“I’m scared of music, it’s like that perfect woman. I feel like i’m not good enough for her, but I’m addicted.” – Rael J Wallace
I met Ramel “Rael” J. wallace a few months back in San Diego. He was getting interviewed with local college radio show The Beat Bombardment, dawning a strange black cloth over his head and a sense of humble humor outstretched to all present in the studio. I could tell by his goofy get-up and unsuspecting smile that he was a good person to have around.
The first time Ramel and I hung out one on one, he sat on my floor and recited some of his spoken word poetry. “This is the kind of vibe I’m into these days,” he said prompting his succeeding flow. Staring off into the distance, he recited it as if his brain had left him and his words had transcended conventional thought. I was shocked, and meanwhile selfishly ashamed of my own poetry which I had previously thought to be at least somewhat poignant. This was some serious next level art without at all trying to be. Organic and effortless.
A few weeks later, he picked me up for a hip hop and art showcase wearing a cumbersome sombrero paired with a Cuban-esque outfit. Linen pants and loafers coupled with a button down and Mexican headpiece? This was just Ramel. Not needing to prove that he is this or that or to play a certain role. Being goofy if the day’s vibe or sombrero calls for it. No matter the scene or context, Ra(m)el has a reputation for keeping it rael.
For the next few months while I was in San Diego, I got to know him as a person, an artist, and eventually as a cohost on my radio show. His music matched the tone with which he conducted himself – equally hilarious and thought provoking, rhythmically inclined and naturally communally-oriented. There is that all-embracing feel in his music. He wants to uplift himself as much as he does the friends and artists around him. Always as excited about his work as he is enthused about yours, Ramel is the rael deal. The Homie with a capital H.
Acquaint yourself with the Raelest himself, the Homie, Ramel “Rael” J. Wallace. Read below for our interview…
AN: When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music? Was there an album or an artist that prompted you into thinking that this was what you wanted to follow?
RJ: Music has always been medicine to me, and I know i’m not alone in this world. So if music is medicine for me, it must also be medicine for others. Listening to artist like 2Pac growing up, taught me this was more than music. It was about the human experience, revolution and pushing the issues in the culture. Another major influence is Blu, an artist that reveal himself in so many ways and still keep a sense of humor. They are two artist that inspire you to do better in life, but also recognize that we are influenced by the yearns of the flesh. Artist like that influenced me so much that I had to contribute the art. I’ve always needed a vehicle for my social outlooks, and it just so happened that I was good at creating/writing music. It lead me to being surrounded by likeminded individuals and it opened me up to the idea that music can leap past cognition and hit a person in the heart. Thus music and frequency has the potential of changing people drastically. Art and sound make the mind transcend into areas beyond the flesh. Once I realized the power of music I decided that it was my destiny to be blessed with this gift. The gift to artistically share my ideas on truth and the illusion of reality.
AN: Who is Rael J Wallace – both in and out of the music?
RJ: I’m an everyday person, I love my mom, and I’m a non religious black man in America. Looking for a new Raeligion and trying to discover my Iniverse in a verse.
AN: Can you tell me a little bit about the San Diego music scene that you are involved with?
RJ: I represent 8th& G, New world Color, Breakbreadtv & Crateworthy. Bam Circa 86 is my OG and the music sounds like psychedelic dirty South west coast jazz. We’ve been pushing music for the past half a decade, while we discovered the origins of our city. San Diego is like the Galapagos island before Darwin got there. Major things are happening and no juan notices. It’s like once you go there you notice the evolution. I’m like darwin, trying to get people to understand and connect the dots, because the history of San Diego is hidden, it really is like an island. San Diego is known as, “Americas Finest City” and is home to lots of tourist and military influence. ie its political, and all politics slow down art. The counter cultures are strong in San Diego, and I have plans to showcase that idea soon. Artist like Gonjasufi, Gaslamp Killer, Blame One, Masters of the Universe, Mitchy Slick all have a major influence on the perspective of the San Diego, and have all had the opportunity to expand out of the city. It doesn’t happen to most. And as Havana Maxie would put it, ” All art is not for public consumption”. Some and I might say most art is solely created out of a need for expression. And people just want to create and evolve at their own pace in San Diego. It’s not aligned to deadlines. Time doesn’t exist out here to people, but I can’t cast the first stone. I always have the feeling that I need to create or my heart won’t beat the right way, even if nobody sees. You can watch me take the blue pill or not, but eventually you’ll be introduced, and I have a nice smile I swear.
AN: Where is your mind at these days. What’s influencing you?
RJ: Being around other creatives is the most inspirational thing I can do besides live life. So to concrete the idea my team & I are opening up a workspace in Barrio Logan, California ( 2151 Logan Avenue, California ) called The Church. A place where art is our raeligion, so we pray to creation. The owners of BreakBreadtv teamed with a local Visual company Milton: Motion & Design to open up a space for creatives (Thanks to Mark Escobar & Frank Luna). we have a community feast and greeting at The Church on July 1st.
I’ve been helping Breakbreadtv for the past year as Creative Director, and working with students at Platt College with visuals. I’m scared of music, it’s like that perfect woman. I feel like i’m not good enough for her, but i’m addicted. It’s fun as a creative because you have to move around and try different forms of expression. A creative or imaginative person just needs to let that out. And as humans we are natural thinkers, so we are instinctually creative. Just look at the imagination of a child; it’s other worldly. So i’ve been helping film things, create ideas and I write music everyday.
AN: You were recently signed to a label. What’s happening with that and how do you see that helping you in the future?
RJ: I recently got signed to New World Color, an indie LA record label owned by producer Mainframe and rapper Blu. I’m really just testing the waters, because as an artist you feel like you reach a ceiling when it comes to promotion, my hands can only reach so far. This allows me to feed more mouths, yet have artistic freedom. New World Color was a training ground for cats like Johnson& Johnson, DJ Exile, Blu & Danny Brown, so I feel blessed beyond articulation. I plan to be in the same likeness as my peers but by my own definition. I just have to put in the work and I’ve been working on this deal for about 4 years. From the initial push at recording to 18 of Blu’s productions on a project entitled The Laundry Room I( released in 2011), then doing a followup official project with Blu called Raelblz in 2012. I’m beyond amped that the pot is finally boiling over. I inked a 2 album deal with New World Color so I plan on building a great relationship with the people that influenced me initially. I’m going to do a reissue of The Holyfield with 5 bonus tracks. The Holyfield is a project I did with Soulection producer Abjo, about imagination. We are releasing it on iTunes via New World Color along with some dope visuals in the near future. The second project is entitled Kali/Cali which is about time.
AN: Tell me about Kali.
RJ: She represents the Hindu Goddess of time, space, death and reincarnation. When you think about all those concepts, they are essentially the same thing. Death implies life and life implies death. As does time defining space. It also happens that I am from Cali- fornia/Kalifornia. Either way San Diego, California is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The curves of the hills became Kali’s hips, the oceans transformed into her eyes, and we had pillow talk on the clouds every afternoon. The concepts began to overlap and they eventually became each other. Kali became my California. And I started to study the archetype of the Woman Goddess, and how woman was the foundation of life. Man was to build his renaissance upon her. These concepts became the basis for not only an album but also the basis for how I approach art. Kali is the comic constant within my music. Kali was time, the perfect woman that you can never have back.
AN: Give us an idea of a day in the life of Rael J.
RJ: Wake up, go to Church and record, eat korea BBQ, and try not to get deported. #jamaica