Highbridge artist & Philly native Lil Rekk is quickly blazing a trail for himself with breakout hits like “So So Dangerous” ft. Stunna Gambino & YXNG K.A, “Manhattan Vibes,” & “Drive Me Crazy.” Rekk’s most recent album 1ONE dropped earlier this year and has already received critical acclaim from Lyrical Lemonade and No Jumper in addition to the millions of views accumulated by the “Ooters” music video. Lil Rekk cites 1One as the first project he’s felt like he has had a sense of structure on that also reflects his growth in music.
Raised in a family of mostly women, Rekk was the only boy amongst 13 children, which allowed him to tap into his emotions from an early age. He used music as the medium to express himself and gradually began focusing on his craft and harnessing his talents from the age of 17. Today, at 22, Rekk joins us to discuss his latest project, his upcoming business ventures and even a possible collaboration with Highbridge’s own A Boogie.
The Knockturnal: How long have you been making music?
Lil Rekk: I’ve been making music for three years now. Three years.
The Knockturnal: How did you get interested in music? Did you have any local influences or maybe family influences?
Lil Rekk: Not really family for real. Growing up, all my sisters on my mom’s side, were into bands and stuff like that, and I used to not even like music because of that. They used to be doing that all day, but as I got older, one of my friends was a popular rapper from our city. I lived in Newport, Virginia, at the time. He had got locked up for a little while, so all the studio experience and all that went away, all the shows. I just told him I’m gonna try. Then I listened to a lot of music myself, like A Boogie, Herb, Durk. I was listening to them and Chief Keef in middle school. I never really took it seriously. I used to just tell people, ‘one day,’ and then 12th grade came around. My man was booked, so I just went to the studio, and it’s been up ever since then.
The Knockturnal: I’m glad that you spoke a little bit about your sisters, because I know family is a big part of your life, from your many siblings and many sisters to even having your own daughter. How does family influence, or inform your present-day work?
Lil Rekk: Family is everything to me because without family, a lot of people don’t know. It’s hard to be a structured person. You don’t have a backbone. You don’t have the emotional support that you need. Do you see what I’m saying? Like, everything is kind of misty. Your real reality is misty without your family, a lot of people don’t understand that. Me and my mom, that’s my best friend. I ordered these shoes last week. She drove 2 hours to bring me these shoes before this interview. Stuff like that. They’re going to go the furthest extent for you before somebody else.
The Knockturnal: When you’re creating music, do you ever think about if this will appeal more to a female audience?
Lil Rekk: Yeah, for sure. It’s crazy because I got more love songs and more pain songs about females than I do about my actual life. I started off making music once I got my voice and my sound right, I was making music for females because that’s who’s going to like me more. My looks and the way I dress, they were going to like me more than the male audience.
The Knockturnal: How old were you would you say the first time you experimented with music and were you freestyling or writing lyrics?
Lil Rekk: Yeah, it’s crazy because me and my cousin Lil O and my other cousin Tysean, when I would come back to Philly I’d go to grandma’s house and we’d turn on beats and just rap, just playing around. And then I would go to my other cousin’s house back home in Virginia and we would really be there trying to write down bars.
The Knockturnal: How old were you the first time you freestyled that you can remember?
Lil Rekk: 8th grade for sure.
The Knockturnal: As you started to evolve, how old were you the first time you started to write out your raps?
Lil Rekk: I was probably, like, 18.
The Knockturnal: How did you sign with Highbridge? How did that all come about? And can you tell us about how QP discovered you?
Lil Rekk: Yes. QP found me through somebody named ‘C Weezy.’ He’s an artist, too, but he got his own doing. Like, he got his own lifestyle, but I used to talk to him before I signed to Highbridge, but he was always hitting me up out of the blue like, ‘yo, bro, just stay down, your time is coming, don’t get in trouble.’ A couple of days later he hit me like, ‘bro, I’m telling you to stay focused, your time coming’. A couple of days later, QP hit me up and then he called me, so I put two and two together. Like, all right, so QP hit me up saying ‘pull up on me, I want to see what you’re about.’ I pulled up, chopped it up. I recorded some music that same day then he dropped me back off at the hotel. He told me, ‘bro I want to sign you, I believe in you as much as you believe in yourself.’ I’m like, ‘alright, say that, I’m going to hold it down.’ I was rocking with them for like a good month or two before I actually signed the deal to them.
The Knockturnal: It mentions in your bio that you used to say you’re going to end up signing with A Boogie back when you were in high school. Do you remember how old you were or just your first time listening to A Boogie and having his music move you?
Lil Rekk: I was 12 or 13 because I was just going into 9th grade. My cousin that I was talking about earlier, Tysean, he’s from Brooklyn, New York. He was already heavy everything New York. He was already listening to Boogie. I could honestly say he was the first person I ever even heard listening to Boogie before Boogie was like, up and going.
The Knockturnal: What’s the most important thing that A Boogie has taught you as a mentor or even just something you might have picked up from seeing his creative process?
Lil Rekk: Watch a lot of people that you hang around and watch the people that you love the most. Because the people that you love the most, even though sometimes they could relieve your wounds and make it feel better for the time being, in the long term, sometimes it’s not what it seems. I watch bro — what he goes through with his family, outside streets, and I just pay attention to it all.
The Knockturnal: Is the lesson there to be aware of your surroundings or those that are close to you?
Lil Rekk: Always be one up. Even though other people might think they got one up on you. You always know in the back of your head that you got one up. Because at the end of the day, A Boogie is still going to be A Boogie. No matter what happened at home he is still A Boogie, no matter what happened with his girlfriend he still got to be A Boogie, so I just keep one up all the time so I can never be too down.
The Knockturnal: I want to get into your album. Can you tell us about 1ONE and the meaning behind the title and your creative process going into this?
Lil Rekk: So the meaning of the title 1ONE is that’s my nickname in my neighborhood, ever since I signed a deal everyone called me 1ONE now because I mean I’m the only one to make it out my block and make it out my hood. Everybody calls me 1ONE even my mom and my grandmother. The whole creative process with the 1ONE tape was a different experience because it was different from my last tape, World Plus. World Plus was the rollout, this tape was the structuring. I was already structured. Everybody knows who I am now, so it’s like, everybody knows what they’re expecting now.
The Knockturnal: Would you call 1ONE your debut album?
Lil Rekk: Definitely an album because of the way it was created. Because of my mixtape, World Plus, I already had all those means together and sat down in the studio for 1ONE. I actually sat down with different types of people in different types of areas and states. I was in Cali, Atlanta, New York, Jersey, Philly. I was all around.
The Knockturnal: Can you tell us your favorite songs off 1ONE?
Lil Rekk: “So Bipolar,” “Outta Control,” “Dog Shit,” and “Ooters.”
The Knockturnal: Can you tell us why these are your favorites or what makes them stand out?
Lil Rekk: Because in those songs I’m talking about personal things that are going on with me, and it’s emotional music. A lot of my music, as you said earlier, is emotional. I tap into that mold. A lot of people can’t go there because it messes with them mentally and physically.
The Knockturnal: Who’s been your most exciting person to collab with or is that upcoming and you can’t really speak on it yet?
Lil Rekk: My favorite person that I have collaborated with so far is 42 Dugg, for sure. Me and 42 Dugg are locked in on a whole other level. We ain’t even thinking about the music all the time. I could go around bro and kick it. It is genuine love every time.
The Knockturnal: What is it like to get to have a bond or relationship with another up-and-coming artist? Since he is more or less in your shoes and has gone through the stuff that you’re about to go through?
Lil Rekk: It’s good because sometimes a lot of people try to keep up with not knowing, like say, from Instagram. They’ll see an artist doing this, doing that, doing that, and try to follow the image and keep up and end up either going broke or hurting the people they around because they’re doing too much that they shouldn’t be doing. When I get around someone like Dugg, I see how he treat his friends, his security, his drivers. He treats them like they are people. A lot of people misinterpret what artists are really about because people just think, oh, he made this type of music so he got to act like this all the time. It’s not about that. It’s about the way you live your life, the way you treat people around you. Like everybody on my team, we are family. We’re not just friends. Like I said, I could go to Boogie’s house without knocking and he would come to my house without knocking.
The Knockturnal: Can you tell us about your new cannabis strain, Rekking Runtz?
Lil Rekk: I got the streets right now, Rekking Runtz, me and my folks. Papa Bear Smoke NYC, he put that together for me. We had that plan for like a year now, but when I dropped 1ONE, he just called me and he’s like we gotta drop the strand now. He put it together in 30 minutes. He got the Rekking Runtz and the bags for the Rekking Runtz in 30 minutes.
The Knockturnal: Can you just speak a little bit about what it’s like to branch out and have other businesses on top of being an artist? Are you potentially interested in other business ventures in addition to the cannabis one?
Lil Rekk: We’re trying to get Rekking Runtz put into different stores. We building around there. I have grinders, lighters, T-Shirts. On my tour in about a month, we will have the Rekking Runtz van for the states that have legalized Marijuana. I didn’t spend any money on my strand at all. I didn’t put a dollar in. I made over $20K out of it, $5K on merch, and I split that with my folks.
The Knockturnal: What are your plans for 2022? Are there any more projects or collaborations on the way? Please also speak on any upcoming live performances.
Lil Rekk: Yeah, after May I’m going to have a show. I’m going to have a tour, another college tour, but it’s going to be me and Bouba Savage. We’re going to be the headliners. I am also dropping a mixtape, hopefully next month or the month after that. Currently, everything is built around the tour.
The Knockturnal: Do you have any upcoming features on this project or collaborations in general?
Lil Rekk: Yeah, I’m going to have Big Key. He’s from Detroit. That’s my man from Detroit. I’m gonna have Baby Money, he’s from Detroit too. I’ll probably have Dugg on there again. Got something coming with A Boogie and I’ll have something with Stunna again. Aden Dinero from New York and a lot of others. In the last tape, I wasn’t really working with nobody but in this tape, I’m working with more artists.