MuzicNotez Crew: First off, it’s an honor to be doing this interview with you Raj, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.
What motivated you to start creating music? What age did you begin?
Raj Hills: My motivation is the love of music and to make music that touches your soul. Something that you can feel that is timeless like our emotions and experiences. Music that entertains, relates & inspires. Music that gets you partying, feeling strong, silly, free and real where you feel the authenticity in every verse. I’ve always been intrigued as a kid how music can capture the elements of life and how we feel, so 8 years ago I decided to truly pursue it.
MuzicNotez Crew: Who were your musical influences, idols, or bands growing up that have helped mold you into the musician you are today? Or helped mold the music that you create?
Raj Hills: My biggest musical influences growing up were DJ Quik & Tupac. I’m influenced by rock tho like the Doors, No Doubt, Metallica bringing that edgy live sound and I’ve did shows and songs like that. I love pop & soul like Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna & Patti Labelle. They touch you with their presence & voice along with Alicia Keys & Aaliyah. That r&b feel of Jodeci is so soulful & amazing. In rap Eminem, Ice Cube, & 50 Cent are so unapologetic, it’s in your face emotion. Also a little of Will Smith lets just have fun.
Musically helping mold me would be DJ Quik besides BlackTone. DJ Quik has produced all genres of music & alot of big artist like Tupac, Rage Against the Machine, Jay-Z, Janet Jackson to name a few household names. He knows I make all types of genre records thru my rap. I hear music thru my soul. So his musical genius knows how to shape those in me that are apart of my personality & make it whole. He is the only producer/artist I ever really dreamed of wanting to work with because I felt he is the only one that could truly understand me and bring the best out of me. I’m one of those unique or different artist that would get bored if u told me I had to 1 type of rapper. I would feel caged.
When he decided to take me under his wing he was already my biggest influence & a proven brand. He taught me by learning how to trust in myself as an artist, don’t be afraid of the moment, criticism, or to be myself. He did a lot of testing me to see how I would respond on spur of the moment times, in the Heat of big mainstream radio shows like Power 106 & KDAY, performing side by side with him in headlining slots where it’s anywhere from 500 to 10,000 people along with media staring at you. He taught me how to be confident as a artist & confront fears or comparisons people would make of me & his good friend the iconic Tupac. To face those images & show them I’m artist with my own sound to be reckoned with & become a big star with the right platform provided for me. He said just be me, that I’m dope & likable. He allowed me to perform a dream show with a sold out crowd with EDIDON from Tupac’s Outlawz right before he killed it. The crowd loved the back to back experience. I’m thankful.
MuzicNotez Crew: What’s the ultimate goal you want your music to achieve, or for you to achieve in your career as a musician? Any particular message you wish to send?
Raj Hills: My ultimate goal as a musician now is to get that platform, 1 real shot to be on radio, on screen, & just have that opportunity for people to truly get a piece of Raj Hills and be touched by my music in they soul worldwide. Share a piece with others globally with music as our bond. Be successful and create a prosperous financial brand of quality & money where I can help provide for me and my team. Help out those in need financially or with knowledge and resources so we all continue to grow. Be at a point whether people like me or not, at least respect my real ness and quality of work. If they don’t I’ll still be fine lol.
MuzicNotez Crew: You have a good new project titled World on Fire how did it come about and what is the concept behind it?
Raj Hills: World On Fire is a dedication and came about as me truly understanding who I am as a person and artist. Coming full circle with my past, present and future experiences, so u feel it in the music on this project. It’s a dedication to Black Tone & DJ Quik. I owe it to them two for allowing so many of my dreams to come true.
BlackTone from day 1 discovered me & believed I can make it in this business. He taught me about life and business in so many ways like a hard big brother and protective like a father at times. He could have given up on me but he didnt. It was a time he was trying to push me out as the next big star and my life came to a halt because I had to take on being a single father of 2. He understood & supported my decision of family over money & fame. He still provided a base for me to keep my name out there thru him as long as I was willing to put in all the hardwork necessary. He always tells me “Raj you just keep working & striving with integrity & loyalty. I respect that.” He open a lot of doors for me.
When it comes to DJ Quik he helps makes my musical dreams come true as a friend & mentor. If it wasnt for him putting his brand name on me I probably would have never gotten opportunities to play mainstream radio shows like Power 106 & KDAY, have celeb artist do songs with me in confidence. Me meeting Tupac’s close friends/family Money B or the Outlawz. That all stems from Quik. Performing at venues I’ve dreamed of like Nokia, Gibson Amphitheater, clubs, sold out shows, label interest, along with media & fans because he put his name & brand on me and said im a unique talent & real person. He did what major record companies do for artist, validate me. He could have did that for any artist but he didnt.
I wouldn’t be mentioned as a strong candidate for the Tupac role if it wasnt for him. He is like a tough musical big brother to me & we relate on so much. He told me you don’t beg for nothing & you work hard, but when it comes to music I’m going to be like Simon Cowell on you & bring the best out of you. I always told Tone I don’t want anyone to tell Quik to work with me I hope one day he wants to work with me and I was blessed it happened that way. So this project is an evolution of Raj Hills understanding & being ready to take on mainstream opportunities my mentors help create & a global sound people can relate to.
MuzicNotez Crew: I read in an interview you didn’t reach out to your legendary mentor DJ Quik to help on this project, is there a reason behind that?
Raj Hills: Yes. If I was truly to show that I was ready & over stand what I’ve learned from Quik, Tone & my experiences I was going to have to do it with out asking for there help. After experiencing label interest, media, fan curiosity, highs & lows, I felt having quality work and visuals would be the best way to show their belief & words about me were not just hype. Also being so close to Quik I seen how so many people pull at him in hopes to make their dream come true, I didn’t want to do that. I never care who he works with I just want to maximize the time we have when we do work together.
If I have a package like World On Fire that’s good it makes Quik & Tones job easier. They they have a good package & visuals to show labels, media, fans or businesses I told you he was dope and talented. If he did this without asking us, imagine if I DJ Quik work on it, and money is put behind his project it will be a million times better. So now it’s not them telling people off just they words its actually having product to back there belief in me. They also can say we can put him in this genre or that genre or he can improve here or there, but u have a solid quality base to work from now.
MuzicNotez Crew: What are some upcoming events for you?
Raj Hills: Events I’m secure & trust in Tone & Quik. From shows, to label interest, they’ve put me in the best position to succeed. They know this business in & out, so I trust their judgement. I am looking forward tho to DJ Quik performing live at the House of Blues Sunset June 26th. Already got friends to get tickets. I’m excited I always wanted to see him perform there. It’s like it’s coming full circle. The first time I seen him perform was at the House of Blues Anaheim in 2006. I only dreamed while in the stands what it would be like to know or work with him. I remember it like yesterday. I met Black Tone & Hi-C the next day & Tone took me under his wing. Now going into this show knowing dreams do come true with hardwork & the grace of GOD. So June 26 I get to see Quik at the House of Blues Sunset on the stage of 2Pac’s last show. It’s like my 2 favorites coming together.
MuzicNotez Crew: Can we expect any videos off this project?
Raj Hills: Yes. “Morning Lights” comes out June 16th. It’s the first video off the project ft. Shea a very talented young lady. It’s a real touching, honest, cleve lyrics with a crossover beat & hook. MTV Kiss Fm kinda of feel that can hit on mainstream radio like Power 106 or KDAY. I was just honest in the song so young & old can relate no matter what they going thru. I will follow that up with 4 or 5 more videos over the next month and a half.
MuzicNotez Crew: What else are you working on? What can we expect to see and hear from you in the future?
Raj Hills: I’m just working on directing these videos & constantly growing. As far as future Tone & Quik are the bosses, so whatever shows they line up, projects deals, songs, labels or business, I have the complete confidence they will make the best decision for all of us to prosper.
MuzicNotez Crew: Anything else you wish to say about yourself or your music? Any message for your fans? ?
Raj Hills: Yes. I’m going to leave the readers with a special DJ Quik untold story about how dreams can come true. When you work hard, believe, & least expect it. A story about the real DJ Quik, how we really started working together & how the whole Tupac vibe got involved.
The “Late Night” remix I did of Quik & Tupac was really a gift I gave to Dj Quik on his birthday to let him know how much I admired him & Pac’s musical genius and thanks for inspiring me. Lol I was nervous because he usually never let’s anyone touch his music he will get pissed, so this was the first time it happened. I told him while we was playing video games and he said it better be dope. He heard it & liked it. He said come to the studio I’m mixing Ric Ross projects all week.I came everyday no matter how long it took to get there or how long I had to stay, I wanted to soak in everything from my biggest influence.
He taught me about sounds, & we talked about everything in life. He let a couple of my close friends come in & he treated them like family. He told me im going to do a real video with you bring your cameraman but you got 1 take to get it right. That pressure & excitement is why you see me smiling in the video so much while rapping lol. I pulled it off. I didn’t know then he was taking me from lil homie to grooming me for stardom. Tho every jewel he was giving me thru the week was priceless info to the game you couldn’t buy.
Anyway I didn’t sleep for that whole week. II took care of my home responsibilities & was there with Quik the whole time. I was excited to be learning from my musical hero and he understood me & we understood each other. We wrapped the sessions on a Sat night & he had a show in San Luis Obispo Sunday night. I woke up Sunday morning and passed out at home and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital after coming to. I was suffering from dehydration and fatigue. I was up all week on adrenaline. I woke up to IV’s and tubes. My family told Tone I couldn’t make it. I asked the doctors was it serious they said no but I needed rest for 3 to 5 days. I got up after a couple hours & the family drove me home.
I told them fuck it I’m going to the show, I’m not missing supporting him after he did all this for me. I called my friend in Long Beach & asked could he drive me. I drove my car a hour over to his house. Quik show started on 2 hours & it would take 3 hours to get there. We flew out there and I drank 17 bottles of Gatorade and a gallon of water on the way to hydrate. We made it 15 min into his set. By the grace of GOD Jamie Adler Quik’s manager had just come outside from his car & let us in. I went on stage to day hi to Tone and take my post as security.
Quik seen me & said “you know what crowd we about to Ressurect Tupac” and threw me the mic. The crowd lost they mind cheering. I got nervous & tried to give the mic back and so no, then Quik ran off stage & started playing the instrumental to 2pac’s Ambitions as A Ridah. I’m standing there with the crowd screaming. I look at Quik & Tone & said I don’t want to let them down or myself. So I started free styling about how great 2Pac is, our comparisons, Quik, & Laneway. The crowd lost they mind I cod really rap.
The energy was indescribable. Then Quik put on California Liv and did Dr. Dre’s part @ I did 2Pac’s part & girls jumped on stage. That was crazy. After the show Quik let the whole sold out show of fans come to his dressing room and signed autographs @ took pictures. I mean it was hundreds of fans. I walked out the back door by myself to get something to eat, since I didn’t eat all day. Fans and S.A gangsters start mobbing me. Saying “you like the real Tupac not like that guy from notorious. Dude you dope” I got real nervous I’m thinking I’m just regular me. I walked down the street & people kept coming up.
I got in the restaurant & some started clapping, I felt like I was in a fish bowl. A big 6’5 muscle guy grabbed me like dog I fuck with you where can I get your music. The owners said they would give me free food and I bought a nice pastrami sandwich. I had to leave before I got it. The crew called me like where you at, Quik asking for you. I rushed back and said Quik the people mobbed me what the hell is going on. He said you can’t do a show like that with me and expect it to go back to normal. So my day day turned from minor tragedy to a dream come true because I just wanted to go support my friend for being a friend to me the past week. Never thought I’d be performing with Quik & tributing 2Pac. All in all I can say I’ve always had great experiences & good times with Quik & Tone no matter what we decided to do. Thanks
Thanks Music Notez & to all the readers that took time out of their precious lives to read this. I appreciate you all.