It’s funny how life works sometimes; a Good Samaritan act by producer Derek “Deerock” Sample helped introduce him to 27-year-old SteZie Wonder — now known as R3LL — an artist he describes as one of best he’s come across. “I haven’t worked with a more talented young artist in my 30 years doing this,” says Deerock. “Wait until you hear what else he has in store for all of us.” From helping the R3LL dig his car out of a ditch, to strategizing a full-out industry shakedown, their chemistry and collective vision is coming beginning to take shape.
Deerock, whose credits include names like the iconic Dr. Dre, the late Prince, Snoop Dogg — and more — alongside beatmaker Jack Panda are know working with R3LL to craft a body of work that will help take him to the next level. His first three leaks are an eclectic look at the versatility he has, and what we can look forward to.
“Hello Again,” “Ride”, and “Soulfly” have three completely different vibes, making it difficult to pin him down — on the best way possible. “Soulfly” (in our humble opinion) is his strongest offering of the three, with a laid-back smokey flow; the song is a few things at once: braggadocious mack shit, an uplifting chorus, and a second verse filled with vulnerability and real-world emotion. “I’m fucking tired, and tired of all this trying … and all my friends dying and all of these people lying,” he raps, letting the cool as a fan mask of verse one fade away.
“Ride” is a piano-driven trappish vibe that rides a comfortable wave of the current sound without making much innovation — though it still bangs. “Hello Again,” though, is another example of him leaving the rapper facade aside and letting his personality seep through for a pseudo-love track with a rock-infused instrumental and chorus.
R3LL has a lot going for him, and has a great story; he grew up in a bad part of LA, he’s been to jail, he’s a soldier who’s deployed a few times. He also has a long-term relationship, and two dogs (one of whom is cleverly name-dropped in “Soulfly”). He’s not a street rapper, and doesn’t try to play the part; what he does make is intelligent (he has bars) music with an inexplicable cool edge to it. Worth keeping an eye and ear on.