LOS ANGELES, CA – One of the most profound moments in music history was the day Michael Jackson introduced the world to the moonwalk.
Rej Archi wasn’t alive in 1983 when Michael Jackson first performed the move during a performance of “Billie Jean” on Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever – but he remembers vividly the first time he saw it. He was age 6, and MTV was showing a tribute to Michael Jackson. When he saw the moonwalk for the first time, it changed his life.
“It was the first thing I ever saw that made me want to do music,” Rej Archi said. “After that I saw the Thriller video and fell in love with dancing. I was in awe. I’ve always loved music – there’s always been something about it that woke me up inside and connected with me. And that was the moment that I knew I was going to be a musician.”
It wasn’t long before he was following a similar career path to that of Michael Jackson – performing live shows with his church choir and singing at the City Stage at the age of 9. He began to learn as many instruments as he could – from trumpet and French horn to acoustic guitar and piano. He began to study the great musicians – artists like James Brown, P Funk, Daft Punk and R. Kelly. And he began to hone his dance moves – first with breakdancing and then evolving into a more eclectic dance style.
But there weren’t a lot of avenues for a young, aspiring musician in Birmingham, AL, where he grew up. So when he was old enough he chose to move to Los Angeles, where he linked with Sound Squad Pro and started to further develop his talents. This past march, Rej Archi released his debut single, “Monumental.” To date it has streamed more than 1 million times on Soundcloud and has seen more than 26,000 plays on Spotify.
“’Monumental’ came about because I’m admirer of R&B,” Rej Archi said. “I came up on the soulful music, but in the early 90s I fell in love with R&B. And it seems like that’s some of the greatest music we’ve seen lately. So as I was writing this song, talking about the greatest love, it hit me that all of those things combined is monumental, which is how you feel when you think about the greatest love ever. It was just history from there.”
“Monumental” is the first single off a full project that Rej Archi hopes to release early next year. The second single, “Naked Monkey,” was released at the end of September and is already seeing a positive response from fans. He said he co-wrote these singles with Snipe Young and two other Nine22music Group artists. “Naked Monkey,” he said, is a song that also pays homage to a genre of music that he loves: funk.
“When you hear it you feel like the gritty, old-school side of funk,” he said. “When I’m breakdancing I love funk music. I’ll listen to anything inspirational enough to move to, and it’s that fun side of funk that I wanted to tap into. I wanted to create something for people to dance to. I’m also from the south in Alabama, so I wanted to stay closer to the soulful side of funk. And even though the song is about the harsh realities of trying to make it in California – in Hollywood with the bright lights – it’s a dance song that allows you to be carefree.”
“The reason I wanted to do more up-tempo music is because of the times we’re living in right now,” he continued. “There’s so much negativity and struggle and heartbreak going on in the world, and I want to give people a place to get away from all of that. I still want to talk about love and heartbreak and all that stuff. Some things need to be said. But at the same time we need to escape from it. If we don’t, we’ll just keep going in a downward spiral. There’s a time and a place for everything, and I just want to give people an escape and a different way.”
Fans can check out his new single on iTunes, or by following him on social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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