“I know a majority of Newark has probably heard my music.”
Rahlison Raeign Al-Khaliq was born and raised in Newark, played football and led the track for Heath, and now the 24-year-old would be the first Newark-based rap musician to become verified on SoundCloud.
“People are listening in Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati,” he said. “People my father’s and mother’s age. Even my grandmother looks at my things.
His aggressive rap lyrics might not be for everyone. Yet, in October 2021, RAEIGN SUPREME exploded overnight on Soundcloud.
“My first song to hit 1 million [SoundCloud plays] was ‘9 IN THE PM’, accompanied by a YouTube music video. I told my mum and my friends said, ‘Brother, your music is low key now’ – I didn’t expect it to hit like that.
RAEIGN released their debut songs, “DON’T CROSS ME” and “9 IN THE PM” on 9/24 as a nod to their record label, 924 Entertainment. The label was founded by Raeign’s father, Ramon R. Al-Khaliq (formerly known as Smith), and the “924” comes from their home in Newark.
“Everything happened back home, good and bad,” said Raeign, who records, mixes and masters from his home studio. It’s the same home where he says he was robbed at gunpoint with his mother when he was five, creating lingering challenges with PTSD and anxiety.
“It’s where I come from – from the bottom. I’m just trying to reach the top; put Newark on the map.
Raeign’s father died of Covid-19 in October 2020. A well-known barber and music industry entrepreneur (named DJ Psyklone), Ramon was deeply connected to New York-based rappers including Jay-Z and the Wu – Clan Tang. He was recognized as the 19-year-old grand prize winner of Rap Master Magazine’s “Freshest Haircuts of 1989” contest and used his platform to begin filming performances by Jay-Z and Wu-Tang Clan.
“Growing up around the hip hop scene is all I’ve ever known,” Raeign said.
Ramon’s memories continue to inspire Raeign as a musician and a man.
“My dad and I planned all this musical stuff, and then he passed away,” Raeign said. “I was lost for a while, but when the summer of 2021 came around, I decided I had to get back on the road, do what I’m supposed to do. I invested all my money in my music; I bought all my gear and started buying exclusive licensed beats.
In October 2021, a year after his father’s death, RAEIGN released “924 Presents: Psyklone”. The album contains seven unreleased tracks made by DJ Psyklone in the early 2000s.
A few weeks later, RAEIGN released another single, “Psyk’s Clone”, honoring his father with a lyrical hook that lands on “I be stuntin’ like my dad”.
“Once December  hit, I got an email from SoundCloud saying I had been verified,” Raeign said. “I’m still in shock…there are no words to describe.” RAEIGN is also a verified artist on Spotify.
He is proud that every homophone – rain, reign and kidney – is contained in his name.
“I rule over the whole kingdom,” he said, “much like the ‘king of kings’.”
Raeign remembers being influenced by rapper 50 Cent. He and his dad saw him live on the “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” world tour. “BACK DOWN PT. 2″ is a tribute to 50 Cent’s “Back Down,” adapting the Super Bowl performer’s hook while inserting an original flow.
He works alone most of the time, in Newark, managing his late father’s label and keeping an eye on other local musicians.
“So far I’ve done everything on my own, recording independently, because I can’t wait or depend on the next man to do it,” he said. “I have to do it now because time is everything, and the time is now. Everything you want in this life, you have to go get it now. Time waits for neither man nor woman.
“I try to do my best so that my people are also recognized,” he added. “Since Newark is so small, it’s special to see people like me stepping onto the music scene.”
As for his own come-up, Raeign struggled in school with communication skills. He took speech therapy classes from fourth to tenth grade, but often felt like an outcast before he found his rap outlet.
“It’s crazy how much better I can communicate through music,” he said.
His lyrics often refer to anger and violence, but he sees it as a symbol of his struggle, not actual hatred.
“I know people think I’m violent and all that, but that’s not really it. It’s partly the music I listened to growing up,” Raeign said. “I’m not here to promote violence, I’m here to set an example for my fans to follow their dreams.”