New ID: Rob Regal Talks Name Change, New Project & Redskins Name Controversy

 

Under the rap alias Lyriciss, 26-year-old Rob Bailey spent an entire decade amassing fans, rocking stages in his home state of Maryland and across the nation, releasing three critically acclaimed full-length projects, and earning nods from hip hop giants like DJ Premier and Sway. So after giving the world his strongest body of work to date, The Balancein 2013, you might expect him to keep pushing Lyriciss to the masses. Instead, he’s wiped Lyriciss off the map like a man on the run, and in his place steps Rob Regal.

Regal is gearing up to release his next project, The Reflection, this fall, and just recently let go of the visuals for the title track and first offering from it, demonstrating a hunger and evidence that though Lyricss is gone, the lyricist is not. Sporting a new moniker and new focus from when I spoke with him nearly three years ago, I caught up with Rob Regal to chop it up about his plans going forward and just why he ditched his old identity.

Interview by Julian Caldwell a.k.a JSWISS (@jswisshere)

JC: Why the name change at this point in time and deep into your career?

Rob Regal: I was really big about versatility, but with a name like Lyriciss I kept getting beats that were straight backpack beats and it was kind of keeping me in a box of how people viewed me. And I can’t really blame them for that because the most known songs were really backpack hip hop type joints, like “The Balance.” I felt like it was kind of a misconception though that that was all that I was about and that’s all I wanted to do as an artist, and I had to grow out of that and I had to be proactive in making sure that people noticed the change. So I wanted to put the Lyriciss name to rest, and I wanted to give the people more of me as an artist, and my real name is Rob.

And the second part of that was finding something that’s gonna represent myself as a person. And people are really glorifying the lifestyle of trapping, f**king random women and stuff like that, and I’m more into carrying myself like a king would. So Rob Regal was born out of that.

 

JC: So has Lyriciss died or has he just transitioned into something different?

Rob Regal: Lyriciss is always Lyriciss, but Lyriciss doesn’t exist anymore because I threw him off the train while it was moving. Rob Regal has alaways been Lyriciss and Lyriciss has always been Rob Regal, now there’s just a name to it. In my favor I feel it takes away the expectation for crazy lyrical metaphors, because I’m always gonna do that anyway, but now people don’t have to just expect it.

I dropped this song called “Blinded” back in 2009. It was a story track. It was a dope story and people that heard it and got it, they got it. But the people who didn’t get it, they were like, ‘Yo his name’s Lyriciss, this song isn’t very lyrical. Where are all the punchlines and metaphors and similes?’ And it’s a story song, it’s a concept song. But because of my name you’re not gonna get the point of the song. So that’s why the name change was such a big thing to me. I need people to focus more on the music than the name.

 

JC: What’s been the biggest challenge in changing the name?

Rob Regal: I think right now it’s just catching everybody up that knew me as Lyriciss and [fans] realizing that I’m still him. The only differences that I can think of are positive. I think the name Rob Regal has the better ring. I think as a artist I’ve grown. Now it’s about getting the people that were supporting me before to come back and really see what’s going on.robregal1

JC: Are you familiar with the online search battle you’re in now with the comedian Rob Riggle?

Rob Regal: Yea whenever you try to Google me it goes to Rob Riggle (laughs). That’s kind of tight though because I like Rob Riggle. I specifically watch Fox NFL Sundays for his segment. He’s one of my favorite characters in every movie he’s in. So I’m not mad, I’m just mad at the fact I’m not white so it’s not closer in comparison when they do Google it.

Other than that it’s cool. That just comes with putting out more content. It’s the same thing as when I came out as Lyriciss. When I first started really getting on the scene in ’08, ’09, when I would put in Lyriciss, it would default to ‘lyricists.’ By the time 2010, 2011 hit, when you put in Lyriciss, it would go straight to me.

 

JC: In your public letter you talked about cornering yourself while trying to make a masterpiece. Talk about the struggle as Lyriciss of making a classic album.

Rob Regal: I think anybody who’s an artist who’s serious about their craft always wants to make a classic on every project they make. So it was always that pressure. And then with a name like Lyriciss where people are scrutinizing every f**king word you say, it was even more pressure. So that’s what I went into with The Balance. 

When I was working on that project I wanted perfection and perfection was not an easy thing to grasp. I still say that project was a classic, people who have heard it call it a classic, but just not enough people heard it. So now it’s the pressure of bringing something new to the table with the whole Rob Regal thing.

And I realized there was something missing on The Balance that’s going to make The Reflection more of a classic project. Like I’m really using this project to give my story, my life and everything that comes with it. I feel like The Balance was very conceptual and I did that very well, but this time it’s time to really let people know who I am.

JC: How far are you into the project?

Rob Regal: The Reflection is completely written. I’ve recorded maybe 30 percent of the album, just because of stuff that’s been going on with my family. But I will have the project done recorded by the end of the month. We already got the recording schedule laid out and everything. That’ll drop probably in the middle of September before I go down to A3C [Hip Hop Festival].

JC: So what are some topics that you haven’t touched on in the past that you do on The Reflection?

Rob Regal: A lot of stuff in my personal life I never touched on really. Like I may have alluded to some things, but I never really gave the details or anything like that. So that’s what I’m really doing with this project. robregal3I’m really taking time out to talk about my time that I did out there doing things I wasn’t supposed to do. These are things I didn’t talk about because I have a daughter. My daughter’s six [years old]; I didn’t want her to hear some of these songs and question things and not understand it. But at this point my daughter is intelligent, so if there are any questions, she can ask me about it and we can talk about it. I can tell her this is not the life to live. I did it, I made a mistake, I made a few mistakes, and this is how you should carry yourself.

I’m talking about my family. I’m talking about the fact that my father had a stroke a month and a half ago that paralyzed the right side of his body. I talk about the fact that my mother is about to lose her house. I touch on my daughter’s mother having lupus. I touch on a lot of things on this project that I would have never touched on, but now I can do it without having any regrets about it.

JC: Do you think you would be able to make this project if you were still going by the name Lyriciss?

Rob Regal: No, I couldn’t have done it. I couldn’t have done it. That was another reason why I made the change. I wasn’t happy anymore as Lyriciss. There was no happiness in saying the name. The accomplishments were cool, but aside from that I wasn’t happy with the name anymore because i didn’t feel like Lyriciss anymore. I can’t be this person to save hip hop like a lot of the [DC, Maryland, Virginia] area looked at me because if I’m gonna do it, I gotta do it on my own terms.

JC: Speaking of the DMV area, how do you feel the hip hop scene in that area matches up to the rest of the country?

Rob Regal: If we’re gonna talk about artistically, creatively, I feel like the DMV is one of the best musical areas out there, period. There’s so much versatility. You want trap music, drill music, you want that classic hip hop feel, you can get all that here. It’s like a weird melting pot. And I love the area for that because that represents our lifestyle very well.But as far as the business side, we’re behind everybody at least 10 years I feel.robregal2

There’s a very small amount of rappers out here that get out. There’s Wale, Fat Trel, Shy Glizzy and Lightshow. And Phil Ade is on that brink, and Chaz French is breaking out right now, and Logic. Logic did it, he’s a genius for what he did.

JC: Why do you say Logic is a genius?

Rob Regal: Because he went completely left of what everybody else here did. The mecca of hip hop here is U Street. Everybody came out of U Street, from me, Wale, Tabi [Bonney], RATheMC, Fat Trel, we all was on the U Street scene. Logic didn’t really do the U Street scene. He came out to Georgia Ave when they were having shows at Everlasting Life Cafe, that’s where I met him. Nobody liked him out there for real. They hated on him heavy because he looks white. So they were like ‘Who’s this white kid with the old Jay Z flow? F**k him.’ And I was like he’s dope. And that’s the reason why when he came back and toured last year he had me open up for him because he remembered I was one of the people who showed him love.

What he did was he hit the Georgia Ave scene for a second, then he started going at the colleges. University of Maryland, George Washington University. Then he started going to the national predominantly white colleges and picking up those fans. And those are the fans that are gonna support. And that just took him to the next level.

 

JC: So, being in the DC area and into sports as well I know you’re a big Redskins fan. What’s your opinion on the whole name controversy?

Rob Regal: It puts me in an awkward position, cuz I’ve been a Skins fan since birth.  I was born February 1, 1988, five hours after the Skins won the Super Bowl with Doug Williams, so I’m very attached to the team. But at the same time I’m also a Chickasaw. My Native American roots are pretty deep from me to my mother to my grandmother, all the way back. We’ve done our whole family tree, been to the reservations, all that stuff. So, I’ve never personally been offended by the term, but at the same time I feel like if enough people are speaking out and they feel offended, then you should do something. I’m not gonna sit here and not support the team because of it, because again I’ve never personally been offended by it, but I do understand struggle. Even as a black person in America I understand feeling disrespected for who you are and taking offense to something.

I do feel like Dan Snyder needs to go ahead respond the right way to what’s going on. All this trying to cut deals with Native Americans and all that, I don’t dig that at all. He needs to just go ahead and do what they want done, and change the name and keep it moving.robregal4

JC: I’ve heard the suggestion of just changing the name to just ‘Skins,’ what do you think of that?

Rob Regal: I think that’s wack. I think that’s a wack name. You know what I like that I saw is the Washington Warriors. I think Washington Warriors would definitely be the best change in my opinion. Cuz Warriors doesn’t have any type of connotation to any kind of ethnicity. It could be Roman warriors, Greek warriors, Native American warriors, African warriors. It could be whatever. A warrior is someone who stands strong in the midst of a fight. I think that’s dope and that kind of embodies football. I played football for eight years. I know what it’s like to be out there in the trenches, that works perfectly.

Washington’s gotta do something. At the end of the day I’ll support the team, but I will definitely support them even more when they change the name and show some humanity. Cuz at the end of the day it’s about more than dollar signs. I do feel like Snyder and this whole thing really does come down to the dollar sign on that one. Because you’ve got years and years of branding with the Skins. But you can always change it. Plenty of franchises change their team names all the time and still make it work.

To watch Rob Regal work out his own name change look for The Reflection to drop in September and the follow up album The Regal Era he plans to release in 2015. He’ll also be performing at the A3C Hip Hop Festival in Atlanta, GA, which takes place October 8-12.

Follow him own Twitter @RobRegal301

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