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Rising Hip-Hop Star ReeCee Has Charlotte 'Rapped' Around Her Finger

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Photo courtesy of the artist
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ReeCee Raps is a rising hip-hop artist based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

This has been a historic year for women in rap and hip-hop, from the record-shattering moment when Nicki Minaj, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B dominated the music charts all the way to the 2021 Grammy Awards when Megan and Beyoncé broke records as the first pair of women to win in the best rap performance category.

As NPR Music put it, “To know what tomorrow sounds like, one need only listen to the women in rap today.” And to know what the future of Charlotte hip-hop is, one need only turn to rhythmic lyricist ReeCee Raps.

"Being a woman in hip-hop is a blessing and a curse at the same time. We have to do so much more to get the same respect that a male artist can get, but now’s the era of women to really rise above and be seen."
– ReeCee Raps

Interview Highlights:

On being inspired by creative writing and music:

I’ve been a writer since I was a kid. It wasn’t necessarily music all the time, but also fan fiction like the alternate story of Sonic the Hedgehog [laughing]. It started with poetry. I wrote a short play in middle school. When it actually turned to music, I was a freshman in college when I was freestyling and writing raps down.

My love for music and performing started at a younger age, as well. My grandad loved music so much and had a fake radio show on Sundays. He had a bunch of records. I’m from Pittsburgh, and he had this group called The Unspeakables, and I was the youngest member of that group. We would lip sync to oldies music like Patti LaBelle and Pointer Sisters. And my mom raps, although not seriously. So, music has always been a part of my life.

On making music influenced by '90s:

The '90s is my favorite era of music. I was born in the '90s. I love Lauryn Hill. With TLC, I get the Left Eye Lopes comparison. We don’t get enough of [artists who sound like] Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu in mainstream music today. Ninetys music is timeless, and I still listen to that today. I don’t really listen to a lot of newer music, so that’s why you’ll see and hear the older vibes [with my releases].

On moving from Kansas City to Charlotte:

We were living in Kansas City around 2014, and we didn’t like it there. It got cold in the winter. So I said, “Let’s move to Charlotte! We’ll be closer to home in Pennsylvania and be able to visit family easier. It’ll be warmer!”

Within that year, I met my ex and moved in with him. When the year was up, my parents moved to Charlotte, and I stayed behind in Kansas City. It wasn’t until I left my ex three years later that I actually moved to Charlotte. And I’m glad I did. The move was a good decision because it was an abusive situation with my ex. I didn’t need that, but that situation helped me grow and change my trajectory with my music, my message and where I was going with it.

What’s crazy is I started rapping when I was 19, and I met my ex when I was 19. I had been six months into rapping when we met. He was also a rapper, and he was like, “I don’t want a girlfriend that raps.” I thought it was just a hobby at that point, so I stopped. I chose him over my craft.

I took four years off for that relationship because I wasn’t allowed to do what I wanted to do. When I moved to Charlotte, my creative energy came back. I went from not writing any songs to writing 15 songs in just a couple months once I moved and got out of that situation. It was a release for me.

On the rise of women in hip-hop and rap music:

Being a woman in hip-hop is a blessing and a curse at the same time. We have to do so much more to get the same respect that a male artist can get, but now’s the era of women to really rise above and be seen. It’s easier to get noticed, but it’s harder to get respect.

A lot of us females can go bar-for-bar with men, and I think people sleep on the fact that females are harder than most men. Our punchlines, our metaphors — the men need to step their game up a little bit because women are definitely taking over. It’s really a good time, and we’re going to see more of it this next decade. I’m looking forward to it being more like the 90s when there were so many styles of female rap.

I want to be respected as a rapper, period. I don’t want you to be like, “She’s one of the best female artists.” Really, I’m one of the best artists, and I want to hear that! Just like how [Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé] won best rap performance category [at the 2021 Grammy Awards] and how it wasn’t best female rap.

On advice to artists (particularly women) wanting to break into Charlotte rap and hip-hop:

You’ve just got to be yourself. That’s what propelled me to where I was able to do a lot in a little bit of time. I went hard and was unique. Everybody has the opportunity to be unique. But why is uniqueness so rare in this world? It’s because they’re trying to be somebody else and follow trends. That’s just something I don’t do. I look within and make the trends. I want people to be themselves, work hard, study your craft, talk to people, take advice and don’t wait on anybody. When you’re yourself, you can rise above an oversaturated market.

Music featured in this #WFAEAmplifier chat:

ReeCee Raps - “The Distractions to Happiness”
ReeCee Raps - “Happy… Right Now” feat. Charnel
ReeCee Raps - “Love” feat. Cereon
ReeCee Raps - “Free” feat. Charnel
ReeCee Raps - “Would You?”
ReeCee Raps - “The Diary of a Pothead”

Stay Connected:

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Chat with Joni Deutsch and tag WFAE on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Joni Deutsch is happy to call Charlotte home as WFAE's manager for on-demand content and audience engagement, where she's led the first Charlotte Podcast Festival (named one of the “best podcast conferences” by Buzzsprout) and helped produce such podcasts as FAQ City, SouthBound, Inside Politics, Work It and the Apple Podcast chart-topping series She Says. In addition to being an NPR Music contributor, Joni is also the creator and host of WFAE’s Charlotte music podcast Amplifier, named “Best Podcast” by Charlotte Magazine and honored for excellence in arts and music podcasting by the local Edward R. Murrow Awards and The Webby Awards (called “The Internet’s Highest Honor” by The New York Times).