Open Space: Rexx Life Raj

by Jay Chief on February 20, 2018 · 0 comments

Rexx Life Raj was raised under the influence of a Black Panther—not in Wakanda but in Berekely, CA, where his father was affiliated with the Black Panther Party. “My pops really fucked with Malcolm X,” the rapper explained during a recent visit to MASS APPEAL HQ. “Anything that was pro Black and for the people he was about. That was one of the main things he instilled in me, being conscious of who I am in society as a black man. And also being for the people. That’s what the party was—being for the people.”

Raj was raised with a sense of awareness and enlightenment that we now refer to as being “woke.” He understood that the guns you sometimes saw Huey Newton and Bobby Seale holding in photos were for protection. “You have to respect it,” he says, adding that the Panthers' image being tainted with drugs and controversy was the result of propaganda. These were things his father taught him.

On his latest album, ‘Father Figure 2: Flourish,’ Raj shares the gems he learned from his pops, who narrates the album. “The whole premise of ‘Father Figure’ is somebody who you get game from," Raj explains in his Open Space interview. "Someone who gives you gems so you don’t have to go through that same shit… All the lessons I learned.”

‘FF2’ is a diverse musical cocktail that reflects the artists’ determination to never be pigeonholed. “Don’t put yourself into a box,” he says. “I feel like that’s what a lot of people do. If you do trap music—whoop de whoo—or you wear these kind of clothes cause they’re trendy. People put themselves in a box because it’s comfortable. If you push yourself, it’s limitless. That’s where real creativity is, outside of those boxes.”

It’s no surprise, then, that Raj was shaped by artists who cut their own path through the music industry. “Erykah Badu for sure changed my life,” he says, also mentioning D’Angelo, Jill Scott, and Floetry. “I like smooth shit like Sade. But on the rap side, I like any rapper who’s able to be melodic when he raps. One of my favorite artists of all time is Kid Cudi. ‘Man on the Moon’ changed the way I look at music cause he’s so vulnerable and so real.” Raj also counts Andre 3000, Mase, and Pharcyde as influences. “I went through a little The Roots wormhole with Black Thought—that nigga has bars." Raj likes to spend time "listening to the real MCs and trying to learn more from them, cause they’re hard as fuck.”

Still, he’s not deterred by labels like “SoundCloud rapper,” as long as the music and the person making it are authentic. “I remember growing up, when I saw n****s with face tats it meant something," he says with a smile. "Now there’s 15 year olds with face tats—what is that?”

Elsewhere in the latest episode of Open Space Raj reveals his favorite pastime: walking his French bulldog Chapo, playing Call of Duty and NBA2K, and checking out Pornhub. Press play now!

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What started as a humble graffiti ‘zine in 1996 would soon grow to be one of the most trusted outlets for youth-spawned urban culture. Today, Mass Appeal is a media collective led by authentic voices and inspired minds. We are a platform for radical creatives who are transforming culture.

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