It’s twenty minuets before show time, and Rahbi is dressed and ready to take the stage. Rahbi’s wearing his gold leopard print tights, gold boots, a glove on his right hand with a pearl pinky ring and bracelets on his wrist, shades, Greco-Roman themed necklace, and a laurel wreath crown. If you’ve ever met Rahbi, or have seen perform, then you know his clothes are an extension of his personality: fun, passionate, unconventional, and challenging norms. Born and raised in Atlanta, Rahbi is the product of a rich musical tradition that has influenced and shaped his artistry. After having spent the early part of his career signed to LA Reid, and touring supporting other artists, Rahbi has been making major strides with his own music, amassing a following of fans he calls, The Beautiful People.
Following performances at New York City’s legendary, Rockwood Music Hall, Rahbi made a stop by Philadelphia’s Pubb Webb, and I, along with The Larry Lambert Project, had the opportunity to play behind him. After the show I talked to Rahbi about his performance, music culture in Atlanta, some of the lessons he’s learned from being signed to LA Reid, and more. Here’s our conversation:
Stanley: First, I want to get into the show you just played in Philly. I had a lot of fun playing behind you! The music is great for the audience and musicians. You're a really gifted and talented performer.
Performing in a new city, where you're being introduced to a new audience of people, some for the first time, what was your mindset?
Rahbi: Thanks for those compliments. You too are a musical beast! It was a pleasure to have you be a part of the magic.
I was extremely excited to be performing in a new city. I hadn't been to Philly since my days as a background singer for Donnie. So, coming back as a solo artist was definitely lit! I never know what to expect from new crowds. It keeps me on my toes & forces me to make fresh choices during performances. It's like a rush.
Stanley: You've been performing and recording for a little while now -- over 15 years, but I’m curious to know how you got your start in music?
Rahbi: I've been singing professionally since 7th grade and was signed to a major record deal by La Reid as part of the boy band 4th Avenue. After high school, I went on to major in vocal performance at Georgia State University where I was classically trained. I later switched my major to Music Management. While at Georgia State, I joined a musical theatre group and it soon became a new passion. During my last semester at Georgia State, I began traveling the world as a background singer for Motown recording artist Donnie. All of this before I even realized I wanted to be a solo artist. So I guess you can say that was some pretty cool training, lol.
Stanley Wow, that's incredible that you've had so many different types of experiences!
Your background in performance theatre really stands out in your live shows. I can say from witnessing you perform that you're giving the audience more than just vocals, or dancing.
Rahbi: Bro, thank you so much! And yes, it's def more than vocals & dancing. It's about an honest connection to the music...the message...and the audience. And living in that moment!
Stanley: When you were a part of 4th Avenue, and signed to LA Reid, what did you take away from that experience?
1. Learn to write, produce, & know where your money is going
2. Know yourself & define your core values. Once you discover that, only align yourself with people/projects with those same values.
3. Be Innovative, Fearless & have FUN. Most folks out here are Non Creative, Followers & BORING.
4. GOD is your biggest plug and has already given you everything you need. Have faith with action and watch your every dream come true!
Stanley: That's really great advice, especially from someone whose been in the industry for so long.
Atlanta has become known for its rap/trap scene, and to some extent its mainstream R&B scene. But, can you talk some about the indie R&B culture?
Rahbi: I do agree. Atlanta is widely known for trap and straight ahead R&B music. However, there is sooooo much more. We have an endless amount of talented artists that create rock, soul, jazz, gospel, electronica, glam, folk, house music & more... Since the introduction of artists like Janelle Monae, Jidenna, & St. Beauty, I feel people are starting to realize that Atlanta has a lot more to offer musically. The indie artists here are also started to unite on songs, videos, shows and more. This assists in making our voices even stronger. I even curated my own concert series entitled Strange Fruit, which highlighted the eclectic artists of all art forms and genres! Here's a song by my fellow Atlanta Rockstar, Willie Hyn that I was a part of entitled Art Class!
Stanley We all go through different phases/chapters of our lives. What would you call this chapter of your life?
Rahbi Hmmmm I guess I'd call it "Laying The Foundation." Over the years I've seen what it takes to successfully make a name for yourself as a artist. 1. Focus 2. Vision 3. Self Respect 4. Faith w/ Action & 5. Responsibility
I've been forced to learn the ins & outs of the business and how to create my own opportunities. When you do that, nothing can stop you! My foundation is now stronger than ever before and I'm excited to release new artistic offerings for my Beautiful People to enjoy all over the world.