amazing day for me. It’s one of the most important days of my life.
TRHH: You touched on how you were in a dark place ten years ago, how did you get out of that dark place?
Reverie: It was kind of a weird transition. All my friends that I used to kick it with are either doing long prison sentences, have been killed, have killed themselves, or are doing life in prison. I don’t really know how I grew out of it. I think it’s just because all my friends started disappearing and I was forced to do other things. I guess seeing all my friends going down that dark route that I was going down with them just really got old and it was just way too detrimental to my existence. And I found Hip-Hop. I always listened to Hip-Hop but to actually start doing Hip-Hop, I guess I never thought about this ‘til right now, literally when I started recording Hip-Hop was when my whole life changed. Really Hip-Hop saved my fucking life. I would not be here if I never started recording my poetry. That’s some real shit. That’s what it is. I never really sat down and said all this shit, but Hip-Hop saved my fuckin’ life.
TRHH: Hip-Hop has saved a lot of people’s lives.
Reverie: Yeah, all around the world, it’s crazy. I’ve toured through Europe, I’ve been to Brazil once and it’s amazing seeing how amazing Hip-Hop is. I can come to Minnesota and I’m from Los Angeles and people from here feel my music. Just like fucking Atmosphere; I’m from California and I listen to their shit and it hits me. I would never even think about the fact that they’re from here. It’s a universal thing around the world. It’s a beautiful thing. Hip-Hop is more than just music. Back in the day it was laughed at and now it’s becoming more respected as it should be, as it has been by the people who’ve listened to it for years. It’s really a beautiful thing. It’s not just music to some people, it’s a sanctuary really.
TRHH: You’re from the west coast and you opened up your set today with 2Pac’s Hit ‘Em Up. 2Pac was an emcee and a poet, like you. Is that someone who has inspired you?
Reverie: Fuck yeah, man!! I’m from Los Angeles! I’m from northeast L.A., Highland Park we bump 2Pac every day! Growing up that shit was on the daily bumpin’ Pac. Everybody loves Pac. We bump all his shit – the radio hits, the underground shit, the fuckin’ old shit before he blew up. We live off 2Pac. He was so much more than just a rapper. Like you said, he’s poetic, he tells stories, he talks about the youth, he talks about the corruption of society and the government, he talks about that gangsta shit, he talks about being a poet, he talks about being that rose that grew from the concrete. He’s so much more than just a rapper.
When people are like, “I don’t like 2Pac, he’s just a gangster,” he was a gangster but just because you’re a gangster doesn’t mean that you can’t be an intellectual human being who has a lot to say about this world. I’m an example of that. I grew up kickin’ it around a gang and I’m a very fuckin’ intellectual person. I’m here in fucking Minnesota ‘cause I’m a fuckin’ hustler. I used to sell drugs, now I sell 16’s. It’s all about what’s inside and the past does not define people. To answer your question, yes, 2Pac is in my top fuckin’ favorite four rappers. Rest in peace. I can’t wait to meet that fool when I get to the other side! He’s amazing, man.
TRHH: Who is your top 5?
Reverie: I have only four that I would give credit to. In no particular order it would be 2Pac, Eyedea, Atmosphere – Slug obviously, and MURS. Those are my favorite rappers that really influenced me as an artist but also as a person. Those fools brought me the sanity that I lacked and I will always be appreciative of that shit and I will say that shit proudly. Those are my favorites.
TRHH: Did you see MURS perform today?
Reverie: Yeah! I’ve seen MURS perform a million times. His shit never gets old. That’s the big homie. Much love to MURS — that was hella dope.
TRHH: What inspired the song Young Grasshopper?
Reverie: That song barely came out about a year ago or something, but that song was actually written during the process of me creating Russian Roulette with Louden, who is my little brother. I was just going through a lot in my life. My music is always kind of dark. Russian Roulette is pretty dark and three or four songs into the project we didn’t have a title. One of my homies that I grew up with from Highland Park who is from the gang I used to roll with killed himself. He was playing Russian roulette. After that the album got really dark. I just started talking about everything I’ve been through, what my homies have been through, and what can bring somebody to blow their fucking brains out living in the streets.
I also wanted to bring light to the situation and talk about it in an intellectual way so people who look at my album as just a gangsta rap album could see there is an intellectual side to this person who grew up in the hood kickin’ it with gangsters. That’s why I wrote that song Young Grasshopper, it’s talking about political issues. It’s talking about how people from the big cities have all the odds against them and have to work up from that. I touched on that because that’s how I feel and I feel like people who are in the position that I’m in and have people listening to them, it’s their fucking duty to talk about everything in life. I’m not embarrassed to talk about that. I’m not embarrassed that I’m a smart ass woman coming from Los Angeles.
That’s where the inspiration for that song came from. It didn’t make it onto the album because I felt like it really didn’t go with the whole thing because the album was really dark. I just wasn’t ready to release that yet so a couple of years later I released it. I filmed the video in Paris with Madstrange, shout out to Madstrange. It was the perfect place to film it because I’m just this young girl from the hood in motherfucking Paris talking about some real shit that I’ve gone through being an American person in Los Angeles.
TRHH: What’s your take on our presidential candidates, Trump and Clinton?
Reverie: Wait, is she going to be the candidate now? Is it done?
TRHH: More than likely.
Reverie: I haven’t been keeping up for the last three or four weeks, I’m not gonna lie. I know Donald Trump is going to be the one for the Republicans.
TRHH: She’s not confirmed but she’s close.
Reverie: Oh man, oh man. I have a lot of mixed feelings about that shit and I’m not informed enough about it that I feel comfortable making a solid answer. But since you’re asking I think both of them are in general shitty candidates. I also think that both of them have some cool things that they’re touching on. I think they’re both extremists, but they do have some cool points. Not enough for me to feel comfortable saying I’m rooting for either one of them. Honestly I’m gonna vote, I vote every time I can, but I’m going to have to do more research on who is the better candidate. I’m also not afraid to vote for the Green Party or anybody else. I’m going to do research on that, but I also feel like regardless of who wins you gotta change on your own. These people are gonna be the face of our country and unfortunately it’s not gonna be a good look for us, but that is what our country has done to itself. We will have to deal with consequences.
I also encourage people to not depend on the face of the country to change the world. I’m a perfect example that you can change the fucking world on your own and you don’t need to depend on a political party to do so. You change the world with your own two hands. You can change the world by giving somebody a fucking smile when you walk by them on the street, or by telling someone you like their hair, that’s going to go a long way. The nicer people are to each other the nicer the world will be. People are scared to show their happiness or love for something because they’re afraid of looking weak, or whatever the fuck it is – that’s some bullshit. Basically I say, don’t depend on whoever is President to change the world.
You gotta change the world and you have the power to do so. There is a cool saying, if you think you’re too small to make a change sleep in a room with a mosquito. That’s some real fucking shit. I’m a little mosquito in this world of 8 billion people and I’m doing a lot of things, so is everybody else here, and so are you with your blog. We’re the example. You can do so much with your own two hands and people forget that. I’ve seen a couple of the debates and stuff but I don’t know so much that I feel comfortable talking about it. What I will say is change the world with your own two fuckin’ hands! Our country is a joke to the whole world anyway [laughs]. Hey, it is what it is. I love America. I’m American, I’m proud.
TRHH: How’d you link up with Necro for the new song Los NewYorkAngeles?
Reverie: I been bumpin’ Necro since I was a little girl. Growing up in high school we listened to hella Necro. In 2010 I met him at Paid Dues and he invited us to be in his music video, The Kink Panther. We were the only girls to keep our clothes on. All the other girls were strippers and crazy girls. They got down though, I’m not hating — they made the video crack. That’s how I met him. Over the years we kept in touch a little bit. He noticed my music growing and he has a respect for my music. This last time I was in Brooklyn he came out to support and it was really great. We linked there, we were vibing and had a couple drinks and were like, “Hey, let’s work on a fuckin’ song!” so we did. We went to the studio a couple days later and recorded the song. It was Louden on the beat and we made a music video that’s going to come out soon. We just dropped the song and it’s basically a collaboration between the coasts and the generations of Hip-Hop. It’s amazing. Shout out to Necro, he’s the big homie. He’s hella cool.
TRHH: What’s next up for you?
Reverie: In a week I’m taking off with DJ Lala to Switzerland for a couple shows. The last year and a half of my life I’ve been on the road more than I’ve been home. I’ve had no time to make music. I’ve just been dropping singles with music videos. This year I told everybody that I can’t tour because I need to make music. I have not dropped an album in a year and a half. This is the strongest my buzz has ever been right now and it’s okay because I feel like I’m captivating people with other things than just my music. People like me as a person as well. I’m so grateful that people appreciate me. It’s a really great feeling to be appreciated around the world. Since I told people I’m not going to be touring much this year I’m finally going to be able to work on a project. So this summer I’m going to be working on a project and I’m going to be producing a lot of it, working with other producers, and I should probably drop it in the fall or the winter. So that’s what’s up next, my new album is coming and it’s going to be the best one yet. I’m really excited.