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(Image: Rell Be Free)

Artist of the Week: Rell Be Free

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long has the band been around/writing together/performing?
Rell Be Free: The band, or me? Haha. I been making music for close to a decade, but came into music as a poet and emcee. I’ve been on stages as long as I can remember, from throwing and hosting shows to performing. I just always have been around the arts and creating spaces for underground and upcoming artists. Over the last three years since I’ve been releasing solo projects, this platform and my dedication have been growing more and more. Shoutout to my supporters.

Where does your inspiration come from? What other musical artists do you take inspo from?
Publicizing your art doesn’t make it art, the process of creating it is the art. The product is the artifact - the film, the song, the painting. For me, I am constantly creating because it’s who and how I am. Connecting my music-making process and self-expression to the idea of what will be put into the world is another process, and for me, that’s grounded in the love of making music first. From that, everything I’m a part of inspires me. I learned from elders that “everything in nature has a song,” and some songs I really want to sing and other songs I moreso want people to hear or learn about. I love the stories and songs being told by Black womxn in music right now – stories and songs that can’t come from ANYBODY but them. That inspires me. International artists, multilingual musicians, all that. That’s what I’m getting to. That’s what talking bout.

What kind of genre is your music? What kinds of things do you write about?
My music is grounded in hip-hop, like, I RAP. But also, why even limit the sounds with a genre? Me, my squad, the producers and musicians I make music with are influenced by literally everything, so the sounds we make intersects across the board. The more you create, the further a genre bends, so maybe I’ll have a different answer in another three years. I expect the stories I need to tell will be different then too. I write about everything: family, love, the hood, my hometown. I definitely address more “political” and what people call “conscious” topics, and that’s a function of who I am. So that ain't going nowhere! But definitely, more concerned with making music about feelings than thoughts, and that’s something I had to grow in.

Do you have one song that means more to you or is extremely special to you?
The outro on NRG is a joint called “Fax,” produced by the young homie Darius Ballou from Rainier Beach, it's one of my favorites right now. I just keep it 100 and talk my sh*t to be honest! The original name of the beat was “the typa beat you spit deada** fax” haha. So I had to do that. It sound like some classic 90’s rap but in a fresh and new style. Kinda telling my story, dropping book and street knowledge, and giving some insight to where I’m headed. The last song on all my projects are like alley-oops to what’s coming next.

What experiences in your life have shaped your music/art?
I make music to reflect on things I’ve been thru and seen, and to create worlds that don’t exist anywhere but my head. Growing up in the south end still shapes who I am, all my music is laced with south end references, and I bring all my successes back. I’m still here too. My family, my ancestors, spirituality help shape my art, for real! My family has musical roots, so it was already in me to be this. I’ve lost homies and family, and I’m also surrounded by loved ones! Juxtaposition, ya know. Balance, gratefulness. I’m also driven by more than music, and dedicated ultimately to elevating Black people worldwide, so that kind of revolutionary content will always be a part of my art.

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find? What about upcoming shows?
Music is available on Tidal, Spotify, and Apple Music. Some select music is available on Soundcloud too! I got a few projects in the works and 2020 is gonna be that time, so stay tuned. Keep up with shows, content, and merch on my Instagram. Also, go check out the platform for my crew, The Autumn Club. The studio I record out of, Mead Street Studio, also has a jam session podcast called “Broke Speakers” that y’all should go check out!

What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
Yes! I started out making music when I was 18, with homies/a band called “Cold Water Theatre.” Shout out to all them, especially luna g0d who produced most of my first two projects. Well, I’m getting back to them roots and really making everything with live instruments, performing with a band. Stuff I been doing for years, but really honing in on sounds and loving the process. Dope things coming out of that, more merchandise, travels, and content. Hella.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
Ummm can I have some tea instead? Something with lavender, hold the coffee.