Albums/Mixtapes, Features, Interviews

First Day Feature: Rez Burna discusses his album “The Nolia”, Racial Injustice & more

One of the biggest gripes you hear about hip-hop from it’s detractors these days is a lack of lyrical content and ability. It seems like on social media, blogs and wherever else opinions are readily expressed on music the sentiment is repeated. To me this seems very short-sighted though. There is plenty of music that fits into whatever category you are looking for if you’re willing to look.

For those who loved the spirit of Cash Money Records at their peak I’d advise to look no further than Rez Burna. The rising MC has made his mark in the deep south with lyrical ability that balances witty punchline capability with palpable content that many can relate to. This combined with a one of kind mind and New Orleans twang makes for some truly great music, evident with his newest LP “The Nolia”.

As this album makes its rounds we sat down with the MC to find out more about his upbringing, his process behind “The Nolia” and his outlook on the world as we know it. Check it out below.

For those getting an introduction to Rez Burna today tell us about yourself?

I feel like I’m just a yellow nigga from the South with a lot to say. I’m influenced by the revolutionary minds that pushed our culture forward. I’m just hoping to accurately express that in my music. When you hear me you’ll hear Wayne if he focused on social commentary instead of just witty bars. You’ll hear Boosie if he focused more on lyrical prowess. When I was younger I prioritized being the best, but now I prioritize sending a message to my community.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you grew up?

I was born in the city of New Orleans. My momma was attending Xavier University and my daddy was active duty in the military, so my great-grandparents kept me in the 9th Ward. When I got too much for my great grandma to handle they sent me to Gautier, Mississippi to stay with my Grandma. When my pops came back home we got stationed in Pensacola, Florida, and when I turned 6 we came back to Gautier. I know when people hear me they probably hear Louisiana, but Mississippi raised me and Mississippi is my home. My album title “The Nolia” is actually a reference to Mississippi being the Magnolia State.

When did you officially decide to pursue music? What made you go ahead and be an artist?

I started writing rhymes when I was about 13 years old. I would tell my friends not to answer the phone when I call them so I could leave verses in their voicemail. They were always impressed and asking for more so it gave me the confidence to really go for it. I didn’t know how any of this stuff worked, but I met a lot of artists through social media that guided me along the way. My dad caught me on the computer with a performance mic hanging from a hanger with a wave cap tied around it and made me play him the music. I was scared because I was cursing and all that, but he didn’t say anything. My 14th birthday came up a few days later and he bought me all the equipment I needed. It was on from there.

It’s obvious you have a lot of influence from the New Orleans rap scene based on your sound. That being said though who is one person dead or alive you would work with if you had the chance and why?

I wanna say Wayne, but with everything going on and how consistently dismissive he is of our struggles, I’d be lying to myself. So if I had a chance to work with anybody I’d say T.I. would be the guy. To this day I use “Trap Muzik” as a template when I’m formatting my albums. I think that’s one of the greatest albums in the history of the art form. Boosie and Webbie would be a close 2nd and 3rd.

How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard it before?

The first thing you’ll notice is my voice is of a higher octave. This is probably why artists like Boosie, Wayne, and Turk always stood out to me. I’ve even drawn comparisons to Bizzy Bone because I was doing the “melody raps” before they were commonplace in the industry. If you listen to any of my contemporary music it’s Louisiana through and through. I’d liken it to TEC.

Talk to us about your latest project “The Nolia”. What was your mind frame going into the creation of the album and what message did you want to convey to the listeners?

I wanted to express my interpersonal struggles while also addressing what I see going on in the world. I wanted to aggressively attack White Supremacy and embolden my listeners to never be afraid to tell it like it is. I’ve had members of my own community shun me and tell me I’m preaching hate. The fact that Black people feel as though they’re unable to express anger, rage and hatred is inhumane. If you can love you can hate. I hate our condition, and I hate whoever wants to keep it that way. The first four bars on the album are, “So these crackers out here bad now. 400 years I can’t give your ass no pass now. 400 years. All this fear that we done passed down. Let’s get it clear, I ain’t no nigga that’s gone back down. Like a stretch 4.” That was me setting the tone.

Do you have any interesting stories about the creation of it? I know every process is different.

I wrote the majority of the album in the span of 48 hours. The mixing and mastering process is the only thing that keeps me from putting music out every two weeks. When I sit down and write I do it in bulk. I get sudden waves of inspiration and let it all out at once. I might not write again for a few days, weeks, or months. When I do it’s usually an entire album worth of material. “Porch” was the only song I wrote way after the fact. I did that record maybe a week or two before the album was released.

One thing that stands out to me is the way you balance classic southern sounds with punchlines and deeper content. Do you feel a responsibility to put a message in your music 100% of the time?

I do. I think we all have a responsibility to our ancestors and our culture to speak truth to power when given a platform to do so. Even when I’m doing records that have nothing to do with socially conscious content I’ll still sneak a bar or two in there addressing some things that are on my mind. Like I said, we owe that our ancestors and ourselves.

With you never being someone I would consider to be one who’ll bite their tongue I’m interested in your thoughts on the state of the country right now? Of course police brutality is in no way new but the light has been shined on it again in the wake of the George Floyd tragedy.

I feel like I’ve been beating a dead horse for the last ten years. I’ve never been a proponent of non-violent demonstrations. I abandoned the idea of sociopolitical reform years ago. The more I learned about the history of my people and the history of the world the more I came to the realization that violent revolution was an inescapable outcome. Sometimes you have to destroy to create. You knock down old structures to build brand new ones. We don’t need this country. This country needs us. We aren’t Americans who happen to be Black. We’re Africans who happen to be living in America. We have to understand that. We’re descendants of prisoners of war. The war never ended. I’m glad to see Minneapolis fight back.

Switching gears back to music, what’s one thing you would change about the industry as it’s known currently if you could?

I miss when every region had its own, distinct sound. That kind of went away in recent times. The East Coast, Mid-West, and even some West Coast artists are rapping on southern, trap beats. I like when everybody had their own identity. This isn’t to say that that’s nonexistent these days, but it’s something I’d like to see more of again.

What do you think is your greatest contribution to the world thus far and why?

I’m focused on making sure whatever contributions and impact I make on the world my children can improve on that ten fold. They’re my greatest contribution. Outside of them I don’t think I’ve done anything yet. I’m trying though.

What would you like for your lasting legacy to be?

I want to be a part of the revolution. I want to be one of those people who spark the liberation of the entire African Diaspora. I want the entire African continent to be like Wakanda and for those of us living in America to contribute to that goal. I wanna be remembered by my people as a hero, even if it means I’m remembered by others as a villain.

Any last words before we conclude?

I appreciate you reaching out. I support your movement 100% and would love to do this again anytime. Everybody go check out “The Nolia”. It’s available on all platforms. Go watch the video for my single “Stressing Lately”. It’s at 40k views in a little over a month so I’m really proud of that. Be on the lookout for my new album “Bayou BAYB”. I want to put that out sometime this summer. Don’t take any shit, you don’t owe anybody an explanation or loyalty, and don’t be afraid to step.

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