With a voice and flow that will draw you in, and lyrics that will keep you focused, Toronto rapper King Reign is known for shedding light on politically and socially themed topics. He’s been in the game for a while and after taking a break to learn and reevaluate the direction of his career, he’s back with new music and he’s ready to impress at this year’s Canadian Music Week (CMW).
OUT OF THE PROJECTS YOU’VE DROPPED, WHICH ONE MEANS THE MOST TO YOU? I would say that out of the projects I’ve put out so far, the one that means the most to me is King Reign Vol. 1, just because it was a compilation of songs that I had made on some down time and went back to the lab to rework my whole career. Putting out Vol. 1 was a [new] start and it also inspired me to keep going because of the response I got from it… but my favourite project will be my new project coming out called Sincere. The majority of the album is storytelling, it’s named Sincere as just another way to say “true story”. The stories that I tell on that, 98 per cent are what I’ve experienced; stories that I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time.
I think there is a space for everything. I think the problem with the braggadocios rap [of today’s music] is that it’s totally oversaturated…
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS SO IMPORTANT ABOUT STORYTELLING IN MUSIC? I think there is a space for everything. I think the problem with the braggadocios rap [of today’s music] is that it’s totally oversaturated… Everybody loves a success story, the underdog story of somebody who is trying to win and that’s why it’s so popular and that’s why everybody likes to imitate it. At the same time there are real stories out there and artists like myself and Pharoahe Monch and a lot of other artists take these stories and we try to tell them in a compelling way and an entertaining way also. In the movies they do it, we just try to do it in hip-hop and music.
YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT HAVING HIGH STANDARDS FOR YOUR OWN MUSIC; DO YOU HAVE HIGH STANDARDS FOR PERFORMING ON STAGE? I have the same standards for everything I put out. Right now as it stands, coming out with this new album, my show is going to be minimal, but entertaining… It will probably just be DJ Grouch and me on stage and a video presentation with it.
IS THAT WHAT YOU HAVE SET UP FOR YOUR CMW SHOW? Yeah, I plan to go in on that show with that. I’m bringing the music, bringing myself and bringing the energy… I’ve done one warm up show and this is my next show with CMW performing stuff from the new album. The show should be great because I’ve gotten some of the cobwebs off from the first show and I’m excited to see how people respond to this. I put a lot of work into this; I executive produced it.
WHAT DO YOU THINK, WITH SHOWCASES LIKE THIS, SETS CANADIAN MUSIC APART FROM EVERYONE ELSE? We are less afraid to use all of our influences and we’ve been doing that for a long time… We are influenced by lot of different cultures [all mixing in one place]. It shows up in our music and that’s what sets us apart.
WHAT ELSE ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO FOR CMW? Seeing other bands, I haven’t been out enough to see what else is going on and what other Canadian bands are really doing it. I’m looking forward to networking with some new people and some of the people that have been waiting for the come back. I also like the panels and conferences.
King Reign will perform at 11 p.m. on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at Baltic Avenue (875 Bloor St. W.) as part of Canadian Music Week.
Interview By. Emma Kombora