We’re chilling in my apartment in Mid City Los Angeles. Terrence Howard’s face flashes across the flat screen TV intermittently while an episode of Empire plays. Rapper Reese LAFLARE is lying on the massive yellow couch in the middle of the living room. This doubles as Reese’s bed while he stays at our house. One of my roommates met Reese on a business trip to Atlanta.
Reese has been rapping since 2012, but coming in to 2017, he’s on the verge of breaking out. He recently dropped a six song mixtape with Key! (as the Been Had Boyz), highlighted by the track “Money Phone,” featuring Offset from Migos. Throughout his career over the past few years, Reese has worked with a who’s who of Atlanta stalwarts, including Gucci Mane (who gave Reese to use “LaFlare” in his name), Young Thug, and Metro Boomin. A track with Reese and PARTYNEXTDOOR leaked this past August, giving hope that his long awaited Reese vs. The Universe project is on the way.
Since he started staying with us, we’ve found out that in addition to being a rapper, Reese is also a massive homie. So we let him crash on the couch while he visited LA and met with record companies. And as compensation, Reese sat down for an interview to discuss his Gucci Mane-approved name, his past life as a skateboarder and his beef with Lil Uzi Vert.
How you doing?
I’m good, chilling here, watching Empire on the yellow submarine [aka your couch].
Let’s get right to it. For those out there that don’t know you, where are you from?
I’m from the 4-4. It’s a Boulevard—it’s in the middle of Atlanta, it’s like downtown. It’s the neighborhood Martin Luther King, Jr. was from. I stay on the east side right now in Decatur on Candler Road—shoutout Peso, shoutout the Dope Hole.
Peso is my homie, and the Dope Hole is pretty much just a trap spot on the East Side.
Let’s talk about what rappers influenced you heavily when you were coming up as an artist?
The Hot Boys. Gucci Mane—it was really those guys—and Dipset. I like Dipset a lot. I didn’t even like rap when all them were rapping—I just started rapping in 2012, but those are the rappers and stuff that I’d be like, “Damn, if I rap, this is what I’d do.” Oh, and Dom Kennedy was one of them as well. Dom Kennedy was a big influence on me starting music and stuff.
For me, the name that really stands out is Gucci—do you mind just talking a little bit about your relationship with him?
Gucci’s the big homie. I first met him when he had his studio. It was on Memorial—on the east side. My homie C4—he’s a producer—I would always go over there with him and like Metro [Boomin], [Young] Thug, Peewee Longway, The Migos, everybody would be there, so that’s how I met Gucci. He’s the one I got the LaFlare from in my name.
Right, and how did that come about?
I made this song called Reese Man LaFlare, and I flipped like an old Gucci freestyle he did on the Come Up DVD made a song out of it on a Zaytoven beat, and that’s kinda like how that was. I always considered myself like the Gucci Mane of like the…
Of the next generation kinda?
I’m the Gucci Mane of all that. And Gucci gave me the pass to use the LAFLARE in my name.
Yeah, he’s the man. He’s sick.
Moving away from rap for a second, you used to be a professional skater?
Almost, I was semi-pro. I was there—almost in that neighborhood. I had a few big name sponsors. That was always like my number one thing. I’ve been skateboarding for like 17 years. Skateboarding and music culture, they run hand in hand—there wouldn’t be one without the other, because skateboarding is street culture. Music, skateboarding, and fashion.
Were you perceived as a fish out of water by the skating world? And was skating for you something that was a cultural norm, considering where you come from?
You’d think it, that I’d be a minority, but it’s crazy, because in the skateboarding world—black people skateboarding—I’m not really a minority, because some of the most well-known street skaters and respected ones are black dudes.
Now, to the rest of the world, yes, I caught flack for skating, because they didn’t get it—they didn’t understand it. “Oh, you’re trying to be a white boy” and all that, but little did they know, that’s just one part of me. I just fucked with skateboarding. It was just cool. I played sports. That shit was whack. Sports was whack to me. Period.
Like why play basketball when you could skate?
I’m actually alright at basketball. It’s football—my brother played football. I’m too pretty for that shit. Fuck that shit.
Do you have a persona that you use when you make songs?
There’s Reese—which is me, but then there’s Reese LAFLARE. The Reese LAFLARE is the rapper me. Like he’s just—he’s a shiny enigma. Like he just pop up places. You just see diamonds in his mouth and shit like that. And I be like extra. But me, I’m pretty chill. What you think, Tommy?
Tommy: Yeah, he’s pretty chill.
Even when I’m on rapper mode, I’m super chill and very nice.
Would you say there are any other personality differences between Reese LAFLAREand just Reese?
Not really. Reese LAFLARE is just icier—let’s leave it like that.
T: He’s the ignorant rapper version of you.
Yeah, he’s the ignorant rapper version of me, that’s all it is.
One last question, it’s probably one that you knew was coming: what exactly happened in your squab with you and Lil Uzi Vert?
To keep it short, him and his whole group of people tried to run off with my whole persona, then he tried to disrespect me on a social media platform by telling lies, so I had to put him in his place.
First off he started off by saying he socked me, which is a complete lie, because ain’t no rapper never put they hands on me, never. And I put that on my life. I swear to God that never happened. He just lied on social media about it, so I did what you’re supposed to do in rap, bar somebody up. I saw him today in the airport.
Okay, how’d that go?
It was cool. It was whatever. Wasn’t no ra-ra shit. I just walked up to him and said what’s hapnin’. We talked about some shit.
So, there’s no beef with you guys, at this point?
I mean, I don’t fuck with him, but it’s not on some like I’m gonna go shoot your grandma’s house up and shit. I just—you know when you don’t fuck with someone—you can keep it mutual and just not fuck with them. That’s how it be.
100%, like a mutual understanding from a distance. Before we wrap up, is there anything you wanna plug that you have coming out soon?
Yeah, I got an album coming out Reese vs. The Universe, It’s aboutta be sick. Lotta surprises on there. I got some other shit coming out soon—I ain’t telling people yet who it’s with, but it’s gonna be tight.
Leo Abbe is the Writing editor at Not Mad.