Reggie Becton, an R&B singer-songwriter based in LA, has steadily been making a name for himself in the R&B scene. This Maryland native has already made some huge accomplishments in his career such as writing for Alex Vaughn, being in Apple Music’s “Artists We’ll Love” for two consecutive years and even selling out his first headlining tour: HOM3 tour . With the smooth vocals and solid story-telling found in releases such as ‘My Beanies Orange’ and ‘California’, he has given us hope for new-school R&B. We believe he will be one of the leading acts of R&B coming up in this industry
Reggie just released his fourth project ‘SADBOY VOL 1’ and is clearly moving into a different chapter of his career through the project. Influences of Brandy, Prince, and Avant can all be found throughout this project, reminding us why we are continually impressed with how he is experimenting in the R&B genre. We talked to Reggie about the making of ‘SADBOY’, writing songs with Alex Vaughn, what he learned from being around Darkchild and Camper, and much more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We were supposed to link a while ago for your HOM3 tour, so I did my research on you back then. I wanted to just touch on some things from the past before we hop into your project. I was checking out your bio on Soundcloud, and it said “Maryland native, found my sound in Philadelphia, and pursuing my dream in LA”. Give a brief summary of your journey going off of that statement right there, especially about finding your sound in Philly.
Reggie Becton: I’m from PG County Maryland, and that’s very dear to me. I love being from that area. I think that there’s so much talent there and I think that our taste in music people from the DMV is so eclectic. I think a big part of it is due to Go-Go.I feel like that’s where I developed. Then I went to college in Philadelphia at Temple University. When I was out in Temple, that’s when I first bought some studio equipment. I won a scholarship and I had more money than I needed that semester, so they sent me the additional money.I was like, all right, I’m gonna buy some studio equipment. That was like the first time I really started recording and recording myself. That’s why I say I found my sound in Philly because I think that’s where I like tested the waters musically, developed musically and things like that. Now, I’m living in LA and I’ve been here for six years.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Like I said, I was doing research a while ago and something that really stuck out to me was you mentioning Trin-i-tee 5:7. I never heard anybody talk about them, and that’s one of the groups that I love. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your inspirations? You could talk about them if you want.
Reggie Becton: I think they’re just part of my musical sonic development. My mom loved Trin-i-tee 5:7, so when I was a kid, it was their albums and the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. That’s who my mom was listening to. When I would be with my dad, we would listen to Ike and Tina Turner, Scarface and a lot of Keith Sweat. I think that’s where I got that side of things. My sister was growing up in the 90s, so she was listening to a lot of Brandy, Destiny’s Child and things like that. All those sounds kind of always inspired me to just really fall in love with R&B and music in general. As I started to progress, l started to listen to Tank and Avant. I just thought their voices and their tones were cool to hear as a man growing up listening to R&B. When I started recording, I would always refer to their records and try to emulate them, especially Avant. Emulating Avant’s tone is something that I always am trying because I think he has just one of the best tones. Brandy and Prince, they’re both huge inspirations too. They’re people that I found later on in life. I always knew about Brandy and Prince of course, but I did deep dives in both of their discographies and that’s when I truly fell in love. And then Marvin Gay rounds out my top five inspirations with him just being a great singer as he is. He’s also from DC which is like a hometown hero in a way, so that’s a big inspiration as well.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Let’s actually hop into your project SADBOY VOL 1. Compare California and SADBOY VOL 1 sonically because to me they’re different. Did you consciously make that decision to come in a little bit different for this project?
Reggie Becton: Being a Prince fan, there’s always been a sophistication to his music and he always trained his audience to never get used to one thing, so when I go in and create projects, I kind of take that approach as well. California sounds nothing like SADBOY but California sounds nothing like My Beanies Orange, and My Beanies Orange sounds nothing like Thank You For Listening. I always purposely try to switch it up with every project, with every new era in a way. I try to train my fans to never really expect the expected, like always be open to understanding the sonic identity or the sonic playground I want to play in during that project.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You touched on your inspirations, but were you listening to specific people when you made this project?
Reggie Becton: Yeah, I listened to a lot of JMSN. He’s one of my favorite singers today. He has a great taste in soul. I listened to a lot of Marvin and Prince, two great inspirations, on this project. Jazmine Sullivan, just listening to “Heaux Tales” and how she crafted songs lyrically was also a big inspiration. I would say those are about it.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Was there a certain purpose or meaning behind SADBOY? Or was it a collection of songs more so?
Reggie Becton: There definitely was a meaning. I think in general, the meaning was to create songs that redefine sadness and kind of showcase how sadness appears differently in your life at different times, and that sadness is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s something we all feel and it’s something that we all experience and I think we sometimes run away from. There’s certain emotions we judge, we put negative connotations on and I just wanted to kind of redefine this term of sadness. Some fans will come up to me and say, “Your music is really sad” or people will be like, “You make heartbreak music” and things like that. I wanted to kind of play into that idea of this sad music thing and call the project SADBOY,
YouKnowIGotSoul: Let’s hop into a few of the songs off the project. Tell me your inspiration behind it, your process, who you worked with, whatever you want to talk about. Let’s start out with “SWAY”.
Reggie Becton: “SWAY” is one of my favorites off the project. I tell people all the time, I wish all my songs could sound like “SWAY”. I think it’s one of the songs that represents the sonic identity of SADBOY. When I was working with producers for this project, I would tell them everything has to have a bounce to it. I had come from off a tour and I realized how much music moves people and how mid tempos when you’re a new artist didn’t really get people moving, but if you had a nice beat people would be more into it. I was listening to that Writing’s On The Wall Destiny’s Child album, all those songs had a good bounce to them. So that was a requirement for all the songs [ on SADBOY].
With Sway, I was like I wanna do more rock Infused music. I wanna be more soulful. I wanna be more experimental. Me and Aiden who produced it, we started to craft it out in his studio together. We really fell in love with that sample of the keys. That organ sample sounds chilling and haunting. The word sway just kept coming up to me while we were creating the beat for that song. And I’m like, okay, sway sounds like a cool title, but what do I write about in “SWAY”?. I wanted the first verse to kind of be super ambiguous so you didn’t know what I was talking about. Then by the chorus, really explode and just keep the energy high. Shout out to Ja because he helped produce the song. He did the drums on that. He sped it up, he did a lot of those fine tunings that made the song even more special.
YouKnowIGotSoul: It’s such a unique song man. It’s definitely a blend of everything we kind of talked about, you know? Tell me a little bit about “LIFE”
Reggie Becton: I was listening to California the other day and I like how much more mature some of the subject matter is … I wouldn’t even say mature, but I think with California I was going through a lot and I wanted to write music about what was going on in my life at the time. With SADBOY it’s about what was going on in my life, but it’s a lot more fun. I feel like I had a lot more fun creating this project. At the time period I was having fun in all areas of life and I like how much more sensual the songs on SADBOY sound compared to California.
I think with “LIFE” it’s like such a sensual record, but it’s also such a loving record and calming record in a way. It just feels good once you’re listening to it. I really wanted to create a song that expressed how it feels to like get some good love and get some good love one time and want it for the rest of your life. So that’s kind of how the approach to life came to be. I started it on my guitar.I have these chords that I just love. I play a little bit of guitar, I’m no John Mayor or Jimmi Hendrix, but I play enough to get by. There’s one chord that I just love. Um, and I like will craft like new sauce set same chord. And life was one of those songs that I crafted to that chord. And my producers are like, no, like, we gotta find something else. So once they changed it and they added production, the song that I originally wrote did not make sense over it. So we kind of gave it a full renovational rehaul, and that’s how “LIFE” came to be.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Well, it’s definitely meant to be the way it came out then. The last song and first song really stuck out to me. So talk about “LETTIN’ GO” a little bit, and then we’ll hop into the first song.
Reggie Becton: Like you said, the first and last song, they are both standouts in a way. I think with “LETTIN’ GO” we was in the studio like “let’s make the most beautiful breakup song ever”. Shout out to Ariana Wong and Ja, who helped me also write that one. I think it’s cool because it leaves the project on a high note. It’s a sad song, but it depends on how you take it. If you’re really paying attention to the lyrics, then it definitely feels sad. But if you just listen to the beat, it feels like a sunny day in California driving down to the beach, you know? But the subject and the lyrics we were talking about is hella sad. You’re talking about seeing someone for the last time and I just love the juxtaposition in music and the juxtaposition in life. So we really just wanted to create something that felt like a mature breakup. Like we both understand we can’t continue down this road, so let’s part ways in a completely copacetic way.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I think, like you said, letting go. It kind of just shows what this project is in my eyes, in terms of the juxtaposition. You know, I think that’s the perfect song to kind of just really, that captures that and yeah. Tell me a little bit about the first song on the project, “SADBOY”
Reggie Becton: To me it’s the song that represented the sonic identity the most, like R&B in Gotham City. I feel like that song, you know, feels like the Joker origin story. It feels like the beginning of a film. While I was creating this project, I was heavily inspired by films like The Dark Knight and Kill Bill, and just how music played a part in those films to really create an experience and to really set a mood. With the songs that we created for SADBOY, I really wanted to make sure the mood of all of them and the feeling of all of them was captured and felt as you listened to it. I think with that song, it just feels like a theme song. It feels like a song that overencompasses all of my experiences in love and just why I am the way I am. It feels like the introduction of a character, and it’s the introduction of SADBOY and the world he’s been living in.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I love that concept and everything. I gotta ask now, cuz I know this is volume one, is there volume two coming?
Reggie Becton: There is a volume two coming. Volume two is tentatively coming in the fall. I’m super excited about it. We’ve created some of the songs during the SADBOY sessions, so I’m excited to go back in and start to listen to them to see what we structure the rest as.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Awesome. I don’t know if you could say anything about it, but is it similar sonically as this project?
Reggie Becton: I would say sonically it is similar. There’s the bounce thing. I know that I want it to be a bit brighter and a little less Gotham City-ish for “SADBOY VOL 2”. But, who knows? I always feel like I’ll find my projects while I’m recording them. I’m intentionally going into the studio to get something brighter or some more movement, some more groove. But, some days I wake up like, “yeah, I don’t think I’m finished” you know? In my dark era, I’m not finished yet. So it just all depends how I feel that day.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I’m looking forward to that. How was that experience writing for Alex Vaugn and how did it happen? Also, what did you learn from being around Darkchild?
Reggie Becton: Working with Alex was great. We’re both from the same city, so we both understand each other very well. We actually met on the set of my “Issues” video. She came on set of that and we met through a friend named KV. That’s the first time we met in person and we kind of just kept in touch from that and our relationship continued to grow. Then I got a call to go write some songs for her in Florida with Rodney Jerkins. I was super excited to go and I hopped on a plane. Me and Alex just got to chop it up a lot during that time. After that, we went in and me and Boche, who helped me write “So Be It” and some of the other songs, we just started knocking songs out. Alex has so much talent that she makes it easy. Like you said, there’s a lot of artists that’s not intentional these days. I felt like being in the studio with her. I was like being in the studio with my reflection in a way, cuz she was so intentional. She cared about every line she worked on. She cared about every line she sang. There were certain lines that we would write and she would be like, no, that’s not really me. She would change it and it would be so much better. She’s down to take risks. She’s not rigid in any way, and she’s a sweet person in general.
So, I was super happy that I got that opportunity and then when it was like Rodney Jerkins was attached to it, this is a no-brainer. Like he produced Full Moon, which is my favorite R&B album, and I really got to sit in the studio with him for a week and just soak up so much knowledge, game and techniques. It was just cool to see how he is still a student of the game and he’s still embracing all the new acts. He’s on Sza’s album, like, he’s embracing everybody. He’s just a champion of talent and lover of music in general. He understands drill, he understands R&B of the 90s, but he also understands what R&B is today and he embraces it all. I think that it was so cool to see someone who’s about 20, 30 years into their career and still be down to listen to the new music of today’s time and not judge it in a negative way.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Absolutely. I mean, I think that’s why he’s still relevant today.
Reggie Becton: No , really. I forgot to bring my Never Say Never album to get him to sign it, but I texted him after the session. I was like “Yo, I need you to sign it”. He was like, “I got you, next time I see you.”
YouKnowIGotSoul: I was gonna ask you your favorite Brandy songs later, but if you wanna talk about Never Say Never, man, we can talk about that album.
Reggie Becton: I think all Brandy albums are masterclasses on everything R&B. If you’re a producer, like the production on there is light years ahead of the s*** that’s been made today. When you think about her vocals, harmonies, background arrangements and stacking its like light years ahead of everything today. I think songs like Angel in Disguise, like how do you think of something like that? When you listen to a song like “Streets”, at the end of it, it’s like “calling me, calling me, calling me, calling me”, That is a super rip off of Brandy when she does it at the end of her song [ “Learn The Hard Way”]. I was like this just fits perfectly. So that was one that Streets was heavily inspired by. My favorite song from Never Say Never is “put that on everything”. That’s like my top three, probably a top two Brandy song for me in life in general. Everything works in that song so well together. Even “E.T.G.M.E” on California, there are some of the same production elements that’s found in “put that on everything”. That’s so specifically done cuz in “E.T.G.M.E” s the first song I ever produced myself. I had these loops sent to me and all these files, it was like a Darkchild loops and sounds he uses. And I was like, “oh, if I’m gonna produce a record, I’m definitely going into the Darkchild bag.”
YouKnowIGotSoul: No, absolutely. You actually took the question that I wanted to ask and answered it perfectly. We can talk about Brandy all day, so let’s go back to you. I know you worked with Camper during that time too, did you learn anything from him?
Reggie Becton: Working with Camper was great. He’s super cool. I wanna say he’s like from Atlantic City, he is from the East coast so he is just super down to earth. The greatest thing about working with Camper was he has a talent of making everybody comfortable. I don’t know if he intentionally does it, but it’s just an energy that surrounds him or aura around him, it’s just a very comfortable setting to be in and the work out of. The thing I loved about working with him was how encouraging he was of Alex and me at the same time. But, really with Alex and supporting her vision and how patient he was with her writing. Again, she’s very intentional about what she wants to say, so she wants to think about it. She wants to decide on it is just the right way to say these things. I think that was the coolest thing to watch him be patient because sometimes, a lot of times you can go in the studio and you can be writing songs and producers can make you feel a bit rushed or that you’re taking too long because like, you know, some people record faster. I know even with me sometimes I’m in the studio and I’m really going back and forth for 20 minutes over one line because it’s that important to me.
He just really took his time with all the songs we created and he was just cool. He’s a ball of energy. So that was cool to see. Seeing him work in person, I didn’t understand the magnitude of a piano player he was. His piano chops are phenomenal and he has great like musicality and choice direction. If you listen to the end of “Demon Time” and how it switches to that piano section, it’s just genius.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Any more goals for this year?
Reggie Becton: Putting SADBOY out is a priority and making sure that it comes out successfully in May. We’ll probably do some touring and some spot dates, we still got that New York show to make up. We have a SADBOY short series coming in the summer. It’ll be seven episodes all inspired by the music of SADBOY . Each episode features one of the songs and is based and centered around the song. I’m excited about that because it’s something I created with my director, Chris Felix, and I got to act in it. I also got to bring the music to life. Going back to capturing feeling and being as heavily inspired by cinema and tv, we wanted to create a visual identity for the world that SADBOY lives in, let people experience the music that way. It’s coming in the summer for seven weeks, so I think that’ll be a really cool thing. And then, I’ll start recording SADBOY VOL 2, which I’m super excited about. We recorded some songs that I really f****ing love right now. Then it’ll probably come out in the and we’ll probably tour later on in the fall. So all exciting things, but like that’s a lot where my schedule is for now. Who knows what could happen though?
YouKnowIGotSoul: I’m looking forward to all of that. Especially that seven week movie basically that’s coming.
Reggie Becton: Yeah, it’s like a short film, but we just wanted to break it up in episodes. I’m a big fan of TV and like binge watching things, so I’m like, let’s break it up into seven episodes and then it gives us seven weeks in the summer consistently to be dropping a piece of visual content I think people would really enjoy.
YouKnowIGotSoul: My last question before rapid questions, are you still working a nine to five?
Reggie Becton: Yes. I’m still working the nine to five, which keeps me very tired to be completely honest. It’s not something I thought I would be working this long, but it really helps when it comes to funding different things and creative endeavors that I want to do. So I’m super grateful that I have it.
YouKnowIGotSoul: How do you balance that life? Do you have any advice for artists trying to do that?
Reggie Becton: There’s a lot of no sleep, so it’s getting used to figuring out how to function off of three to four hours of sleep every day.
It’s a true talent of mine. I think it’s great because like being able to have your own money to invest in your own career is great. Like, you know, you can get a deal, you can get all these different things, you can get an investor, but let’s say you want to create a video series and the investor doesn’t want to pay for it. At least you have your own money to say, “okay, I can pay for it and fund my own opportunity”. So I think that’s one of the cool aspects of it. I think another way I manage it is, I don’t take vacations. All my vacation time or paid time off goes to music. So it’s like trying to use music as the fun part of your life, cus’ this is your hobby. Especially when you’re early on, like it’s super your hobby. Right now it doesn’t feel like a hobby for me anymore. I’m still in a place of trying to figure out if that is a bad or good thing. But you know, I use all my vacation time if there’s a tour coming up. That’s when I go on vacation and then I’ll tour. Then I’ll try to have two or three days at the end of that vacation period just for myself to kind of have some space between both things that I’m working on. I use a lot of sick time off too. Take mental health days when I’m really tired sometimes and use sick days for those days, so it’s a lot of finesse. It’s a lot of trying to figure out the balance of it all. A lot of sleepless nights and just getting used to being tired. I’ve been working for like seven years as I’ve been making this music thing. Now I’m finally at a place where I’m like, alright, I could leave the job and be pretty good, but I don’t wanna leave just yet. I want to give it a little bit more time. I always told myself I would leave when it was just impossible to do both and right now it’s not, it hasn’t become impossible. It’s become a lot harder. It becomes so much harder to the point where like, now I’m truly prioritizing my rest. I’m just figuring out how to balance all things now, in general.
Rapid Questions (Check Video For Full Answers)
Full Moon – Brandy
Love Symbols – Prince
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West
Voyage to India- India Arie
Favorite Song right now?
“Crocs” – Jordan Ward
“Sailor Moon” – LAYA
“Push Start” – French Montana & Coi Leray
Favorite Song Off Of Full Moon?
Tracks 2 – 12 ( “When You Touch Me” , “I Thought” …)
An album you wish you were featured on?
Anti – Rihanna
A song you wish you wrote?
“In The Air” – Destin Conrad
PJ Morton, Brandy, Avant, Goldlink
Favorite song off of SADBOY VOL 1 ?
“SELF CONTROL” – Reggie Becton
PHOTO CREDIT: @DAKMPA