Toronto rap artist Rel McCoy is set to release his album ‘Gas Money’ on June 10th, 2016. Check out our exclusive audio debut of the title track from that record, produced by Lancecape right here! PLUS, we have an exclusive interview to talk the single, album and much more.
Check out the brand new track “Gas Money” from rap artist Rel McCoy below:
Check out my exclusive interview with Rel about the upcoming album, track and more:
Keven: You’re releasing a really quick follow-up record to ‘The 13th Floor’ – what do you feel sets ‘Gas Money’ (the album) apart from your last effort?
Rel: The new album is different from the last in a couple of ways. I pushed my writing style on this record in a bit of a different direction, and just tried to have fun and not take myself to seriously overall. I also left off from addressing too many social issues, and aimed to just have this album as a fun heart to heart with the listener.
The 13th Floor album was produced entirely by my close friend and amazing producer Fresh Kils. Gas Money (the album) has 7 different producers on it including myself. The musical aspect comes before writing for me most of the time, so having a number of different styles of beats really brought out something different in me. I’m real happy with the way it came out and feel like its another step forward in pushing myself as an artist.
Keven: I love the pop culture references in this title track – a little bit of Game of Thrones for good measure. Lyrically what inspired this track in particular and what do you feel is the theme of the record as a whole?
Rel: Thanks I appreciate that. I like to color the writing with reference points to stuff I take in here and there. I’m a binge watcher.. I take a series like Game of Thrones and kinda like, get addicted.. taking in 4 or 5 episodes at a time. Sometimes it’s hard not to just have that stuff in your head when being creative. This particular track is inspired by a couple of things. My friend (and amazing blues artist) Katriona Sturton (Ottawa) and I had a conversation one day about touring. She said, “Most of the time, all we come away with is gas money, and I’m cool with that”. The sad truth of that really stuck with me, so I decided it would be a good album title.
It also really worked as a follow up to my previous records “The Green Light” -2009 and “Miles to Go”-2012 kind of keeping with the travelling saga theme.The song is also inspired by some rapper who decided one day to call me out regarding my choice of words on a particular Facebook post (in ultra PC fashion ), and then hit me with a private message apologizing for the whole thing. So stupid. I guess the online music world isn’t exactly devoid of these judgemental trolling cats who would rather play policeman than take their music career seriously. So stupid. At least it gave me some good writing material hahaha.
Keven: What kinds of musical influences did you grab onto while recording ‘Gas Money’?
Rel: I really love all kinds of music. I try to pay attention to writers who I find inspiring, guys like Black Thought, Phonte, Royce the 5’9, Pharoahe Monch, Elzhi, Shad, Common.. but I still am striving to grow in the way I put things down. Sometimes just sitting in silence for a while is helpful as well. I’m in the studio working random things whenever I’m not touring, so not having sound blasting in my ears can be cathartic and allows me to think.
Keven: You’re known as being a triple threat when it comes to your live shows which really adds to your legitimacy as a performer, but what has been the biggest challenge for you personally as an artist?
Rel: Trying to stay sober. This sounds like a jokey response, but I like to drink, and get high sometimes. In the last couple years I’ve come to realize that my faith, my drive, ambition, and work ethic can be real stifled by this stuff.. but at the same time I want to live life. I’ve been doing better lately. Having lots of meaningful work on my plate for the record release etc keeps me level headed.. for the most part.
Keven: In a recent interview you spoke about the grey areas of integrity and how a lot of Canadian rappers tend to bend to the mainstream style of hip hop where you’ve so far been successful sticking to your roots and brand of indie-hip hop. With your crowdfunding success on Kickstarter, to your loyal fanbase – can you tell me what the worst example of selling out is and from your perspective what is the ideal way of approaching both artistic and professional zen as an artist?
Rel: That’s a great question. I think maybe I might have mis-spoke if I said “a lot of Canadian rappers” Maybe I should have prefaced that with “from what I can see” on there? I can’t claim to know everything about hip-hop in Canada, or put a blanket statement on all the emcees in Canada like that. I’m sorry that I came off in that way. I think maybe that statement came from this idea that I’ve been hearing here and there that says “trap is hip hop’s future”, which I wholeheartedly disagree with.
Trap is not the “new” hip hop. I think we gotta put that one to bed. Hip hop outside of it’s pop counterpart is still alive and well. I know this is true , because I meet people all the time at shows who confirm this. Trap is so popular tho, that it might be able to become it’s own genre. Why not? Specially when music awards, show opportunities, and personal industry connections rely so much on what your exact genre of music is (not the subgenre). Why is grunge not just rock music? Why is dancehall not just reggae? I think it’s because of the musical style, and then the popularity of the sub genre that allows it to stand on it’s own. Maybe I’m getting off track here.
Let me say this.. Drake is an amazing artist, who has done something special for Canada by drawing the worlds attention to our country because of his colossal success. And how do we repay him? From what I can see, some have repaid him by emulating his style and trying to turn what he does into “what Canadian hip hop should sound like”. What a shame. I can’t imagine him appreciating that. Art dies when creativity is lost, and creativity dies when all of your songs are directly derivative of someone else’s music. I feel like this cookie cutter mentality (sometimes) isn’t because of someone’s love for a particular style, but comes from what they see happening in terms of success for their favorite artist(s). Maybe we are not educated enough about how to market our music as indie artists, and on the real, the indie music scene isn’t for the faint hearted. It’s dog eat dog out here.
I definitely have my influences, and you can hear them in my music, but I make a point of not emulating someone else. I also am doing my best to get it into the ears of hiphop listeners regardless of what they might label my style. This is 95% work, and 5% fun. Not the other way around. The ideal way to approach your music career I think, is to see yourself as a business, and act accordingly. Dump the perception of the music industry that all the smoke and mirrors create, and get in it. Go to shows, network, do cold calls to book your shows, and above all be genuine. Word spreads fast if you’re a fake, a snake, or only here to take. Find out what you have to offer, and give. I don’t know what the worst example of selling out is. Shake hands with the devil and find out I guess.
Check out Rel’s official site HERE
Emcee, Producer, Singer, Songwriter, Engineer, and D.J.
Rel’s 2015 full length album, The 13th Floor was the number one add for CMJ stations in the hip hop category in June of the same year, and hit #2 after it’s first week in rotation reaching #18 for the year in the U.S.A. The album was #1 for more than 10 weeks on Canadian Earshot charts in the hip hop category landing him #3rd overall for the year behind BadBadNotGood/Ghostface Killer, and K-os. Traction with live shows, social media presence, and a ceaseless work ethic have helped him land multiple grants for both recording and tour support from both provincial and federal grant funds. Summer of 2015, Toronto hip hop fans were treated to an extended performance by Rel at Nathan Phillips Square as part of the Pan Am Games, and again on the main stage at Canada’s most well known hip hop festival, MANIFESTO.
Rel has been Featured on websites like Tropical Bass, Diplo’s Mad Decent, Kevin Nottingham, and a slough of other taste maker blogs that recognize raw talent when they see it. You can find Rel’s name in the producer/engineer/featured artist credits on all 4 albums of Juno award winning artist Shad. Rel also had a hand in mixing on the album “NOW” from Toronto’s highly acclaimed group, Freedom Writers. His honest and soulful approach to music can be clearly heard from one release to the next. Rel McCoy continues to embody the bold and vulnerable spirit of hip hop culture with unrelenting tenacity.