The New Orleans, LA born, Tennessee raised artist RJAE has accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. He’s signed to NBA Youngboy’s Never Broke Again label featuring the likes of NoCap and Quando Rondo. Before that, he was on tour with A Boogie and his Highbridge collective at the age of 16. Years have passed, and with that time has come a lot of knowledge and experience that RJAE is looking to infuse with his music. He’s stepping into his own and ready to carry the flag for the Never Broke Again label.

How would you describe your childhood… what was growing up in New Orleans, LA like? 

This one is always a weird question for me. See I was born in Louisiana but I feel like a lot of my most important years were spent in Tennessee due to us being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. I don’t try to claim two different states or anything like that. I feel like I am truly a Louisianamal but growing up, a lot of the Louisiana culture I wasn’t necessarily put onto. But from my years of being back in New Orleans music has been the mission so of course it’s been hard, but that’s anywhere trying to come up. I think it’s been a lot more inspiring and motivational than anything though 

What was it like seeing the run Lil Wayne had, coming from your city and becoming the biggest rapper in the world? Did he inspire you to rap? 

Wayne is the goat straight up. I’m bringing it up again because it played a role in my whole story. When Katrina hit I remember long ass rides listening to Wayne on repeat. Then years later, Carter 3 had dropped, and as a kid listening to that album and to ”Tie My Hands” I remember just thinking, “wow.” It meant a lot because he was rapping about something I saw with my own eyes. Now that I’m older I go back to that album a lot for ideas and things like that. “Dr.Carter” and “Comfortable” are daily listens. He had a huge impact on me while other inspirations came through leading me to rap. 

How was growing up and seeing so many rappers from your state including Wayne, Boosie, and Webbie put on for all of Louisiana? 

I didn’t get to really see that too much. Growing up with basically a single mother, I vaguely remember listening to some  Boosie or Webbie. I might have seen it on BET or heard them hit type records like ”Set It off” “Show Da Wolrd”l,”  but because of me not being in Louisiana around the time of their run, I wasn’t really put on too much. Just a lot of Wayne, truly. Watching Wayne was like watching a Martian for real. Somebody who can do pretty much any genre with the grills, tattoos, and still be real and authentic was dope as hell to watch. 

So when you get a little bit older and decide that it’s time to take rap seriously, I want to know if there was something you wanted to do before you settled on becoming a successful rapper? 

Not that I can remember. I think all kids have that typical dream of being like the president or like a superhero or something but as far as I can remember I’ve always wanted to write rhymes. 

How hard was it in the beginning of your career, to be on top of recording music, promoting it yourself, and handling the business from a young age? 

It was never too hard staying on top of these things myself because it started as fun, you know? It was also a plus that I was exceptionally good at it so the amount of love I was getting from the internet kept me motivated to keep having fun. Although I probably should have, I wasn’t looking at it as a business as a kid. I was more so thinking it was a way for me to express myself. 

Talk about how your life changed after linking up with A Boogie after you released your song A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie? How did he find the song and what was your reaction when he found out he was rocking with it? 

I’m not sure how he found the song, I just remember being in school when I released it thinking to myself “man this was stupid he not gonna respond to this.” By the time I got home it was viral and he hit my dm that night. I must’ve been 16 at the time but I was shocked and confused as hell. His lingo threw me off. He texted me and said “send me your math.” I was stuck but overall I just was excited he even had responded because I knew that the lane he was taking with this rap industry is what I wanted to do. I sent bro my number and we been locked in. 

What was it like touring with A Boogie, what did you learn about touring and doing shows in that time away? And how important was it for you to step outside of New Orleans and experience all these different cities? 

Being on tour at such a young age alongside one of the greatest artists in the world was a blessing I felt I needed. In many ways, he prepared me for the crazy lifestyle that comes with being an artist: barely getting any sleep, barely getting anything to eat from just working. It’s a different type of grind. I definitely learned that when it’s go time, it’s go time and to just live it up and give them a show. During that time big bro also taught me how to record and just get better with Pro tools altogether. To me I felt like that was very important. I had just gotten out of high school and didn’t really know what I was going to do next. College was an option but in my head I was like, “what the hell am I going to go to college for, I just want to be the greatest rapper to live.” My idols didn’t go to college to be the best. I felt I was a bit lost and needed the reassurance that music was it for me. 

Talk about the following months after getting the A Boogie co-sign and how you elevated beyond the co-sign including your debut performance at House of Blues New Orleans. 

Now that I look back I kind of feel like that’s where it all started for me just watching that tour and being around A and other big artists. I had seen it all now. I wanted to be on that level for myself so it was all about, “I know that I want to do this now how do we get RJAE to the next level?” I started working with Fee Banks (my manager) and just been propelling my career since then. The House of Blues was my first big performance but definitely was an honor to be on the same stage as so many great talents, from there on went to do more shows and just worked 10x harder gaining a whole new following. 

What about what you were building caught the attention of Good Money Global and NBA Youngboy’s  Never Broke Again camp? 

I would say just a strong fan base as a solo artist with such a versatile style of music. 

What’s your relationship now with NBA Youngboy and the other artists on the label including Quando Rondo and NoCap? 

My relationship with YB is like any brotherly relationship. Big bro is really solid and makes sure everybody eats regardless. I’d be lying if I said that my relationship with everyone on the label was the same though, or that I chop it up with everyone on a daily. It’s a good bit of us you know, but I can say I’m really close with ROJAY, that’s literally like my blood brother and so is PY. They’re who I talk to the most, or who really just keeps in contact with me the most. But we all family and when we do link it’s nothing but the most love and all the guys winning – that’s the most important thing. I’m honored to be a part of greatness. FREE MEECHY!! 

What’d you think about NBA Youngboy’s rise, coming straight out of Baton Rouge and being extremely vulnerable and raw in his music? 

I think coming straight out the gate a lot of people hated him for being so vulnerable and for being so raw but hip-hop is supposed to be provocative. So it was damn near inevitable for him to blow with his consistency. Watching it for myself I was just like “damn.” Seeing how he had everyone my age rapping his lyrics up the hall, he was who everyone talked about and who every young kid wanted to be. Seeing someone so young with so much influence was a sight to see, damn near like my older cousins and younger uncles watching Wayne. 

At the time of you officially joining NBA Youngboy’s NBA label, how would you describe the type of music you were making? 

I would say I was still trying to find my sound but around that time. I was dropping pain music, “Not a Love Story,” “Fallen Souljas,” “Reflections,” records like that. 

What’s your recording process like… how frequently are you recording? Are you writing or punching in usually? And what do you need in the studio to create the vibe you need to record? 

I do both writing and punching but mainly punches. Every studio I go to now has to have my template for me to at least record now. But as far as the complete vibe: I need, water, fruit, tea, and honey just to keep myself locked in. 

With the new single, “4 I Go”, what tone is this single supposed to set for how your music is going to sound this year? 

I’m learning to be more and more vulnerable in my music so I feel that’s what they’re going to start getting a lot of from me. That and just more of a consistent sound. 

You’re coming off the momentum of being featured on the Never Broke Again compilation tape, what do you plan on doing this year to capitalize on all of these eyes that are watching you and the NBA camp? 

I plan to tour, and just consistently put out good quality music and videos.