Keeping it (Riley) Real

Local MC releases new EP

By Chris Jay 06/27/2013

The game has changed. No longer do artists pound the pavement with fliers and invite folks to their shows with personal phone calls and postcards in the mail. These days it’s all Facebook event pages, group texts and re-tweets. New artists spend far more time promoting on social media and making videos on YouTube than actually writing, rehearsing, recording and, God forbid, performing. This obviously leads to a massive disparity when it comes to talent and exposure. It’s a problem in almost all music genres but in the rap world, it’s an epidemic. Locally, however, there’s one MC that keeps it real.

Riley Real, is a 30-year-old rapper from Ventura whose work ethic and output harks back to a pre-social media world when an artist had to pay actual dues before achieving any success, even on a local level.

“What I’ve witnessed over the past few years is a massive change in how artists work and what they focus on,” laments Real. “I’m not singling out hip-hop, either. I’m talking about all genres. With social media, things became really competitive. Everyone worried about followers and likes instead of focusing on the music and on the show. You see acts all the time and think, “Of course you have to still be a part of that and use it as a tool; but me and my crew, we are focused on not worrying about other people or what other artists are doing and instead focus on what makes us happy, which ultimately is the music.”

Not that anything has ever been particularly easy for Real (real name Edward Abbott), who is the father of a young boy, Miles, and who holds down a day job in between being involved in all things hip-hop. Though it’s been played out since the early days of Eminem, Real is white, and in rap, that still means, unfortunately, that out of the gate you’re treated differently. You find yourself on the defensive before you even rock the mic; and despite more than a decade of recording and performing, Real still has to deal with it.

“Yeah, I’m white. Yeah, I’m a rapper. Yeah, I still deal with that,” he laughs. “For me, you can hear the difference between someone who is real and someone who’s not. I’ll let the listener decide which one I am. You can’t see music; you have to feel it.”

Real hasn’t let detractors or stereotypes stand in his way, though. He’s released two full-length records, several mix tapes and is gearing up to release R.E.A.L. 2.0, the second volume of a series of four EPs. The release is arguably his best to date and features a host of collaborations, guest artists and producers that read like a who’s who of 805 hip-hop, complete with names that could break a supercomputer’s spell check.

So what’s next for the workaholic MC who is already working on the next chapter of his EP series before the release party for the current one has even happened?

“I’m a true believer in the theory that whatever adversity you face when you start is the key to your success in the future. I am moving forward, surrounding myself with good people. Started a great group, the Modern Day Poetz, and as long as we keep it  about the music and the songs, it’s all good.”

As for seeking out a major label deal, Riley keeps it like his namesake.

“No major label A&R on the lookout for a white rapper from the 805,” he laughs. “Like one of the songs on the new EP says, I’m on the independent grind now.”                      

The release party for Riley Real’s R.E.A.L. 2.0 takes place Thursday, June 27 at Bombay Bar. Along with Real, the night will feature sets from Mer5e, Roc* It Ent., Niylus, Abel G., the Modern Day Poetz and more. For more information and to check out tracks off the new EP, visit


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