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 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
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
John Reuben Lyrics