RJ PAYNE

RJ Payne bio shot.jpg

INTERVIEW: CHRISTOPHER “MIC HANDZ” ROGERS

VALIDATED: WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND WHAT'S THE STORY BEHIND YOUR RAP NAME?

RJ PAYNE: I'M FROM BROOKLYN, NY, RAISED IN LONG ISLAND AND PHILADELPHIA FOR ABOUT 15 YEARS A PIECE. MY ARTIST NAME IS THE FIRST LETTER OF MY FIRST AND MIDDLE NAME AND MY LAST NAME.

VALIDATED: IT'S SAID THAT YOU WERE PREVIOUSLY MAKING A NAME FOR YOURSELF IN BATTLE RAP UNDER ANOTHER NAME, IS THIS TRUE? IF SO, WHAT MADE YOU CHANGE STRIDES?

RJ PAYNE: I SPENT THE EARLY HALF OF MY CAREER AS A BATTLE RAPPER (REIGNMAN); HOWEVER, AFTER REALIZING I LOST THE HUNGER TO BATTLE AND GAINED A PASSION FOR BEING A RECORDING ARTIST I DECIDED TO LET THAT GO AND REMAIN JUST A FAN OF THE CULTURE.

VALIDATED: TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD GROWING UP AND HOW IT INFLUENCED YOU MUSICALLY.

RJ PAYNE: GROWING UP IN BOTH LONG ISLAND, NY (HUNTINGTON) AND SOUTHWEST PHILLY IT WAS TOTALLY OPPOSITE, IN NY I LEARNED EVERYTHING ABOUT THE HIP HOP CULTURE AS A WHOLE FROM LEGENDARY MC'S, DJ'S TO B-BOY'S. IN PHILLY EVERYTHING WAS MORE GRIMY AND VIOLENT SO I LEARNED HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE STREETS AS WELL AS THE ART OF STREET RAP.

VALIDATED: DO YOU PLAY SPORTS OR HAVE ANY ATHLETIC ABILITY?

RJ PAYNE: I USE TO WANT TO PURSUE BEING A BASKETBALL PLAYER. I WAS THOUGHT BY MY COACHES AND TEAMMATES TO GO PROFESSIONAL AT SOME POINT; HOWEVER, ONCE I REALIZED I COULD RAP AND FELL IN LOVE WITH HIP HOP AND MARY JANE IT WAS OVER.

VALIDATED: NAME THE HIP-HOP ARTISTS THAT HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR FLOW AND WHAT IF ANYTHING DID YOU BORROW FROM THEM?

RJ PAYNE: THE MC'S THAT INFLUENCED ME THE MOST ARE JAY Z, BIGGIE, PUN, SEAN PRICE, REDMAN AND BIG L. I TOOK JAY'S CADENCE, BIGGIE'S FLOWS, PUN'S PRONUNCIATION AND CLARITY, SEAN'S WIT AND IGNORANCE, REDMAN'S PUNCHLINES AND BIG L'S CONFIDENCE AND DELIVERY AND CRAFTED MY OWN STYLE.

VALIDATED: WHAT SACRIFICES HAVE YOU MADE OR THING THAT YOU HAD TO GO WITHOUT BECAUSE YOU'VE INVESTED IN YOUR ARTISTRY BOTH MUSICALLY AND VISUALLY?

RJ PAYNE: THE BIGGEST THING I SACRIFICED ON MY ROAD TO LIVING MY DREAM IS FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS WHO BRING DOUBT OR NEGATIVE ENERGY AROUND ME.

VALIDATED: WHAT'S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF HIP-HOP CULTURE AND YOUR ABILITY TO CREATE IT?

RJ PAYNE: MY EARLIEST AND MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT IN HIP HOP FOR ME WAS WHEN KID N PLAY BATTLED AND THE FIRST TIME I REMEMBER CREATING LYRICS AND GETTING A BIG REACTION WAS BATTLING IN THE LUNCHROOM IN JUNIOR HIGH.

VALIDATED: WAS YOUR FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR ARTIST AMBITIONS AND WHEN DID THEY REALIZE THAT YOUR TALENT WAS FAR BEYOND AVERAGE?

RJ PAYNE: MY FAMILY WAS VERY SUPPORTIVE OF MY MUSIC DREAM, THEY BEGAN TO TAKE IT SERIOUS WHEN I STARTED RECORDING DEMO'S ON THE HOME STEREO WE HAD WITH TWO TAPE DECKS. CLASSIC SH**! LOL

VALIDATED: WAS THERE ANYONE WHO'S BLIND BELIEF IN YOUR ABILITIES AND SUPPORT STOOD OUT TO YOU?

RJ PAYNE: THE ONE PERSON THAT HAD THE BIGGEST BLIND FAITH IN MY TALENT WAS MY IN HOUSE PRODUCER P.A. DRE. HE LITERALLY CONVINCED ME TO START RAPPING AGAIN AFTER STOPPING FOR YEARS. HE GAVE ME ACCESS TO EVERY BEAT HE MADE FOR FREE AS WELL AS MIXED EACH TRACK JUST BECAUSE HE SAID HE BELIEVED I WOULD BE GREAT ONE DAY.

VALIDATED: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON LYRICS REMERGING AS THE FOCUS IN HIP HOP AGAIN? DO YOU THINK THAT THEY WILL EVER BE AS CELEBRATED AS THEY ONCE WERE?

RJ PAYNE: I THINK IT'S DOPE THAT LYRICS ARE BEING APPRECIATED AGAIN. I THINK IT WILL BE EVEN MORE CELEBRATED AS TIME GOES ON BECAUSE FANS ARE STARTING TO LOOK FOR MORE THAN WHAT'S ON THE RADIO TO FIND DOPE MUSIC.

VALIDATED: NOT INCLUDING YOU, NAME YOUR TOP 3 MOST SLEPT ON INDIE RAPPERS FROM YOUR CITY.

RJ PAYNE: NOT INCLUDING ME, 3 OF THE MOST SLEPT ON FROM BOTH PHILLY AND NY WOULD BE DA CLOTH (BUFFALO, NY), MAD SQUABLZ (PHILLY) AND CLIFF DAVIS (NY).

VALIDATED: WHICH OF YOUR RELEASED PROJECTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF AND WHY?

RJ PAYNE: MY MOST SUCCESSFUL MUSIC I'VE RELEASED IS MY RECENT SERIES "#IFCOCAINECOULDTALK". ALL 4 VOLUMES HAVE BEEN EMBRACED BY PEOPLE LIKE BLACK THOUGHT, RICKY BELL OF NEW EDITION, GRISELDA RECORDS, ELZHI OC AND MORE.

VALIDATED: WHO OFF OF YOUR BUCKET LIST HAVE YOU GOTTEN TO WORK WITH ON YOUR JOURNEY SO FAR?

RJ PAYNE: I NEVER HAD A BUCKETLIST IN HIP HOP. I ALWAYS WANTED TO WORK WITH EVERYONE I RESPECT BUT SOME OF THE ONES I'M MOST PROUD OF ARE BLACK THOUGHT, AL B SURE, SAUCE MONEY, YUKMOUTH AND ERIC SERMON.

VALIDATED: YOU SEEM TO HAVE INCREDIBLE INDUSTRY SUPPORT FROM THE LEGENDS, HOW DOES THAT FEEL?

RJ PAYNE: I CAN'T EXPLAIN HOW I WAS EMBRACED BY SO MANY MUSICAL LEGENDS BUT I CAN SAY IT'S AMAZING AND VERY INSPIRING TO WORK HARDER NOT ONLY MAINTAIN THEIR RESPECT BUT TO BUT POSSIBLY ATTRACT EVEN MORE LEGENDS.

VALIDATED: WHAT CAN FANS EXPECT FROM YOUR LATEST PROJECT, "#IFCOCAINECOULDTALK4"?

RJ PAYNE: MY NEW ALBUM "#IFCOCAINECOULDTALK4", IS OUT NOW ON IAMRJPAYNE.COM. FANS CAN EXPECT MORE CO SIGNS FROM A FEW DOPE PEOPLE AND SOME OF THE MOST WELL PRODUCED PRECISELY WRITTEN BARS I'VE EVER CREATED.

VALIDATED: WHAT PRODUCERS AND ARTIST CAN BE EXPECTED ON THIS PROJECT?

RJ PAYNE: THE ALBUM HAS APPEARANCES BY 38 SPESH, PAUL CAIN, DJ DOOWOP, CONWAY THE MACHINE AND FEATURING THE LEGENDARY OC (DITC), ELZHI (SLUM VILLAGE) AND LIONESS JADE. SOME OF THE PRODUCERS INCLUDE FONKSTARR, STAN DA MAN, CHUKK JAMES AND MORE.

VALIDATED: DO YOU DO ALL OF YOUR OWN VISUAL AND MEDIA SUPPORT ON YOUR PROJECTS?

RJ PAYNE: I DO ALL MEDIA PROMO, ETC FOR MY PROJECTS. I'VE SUCCESSFULLY BEEN ABLE TO TURN MY SOCIAL MEDIA INTO A PLACE TO RUN COMMERCIALS FOR MY BRAND.

VALIDATED: HOW DIFFICULT IS IT CREATING YOUR OWN LANE WHILE STAYING TRUE TO YOUR BRAND OF HIP-HIP?

RJ PAYNE: IT'S EASY FOR ME TO STAY IN MY OWN LANE BECAUSE MY FANS ARE REALLY ENGAGED WITH MY SOUND. THEY WANT ME TO STICK TO THAT SO AS LONG AS I GIVE THEM AUTHENTIC MUSIC I CAN'T LOSE.

VALIDATED: WHAT WERE A FEW OF THE HIGHLIGHTS AND REWARDS OF WHERE YOUR MUSIC HAS TAKEN YOU?

RJ PAYNE: HONESTLY AS OF LATE I'M BLESSED TO SAY I HAVE TOO MANY MAJOR THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED TO NARROW IT DOWN TO THE MOST SPECIAL MOMENT BUT PROBABLY MY MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT RIGHT NOW IS GETTING THE INVITE TO HANG WITH BLACK THOUGHT AT THE FILMING OF HIS NFL HALFTIME COMMERCIAL.

VALIDATED: HOW DO YOU FEEL THE HIP HOP CULTURE HAS EMBRACED YOU AS YOU HAVE BECOME SO CONSISTENT DELIVERING CONTENT?

RJ PAYNE: I FEEL LIKE I’VE BEEN EMBRACED BY HIP HOP MORE THAN I EVER IMAGINED IN MY WILDEST DREAMS. IT'S REALLY AMAZING.

VALIDATED: WHAT'S YOUR MOST MEMORABLE ARTIST/ ACTOR / ATHLETE RESPONSE TO YOUR MUSIC?

RJ PAYNE: MY MOST MEMORABLE CELEBRITY RESPONSE TO MY MUSIC WOULD BE BETWEEN MISSY ELLIOT DROPPING FIRE EMOJIS ON MY VIDEO AND RICKY BELL BUYING MY ALBUM.

VALIDATED: TELL US ABOUT OTHER VENTURES YOU'RE CURRENTLY WORKING ON.

RJ PAYNE: RIGHT NOW I’M CURRENTLY WORKING ON #IFCOCAINECOULDTALK5, PREPARING FOR A CYPHER WITH KAY SLAY AND PREPARING TO DROP MY FIRST EVER VINYL.

VALIDATED: WHERE CAN THE READER SUPPORT YOU AND YOUR MUSIC AND ARTWORK ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA?

RJ PAYNE: THANKS FOR THE OPPROTUNITY. THE BEST PLACE FOR PEOPLE TO KEEP UP WITH MY LATEST IS IAMRJPAYNE.COM AND ALL MY SOCIAL MEDIA IS @IAMRJPAYNE.

Troy Hendrickson