Changing of the Guard
Artist: Reed Dollaz
Interviewer: RJ Walker
Many rappers talk about the hustle and other rappers live the hustle: Reed Dollaz wants you to know he lives it. Soundslam had the opportunity to catch up with the busy southwestern Philly rapper, who sounded exhausted after grinding hard in the studio and prepping for a performance at Newport Beach for this Urban Network Marketing Summit. He finally is getting his chance to shine on the national stage with his debut album And Then Came Reed... after ruling the mixtape circuit in Philly.
He may call himself 'The General of Philadelphia', but Reed sounds more like a presidential candidate listing talking points. The first thing Reed Dollaz wants to do is annihilated the wack MC's clogging the charts, next he wants to write rhymes that appeal to the real man and woman on the street, and lastly he wants to provide the city of Philly with an MC that will bring the city its well deserved shine and a positive role model for the youth. Reed emphasized that he was not shying away from anything, from how bragging about the your drug connections on record might not be wise, to the lack of respect given younger MC's to their predecessors, and how he wants to be the poster child for Philly.
Soundslam: How does it feel to be at this point in your career, with a slew of mixtapes dropped over years only now becoming your debut?
Reed Dollaz: It feel real good. I put years in and it's always been the dream and I finally reached my goal.
Soundslam: How do you hook up with Beyond Bars Entertainment?
Reed Dollaz: From a street level. 14 million views on You Tube, man, just getting a solid street buzz.
Soundslam: How did you get involved with your original mentor, Nino Brown?
Reed Dollaz: He wasn't really a mentor, I don't want people to get the wrong idea. It was just a guy who unfortunately incarcerated right now. He was just a guy that was really inspirational coming up in the ghetto. We had these things called cyphers, a lot of rappers on the corner and pretty much go at about who had the best clothes or the best girls. Nino was one of those guys that had everyone going oh and ah. I used to watch him and I tried to write a rap, he said it was pretty good. Long story short, three months later Nino hollered at me directly and we started to hit the studio.
Soundslam: That sound like a battle rap thing, how did you transition to making songs?
Reed Dollaz: (Battle rap) is where I come from. We used to set it up, the five hottest guys from where I from versus the five hottest guys from New York. It wouldn't turn into violence or nothing, we would step in the back room and make bets with money, for the name or the rep.
Soundslam: That sounds like some original hip hop shit right there.
Reed Dollaz: That's what we did back then. It really took place on street corners and school yards. We rounded up five guys and we go at it.
Soundslam: What's the name of the debut album?
Reed Dollaz: The name of the album And Then Came Reed.... And the reason we named it that was because we wanted to leave it open for anyone who said hip hop's dead. Oh well, then came Reed. That's pretty much what it's about.
Soundslam: Philly exploded into violence this summer. How does that affect such a positive person like you?
Reed Dollaz: I be me, no matter what. I don't try to be anyone I'm not. I think the problem with the city is they need a role model. I know how to do it and I just turned 21, I'm the voice of the young people. I feel like if someone was giving them something positive to live off of we could make a little progress. People in Philly are like followers, I don't want to downgrade or nothing but that what it is. If a new clothing came to Philly and one person had it, everyone going to get it. We all into the fad thing down here. I want to be it's cool to be a square, it's cool to go to school. People are like fuck school, I rather sell drugs. I don't know why they don't wake up and get past that. Everyone I know who sold drugs, they may get a nice Benz, but they never can enjoy the Benz because the Feds were watching them. I just want everyone to know that school is what's happening and just stick with that. All that gangster shit, bang bang shit, leave that at home. There's no need for that. There's no reason to walk around with an S on your chest.
Soundslam: What the difference between making an album versus a mixtape, for you?
Reed Dollaz: The mixtapes are strictly for the streets. Raw, street shit. My album is a little bit more commercial, but I still have a fan base. My fan base is like street, came from battles and biting niggers head off. Now when I make a song, like "Toast to This", the streets still be liking it, but they still give me little things like, 'Reed, don't go soft on me baby'. So that what it is about, we're going to 'Toast To This', but we're going to do it from the streets. 'Toast to This' is a good single because it's for everyone. I don't care who you are: you hustle, you sell drugs, you're a mechanic, you drive a bus. It's Friday, you got your check and you're going to hit the bar. We toast to this.
Soundslam: Do you feel like you're going to be a galvanizing artist in Philly, like a T.I. in Atlanta or a Game or Snoop in L.A.?
Reed Dollaz: I do, I feel like I'm Philly's poster child. I got the looks for it, I got the skills, and I got the muscle for it. I'm definitely the poster child for Philly. First I got to let everything go through so I can step front and center. First I got to let everyone know I'm stepping front and center, southwest holding it down. I going to do what Will Smith, Beanie Siegel, and so on did for Philly and more.
Soundslam: Besides yourself, what Philly artist do you really respect?
Reed Dollaz: I would have to say Beanie Siegel. He pretty much let the streets get a hold on him and he could have done so much more. I respect Beanie because he was the first person to do it as far as kicking in the door for everyone.
Soundslam: One of the weirdest things about Philly is that it seems to have this persecution complex and people feel like they didn't get their shine, even from when hip hop first came around.
Reed Dollaz: Then that's what I'm here for. And then came Reed. I'm going to bring it back. A lot of stuff Philly was known for and they took our style and ran with it. I don't want to downgrade anybody, but damn, Jay-Z had a lot of Philly artist: Young Chris, Young Gunz, Beanie Siegel, Peedi Crakk, he was living off that Philly swagger too and ran with it. Gillie da Kid was down with Cash Money: Lil' Wayne, I can remember when he was all about drop it like it's hot and whoadie and stuff like that. Then he got with some different dudes here on the East Coast and started to see him with Gillie. He would really be in the city, him and Gillie would be in the clubs and everything. He started with da boy and all that stuff that's Philly slang. I'm pretty much here to reclaim that. People are getting raped and fucked over and I'm here to reclaim that.
Soundslam: Who are the producers you worked with on the album and do you have any guest?
Reed Dollaz: I got Scott Storch on there twice. The rest of the people are just people I know, good producers from around the way that we're trying to blow up.
Soundslam: What are you going to bring different to the game?
Reed Dollaz: I'm going to bring me. I'm going to be bold and I'm going to bring realness to the game. A lot of people aren't going to bring realness like that. They bring bullshit. They talk about their money. I got a track called "The Solution", where you got people like Young Jeezy talking about cocaine. In our street code that's called dry snitching. You're letting people know. You got a clothing line called 8732 and that's pretty much a cocaine house. On the streets, you are getting people indicted on shit in your lyrics. That's pretty much what "The Solution" is about stopping the bullshit. Everything and everybody everyone too scared to say, I'm going to say. I'm kicking that real shit. People that are really from the streets are going to respect it.
Soundslam: How do you think people got involved in all this bullshit?
Reed Dollaz: It's all a fad. A guy like Jay-Z has people coming at him. You have guys like Lil' Wayne coming at Jay-Z. How can guys like Lil' Wayne and Jim Jones come at Jay-Z, talking about ballin' ? That the type of shit I'm on. That's a different type of level. I'm not impressed by all of that. Oh, so you got a Phantom, that's not what it about for me. I just wanted to get in the game and do what I came to do, then cross into the business side of things. I want to give back to Philly, give back to the community. I want to get a venue for people in each category, rap, gospel, whatever can show their skills.