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The record deal never materialized, but an internship at Def Jam opened the door to a world he'd only dreamed about. Through his older brother's connections as a hip-hop journalist, Rahsaan found himself in the same rooms with Lyor Cohen, Russell Simmons, Kevin Liles (all of whom helped build Def Jam into a record label heavyweight) and other tastemakers of the genre. He raps about some of this in his music, and naysayers would probably assume none of it was real.
"Everything that I rap about is true. At least 90 percent of it. That other small percentage is stuff that happened to people so close to me that I can talk about it. Being real on the mic is the only way I know how to be. I don't make up shit."
The sincerity in his lyrics is vivid. Sometimes, it's bone-chillingly refreshing, as topics like abortions with former lovers and the death of his father at age 15 are all fair game. He knows he's not a thug — most of his rhymes are closer to emo than hood, but it's his raw honesty and decision to open himself up that win.
"It's definitely easier for me to be more honest in my rhymes than I am regularly," Rahsaan says. "I say shit in a verse that I would never want to talk about in a regular conversation. This is my way of releasing."
Listen to the tracks of his releases, God's Gift and A Fly Guy's Mixtape, and there is a sense that Rahsaan is in need of therapy and we are his couch.
But the gritty production of the Marksmen, who carve out all 25 beats on Rahsaan's latest cooker, help balance this out.
He says he feels good being back in Miami, and you can find him in all types of venues from South Beach to hood lounges, blessing the crowd with his gift.
"When I think of Rakim's 'Microphone Fiend...,'" Rahsaan says, "I'm the epitome of that shit. I don't care how raunchy the venue is, how shitty the sound system is; as long as you have a mic in the building that works, I want that shit. Hip-hop is my drug man... I just love it."