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RaneRaps’ bodacious new single Look Alive alternates between the uncanny trap sound of Kenny Beats and a classic Timbaland bounce. Bursting with thunderous drums, gripping bass, and off-kilter synths, the self-produced record urges you to dance. Better yet, look alive!
Which one of your outfits should be on display in the Grammy Museum in DTLA?
The outfit of outfits: my fishnet bodysuit, white leather cutout pants, gold boots, and red studded leather jacket. It has a Thriller quality to it but I still manage to make it my own. Any person seeing this on display would be captivated. And if they weren’t familiar with my art, they’d be compelled to research me off the strength of the clothes alone. Furthermore, I’d expect the Grammy Museum to double up on security. This outfit is so incredible that somebody has to hypothetically plan to take it for themselves. It looks that good.
As fashion visionary with no limits to your style, what brand would make the best collaborator for the creation of RaneRaps product(s)? If I were to partner with a larger brand, it’d be 1 of 2 for me right now: FashionNova specifically for an underwear and legging line or Hot Topic for a line of neon fanny packs. But, being one always down for the community, I’d prefer to reach across to a smaller Black-owned brand Jada Lebour. They carry a range of apparel but we could make magic with a run of bodysuits. I’m thinking patent leather, animal prints, and a whole lot of skin showing! The people deserve to look their best in the wildest of creations so one of these brands has the know how and the aesthetic to help me pull this off!
Starbucks or Boba? Boba forever and always. I’m caffeine sensitive and also highly disagreeable to the taste of coffee. More power to those who drink it but it dang sure couldn’t be me! That being said, coffee does smell great. If Starbucks wants my vote, I’ll revise my answer for a nominal fee!
What is an uncommonly known fact about your hometown of Inglewood, California?
Where the new Rams stadium stands was a once-famous horse racing track called Hollywood Park. While the park wasn’t profitable in the long term, during its reign it consistently drew a large crowd of gamblers, horse race enthusiasts, and fans of sport at-large. My grandfather was all 3, ahah! The only thing left of the park today is the casino. Fortunately my dad took me to watch the jockeys practice a few times and I got a chance to see up close just how magnificent the spirit of the park was. The races must have been electrifying!
Name a non-Rap/Hip-Hop influence on your current music progression.
George Benson is a major influence right now. J Patz put me on to him a few years ago. I grew up hearing the song “Give Me the Night” but never knew who sang it. Ever since, I’ve built it into my repertoire of songs to study and internalize.
I’ve become a better producer thanks to Give MeThe Night, primarily in drum groove and transitions. I learned a lot about how hi-hats establish a groove and the use of risers or synth lines to help move a song from verse to chorus, chorus to bridge, and so on. Although I’m not driving much during the pandemic, I use my in-car time to air drum as much as possible, playing that record at high volume. It’s built my knack for coming up with drum patterns and playing them in live on my records. Look Alive is a great example of my finger drumming. You can hear my imperfections establish a push and pull in the beat. That’s what makes the record so addictive - it’s living, it’s breathing, tense and loose all at once.
With the impact of COVID-19 on in-person live shows/festivals, what do you see as the advantages and/or disadvantages of live stream shows/festivals?
Live stream festivals give smaller acts more opportunities to play gigs since it’s less about sales and popularity and more about the ability to perform: showcasing charisma, musicianship, and storytelling. Many acts lack those key traits yet they stay booked in a non-pandemic world. Performance should not be going through the motions. It MUST BE extreme passion and purpose. The biggest disadvantage of no live shows has been a lack of instant feedback. I make music alone to give my fans my truest self. But, when I perform, I need them live and direct. We feed off of each other’s energy to translate those words into raw emotions. I love observing people lose themselves in the moment and become one with the experience. I’m rarely thinking on stage and totally in the moment but when I become “aware” of the present, I relish in the crowd’s laughs, cheers, and more. No emoji in the comments can outdo that communal experience.
What kind of juices and berries do you use to maintain your fro?
While I don’t readily eat avocado, I have to praise the effects it has had on my hair. I’ve spent years using awful (in terms of results and ingredients) products on my hair and I finally found a brand that became my elixir: Design Essentials. They make a great avocado based leave-in conditioner. Aside from that, I use lots of WATER. That’s the foundation and then you throw in some shea butter, coconut oil, and a host of other herbs like marshmallow root that are magic. Honey is a great resource as well. It’s a humectant, so it’ll help your hair stay moisturized. I still haven’t cracked the code on getting the ultimate fro but I know my regimen has maintained my hairline in a life like this! That’s no small feat! May I age like Ronald Isley and have these curls forever more!
As your audience continues to grow, what sector of consumers do you aim to gain more engagement from? I hope to break into 3 markets: gamers, skaters, and environmental activists. I grew up a hardcore gamer. I’d be up till the AM in elementary school playing RPGs online and that habit stayed with me long into my teens. I enjoyed the community of playing with people all across the world and making friends that I could chat to even outside of the game. That same capacity for community is even bigger now! Long live Final Fantasy!
I don’t skateboard anymore, but I do longboard. Skaters tend to be open-minded and have great taste in music. It’s just a byproduct of being “counter-culture” I suppose. With songs like mine, any kid at the park can get in the right mind to show off their best tricks. My tunes are easily digestible, groovy, and expletive-free for max volume listening. Besides, who doesn’t want to land big flips while listening to Look Alive? I guarantee if anyone skated to that song in an X-games comp, they’d take home first in all competitions.
And sustainability is a big thing for me. I don’t shout about it 24/7 but I do my best to recycle and upcycle goods, shop at a co-op, etc to reduce my carbon footprint. While corporations are largely responsible for the current environmental crisis, I’d like to use my platform to signal boost activists, fund projects in the space, and compel people every day to become more environmentally-friendly.
If you had to trade in your boots for one, which would it be, Crocs or Chuck Taylor's?
Crocs. Unironically. They’re the polar opposite of my boots in terms of comfort and I think a strap-back shoe is at least mildly cool, right? I had a Chuck phase in middle school. But they left the soles of my feet in agonizing pain after each game of pickup basketball. Aesthetics: 10. Durability: 0.
The majority of your catalog is clean by radio and DSP guidelines. Why is that important to you as an artist? Is there an advantage business and branding wise to that approach?
I was forced to listen to only clean music when I grew up. Not that I cared, but it was just a part of my listening experience. I would hate for the youth to miss out on my music and message for the simple fact that it might have a strong word in it. Therefore, I opt to make clean music. Additionally (and in my opinion), curse words don’t add weight to a song the same way a striking visual can. I’d rather impact listeners with the cinematic quality of my lyricism and/or narrative than an empathic expression of a four-letter word. Clean music forces me to weave together a good story and squeeze the most out of every idea! I love challenges.
CREATE.Digital Music Staff
On the eve of his Oh That's Filthy/CREATE.Digital Music collaborative debut "Got Me Some Love" feat. Endz, we stepped into the energy that is Noa James.
Noa James, it's an honor to be blessed with your presence and energy, Please give our audience a short background on you as an artist and what your brands represent.
Blessings! I’m an emcee from the Inland Empire that makes purpose driven music. Creating music truly is my therapy. I rap about what I love, from self love & healing to growth to anime to wrestling & more. Everything I do, I do with love with my music, online store & other ventures.
Your new single "Got Me Some Love" feat. Endz drops 3/5/21 on Oh That's Filthy/CREATE.Digital Music. Give us a synopsis of the song concept and how you hope it will connect with your audience? Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. This track in another vitamin filled with big magic. The hook is a manifesting spell for the audience to cast.
You're known as a positive energy, spiritual, and emotionally grounded artist. What's the first thought that comes to mind when I say "Love?" Strength & power. When I’m thinking of love, it’s always about how it helps you overcome & find hope. To make love last, it requires effort & effort is strength to me.
As a pillar in the Inland Empire (CA) music community, what do you believe is its biggest contribution to music? What is an area of growth needed for the next 3-5 years?
The IE has its own unique style. You have from Hit-Boy to Travis Barker being from out here. We contribute a lot in the festival scene from major concerts to indie. I feel like we need more music media in the IE; blogs, journalists, magazines, different media outlets to help shine light on the artist.
Your fitness journey is well documented. We applaud your continued effort and inspiration. Give us your top 3 keys to maintaining that focus. My Granny really wanted me to get ahold of my weight so she’s definitely one of the keys that helps me maintain focus. I like being up & active, it’s the lifestyle I want for myself so I know I have to be healthy to be able to live it. I see it as, I have to be healthy to achieve the goals that I have set for myself. I’ve been in diabetic comas, that experience made me change my habits. I’m pre-diabetic now & I don’t want to go through that again.
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