Reain's debut album The Metaphorcast is ready to slice the stores next Monday, but the man himself made a debut in to the British hip hop scene a long time ago. He took his battle game seriously from the start, going under the alias 'Wha's His Face', getting to all the major battles and proving himself a champ to be recognised.
He was in the Lynx Eyed crew with K-ZEn, PRecise and Neo and is also part of a band, The Mighty Jeddo. But now is his time to step form stage to studio, battle to fortress and prove himself to be a solo soldier on the recording side of the hip hop scene. And we're not planning to miss a minute of it.
Nino: So you started off battling right? What were you doing before that and what made you decide that MCing was your thing?
Reain: Before battling I was writing and recordings songs. So in a way I started off doing that. I was apart of a crew called Lynx Eyed which was myself, K-Zen (on production), Precise and Neo. I decided to get into MCing (spitting, rapping, barring. What ever you call it these days) just as a hobby at first. I was 15 and my older brother was doing it. You know how it is.
Nino: Why the name Reain? How do we say it?
Reain: The name REAIN is spelt this way to incorporate the two spellings “rain” and “reign”. This gives it a double meaning. Living in England we see the rain all the time and I want people to know where I’m coming from. Also I think the rain can be refreshing and I’m bringing a fresh vibe to the music scene.
The latter I associate with being a king in my own right. I believe we all have the potential to be kings and queens and I’ve set out to reach my full potential. In case you're still baffled it's pronounced "rain".
Nino: What made you decide to get in the studio more?
Reain: Me and them man (Lynx Eyed) were in the studio nuf but our lives started gradually going in different directions so I decided to focus on a solo project.
Nino: Can you describe some of your favourite battles?
Reain: Don't know about any FULL descriptions but I can name a few. Me & Possessed vs The Saurus and Illmaculate in WRC 2006 finals. All three of them. Me and Possessed still talk about them now. We'll still be going on about them when we're old geezers. Respek BA vs that journalist. The journalist got ripped! Arkaic & Eurgh vs Kulez & Spit Semiz in WRC 2007. Can't remember if it was the 1st or 2nd one but Ark and Kulez proper went at it boy!!! Madness vs The Saurus. I don't know what event it's at I just saw it on youtube. Madness is raw. I could go on…
Nino: Does flow beat punchlines every time?
Nino: What were you trying to get across in The Metaphorcast?
Reain: I wanna give the heads out there a taste of what's to come from me. It's a short album 'cause I just wanted it to be an introduction. Also I just wanted to put out some good creative music.
Nino: Your track, 'For The Love' talks about why you work to your best as an MC, why you MC at all I guess. Do you think your reasons reflect those of many MCs or do you think many are much more narrow minded and have slightly less righteous motive?
Reain: I wouldn't say my motives are righteous like other mans ain't. I'm just doing my ting. Honestly though I don't think alot of MCs out there are doing it for the same reasons I am. I do it, fundamentally, 'cause I enjoy it. I love it! I would like to make some doe too I aint gonna lie 'cause I can't see myself with a career I don't enjoy. That would kill me. Everyone has their own reasons, there's no right or wrong. I just don't agree with the way some others choose to go about it.
Nino: You've also got a track 'Capital City'… would you agree that many non London MCs don't get enough props?
Reain: No I wouldn't agree with that. I could be cheeky and say look at all the American MCs getting props! But I know what you mean. Seriously though, I don't watch the scene enough to know who's from where and who's getting props. I mean based on the little I know I'd disagree with that. Being a Londoner though (I might get some shots for this) I think Londoners can be quite ignorant to the outside world. But it's like any major city I'd imagine.
Nino: Are there any non London MCs you really rate?
Reain: Yeah I'm feeling Sonny Jim and Stig. I know them man too and they're safe brairs.
Nino: Are you aware of any Yorkshire MCs?
Reain: Nah. I'm an ignorant Londoner. See what I mean now. But I don't really check for the scene as much as I could so forgive me.
Nino: Which artists from any country or genre really influenced you growing up?
Reain: A range of people. Bob Marley, NWA, Redman, Canibus, Eminem, Michael Jackson. There is others but my minds gone a bit blank to be honest. I was always around music growing up though.
Nino: Who would you say are your main role models? Do you think young people nowadays have enough positive role models?
Reain: My main role models are my parents and my older siblings! Honestly I've never really looked up to stars, celebrities or even artists in that way. It might sound like I'm trying it but that's just the way I was raised. I think there is a good few positive role models these days but they don't get as much shine as the ones who ain't so positive. People like to be entertained by more negatively driven media so that's why it's hard for the spot light to be on a more positive person, group, crew, etc.
Nino: Have you personally noticed an increase in weapon use among young people or is it something that has been around a while and the media just chose it is topic of the day?
Reain: I think there is an increase BUT, and it's a big but, it's not as bad as the media are making it out to be. These tings have been around from day and I guess they (the media) just need something "new" to talk about. Don't believe EVERYTHING you read!!!
Nino: What is really catching you attention in the papers these days, gun and knife crime aside?
Reain: Page 3.
Nino: Is Obama just a face that makes America look more open minded than it really is?
Reain: Nah I don't think he is. I haven't really followed him but from what I've heard he's a good dude with a strong campaign. I don't think just America needs that, I think the world does.
Nino: Could Obama and hip hop work together?
Reain: If he's into Hip Hop and he can find a way and the right people to work with to get across what he's trying to say then why not?
Nino: What is your favourite aspect of hip hop?
Reain: Expressing yourself!!! I think that's at the root of Hip Hop and most art forms. Everyone should find a way to express themselves 'cause if you don't then tings just build up inside of you and eventually you'll burst! You gotta be able to let out that energy before it gets the better of you.
Nino: What is your least favourite aspect of hip hop?
Reain: Heads jumping on the band wagon!!! At lot of "artists" (if you can call them that) are just imitating someone else and I think that defeats the object of expressing YOURSELF!
Nino: What made you decide to work with Precise and Neoterick on this album? What is it about them as MCs that you enjoy?
Reain: Us man used to be in the same clique so it was natural for me to work with them. I like the way their styles are totally different to mine but I can appreciate what they're coming with.
Nino: 'Dear Diary' is quite a personal track. Is it almost your release track on the album? What was the reasoning behind it?
Reain: I was going through a funny phase in my life. I wasn't enjoying work (I still ain't!), music wasn't really progressing and tings weren't so smooth at home. So I just put it in a verse. I didn't want the whole track to be me just moaning so I asked Cise to feature.
Nino: There's an almost Gothic aspect to the album… The album cover shows the Augustus Pugin designed Houses Of Parliament – one of our countries best known remaining Gothic buildings. And some of the lyrics and beats are quite dark and sinister. Was this a reflection of your own mood or a mood you think is heavily present in this country at the moment?
Reain: I wouldn't say it was Gothic myself but the mood is a reflection of my feelings. In saying that though I live here and have done practically my whole life so in a way you could say it's a reflection of the country's mood. I think there is a kinda dark mood in this country though. A lot of people are pissed off about a lot of things and a lot of those things come out of the Houses Of Parliament, if you know what I mean???
Nino: If your brain was a CD player and you had to have one album on constant replay in your head for a week, what would it be and why?
Reain: Damien Marley's Welcome To Jamrock. I'd choose that 'cause it's got some Bashy tracks on it. There's a lot of different dimensions and you can listen to it for both pure entertainment and for something a little deeper.
Nino: Are you the kind to listen to the same tracks over and over again to get different takes on the lyrics?
Reain: Yeah I am. Lately I've been buying bear album's from say like the mid to late 90s/ early 00s. As I get older, wiser and advance as a lyricist I can understand things in a better way and I can relate to them better too.
Nino: Could you drop us a few lines to say what Reain is all about?
Reain: If you don't know, the name's REAIN I'm introducing/
Shout outs to K-Zen he's been producing/
True music I never just came to brag/
I rip a stage in half like a paper bag/
I'd say that's what I'm about. I'm doing my ting!!! Making true, real music and I work with heads who I feel share that creativity and that vision.
Nino: Do you feel your album was slightly too clean and manufactured to be straight cut in comparison to your live sound? Did you intend for the two to be differently focussed?
Reain: I don't feel it's too clean cut. That's the standard of the industry and that's who I'm competing with in a way so I had to step up to the mark. I think live performances and recordings should be differently focused and I do aim for that. A live performance gives you the opportunity to put a lot more energy and character into your material and that's what I do when I'm on stage. I aim to bring the words and the songs to life! Plus you can be more spontaneous and throw in some other elements.
Nino: Word is you're a vocal genius live. Where can we catch you on stage next?
Reain: I'll be at Bangers @ Black Sheep bar in Croydon. Sunday 10th August. It's the day before my album's out so I'm gonna be shottin' copies, for cheaper than they will be online and in stores. Be there!!!
Nino: Are you planning to release a single from the album? What track would you pick first?
Reain: We'll I'm looking at Capital City. I've got a video for it, which is on my myspace and youtube. I don't think at this stage it'll be a full blown single release though. Wait and see I guess.
Nino: Why does the media hate hip hop?
Reain: I don't think it does hate Hip Hop. It's just that some sections of the media put Hip Hop in a negative light. For example if you watch TV and films these days you might notice a lot of programmes and films have Hip Hop orientated sound tracks. But if you read the newspaper on the wrong day Hip Hop gets blamed for gun and knife crime. In all fairness though Hip Hop doesn't exactly try to diminish the stereo types.
Nino: Do you think the intellect in hip hop is being lowered every day?
Reain: Yes, in the main stream. But there is mans (and the ladies too) on the underground coming with some serious word play, concepts, sick creative beats and them kinda ting. They actively display intelligence but that's not the stuff the majority of people are listening to I think.
Nino: Does the UK need its own Public Enemy enforcement outspoken crew to get the scene moving in the right way?
Reain: The question is what is the right way? Or is there a right way? Hip Hop is about expressing yourself and if people wanna chat about killing people and that's how they choose to express themselves then can that be considered the right way? Personally I don't think we as the UK need a Public Enemy. It's a different land and a different time. I think we just need people to be themselves and to be more creative.
Nino: A lot of UK heads are going over to Germany and Australia these days for better opportunities. Is it something you would consider?
Reain: Yeah it is. The world's full of opportunities and I won't limit myself to the UK just 'cause it's where I'm from.
Nino: What are the biggest obstacles for any MC wanting to get somewhere in the scene?
Reain: Themselves. If you haven't got the heart, determination, discipline, enthusiasm and a whole list of other things within yourself you don't stand a chance.
Nino: How involved are you with the production side of your work?
Reain: In terms of the riddims that was mostly left to the composers themselves. I wouldn't like someone telling me how to write my bars. I was very involved in the mixing down of the album and in terms of the over all sound and direction of the project that was mostly me. I did get some help from family and close friends though.
Nino: You seem to have a good balanced of darker beats and the more old school funky styles. Do you think all albums need a balance of the two or do you think sometimes its important for whole discs to be revolving around one emotion?
Reain: It all depends on what the artist is trying to portray. My album is like that because I'm trying to show different sides of myself. I do think some kind of variation is important though. If something's too samey it gets boring.
Nino: Do you have any future plans of genre crossing or fusion?
Reain: I don't have specific plans but I like to consider myself as open minded and versatile. If the right thing comes along and I feel I can work with it I will.
Nino: Drum n Bass or Reggae?
Nino: Grime or indie?
Nino: Rock or dance?
Nino: Wiley or Chipmunk?
Reain: Wiley, I guess???
Nino: Roots Manuva or Breaking The Illusion?
Reain: I ain't heard Breaking The Illusion. And I'm feeling Roots Manuva. You get the picture…
Nino: Erykah Badu or Estelle?
Reain: Erykah Badu.
Nino: Kid Sister or a kick in the face?
Reain: Kid Sister. If I said "a kick in the face", she'd kick me in the face. I love you Donna!
Nino: G Unit or a dancing on broken glass?
Reain: They'd both hurt.
Nino: Ice cream or Ice T?
Reain: Ice cream.
Nino: Trains or taxis?
Reain: Trains. They're way cheaper.
Nino: Live beatbox or live drum kit?
Reain: Live drum kit. I like beat boxers though.
Nino: Hip Hop Connection or britishhiphop.co.uk? (*cough*)
Reain: Ohhhh come on!!!
Nino: Do you think the whole hip hop beef records thing is immature or entertaining?
Reain: It can be both at times. For example, Nas vs Jay Z, Canibus vs LL, BASHY!!! 50 Cent vs Ja Rule, Eminem vs Benzino I couldn't really give a monkies about.
Nino: If you had to write a beef track against Soulja Boi, what would be the first few lines?
Reain: Super Man that hoe!!! Nah I'd be scared to beef him, I might lose???
Nino: Does hip hop need revolution or reformation?
Reain: A bit of both I think.
Nino: What are your priorities as a hip hop head at the moment?
Reain: Getting my sound out there and laying the foundations to a good long lasting career.
Nino: What do you do in the hip hop scene beside MCing?
Reain: I recently done some theatre work with Jonzi D. A night called The Surgery @ the Hackney empire. It was all based around freestyling and improvising. I was still MCing in a sense but it was totally different to doing a live set or battling. I'm also in a Jazz band called The Mighty Jeddo. It aint Hip Hop but there's a piece of Hip Hop flung in there.
Nino: Cheers for talking to britishhiphop.co.uk. I know I'm going to do my best to catch you live soon cos I've had so much mint feedback. Any final words of advice or shoutouts?
Reain: I wanna shout out Ahisha: the missus, my family and friends who've supported me and continue to do so. Respek BA, Rhyme Asylum, Sean "Hitman" Hatten and every one who's given me the time of day and showed me some love!!! My advice is buy THE METAPHORCAST August 11th 2008. Put it on your calender…
Peace Out. Bless. One Love!