“We try to focus on the rap with more substance— we focus on lyrics and story telling, music that can resonate over time.” Nolan Knudsen and Reggie Ruiz are rebranding the “SoundCloud Rapper” name with new, next generation rap.
Knudsen and Ruiz both grew up listening to all genres of music. Both were drawn to rap, growing up on J Cole and Eminem. In fifth grade Ruiz would go home and print rap lyrics and practice them over and over again. Knudsen, on the other hand, prefers to print out lyrics online now. After asking the two of them about the general life of a “SoundCloud Rapper,” Knudsen immediately took a deep breath, preparing to give a speech he’s most likely given before: “There’s a bad connotation around SoundCloud rappers because, at the moment, rap is shifted to this place where it’s just talking about drugs and sex… that’s not gonna push anyone anywhere.” Ruiz nodded his head agreeingly while Knudsen added, “Even when you tell your friends you’re a SoundCloud rapper, they get the same look every time,” claiming he could easily picture it in his mind. He talks about how they tell you they’ll listen to your music to support you, but it’s not something they will ever take seriously because of the negative connotations of SoundCloud rapping. However, Ruiz and Knudsen are not your average SoundCloud rappers; their music comes from real and pure intentions, both wanting to put out songs to help and inspire other people in the same way that rap helped and inspired them.
Ruiz, who has always been drawn to the creative expression of music, officially started his first song in fifth grade. He is now following in the footsteps of his role models and talks about creating rap in the same way you create art. He easily said, “If you could read the lyrics without any music, and it still means something to you regardless of the cool sounds, that’s more than what a lot of rap is now.” Knudsen, on the other hand, knew he was going to do something in music and let his passion develop over time. He started writing in eighth grade and has been expanding his love for rap by supporting and listening to artists like Nas, Kendrick, and Mac Miller. Since then, he is currently trying to evolve his art form in the same way Ruiz is;“Our country isn’t in the best situation right now, so why not bring people together with music with substance.” Both can agree they have improved monumentally, Knudsen recalling that he recorded his first song on Skullcandy headphones. Together they are both constantly looking for ways to improve: “I thought, ‘Ok that was cool. How can I make it better from last time?’ and I didn’t like that quality audio, so I just kept going back”
Ruiz and Knudsen have spent a lot of time producing music and developing their creation. When asked about how far he has come, Ruiz smiled, already proud of his music and how it affects his life; he said “At first you’re trippin over what you’re saying, but after a little, you realize it’s your art, and everything you create is from your experiences, and once you learn how to hone that and intertwine that with other things, it starts becoming a lifestyle.” Knowing how music has changed and molded their lives, they both take what they do seriously, putting positive messages and positive intent into their music. Knudsen said he would love it if more people listened to his music, Ruiz agreeing that he wants to help people in the many ways that music has helped him. When Knudsen talks about his passion, you can see how much he loves what he does; he comments, “I would love if more people could listen to what we’re saying and hear the things we gotta say. We’re not just some SoundCloud rappers, and we’re not just some people trying to do it for the attention or the money. We literally just want to spread a message and help some people out. If that’s what we can do with our music, then that’s it; I’m complete.” Both rappers wanting to express themselves creatively with their music and help other people to create and find the freedom they found in writing and rapping.
When they first met in summer school, Ruiz was taking geometry to get ahead and Knudsen had to retake algebra. They sat at the same table and eventually bonded through lyrics, both realizing they had rapping in common, and then grew a connection from there. Growing closer through the beats and rhythms they knew and loved.
Given their experience, the two of them have a lot of advice to give to aspiring SoundCloud rappers and artists in general. Ruiz talked about the way your passion for music can grow; commenting, “Once you love it and you can embrace that you love it, it feels easier. You don’t get discouraged; it’s not a chore. You start having fun with it. You start pushing yourself to try something new… experimenting, being open, and always being willing to create.” Knudsen brought the component of fear, speaking from past experience and his own experiences when he first started writing; he exhaled, “You can’t be afraid— it’s not always gonna hit… You never really know, so it’s a constant back to the drawing board. If it doesn’t work, you try again and redo it again.” Both encouraged that you never stop or give up because you feel defeated. You should always remember why you’re rapping and the message you want to share.
Ruiz and Knudsen have an account on Instagram you can support: @in2ition02, and for more, you can follow their SoundClouds @Thomas Nollzz and @Rekless Rm. Knudsen and Ruiz talk about how they appreciate their support so much, that they constantly are putting out music for the people who will listen. Knudsen smiles when he talks about his love for the people that support him and why he keeps going. With the confidence of someone who knows the innerworks of rapping he begins “Remember why you’re doing it.. remember the people who are supporting you because they’re gonna be people with you from the jump and for me I appreciate that to the moon and back”.
Both rappers couldn’t have even dreamt of where they are now, unknowing of the possibility they would find their passions at this stage in their lives. Knudsen closed with a final thought, “Through music, people will listen. People will take the time and hear the lyrics. There are songs out there that will open your mind up to what’s going on. This is the world we live in; it’s dark at times, and its light at times, but it’s our world, and we gotta stay together.”