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On the Radar: Interview with Deraj of Reflection Music Group

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The following piece is a part of our On The Radar series including individuals that have been placed on our radar, and we encourage you to have them on yours.

By the end of 2013, Orlando-based rapper Deraj signed with Reflection Music Group and then in February 2014, he released his EP ‘Mirrors and Medicine.’ Deraj is an up and coming artist who has been featured on tracks with Derek Minor, Canon, Je’Kob, Roy Tosh, and many others.

Along with Deraj being a creative artist, he is also a graphic designer and is behind most of RMG’s cover art. Get to know a little bit about Deraj as he talks about how he connected with RMG, his musical influences, the concept behind Mirrors and Medicine and more.

Wadeoradio.com: Who is Deraj? Where are you from? Can you give us a back story to who you are?

Deraj: I am an all around creative guy. I’m an hybrid native of Maryland and Virginia but have been residing in Orlando, FL, since late 2007, where I attended Full Sail University for Digital Arts and Design while doing local and national shows as an independent artist.

WOR: How did you get connected with Reflection Music Group?

Deraj: In the most peculiar way. In response to a tweet Derek Minor (formerly PRo) sent inquiring about the need for a graphic designer, I sent over my portfolio site and after doing a series of projects we established a very strong working and personal relationship.

WOR: Did you start out doing graphics for RMG? Which graphics or designs are you responsible for, when it comes to RMG?

Deraj: Yes, graphic design was what “got my foot in the door” so to say. I’ve worked on all the major releases we’ve put out including, ‘Welcome to the Family’, ‘The Tillman’ EP, ‘Mad Haven’, ‘Spare Change’, ‘Mirrors and Medicine’, ‘PSA V3’, and many others.

WOR: How long have you been doing graphics?

Deraj: I began working more consistently on graphic design in 2005-2006.

WOR: How long have you been doing music?

Deraj: I was on and off with music from a young age, writing my first rap at 9, but I didn’t begin seriously working on music until around age 17, which was in 2006 or so.

WOR: How would you describe your music?

Deraj: Creative, refreshing, alternative Hip hop…it’s very me!

WOR: Can you explain the concept behind your ‘Mirrors and Medicine’ EP?

Deraj: Mirrors to reveal and medicine to heal is the theme behind M&M. We all need to see ourselves for who we are and sometimes we don’t always like what we see in the mirror. We also all need medicine at times for healing; physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc., but we tend to reject it. So the two things we most need in life, namely Mirrors & Medicine, are the two things we like to run from, and this EP gives the listener the chance to confront both.

WOR: What do you hope the listener gets from listening to your music?

Deraj: I hope listeners are able to be encouraged to take an honest look inwardly and pay attention to the things we may ignore. To have the courage to be who they were designed and created to be.

WOR: What is your creative process like when you do a project or song?

Deraj: It’s interesting because I noticed just about every track on the project developed organically. There wasn’t a lot, or any, preplanned songs but everything arose more spontaneous than not. The concept for the album came in the process of already having quite a few songs developed.

WOR: What was your first experience with Christian Hip Hop?

Deraj: I believe it was in the middle of my 9th grade year when I began to attend my youth group is when I first was introduced to the genre.

WOR: Who are your musical inspirations?

Deraj: As far as Hip hop, some artists I’ve appreciate previously and currently are Kanye West, Andre 3000, Lecrae & Reach Records, Mali Music, Childish Gambino, Pharrell, Drake, Kid Cudi, Da’ T.R.U.T.H., just to name a few.

WOR: What are 3 things that you would want people to know about you or your music?

Deraj:

  • That it’s true to who I am.
  • It aims to bring about hope and change.
  • It will inspire others to be creative.

WOR: What are your 3 favorite Christian Hip hop projects of all time?

Deraj: Lecrae’s ‘After The Music Stops’, ‘Rebel’ & Da’ T.R.U.T.H.’s ‘Moment of Truth’.

WOR: As an up and coming artist, what are 3 tips you would give to other artists?

Deraj:

  • Ask questions and get a mentor.
  • Be faithful with what you’re given.
  • Know your value and worth

WOR: What are your upcoming ventures for 2014? Possibly a full-length project later this year?

Deraj: We’re working towards more music as well as traveling and doing more shows. Look for me in your city and keep in touch with us at JustDeraj.com and ReflectionMusicGroup.com.

Deraj’s Mirrors and Medicine is currently available on iTunes.

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Mikaela "Laide Mak" McIntosh is an editor and reporter for Wadeoradio.com. She can also be heard on the Wade-O Radio Show. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Mass Media from Valdosta State University and a Master of Arts degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. You can follow her on Twitter @Mikaelalaidemak.

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