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Reason is the definition of a real spitter. With label-mates such as Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, SZA and Isaiah Rashad, you need to be the best. Hailing from Carson, California and making the West Coast proud, real name Robert Gill, Jr. has been rapping since he can remember, grinding independently before joining Top Dawg Entertainment.
In an oversaturated music industry, real hip hop nowadays is much appreciated. Reason proves himself over and over as one of the most exciting lyricists, pouring his heart and soul into each record. With a sharp pen game and compelling storytelling, he’s as excited as ever to be releasing his actual debut studio album titled New Beginnings. The title speaks for itself, clocking in at 14 records including fan favorite “Pop Shit” featuring ScHoolboy Q, “Sauce” featuring Vince Staples, “The Soul Pt. 2,” and rare features from Rapsody and Isaiah Rashad.
With this new project being his first in two years, following 2018’s critically acclaimed There You Have It, Reason is finally able to give the fans what they’ve been asking for.
REVOLT caught up with the MC to discuss recording during COVID-19, playing Top Dawg the new project, why he named it New Beginnings, getting its features on his own, being a Black man in America, and more! Read below.
What’s been up since the last time we spoke? I think that was two years ago.
Not a lot, the Dreamville sessions, which were really really dope. We were supposed to release this project earlier this year but COVID hit, so thankfully Top’s allowing me to keep putting out singles and what not.
I see all the new music, you’ve been working!
I’ve been busy. I try to get them to understand that for a younger artist, it’s more important to stay busy with singles and doing something. We don’t have the luxury to disappear for two or three years and be okay, you know?
What were your hesitations not wanting to drop your album during COVID?
As an artist, you really want to perform it. I made a lot of these songs thinking about performances… Even as far as PR, it’s not the same during COVID. Really would rather be in a situation where you can do all of those things to the fullest, but ultimately, I’m just glad to be putting some music out.
How does “The Soul Pt. 2” Reason compare to “The Soul Pt. 1” Reason?
“The Soul Pt. 2” Reason is more confident. The first “Soul” was a lot of apprehension. Knowing what I brought to the table talent-wise, but hoping everything works out. This one’s more confident and understanding of the game, more level-headed and established.
“I been gettin’ bigger, so much bigger that my ego see my body and it’s struggling to fit up in it.” Can you expand on this line?
It was more me recognizing my growth and playing off of that. I’d like to think I don’t have a big ego, but I meant my growth as a new artist. This essentially is my debut project. For most people who put out a debut project, they’re not at the level I’ve been at. I’ve been blessed with the Black Panther album and the Revenge of the Dreamers III tape. Being put on two bigger projects for me, I struggle remembering I’m still a new artist because I’ve done a lot. So, playing off of that. Me trying to remain myself and remember that “this is your first time, don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Don’t put so many expectations on yourself.”
What is it that you want to achieve?
I used to always be somebody that paid attention to the numbers. “My numbers have to be here, my videos have to do this many views,” whatever the case may be. Narrowing back from that and being appreciative that I do get to put out a video with TDE. I do get to put out a project with TDE, those are blessings in itself.
What inspires you the most? People run out of things to rap about.
A thousand percent, that’s definitely something real about artists. Sometimes you run out of shit especially in COVID because we’re not doing much. Your life is supposed to come from experiences and we’re not really experiencing much right now. For me, things that inspire me are older music, my environment for sure, past relationships. I try to develop the habit of even when I’m not inspired, just trying to work. Even if it’s going over old records and cleaning them up, I’ll try to force myself to do something.
New Beginnings out now, I know you’ve been working on this one.
I’ve been working on this one for a long time.
How was playing Top this project? What was his feedback?
He loved it actually, right off the gate. Once we turned in the final track list, only critiques he really had was to go back in with musicians and beef up the track. It was actually surprising how much he took to this project. He really fucked with it right off the jump, which is usually not the case with Top because Top’s the biggest music critic in the world. He loved it and still does. Him having confidence in the project definitely gives you a lot of confidence as an artist because of how critical he is.
“Pop Shit” was a single. What did ScHoolboy Q add to the record?
Just being dope Q to me, as far as his charisma and the little weird shit he says that nobody else would think of. He has his line where he says “the Plug in my wheel,” that’s so tight to me because you fuck with the plug so much that you put him in your will if you ever die. That’s shit that Q would think of. He says a bunch of shit like that that’s really, really dope. I fuck with him for that.
What does it mean to “ride for your block”?
You know me from a while ago, how heavy I am into Carson and how proud I am of that.
You released “Sauce” with Vince Staples too. Bring us back to that studio session.
I usually like doing features in the studio, but unfortunately it actually wasn’t. I sent him the record. I met him at Q’s release party when he released CrasH Talk.
What is the sauce?
The sauce is a confidence, it’s a swag. It’s having the confidence you can pretty much do anything. It’s not on you, it’s in you. It’s walking into the room, demanding that attention. Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, doing it with confidence. Even for women, knowing you bring just as much to the table as anybody, having that confidence no matter what your career field is.
Speaking of women, talk about why “Fall” is one of your favorite records. You address double standards in the industry.
It’s definitely one of my favorite records. It’s the most important record on the project because of that. I have a sister and growing up, she was singing when she’s younger. I used to go to the studio with her sometimes. She used to go through that where every guy she’s in the studio session with, he ultimately wanted to hit. She doesn’t sing now, but ultimately she left the industry because of that. She couldn’t deal with not being able to trust. She’d need a manager, now he’s trying to hit. She’d meet a producer and they’re working together, now he’s trying to tell her how she should sell herself. I thought it was important, something people don’t really touch on in music. We talk about it from time to time, but don’t really touch on it like that. It definitely needed to be said and needed to be heard. I’m sure the entire song will ruffle some feathers, but anything that will push the culture to talk in that way is important.
What does it mean to be a strong Black man in America today?
For me, I’ve never been prouder to be a Black man in America. Whenever we’re faced with adversity, it draws us together. It makes you proud to be where you’re from. We have the biggest responsibility now than ever to protect each other: Black men and Black women. Men are supposed to be the leaders of society. If you want to change an environment, you change the Black male kids. You change the Black boys, they grow up to be great Black men, they lead the society better.
How can you, as someone with a platform, continue to push the narrative?
Keeping it relevant, talking about it and also holding people accountable. That’s the biggest thing that’s missing to me in society. We’re so sensitive that we never want to hold each other accountable because we feel like we can ruffle feathers. It’s the same thing with white people when they ask, “What can I do to help the Black Lives Matter movement?” I always tell people the first thing you can do is in your own circles. Hold people accountable. If some of your friends are saying shit or doing things out of line, hold them accountable. That’s the same thing with Black men and Black women, we have to hold each other accountable in respecting and protecting each other.
What does it mean to drop that “Extinct” record with Isaiah Rashad and JID for the fans?
It’s funny, that was the last record added. I had the project, I’m like “Man, I need a fan favorite.” Some shit that all the fans want to hear, but they haven’t been able to hear yet. Everybody always talks about JID and Zay doing a record, fuck it I’ma to be the first one to make that happen. I had a record with Zay already, I called JID. Me and JID are super, super close so that was an easy phone call. When he sent back the verse, we all passed the song around to tighten up on it. I really feel it’s going to be one that everybody’s talking about.
How was getting Rapsody on board? I know you fuck with her heavy, too.
Rap was one of my main inspirations for “Fall.” I even talk about her in that verse. After I made that record, I reached out to her on Twitter because she was following me. I said, “Hey I wrote a verse about you, I’d love for you to hear it.” I sent it to her and she loved it. She called me after that, we had a long talk about double standards in the industry. We had a dope ass conversation. About a month later, I made the record and that’s when I sent it to her and asked her to get on it. Once again, it’s love. That’s one thing I’m proud about on this project: Every feature I got was my relationship. I didn’t make any network label calls like, “Hey, can you reach out to this person?” I’m proud of that because that’s a very rare thing nowadays.
What’s your favorite record then?
My favorite record is “Windows Cry.” It’s a different perspective within the label that every artist outside of their original four has felt, but they never really spoke about it publicly. It’s going to be a dope view for fans to see. You get the most into what the label entails and what we do from that record. It’s dope that I’m essentially about the label in a certain way. It’s not a disrespectful way, but it’s more me talking about my anxieties of signing with them and my doubts. It was dope how supportive Top was of putting that record out. Usually that’s a record that most CEOs won’t want to be out. But, he’s the one that made the call to make it the outro. He called me and said, “Yo this should be the outro of the project, it’s the perfect way to end it.” That was really dope to me.
Why is this New Beginnings for you?
Outside of it being my first project with the label, I really had to get rid of a lot of anxieties, trust issues, bad habits, everything in order to be able to make this project. My new beginning as a person, I had to really grow and become somebody else from an inner standpoint to even be able to trust management, trust this process, be patient. Wait for the right time to be able to do all of these things was a growing process for me. It’s not because it’s my first one, it’s more of who I became as a person.
Listen to New Beginnings below.