An Interview with King Reign

by Gary Seward
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An Interview with King Reign


Move over rockers because a new movement in music is currently taking over the scene. Hip-hop is taking its claim to the landscape of live music in Toronto and spanning nationwide. And Canadian Music Week may be a reflection of just that, as we are starting to see more and more emerging hip-hop artists on the scene that was mostly made up of rock ‘n’ roll acts.

King Reign is one of those acts. A local native from Scarborough, King Reign is taking his stripped down and raw hip-hop to the streets. With an immensely popular track like “Grey feat. Shi Wisdom” King Reign covers Rihanna’s track “Stay” within his own track. With tracks like this King Reign is telling the Rock ‘n’ Roll community to move over and the audience is definitely listening.

King Reign was here for CMW to promote his upcoming June 30 release of Sincere. You can check out a few tracks with the lead single from Sincere entitled “Promo” at, which is also where you can purchase the album come June 30.

I had the opportunity to sit down with King Reign during CMW to discuss his upcoming release and the mark he’s making on the music scene in Canada, as well as his signing to Sony from 2005.

Fresh Print Magazine: First thing’s first, I see you’re from Scarborough.

King Reign: Yes, born and raised. Well, I was born in Eglinton West and moved to Scarborough at around the age of 5 or 6.

FP: How long have you been playing music in the city?

KP: Oh man, I have been active in the city for about 10 years as a solo artist. I haven’t been active for all of it. I was signed to Sony and that shut me down for a number of years. I have been learning a lot about the business too. I didn’t want to come out prematurely. And I wasn’t ready and the business wasn’t ready. But I have matured and it’s all coming along now.

FP: So, is that the reason why you didn’t produce any work when you were signed to Sony in 2005?

KR: Yeah, when you’re with a label you gotta wait. It’s a process. Where as when I am independent I am just making the music and literally when it’s done you just send it out. And getting it on the radio I got a lot of support out here on the radio and stuff like that. But I feel like if I didn’t have that experience, I wouldn’t have that much confidence as an independent artist.

FP: Are you saying that you enjoy being an independent artist a lot more?

KR: I do I do I do. But what I am learning now is to enjoy the other side of it too. The promotion of it, the social media of it. It’s a fight for me and I’m getting better. Yeah, I am starting to enjoy that part, but if I could just do the music. I got two kids and I would rather be at the park everyday. I do love talking to people like you too. I mean, I’d rather be at the park right now but I know I have to do this in order to get my music out there.

FP Yeah, there’s a give and a take. Especially at a big event like this.

KR: Yeah yeah. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it.

FP: You’re playing at Baltic Ave on Saturday May 10 at 11pm.

KR: Yup.

FP: Now I am really interested in hearing your thoughts on playing hip-hop in a city that’s saturated in rock ‘n’ roll, although we are seeing a major resurgence of hip-hop on the scene.

KR: Haha… I have been fighting the fight. Well, okay I take that back. I don’t think it’s a “fight” to be all dramatic like there’s some kind of major movement. But I guess there is a kind of hip-hop movement in a sense. But in this city, I kind of understand because it’s rock country. And hip-hop is almost like new music. It took the Canadian rock community a while to get to where they are now, just like it will take us a while to get to where we want to go. I grew up listening to everything and a lot of rock. Counting Crows is probably one of my all time favourite groups.

FP: I was at a party around a month ago and your track “Grey” came on and no one recognized it but it was a big hit. Was that the one track that did get you more noticed?

KR: Oh wow… That was the first time I ever tried something like that. I sampled a Rihanna song “Stay” and I love that song. One day I just decided to add that to the track with some percussion, I play mostly percussion, and it just worked and people seemed to really like it. I mean, I am kind of detached. So, when I can see that kind of response I am really surprised and happy at the same time.

FP: What are your major influences when you are making your music?

KR: As an artist, when you listen to stuff you want it to be honest. So, when you listen to Outkast, or Jay Z, or Nas the storytelling aspect influences me. I mean, the approach that I use comes from Slick Rick because he always comes from the left when it comes to telling a story. It’s so entertaining and shocking sometimes the way he does that. He has this song “Treat Me Like a Prostitute” and I must have listened to that too many times but the story is so entertaining. And it’s not about treating a girl like one; I understood that’s how he felt. And that’s where I got my approach

FP: I noticed that a lot of your tracks are quite raw and stripped down versus what we hear a lot in terms of mainstream hip-hop. Was that a conscious decision that you made?

KR: Yeah, I have always been a minimalist. I like that approach because I feel like when you have the right stuff, you don’t need a lot of instruments in the track. Less is more, especially when it comes to music. And hip-hop is basically just big drums. That’s how it started, big drums over whatever. Drums and melody; I love stripped down music.

You can check out more about King Reign by visiting and on Twitter.

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