We had the good fortune of connecting with RaneRaps and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi RaneRaps, why did you pursue a creative career?
I’m a musician for a myriad of reasons. The simple reasons: 1) it’s the most legal way to act a fool and get paid for it and 2) the high of creating a new song is unmatched! Admittedly, my first point was half sarcastic but it’s the truth! The more complex reasons are that 1) it affords me a means to learn about myself through songwriting, which is deeply reflective and 2) relate to my childhood heroes like Rick James and Prince.
Any who experiences me for 30 seconds or more knows I’m ready to giggle, emote, and do all things wild in the name of living a thrilling life. That’s a high I have and will never stop chasing. I grew up on lots of funk and when I watched old performances, Bootsy Collins, Prince, and Rick James were NOT concerned with being too hot for tv. Everything was raw and uncut. Strongly suggestive or explicit was the norm. You could say I was predisposed to this very demeanor. And today that same raw energy is reflected in artists like Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert, and City Morgue. Live shows are a playground for the kid inside and isn’t that everyone’s goal — to never let that kid die? I can sass, preach, and be completely rambunctious without being put in timeout or handcuffs. I’m simply exhibiting the core of my humanity and scratching that itch to electrify. That’s why the stage is home. Each show gives me the chance to recreate the memories of old funk shows that roam energetically in my mind.
Additionally, making music I love and that people boogie to feeds my soul. Sometimes just writing one good line sends me into bliss. For example, the day I wrote the fan-favorite “Let’s Chill”, I woke up and opened Twitter. I saw a funny tweet about P. Diddy and wrote “You singin’ over samples like a Bad Boy song”, in the context of my love interest and I going on a date to Costco. It’s a simple bar but it’s super catchy and was the launch pad for me to create a scene for the second verse and consequently, the entire song. Being a mirror to the world through humor, melancholy, and more is deeply gratifying and doing it in a way that people connect with is even better. Funkadelic had it right when they sang “One Nation Under a Groove”. Unifying people with the facts of life and driving them to move to action on and off of the dance floor is the goal!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others…
A few key aspects set me and my music apart from others: my authenticity, humility, and live-show.
When you listen to my music, you’ll hear unadulterated truth. I’ve only ever told my story or given a voice to others I know and love. I’m intentional about not creating a “character” for my music because I want people to know the man on record and in the streets is the same exact person. I wouldn’t risk that trust for anything. Plus, people close to me know the less thinking I do, the happier I am. I hated learning lines in school plays so I damn sure would hate to have to remember a public persona just to look cool. Many people can and do relate to the story of a middle class Black man from Los Angeles and I will never pretend to be anything other than that. An oversimplification, yes. But at the core that’s who I am, dammit!
To add to that, I make the music I want to make and you’ll hear in my songs that I made the music for me. I rather fail to blow up and make what I want than assimilate and be famous. Yikes! And to top it all off, my music is not only kid-friendly but blends the old with the new in a way that’s not corny. I love seeing my analytics and all ages represented in healthy amounts. I’ve got Janet Jitterbug, Bebop Benny, & Tony Too Turnt playing my records. I’ve found my lane and I’m loving it! What a magnificent feeling it is!
Frankly, I’m just having fun with music. I have goals and real things I must accomplish but I’m here to be the man I always meant to be. I’m not larger than life or consider myself better than anyone else. I just happen to rap and be very good at it. And with my talent and the status I maintain and hope to build upon, I’ll always be approachable and in tune with where I came from. While fame is attached to notoriety and people treating you a certain way, I want people who listen to my music to always feel like I’m their friend and not their God. I’m paranoid of celebrity and would totally avoid it if that were possible but if you listen to my records, you’ll know I’m always explicitly stepping down from any pedestal I could be placed on and standing shoulder to shoulder with those who share this thing called life with me. My ego only exists for the sake of getting more and better opportunities for my career. Beyond that, I’m just a simple man! And I love it!
The Greatest Show On Earth can only be given by yours truly. And I saw that matter of factly! I put in time and effort to make sure my lungs are lunging, my leg blood flow is optimal and the heels are my shoes are sturdy enough to groove on any stage. Actually performing your songs is hard work. And when you’re like me, you’re programmed to DANCE, DANCE, DANCE no matter what. I guess it doesn’t help that I was raised on funk, so I always gotta groove. I don’t make the rules. But when people come to see me, they know I’m not rapping over my vocals and expecting you to have fun. Nope, I give you every lyric and then some. Vocal runs, falsetto, gritty and guttural boasts, and of course some good ole call and response. My motto: “the show is about We, not Me.” and I make sure everyone is included. We’re there to have fun, free our minds of worry, and fellowship in the spirit of the human experience! So, my fans give me complete freedom to make them groove in ways others can’t, get down to the tightest, thinnest layers on stage, and say and do whatever I please in the spirit of maximizing the moment. I never saw Prince take a night off of being sexy, so why the hell would I show up and not let my curl juice drip in the name of fun?! I pity the man who thinks entertainment is anything lesser. Step it up, Huey Half-Step!
what you are most proud of or excited about…
I’m elated for my debut album Phone In Tyrone Hand to be released at the end of this year. It’s been a long time coming for a myriad of reasons but it contains such intimate, delicate pieces of my story that I want the world to know. I created the entirety in the short span of 2 months in the aftermath of a relationship gone sour. I thought the music I made during the relationship was impeccable but nothing could prepare me for just how much I learned about myself in the songwriting process. The album is the epitome of truth, catharsis, and to those that listen, you’ll think you’ve known me forever. Sonically, it blends gospel, rap, soul, and funk to create an album that sounds like André 3000’s most focused musings on life. I’m not even slightly shaken by making that comparison myself because the music is elite. And I’m damn sure ready to dig deeper into myself to reproduce a second album even better. I have lived so much life and have cherished so many moments, good and bad, and being an album artist truly cements why I make music: to learn about myself, stare fixedly at my mistakes, and rationalize on record a means to better live by the principles that I was brought up with and have consequently imparted on to my listeners.
How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges?…
I only got to where I am at through the help of other people. Yes, I work hard. Yes, I take my craft maybe *too* seriously at times but handshakes, cheers, and opportunities I couldn’t get alone have brought me from A to B.
Nothing thus far has been easy. When I started taking rap seriously, I read books about songwriting and put a grueling amount of hours into learning how to math my way through music so I could set the stage for the art to supplement the “formula”. In other words, I learned to find an adequate number of rhymes I needed to tell a story and how to fill in the gaps to make a cohesive record.
After I did that enough, I started creating less methodically (i.e. rhyme-first writing) and focused more on overall narrative. Strangely enough, some good ole Googling and Wikipedia led me to articles that changed my process forever. I learned a lot by reading about both Lorde and Kendrick Lamar’s creative process. Lorde’s mother is a short-story author, so Lorde’s verses are all self-contained stories. And each piece of a song enhances the other to make a sum greater than its parts. No wonder she makes hits! Kendrick doesn’t listen to vocalists during his album writing process so that their influence doesn’t spill over into his work. I adopted both approaches and that ultimately made me a songwriting machine. I missed hearing all of the newest music but if my music is that fire, do I need to hear anything more than beats? NO!
Eventually I hit a roadblock. I had plays, fans, and an ego to pour into but no way to see and feel everyone supporting me. Once I moved back to LA, my manager Steven Contreras took me under his wing and got me on shows and trusted that my unabashed energy would be accepted with open arms. It didn’t take long for people to realize my RapSoulFunk is damn good and the Mr. Hot Jam brand caught on well.
My biggest challenge now is that I’m too accessible. I went from middle of nowhere new Hampshire back to LA mind you. I’m still creating art without issue, but I spend far too much time “in the mix” instead of in the studio and in my head where I’m most consistently excited. I love my social relationships but it’s hard to explain to everyone that I’m a 1-2 weeks on and 3-4 weeks off type of person. My closest friends get it but in order to navigate and succeed in the industry, you can’t do that. I get it though hahah.
The shows make the hours of creating worth it but sometimes everything that inspires that music takes me away from the music too much. It’s an adjustment and one I’m willing to continue dealing with, but it does get hard at times when I want to focus inward and hit my creative stride.
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way…
I could make this section very long but I’ll give the best advice I’ve ever gotten: “Don’t suck.” It’s literally that simple. Much like lifters beat themselves up in the gym every day to squeeze out performance and get the gains, it’s important for artists to realize creativity is a muscle like inspiration and the quickest way to get better at art is to create more, haha. And be relentlessly unimpressed with your work until you can feel it in your bones that it’s amazing. Up until maybe early 2021, literally no one heard my music until it was available for streaming. I just got that confident and rigorous with my quality control and it was the best way to never have an odd opinion cause me to doubt what I’m doing. People know why I’m here: to rap and rap at a caliber that might cause a lot of people to be insecure. But, I owe it to myself to not suck and shut anyone up who dares question my work. You may not like my voice, my flow, my story, or my fashion, but you’d undoubtedly be a fool to ever suggest I’m not extremely skilled at making music.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’m the marriage of Prince’s falsetto and André 3000’s storytelling. You’ll love my music if you enjoy rap, soul, and funk lined with humor, honesty, and emotion *in my Earth, Wind, & Fire voice*. I’m here to provide the unabashed truth and take my listeners down the Path of Positivity. Press play on my song “Let’s Chill” and step in the world of RaneRaps AKA Mr. Hot Jam.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The below is just an itinerary based on how I felt in the moment. I honestly had too many places on my list and just tried to be logical about neighborhoods, time spent, and overall expected fun. But, this place is too big! One needs months here to enjoy it truly hahah. So, if anyone reads this and thinks I have questionable taste, shame on you. My rationale above makes sense. Stop hating!
-LAX @ noon
-Lunch @ Boston Market
pre-COVID when it existed. Yes, this is a chain but their cornbread is amazingly good and I’d need my best friend to try that, the yams, and mac and cheese
-Santa Monica Pier
We’d go to the Trapeze School and ride the Ferris wheel to celebrate afterwards
-Blue Mondays @ Boardner’s by La Belle
I remember going here alone back in Dec 2019 I believe and having the time of my life! When I tell you I was crying tears of joy! Who doesn’t like new wave dance parties?!
-Breakfast @ Red’s Flavor Table
They have an amazing jambalaya omelette that I would share with my friend. I would also order a shrimp and grits meal to have a second option
-California Science Center
Free admission to 3 levels of science exhibits? Yes, please!
IMAX theatre for more science discovery? Yes, please!
-USC Rose Garden
-Late Lunch @ El Huero
I would have to visit since it’s near the Science Center! They have great burritos!
-Back to AirBNB until night
-Drinks @ the Broken Shaker
-Breakfast @ AirBNB
-Tandem-Bike Riding @ Redondo Beach
If you can tandem bike ride with me, you’ve really twice-cemented your place in my heart, hahaha!
-Lunch @ El Burrito Jr
More burritos, of course!
Gotta show them some good ole graffiti up close and personal and just how wild this area is, considering it was once not a damaged section of San Pedro lol
-San Pedro Fish Market
Seafood? Yes, please! Nothing better than FRESH seafood!
-Live music @ the Smell
Sometimes you have to go out and get musty with strangers to bring you back to Earth. So why not do it at the Smell? Besides, we’ll get a quick rock music fix to prep us for the club later in the week.
-Breakfast @ EGG TUCK
Yummy! Egg. Very delicious egg!
-Hollywood Walk of Fame
We’ll have a blast finding where they put B.B. King’s star, among other greats! Shout out to B.B. King!
-Museum of Death
This place was an eye-opener for just how much wildness exists in the world. But, it was extremely educational regarding a lot of cults that I have never heard of and serial killers. The more you know…
-Late Lunch @ Eat This Cafe
-AirBNB to chill
-K1 Speed in Gardena
Go-Karting for adults? yeeeeehaww!
-Breakfast @ AirBNB
-The Broad Museum
-Lunch @ Chef Kang Korean Taco
-The Al Pastor Bulgogi burrito…. Bruh. ‘Nuff said.
-Walk around the Arts district for pictures
-Dinner @ Wurstkuche
-Pre-Party @ Two Bit Circus
I love the arcade games this place has and the VR experiences are top-notch!
-Clubbing in DTLA
-Down & Out
The GOAT. No long wait. No cover on Friday’s if I’m not mistaken. Strong drinks. Music is consistently fire. The crowd isn’t corny. Security is cool. Everyone just wants to have a good time and get home safely. I love it here!
-Rhythm Room LA
I went here super tipsy one night so it’s taken me years to find out what the actual name was. Thanks, Reddit! But I remember being overwhelmed in a good way about the jazz, pong, chess, and overall set up of this basement gem. I felt like I was at a frat party that attempted to be sophisticated but still had all of the characteristics that scream “We are people who just like to have fun. Bring your coolness and add to the sum of cool already present.”
-Morning Walk at Fox Hills Park
-Lunch @ Nkechi African Cafe
If you’re over the age of 16 and have not eaten Jollof Rice, I have to ask “What’re you *doing* with your life?!”. That’s just unacceptable. It’s too good to go without!
-Back to AirBNB for R&R
-Drinks @ Bungalow
– Late night scootering on Bird’s
-Brunch @ Warehouse Restaurant
-Melrose Trading Post
-Thrift at American Vintage
-Back to AirBNB to prep for LAX
-Dinner from Comfort LA
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shout out to my manager, Steven Contreras of Oh That’s Filthy Music Group. And funny enough, music is just a drop in the bucket of what that man is involved in. He has taken me under his wing many a time and is extremely compassionate and motivating when it comes to my art. I appreciate that fact that he is a fan of my music first before being a manager and genuinely wants the best for me. I can call him any time of the night and vent, brainstorm, and generally be vulnerable and he’ll do his best to get me to where I need to be. From my first paid gig all the way to my first Grammy, he has been and will be there to cheer proudly and tell me to keep going!
Cheryl Faux (Jeep picture) Mattie True (red jacket photos, striped jacket photos, elvis photos) Patrick Manolo (tuxedo pics and green suit)