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Hip Hop artist 'Triple R' (Rachel Reese) new single 'My Apology'

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by Leona (Devaz) Fensome (subscribe)
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Published November 25th 2014
'My Apology' new single from Hip Hop Artist Triple R
Rachel Reese, Triple R
Rachel Reese, Triple R

In 2011, Rachel Reese's life took a dramatic turn. A head-on collision with a commercial truck, left this 23 year old up-and-coming hip hop artist, with a brain injury and a number of physical limitations. But now, in November 2014 this talented female artist has released a new single, the evocative 'My Apology' and is working a new project, "And Dark is Not Without Meaning".
Her story is a powerful one, with an unrelenting desire to encourage women and emerging artists to enter the hip hop scene. It's a remarkable testament to her strength, and palpable in her the tracks she helps produce.

How did you settle on the 'Triple R' name, how old are you, where are you based and how long have you been doing this style of hip hop for? [great to see a female cutting through in this area!] There's a real honesty when you rap, do you draw on personal experiences, life, observations ?

The name part, isn't really that exciting [laughs], it's just my initials. It stands for Rachel R Reese. When I was younger, it was a bit of a joke with my friends and I; they always said things like TripleR or R2. So, since that was what people called me often when I started writing raps and songs, I just rolled with it. I wrote my first rap in middle school (I'm 23 now). It was actually a dare, I always wrote poetry and a friend jokingly made a comment about how I couldn't write a rap. It was funny; at the time I didn't even like hip hop. I really only listened to things like oldies, classic rock and such. But, I never took being told I couldn't do something well, so I wrote an A cappella verse and performed it at the school talent show. Partly, honestly, as a joke, but once I started there was no going back.

Thank you, honesty is incredibly important to me. As far as where I draw from, everything you listed comes into play. Often times, when I sit down to write, the topic is actually an emotion as opposed to a subject or idea. I think about how I'm feeling, or what type of emotion I want to convey. I start from there and then draw on experience, thoughts, my life, and the things that I see that play into that emotion. I have always struggled with emotionally connecting, but that doesn't seem to come into play when I'm writing. It's a powerful outlet for me, and it's also where the honesty comes from I think. Since it's driven by emotion, that's hard to lie about.

There is a lot of passion and determination in your vocal style, and clear love for this genre of music, especially pushing the scene forward How did you get this off the ground and what has the feedback been like? What are you seeing in hip hop at the moment? Especially from a 'woman's eye view'?

Wow, thank you so much! I do love hip hop, very much so, there is no denying that. However, it's interesting, I think what I love about it is actually the people and the culture, more than the music itself. That was a big part of the motivation to start the blog. After the car accident I was in, I suffered enough injury that working in a traditional sense wasn't really feasible anymore. So, I wanted to find something I could do that I cared about and would keep me moving forward as opposed to just stagnant and floundering.

The XX Factor has been a big part of that. Getting started, I almost feel like I cheated a bit because I just used the connections and the resources that I had from the past 10 or so years and started sharing. Then people started submitting things, which was great because then I got to hear even more new and exciting music to share and write about. I feel like the feedback has been incredible, I've gotten to feature over 50 artists from all over the world in just a few months, with more music to feature constantly coming in, and people really seem to be enjoying it.

Rachel Reese, Triple R
Rachel Reese, Triple R

I feel like Hip Hop is in a really interesting place. I feel like the on the whole in the mainstream, while there is more balance than a few years ago, it is still mostly all the same or very similar sound. At the same time, I think there has been an emerging growth of variety, which is really exciting for me as a fan. I love seeing Kendrick Lamar and the TDE team doing well, I'm a fan of what Big Sean is doing, Drake, etc. And, while a lot of the female presence is still a huge minority, seeing more women in the spotlight is exciting for me.

However, to me, where the really exciting things are happening is still underground. I think that's where a lot of women currently thriving and progressing, and creating their own lane. There are a lot more of us doing big and different things there, women like Snow Tha Product, Whitney Peyton, Skiddalz, etc. That is incredibly exciting to me as a woman. Hip hop has not been known for respect and equal treatment of woman. However, the people and fellow artists that I connect and talk with are incredibly supportive and encouraging. I think that is a big difference between the underground scene and the mainstream, and I would love to see that change more to be across the whole genre.

I've been listening to your songs on Reverbnation, who does the production etc? Tell me how hands on you are with your music, the beats are very infectious! In Australia hip hop (second to electronic dance music) is emerging as a genre to really watch (which is exciting), artists are really accomplishing great things and a lot of support. What is the hip hop scene like in Columbus, Ohio where you are based?

Thank you for listening, I'm glad you liked the production! The production is widespread, though most is done by people I've known and worked with for years. I work most frequently with VTZ, Audiplex, and Anno Domini. Though, recently, I've been working with Jee Juh producers more and more. I do produce some of my own songs; the new project I'm working on will have a lot more of my own production. I'm sure if you were to ask anyone I work with, they would tell you, very politely of course, that I can be downright annoying with how hands on I am.

I know exactly how I want things to sound, and I am very persistent. Honestly, I would call myself stubborn [laughs]. I have a home studio now, where I mix and master most of my own work. However, I didn't for years. So during that time Audiplex, Jordan Miller and that whole team did all of it. I am very picky about who I work with though, so I prefer mostly to just do it on my own, or to be there for most of the process.

Yes! I love to hear about new music spreading to new locations, you're right that is so exciting! Hip Hop is very interesting here in Columbus, we definitely have a scene, some of the people I went to high school with or have known over the years have been doing shows locally or even touring for much longer than I have [laughs]. It's interesting, when I first started doing music, I didn't really start local. Most of the people I first met and worked with were from networking through websites like Soundclick and Myspace from all over the country. So, I kind of went backwards in that respect. I started networking outside of my local area and have kind of had to work backwards. 

I'm sensing there's a real humanity focus for you. I read about the accident you were in, I am so sorry to hear that. How did it change your outlook on life and music? Also would love to know more about the Cambodian Coffee EP. I went to Cambodia in 2009 on a charity challenge, I cycled around the country would you believe! So, I understand the affinity with the country. What are your plans for projects in 2015?

You're definitely right! People are first and foremost the most important thing for me, at all times and in all respects. The accident turned everything upside-down, but really solidified that view for me. When the accident occurred, I had actually been on a break from music. I had started attending the church I'm a part of now, and had gotten really involved. I was working full-time and wasn't even thinking of it much at the time. Honestly, part of the setting the music aside had been because it had been taking over my life. I had been struggling, and depressed, self-focused and a bit aimless. The space I was in at the time of the accident really had me thinking I needed to set it aside permanently; it had been an idol and a means to success as opposed to a way to give.

The people in my church, after the accident, really came alongside of me in every respect. I could no longer do most things the way that I used to. The accident was a head on collision; I hit my head resulting in a brain injury and severe whiplash, among other things. The damage to my neck/back and brain has been persistent. I can no longer drive or work, and I actually can't read the way I used to. I have to do everything through audio software like Dragon.

With all of that in mind, I definitely didn't have music on my mind the way that I had before, because everything I knew about how to do it I couldn't really do anymore. However, every summer my church sends a team of about 40 people to Cambodia to work in the hospital there and to help build schools/buildings and work with the local people. I would honestly call the Cambodian Coffee EP a miracle. We have fundraising for the trip every year, and I really wanted to help. I felt like God was telling me to do it, that's the only way to describe it. So, I contacted Audiplex and told him I wanted to do it, next thing I knew we had the entire project recorded, mixed, mastered and ready to go in a month. We held a release party and all of the funds went to the trip. It was an incredible experience.

I can't write the way I used to, so everything is basically done in my head and memorized bit-by-bit, then recorded. I've tried to do projects that quickly since, but I haven't been able to, my guess is God wanted that done that quickly, anything else will also be done in his time. It does take a lot longer now though, having to do it that way.

I have never actually got to go, though I hope to if the injuries ever heal enough. That is so cool, I have never been able to cycle, but I imagine that would be an incredible experience. I'm so glad to hear you share that love for Cambodia! I hope that while you were there you got to have an iced Cambodian coffee, they are amazing. It's, obviously where the title of the EP came from, but it has a double meaning. I feel like for us here in the States, we are full of wealth and luxury. Most of us, including myself, would have no concept for that type of struggle and poverty. I felt like the easiest way most American's could relate to a Cambodian would be through coffee, it's a bit of a shot at our entitlement. I feel very strongly about it.

2015, I'll be releasing my new projected entitled And Dark is Not Without Meaning. I got the idea from a favorite C.S. Lewis quote of mine,

"If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning."
 C. S. Lewis

I've also got some big collaborations I'm working on for it, including but not limited to Emanny, The Jokerr, and Cryptic Wisdom. I'm very excited for the project!

Fill in the gaps on this question. Without music my life would be

Answer: Largely untold. I can't say that I would be lost without it, because that just isn't true for me. I would be lost without The Lord, and without my friends and family. But I think if I had to, or felt I needed to, I could set aside the music again. I think that I communicate the mostly clearly and effectively through the music, though. I tell my thoughts, feelings, stories, and ideas more clearly. A lot of people would know a whole lot less about me if I didn't have the music; it's an amazing outlet. My goal with the music is to convey my beliefs, heart, mind, ideas and emotion with people in a way they can relate to and understand.

Cambodian Coffee EP
Cambodian Coffee EP

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