Reema Major Talks New Single, “AK47”, Forthcoming Album & More
Over the course of the past decade, Toronto based artist, Reema Major, a former Sudanese refugee, has shone. Case in point; the 2010 BET Hip Hop Awards cypher, which in and of itself initiated an intense bidding war where CherryTree / Interscope Records ultimately prevailed. In 2011, Major released her mega-popular I Am Legend mixtape, including the smash hit single, “I’m the One,” featuring Rick Ross. Now at 21-years-old, a freshly liberated Reema is poised to take the Hip-Hop world by storm, aiming to cement herself in the pantheon of the culture’s most respected lyricists with her debut outing, LegenDiary a.k.a. Diary of a Legend.
Parlé Mag: Let’s hop right into this latest single, “AK47” — Tell me about this particular composition? How did it actually come to fruition?
Reema Major: Once I heard the instrumental, right away it made me reflect on the current political, economic and social situations in the world, so it inspired me to write about that.
…The hook was created by the producers, which gave me the idea to write my verses using a firearm as a metaphor. I simply asked myself, “if I were an AK47 in certain situations, what would I say?” And that’s how that came about.
Parlé Mag: Of course, “AK47” comes courtesy of your exceedingly overdue / still forthcoming solo collection, LegenDiary. Conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you?
Reema Major: LegenDiary is a play on the word Legendary, ’cause that’s what I aspire to be in this lifetime. I replaced the “dary” with “diary” because it’s my personal thoughts; the project is actually called LegenDiary a.k.a. Diary of a Legend. And it for me represents everything I stand for when it comes to religion, politics, losses and gains, down to just being a young girl in the streets try’na make my way out alive.
Parlé Mag: How then does LegenDiary either differ and/or compare to previous Reema Major efforts?
Reema Major: LegenDiary compares to my previous efforts in a sense that it’s me behind my music. My thoughts and my experiences are the foundation for everything I create. It differs in terms of the sounds, because I have more melodic hooks on this project and I did a lot more singing than I did on my previous ones.
Parlé Mag: It’s coming up on six long years since you dropped I Am Legend, and even after inking with Cherrytree / Interscope Records, receiving heavy co-signs from heavyweights Dr. Dre and Rick Ross, as well as your standout performance on the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards cypher, it seemed to the average fan and follower alike that your, then very promising, career kind of stalled out. Can you please catch everyone up to speed as to what all actually transpired during this time?
Reema Major: Yes! It’s amazing to have received all the support that I did from so many icons in the industry. It is truly a blessing to have my music recognized by those that came before me. What’s been going on these past years? Hmm…Life! *Laughs* I had a lot of learning to do and the music industry isn’t the easiest place for someone to grow up. It’s a fast-paced environment where lessons come by the minute. But music is my passion and the creative process has never stopped working. There has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes; I actually never stopped, and I’m just excited to finally be able to share my new music with the world and show them what I created behind closed doors during the time I was absent.
Parlé Mag: It is also my understanding that Gene Simmons of Rock-n-Roll group, Kiss, was pretty instrumental in your early ascent into music, how did this connection even come about?
Reema Major: Yes! Gene is amazing. I had the pleasure of meeting him very early on in my career. I’m not exactly sure about the conversation that transpired behind closed doors, but I remember him coming to visit Toronto for an event he had and I got a call saying Gene wanted to meet me, so I met up with him and Randy Lennox who was then the president of Universal Music Canada. Gene was instrumental in teaching me some very valuable life lessons; he really believes in me and encouraged me to stay focused regardless of the industry’s trials and tribulations. He also stressed that I should continue to work hard and never give up no matter what, and I have every intention on doing just that.
Parlé Mag: With all that being said, why has it taken you this long to finally get things back on track from a musical standpoint? And, aside from music, what all have you been up to, both personally and professionally speaking, during the time between records?
Reema Major: In terms of getting things back on track, I have never really felt that I lost sight of my dreams and goals. I feel that there is no one way road to success. It’s a process and the process is exactly what has prepared me for the levels I aspire to be. For me, I was sponging in a lot of information during that time and growing as an artist and young businesswomen, both through my experiences and through the creative process.
Parlé Mag: Reflecting, how did you first discover your musical talent?
Reema Major: I don’t exactly remember how… I feel music has always been a part of me and is a gift from God. From when I learned to read and spell, writing has always been my outlet when I was mad, happy or sad. Whatever emotion I felt growing up, I’d write about it. Whether it was a song, a rap or just an entry in my diary, I loved to write. When I got older and learned it could be an occupation, I took that route and it felt natural. With that being said, I love what I do.
Parlé Mag: Who have been your greatest inspirations musically and why?
Reema Major: My greatest inspiration musically is my older cousin who introduced me to rap at the age of 5, as well as a few young men in the neighborhoods I grew up in. I remember being on the block and they would have cyphers literally everyday, or would be in the little trap studio everyday writing and recording. That hunger they had to make something better of themselves and that passion for music, put a battery in my back and compelled me to go hard every time I touched the mic.
…In terms of artists in the industry, it’s no secret I have love for the Pac’s and Biggie’s for being legends in the genre I’m a part of, but I have love for a lot of people so it would be hard to name just one. I love all music from rap, R&B to Country and soft Rock. Every artist does something different for me, but they all inspire me to continue to create and grow.
Parlé Mag: Have you encountered any problems in getting to this point in your career?
Reema Major: It’s no secret that the music industry is an extremely difficult industry to get into, never-mind to survive and be successful in. I have experienced my fair share of lessons, just as any other person in the industry. But, I lean on my faith and focus on my work and keep my circle small. I find this is essential to success and the achievement of my goals. I believe every great has encountered “problems” to get to where they are, but I also feel it’s not your falls that define you but how you get back up that does.
Parlé Mag: What do you want people to get from your music?
Reema Major: Stories, Lessons and Inspiration. I want my music to touch everyone; from the little girls and boys in the slums of Sudan, to the privileged people on the other side of the world. And if one of my records can help one person get through something, I will still feel accomplished, but, of course, I aspire and am working hard to touch the masses.
Parlé Mag: Success, how would you define yours? And, what are your plans for sustaining longevity in this biz?
Reema Major: Success! This word is becoming such a subjective term. There must be as many definitions as there are people. So, I try to define success from a personal perspective. God, Happiness, Loyalty, Hard Work, Motivation, Love… everything that I put into fulfilling my goals. Being my best in all these things for me is what I define as success. In order to sustain longevity in the industry, one must stay relevant and innovative. Always keeping up with what is going on in the hearts and the minds of the people. Being a reflection of social thought, as well as a participant, and finding a creative way to marry these two is what I believe creates long term success.
Parlé Mag: On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip-Hop? And, even more specifically, women in rap, or the lack thereof?
Reema Major: No doubt Hip-Hop has changed from the days I grew up listening to Hip-Hop. I believe a true artist leaves the listener with something; whether it’s a lesson or a story. When the listener is left with something that resonates, then my work as an artist is complete. Whether or not I’m happy with the current state of Hip-Hop, I feel isn’t really relevant. I think that the listener is in the best position to answer that question. We are here because of them; we make music to inspire, share, teach, etc., so we need to be asking them if they are satisfied with the music. In regards to women in the industry, women have always had to struggle in many forums; to me Hip-Hop is no exception.
Parlé Mag: Do you have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
Reema Major: Absolutely! Music is my first love, but I also want to use it as a stepping stone to do a lot more other things I aspire to be successful in. When my brand expands, I am going to use my platform to bring awareness to more serious and important things in life. I would love to go back to third world countries, build schools, hospitals, orphanages and just contribute anyway I can to the development of under privileged places around the world. And, of course, I want to help in my homeland of South Sudan, and just Africa in general. Kind of like what Akon is doing. I really look up to what he’s done thus far, and pray I can do just that and more one day very soon.
Parlé Mag: Any “closing” thoughts for our readers?
Reema Major: I just want to wholeheartedly thank everyone who supports me, and also say don’t let the time I’ve been absent make you think I left the game. Rest assured, I have been working extremely hard behind closed doors and will be getting all those videos, songs, photos, etcetera, to them soon. Great things come to those who wait, and I am grateful for all who did. God bless.
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