John Reuben has Enough Songs for a New Album [INTERVIEW]
After a prolonged absence from the music scene, Christian emcee John Reuben broke his silence on what he’s been “dippity doin” the last few years.
Rapzilla sought out John Reuben after the positive feedback we received from our KJ-52 article where he explained Reuben was signed to Gotee Records over him. The readers clamored to know what happened to John, so we asked him ourselves!
In 2010, Reuben moved from Columbus, Ohio to Los Angeles, to work with his brother Danny Zappin at Maker Studios. He took a job and decided to transition a little bit.
He saw an opportunity to still be creative and learn some new skill sets while taking the job. The company focuses on creative content and branding for YouTube, and Danny had helped launch the business.
He was there for three or four years and now is in Nashville working on a lot of other projects. The “Professional Rapper” is also a professional family man, as he is married and raising a young daughter.
“I had always thought I’d figure out the next way to reintroduce the next wave of what I was doing musically,” said John. “But I got so busy with life and working that I just didn’t have time to devote to my own personal career.”
2010 was the last time John said he was truly active. Now, he lives down the street from some familiar faces, the Gotee Records guys.
John always kind of knew when he’d step away from music, and seemed to predict it on the dot. “I always kind of thought in terms of a decade, and oddly enough that’s the time frame I was active. A lot of life happened. I had my daughter and didn’t want to be on the road as much.”
However, just like any true artist, John could never really quit his love for music. He has always written, even throughout the downtime. For him, it is refreshing to write without having to worry about a commercial release. It is also a “therapeutic” way for him to work out his faith and ideas of God.
“There’s a lot of ideas floating around that if I ever hunkered down and put it together, I’d have a collection of songs,” he said with a laugh, alluding to a possible album. “I’m getting the itch to see what it would look like, but truth be told I actually enjoy writing for myself and using it as a creative outlet. I gotta say, the stuff I do write is pretty good.”
John has not played a show since 2012’s Life Light Fest in South Dakota and really stopped all music “pretty hard” in 2010.
He admitted that many of the details toward the end were a bit blurry because he hadn’t thought about it in awhile. This was the warning he gave at the beginning of the interview as he mentally uncovered some of the layers of his artistry that were tucked away. Reuben said he had not done an interview in “some time” so this would be a little difficult for him. But as he opened up, the question of “coming back” as an older, family man, out of the loop rapper was brought up.
Quite simply, John called it “coming back as an old man.” (For the record he is only 37).
Would this be a difficult transition, would it be a believable comeback, is he too far removed? This is what John Reuben sought to answer.
“I think that could very well be true depending on who the emcee is and trying to be,” said John regarding a believable return. “The thing about what I did, I think I never really was in style. I feel like the kind of music I was making and the music I continue to make, even when I was young, it was dare I say, timeless.”
He feels like there are a lot older guys who are successful that have been around awhile. The beauty of John’s music was, he was never striving to be relevant. He was striving to write what he likes.
“I’m pretty confident in what I make. If you love your stuff and you believe it, then you should do it because it’s fulfilling. I can’t tell you whether the kids are going to love it or not. I have a hard time figuring out what the scene looks like. I’m outside of all of that,” he said honestly.
He continued, “It was funny back in the day to tell people I was a rapper because I never fit the part anyway…It’s always been ‘You’re this bizarre white dude doing hip-hop music’.”
With that being said, Reuben wants to ensure everyone that he will “never” be a legacy artist. There is no desire in him to jump in a van and play 250-300 youth groups a year again. His head space is occupied by “Make the best piece of art you love and believe it whole-heartedly.”
In today’s day and age, anyone has the potential to carve out their path in music. He said there may be fewer rap stars and more DIY artists doing what they love and finding people who love it. If he were to come back, he would approach it the same way, even if it meant finding one person at a time to listen to his craft.
Stay tuned to Rapzilla next Monday to hear part two with John Reuben where he talks about his favorite rappers and bands, the change in Christian hip-hop since he started, and his humble beginnings.