They may call the sunny city of Phoenix home, but Full|REBEL|Jacket, the duo comprised of G (originally from Dallas, Texas) and Q (hailing from Anchorage, Alaska), evoke pure, unadulterated nostalgia of that Southern hip-hop of old. The twosome recently released their debut EP, the REBEL–a poignant 10-track project which weaved their soulful and significant tales into warm, rich and hearty instrumentals. Oh, and it boasted features from Big Rube, BJ The Chicago Kid and Nikkiya (so yeah, you should really go get yourself a copy).
Having made an impact on their first swing, the future is already looking–and sounding–as bright as a South-Western summer for G and Q. Accordingly, we caught up with the pair to dive deeper into the REBEL EP, discuss their influence from some of the genre’s greats and what a Full|REBEL|Jacket legacy will look like in years to come.
When we first started recording [the REBEL EP] man, we wanted to make a classic album, something that you could listen to 10 years from now and be like “you know what man, that shit still jamming, the topics are still relevant, the subject matter is still real.”
Interview by: @aboynamedandy
What statement did you want to make on the REBEL EP?
G: When we first started recording it man, we wanted to make a classic album, something that you could listen to 10 years from now and be like “you know what man, that shit still jamming, the topics are still relevant, the subject matter is still real.” Also, we wanted to make the statement that “nigga, we here!” I think as like a rookie, when you want to come out for your first game, like when Iverson came out for his first game, he was like “fuck it, I’m dropping 60! So y’all niggas know I’m here.”
The project is packed with strong tracks and powerful messages. Which song do you think is the most impactful?
G: Hmmm. Let’s see, it’s got a lot of real records on there, but “Stray Bullet” I’d have to say is like the realest, I guess the most emotional record. I think it’s always good for a group–or an artist–to create emotional and powerful records like that. It’s also strong to do records like “Bacon,” where you just rap and go at people, so to have that dynamic is dope. Those two records [are the most impactful] probably.
Q: I would say my personal favorite record is “Winter,” because of how different it is, the way we put it together. Really, all the records on the album mean something to us in one way or another, and if the message isn’t direct, it’s implied. So for me man, I would say “Winter.”
How did you guys link up with Big Rube for the “Stray Bullets” track?
Q: We got his contact [details] on Twitter and we called him, we spoke and we went back-and-forth, sent him the record and he was down. So, we told him the concept, he gave us back what you hear on the record and that was it.
G: One of the cool things about that is when we were first doing it–because it was one of the first records that we recorded as the group Full|REBEL|Jacket–Q was like, “We should have a spoken word artist on the beginning of this record.” We were thinking about local spoken word artists, but I was like, “nah, this nigga want to get [Big] Rube on the record! That would be the dopest thing. Let’s contact him, reach out to him, and let him tell us ‘no’ if he don’t want to do the record.” But it actually turned out to be all love.
Obviously Rube is known for his work with some of hip-hop’s greats like OutKast, Goodie Mob and Killer Mike. How does it feel to get a big co-sign like that?
G: Man, fantastic!
Q: Yeah man, it feels great! We got some other surprises coming up.
Even though you’re based in Phoenix, your music has that vintage Southern feel to it, you know, guys like UGK and Geto Boys. Is it safe to say that era of hip-hop has had a direct influence on your music?
G: Oh yeah, absolutely, ’cause I’m from Dallas, Texas, so that’s what I grew up on: Geto Boys and UGK and all that. I’ve always wanted to make records like that, but you’ve always got to be modern, too, and move forward. You want to take a little bit of the old and mix it with some new flavor, and hoping you get something new out of that.
Q: For me, those artists that you mentioned are definitely influences, you know, OutKast, Goodie Mob, Scarface, and also your 2Pacs and your Ice Cubes and those types.
I like the fact that you worked with both a veteran like Rube and new talent like BJ The Chicago Kid on the REBEL EP. Is that a balance you look to maintain going forward?
G: Yup, absolutely. We always want to get new and up-and-coming talent–talent that ain’t just popping at the moment–because I feel like when you’re doing mixtapes, the artist always goes their hardest, and when they do the album, it’s kinda like a lot of creative control, label stuff, that kind of thing. So we always try and get artists that are still up-and-coming, still hungry, and still want to do their thing. It makes for better music which I think the fans appreciate.
Q: Also, being independent, we can’t go and say “We want Ne-Yo on this record.” [Laughs.] We can’t do it. So we gotta have an ear for talent and go seek it out–that’s how we came across BJ, Charlie Boy–I mean, Charlie Boy’s not necessarily new–Kesha Jackson, Nikkiya. Kesha Jackson, we actually found her on the credits of an OutKast album and we were like, “I wonder what she’s doing?” And we found her.
Obviously hip-hop has changed in a huge way since the Golden Era. Do you think that brand of hip-hop still has relevance today?
G: Oh yeah, there’s always going to be people who want real stories. I think it was CyHi The Prynce who said you got rappers who rap about Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but we still live Monday through Thursday. So you gotta make music for Monday through Thursday and Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That’s what I think the new way to move forward is.
Q: I definitely think it’s relevant because we’ve got our Kendrick Lamars and Big K.R.I.T.s now who are seeing success. For the fans that are out there, it just seems like the industry is looking for a right-now money generator, so they’re not developing artists and not pushing anything that isn’t gonna get a lot of spins on radio or club play–immediately.
G: I think, also, that as hip-hop gets older, the listeners are still going to get older. I mean we’ll have younger listeners and older listeners, but if you take Jay-Z; Jay-Z’s 40 in real-life, he’s probably at the club popping mollies. [Laughs.] So he’s listening to something, too.
Phoenix has spawned a few hip-hop acts in the past–Willy Northpole’s probably the only notable one–but it’s never had that flagship artist. Do you guys see yourself stepping into that title?
G: Well, we have to if we want to make it and be associated with Phoenix, so that’s not something we shy away from. It’s kind of a cool thing that Phoenix hasn’t really had anybody because then you can be the first one, and it’s always cool to be a trend-setter instead of a follower. If they give you lemons, you’ve got to make lemonade man!
Do you think Def Jam signing an artist like Big K.R.I.T. has opened the doors for a new generation of Southern MCs to have a shot in the majors?
G: Hmmm, I don’t know. I’m not a big fan of signing label deals. But maybe. The way it would work is like Q was saying, if K.R.I.T. can generate a whole bunch of money, then they’ll sign all the Southern artists they want, ’cause to them it’s a bottom line. But as far as the music goes, if K.R.I.T. don’t generate a lot of money, then it’s back to the block, nigga! [Laughs.]
Q: I think that K.R.I.T. has opened the door in the industry–not the industry, but the hip-hop community–for Southern rappers to say things that are conscious and forward-thinking but to still be jamming, though. He’s got “Money On The Floor”–you know, a strip club song–so long as as you mix it up, not too heavy all the time, I think people will receive it better.
You hear a lot of advice given to independent acts to harness the power of social media, blogs and to be tour tirelessly. What approach are you taking to build the fanbase?
Q: I guess we’re taking online and “on-ground” approach. We hit the social media, get as many interviews as we can, get as many blog posts as we can, reach out to as many media people as we can. Also [we want to] hit the ground: local DJs, local shows and push our product in those places, so you hear both. Just in case people don’t see online, they see your face in real-life.
Like the old school way.
G: Exactly. New school and old school.
Looking ahead to 2013, what projects have you got planned?
G: We got a new project, it’s called the Dancing Candy Man EP. That’ll have more uptempo records but still [have] the Full|REBEL|Jacket feel, sound and subject matter. We also have another EP we gonna do after that one, we don’t know the title of it yet, it might be called Cotton. And then we also want to do a full-length album in 2013. That’s what we got planned as far as music and output goes. For other things, we’re gonna try and obviously build a buzz more, bring in more fans, start doing more shows and keep moving from there.
Have you got any collaborations lined up?
G: We got some ideas, but I don’t want to share those just yet.
Q: Not necessarily lined up, we’re putting the ducks in a row right now.
And finally, 10 years from now, what will the Full|REBEL|Jacket legacy look like?
G: Man, as one of the greatest independent hip-hop groups. We want to be mentioned with the OutKasts, the UGKs, the Geto Boys, and still continuing to progress the music and progress the genre. We don’t want to just be 10-and-done.
Q: Also, supporting ourselves and our loved ones with the music and making our mark. We ain’t in here for play [Laughs.]
G: You always gotta get the money, too, with the music. For me, that’ll be a major accomplishment: to support ourselves wholly on the music–and well. Not just getting by but well. And being independent. That right there will be inspirational to other people and other artists outside of hip-hop.
Full|REBEL|Jacket’s the REBEL EP is available now on Bandcamp.