John Reuben is from Columbus, Ohio. John is not your everyday cookie cutter rapper. He's one of a kind and a favorite among hip-hop fans and non alike. Reuben is 24 year old and goes by Mr. Zappin (a.k.a. "John Reu")
John changed his name and goes by the stage name John Reuben. Reuben is his middle name, so at the time I thought Reuben had more personality. A lot of people tend to like the Zappin too but Reuben sounded more soulful, maybe? Zappin sounds kinda flashy. I'm thinking about calling my new album Zappin.
"If somebody said that they wanted to do what I did," says Reuben about his all-or-nothing approach, "I'd tell them it's not a very bright idea and that they need to be realistic. Of course, I was totally unrealistic myself, but it was in God's plan, and thankfully it worked out."
John Reuben started writing poetry and he was always just into hip hop. He actually grew up in like a program/church and he went to the church and lived on the property. It was like a drug rehap and a church. It was in the middle of nowhere and my first experiences it were like all these kids were ushered in from New York City to live on this property to get over their addictions. They had a choice between jail or they go to this Christian program. So my first experiences were fishing with a bunch of New Yorkers in this little pond -- a bunch of hip hop kids in the early nineties, y'know? So that's kinda how I got started. That and I always liked poetry and different things like that.
Reuben didn't have a lot of toys and he had a really restricted family so we didn't have any TV. So the eighties were kind of eliminated from my memory. You know what he remembers liking about the eighties? My mom wouldn't listen to any music, no secular, no Christian - even if it was rock, it was of the devil. I remember going to see Petra in the eighties. So my memories of the eighties are pretty much wrapped up in... my mom became a really big Christian metalhead. So Christian metal sums up the eighties for me.
John Reuben met his wife Erin in seventh grade. That's when we met, we didn't start going out till after high school. "Amy adds that she and John met in 7th grade and didn't date till after high school." Yeah, I met her in seventh grade. Actually, She was in seventh, I might have been in eigth. Randomly, there was a school play -- this is really weird, this is funny. There was this thing called "Speech and Poetry" where everybody would do different skits and stuff. One girl they wanted was out of the group so Erin said "Why don't you invite her in and I'll find something else to do" cause she had signed up. I was still looking for a partner and randomly, like seriously randomly we decided to do this skit together in seventh grade. We got third place.
I liked her for quite awhile. It was really interesting cause I'm not one of those people who always likes to say "God told me this, God told me that, God told me that". Cause if it's really God, I wanna be committed to the fact that it was God telling me something. And I really felt like there was something more with her even to the point where I thought "I'm gonna marry this girl!" It really started challenging me to think about the kind of person I wanted to become. Looking at my own character, looking at my own relationship with God, and really dealing with a lot of things I needed to deal with in my own personal life. Seriously, I would say it was about five years of hardcore God dealing with me. And because I cared about her, it all worked itself out. It totally was a challenge to me. *laughs* But it really worked out. It's amazing because I know that if I didn't have those feelings for her and I didn't have that time, I wouldn't be where I'm at today. And God totally used it, not only just for my relationship with her, but in my relationship with everybody, dealing with a lot of things I needed to deal with. It was really cool. And honestly? I love being married. And I'm a very kinda scatterbrained, non-committed kinda guy -- not just to girls, but to anything in general. But that's just how I am, I just don't want to committ to this or that. But for some reason. I was just ready to committ. We've got a great relationship.
John says honestly think music is a lot of what you're used. Because I've found, man, that the more I understand why something is good, and why people are really passionate about something, I can really get into it. And environment. I mean like, I can't even count the number of people that say they hate country music. But honestly, if it's a warm Saturday night and you're having a cookout *all laughs* I'm serious! You're having a cookout and you're around pleasant country people - not some backwoods racist rednecks like I grew up around, I'm talking about kind-hearted good ole country folk - the country music sounds really good. And I understand why they like it and understand. One thing I've always challenged myself with is to always find out why people were passionate about what they're about whether musically -- I mean all across the board I think it's really been to my advantage I think cause I never got punk rock. *offers an incoherent but accurate imitation* It all sounded the same to me. Now, I can clearly make the distinction between the different styles of punk. I can tell which I like, which I don't like and I really understand these kids. Those shows are some of my favorite shows because I love watching kids chant so passionately. I try to incorporate it into my stuff. So I virtually like everything. I've been converted myself a couple times.
With his new equipment, John Reuben recorded and self-released his debut LP, Monuments, which caught the attention of Gotee Records. With a new label home, the emcee dropped the pivotal rap releases Are We There Yet? in 2000 and Hindsight in 2002.
Reuben's creative accomplishments transcend mere marketing hype as his risks can be measured in real life terms. After working with commercial producers on prior albums, Reuben took the challenge of producing Professional Rapper himself as the only way he saw to capture his true artistic goals. Accordingly, he converted his basement into a recording studio and stretched his many ideas to their fullest extent, which is something that studio time restraints prevented in the past. With producer reigns in hand, Reuben tackled Professional Rapper with newfound diligence and excitement.
Looking back, Reuben grew up with his family on the property of Outreach for Youth, a program founded by a former Brooklyn gang member. Influenced by the inner-city kids around them, Reuben began visiting downtown hip-hop shops and honing his lyrical skills in open mic rap battles. At age 16, he took out a loan for what should have been a car but wound up being recording equipment and samplers. He soon dropped out of high school and devoted himself entirely to recording and working jobs to pay off the loan.
John Reuben says, "I got exactly what I wanted with Professional Rapper. In the past, I've had sounds in my head that I can't describe, and for this album, we kept tweaking over and over again until I got them. My personality really shines through on this album."(Professional Rapper) "I knew exactly where I wanted to go with this album," says Reuben. "Different friends of mine came in to play live on the tracks, which is another reason we recorded in Columbus. Making this album was both fun and challenging."
With Professional Rapper, Reuben tapped into the full sum of his experience and creative courage to make the album he always envisioned himself making. With its depth and innovation, Professional Rapper challenges every hip-hop fan to push forward, take control, and believe.
Reuben's deft hand at mixing different influences and ideas into a single seamless wholeon the album (Professional Rapper). The lead single "Move" stands out as a pulsing club anthem that ranks among Reuben's all-time best, while "I Have No Opinion" deals with Midwest stereotypes and intellectual arrogance against the backdrop of stunning live percussion. Atop moody acoustic guitars and hip-hop beats, Benjamin Gate's Adrienne Liesching provides haunting vocals hooks for "I Haven't Been Myself," a powerfully introspective song about feelings of insecurity and stagnation. Of course, the darker songs balance out with upbeat pop fare like the irresistibly catchy "Treats" and "Life Is Short."
Professional Rapper also features John Reuben's most challenging and confrontational lyrics yet. The passionate "Freedom to Feel" lashes out with lines like, "False sense of happiness / is my security wrapped up in this / these control freaks seek out who they can brainwash and make activists." Likewise, "Born, Live, Strive, Succeed" casts a skeptical eye toward materialistic dreams as Reuben raps, "Who's next to climb the wall of success just to see how good the top truly gets / chasing lies, disguised as going somewhere only to arrive and realize it's really nowhere / that's even if you get there in the first place."
Says Reuben, "An album like this represents human life and emotions, the good times and the bad times, the questions and the struggles, and all the other things that we go through. For me, the album is a replication of who I am and where I'm at as a person."
Inter'linc, cause I'm working with them... Cause I really am concerned because I think one of the things with music that's hard is that you write music from the heart and you write it sometimes and it's gonna apply to somebody and it's really gonna help somebody out, but it can also be a discouragement to somebody else if they don't understand it. And I'm not talking about "Doin'" or anything like that. But I've got some really dark songs that are directed towards college kids, kids who have gone through the experience of having Christianity force on them and it never being their own relationship. And I've read lyrics to people and it's almost to the point where it really impacted them and I kinda wrote it from that perspective. But, to a younger kid, it could be misinterpreted.
Depends on the time in his life John's favorite songs . I really liked "Identify". I like "Breathe" a lot. "Breathe" meant a lot to me. Live, I like "Do Not" and "Doin'" and the fun stuff, and "Run The Night" and all that kind of stuff. But I think "Breathe" and "Identify".