ONE-ON-ONE With Lucas and Adrian Rezza aka 80 Empire
80 Empire wants you to know they’re aiming for world domination. That’s quite a lofty goal for two brothers who hail from the suburbs of Toronto, but give them a half-hour to share their story and suddenly their passion is not only palpable it’s plausible. Ladies and Gentlemen, prepare for new rules.
First: The number “80” in their moniker isn’t a not-so-subtle homage to an 80’s revival in music these days. Their songs are in fact informed by a cross-generational pastiche of Pop, R&B, and Club music. The “80” is the phonetic of “A-D.” As in Analog/Digital. Clever these brothers, eh? And quite appropriate. for Analog/Digital aptly describes their personalities to a proverbial tee. One, is emotional and impulsive favoring Antiques and things with age and patina (Analog), while the other is ordered and methodical with a penchant for Star Wars and all things technological (Digital). It’s a unique combination, just like their music.
ONETEN MAG: Please introduce yourselves to the readers: Hey what up yall we are brothers Lucas and Adrian Rezza aka 80 Empire and owners of Gladiator records.
ONETEN MAG: How dd two Italian brothers from Woodbridge, Canada get involved with making Hip-Hop music? We actually grew up in Richmond Hill and Maple and lived in North York for a year. When we got married Lucas moved to Woodbridge and our studio was there. We now live in the Niagara region. We were very fortunate growing up to have parents who exposed us to such a rich culture, from music and art to live theatre. Our parents were Big Fans of RnB, Funk, Soul music etc...when we were kids our dad brought us to see Beatstreet and then we were hooked. We loved every aspect of the culture from break dancing to rapping and making music. I think the fact that our parents also loved James Brown really influenced us growing up. Most kids in our neighborhood liked Duran Duran or Bon Jovi we looked up to James Brown and Big Daddy Kane. When Biggie said " Do you remember rappin' Duke da ha da ha you never thought that hip-hop would take it this far " - we related it to that. I used to DJ class parties with cassette tapes in the 5th grade and Da Ha was one of the Jams I would play. None of the other kids knew any of the tunes I ever played. We also dressed as Morris Day and the Time one Halloween and again teachers and kids had no clue haha.
ONETEN MAG: At what age did you guys start writing and making music? We started rapping and beatboxing super young but didn't really start pursuing it seriously until we were in our teens. Our mom aka Gangsta P would drop us off every Saturday at our cousin Justin's house and we would practice all day, Justin on drums, Lucas on the piano, and I would write and perform the raps and sing.
ONETEN MAG: Who first inspired you to make music? Definitely Gangsta P and Jabu aka Mom and Dad. They were and really are still such a vital inspiration to the musical blueprint that is 80 Empire and Gladiator records. We really owe our love of music to them. In terms of musicians and artists, James Brown, 2 Pac, Sam Cooke, Dr. Dre, Zapp and Roger Troutman, Smokey Robinson, Kid and Play, Ice Cube, and the list goes on.
ONETEN MAG: Now you guys have worked with some big names in the industry at one time? Who was the first major artist you had the pleasure of being in the studio with and how was that experience? We have been fortunate to work with some amazing artists over the years from Clyde Walter Orange of the legendary Commodores to quite recently doing songs with Conway the Machine, Benny the Butcher, and Crooked 1. I think working with Clyde had to have been the coolest experience for us. Growing up we used to go to Ontario place by the Toronto waterfront. They used to have a revolving stage called the forum. Our parents took us to see everyone from Chaka Khan to Ray Charles and James Brown. One of our fondest memories was seeing the Commodores in concert, so to work with Clyde so many years later at his home studio was so cool for us. Then he did a show at a casino in Ontario.... he's on stage and shouting us out " Luke, Adrian yall meet me in the back " we were geeked out over that acknowledgment, Clyde is a legend. He told us so many great stories in the studio, too many dope gems he shared with us from Michael Jackson to how he created Brick House... that would have to be a whole other interview.
ONETEN MAG: What would you guys be doing right now if it weren’t for your music career? I think we'd always be involved somehow... Adrian - I love antiques and vintage things maybe I'd get into the antique game. Lucas - Lover of horror films so probably something in that world, special effects.
ONETEN MAG: Now being producers and songwriters, please give us three of your all-time producers and songwriters that made an impact on your music and style? Has to be Dr. Dre, Quincy Jones, and a draw between Pete Rock and the Neptunes.
ONETEN MAG: What is the best advice you have been given? I think our parents have never steered us wrong and have always given us the best advice. Be kind, stay grounded and humble, treat others the way you want to be treated, etc... However, Levi Little of Black street once told us in his studio " when someone is willing to pay you, take the money upfront cause you may never see it again. " ( and not in those exact words ). We don't look at this like an avarice thing, we perceive it more as when you have an opportunity to jump on it and recognize your self-worth. This is a cut-throat industry and people don't necessarily play by the rules, so always have one eye open and watch carefully who you invite to the dinner table and keep the circle small.
ONETEN MAG: If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be? This is a good question, I think there are so many aspects of it that need changing but I think you find problems in any line of work, it's how you tackle those obstacles and your willingness to evolve and adapt to the consistent changing of the guard that ultimately determines your
success. I would like to see more diversity at larger labels, everyone is chasing the exact same sound, I think originality should be promoted as opposed to the flavor of the month.
ONETEN MAG: What are the essential qualities that make a good producer or artist? I think you need to be a great listener and observer. Creative people should be able to not only draw from personal experiences but feed off of the world around them. Confidence and belief in your brand, artistry, and sound is a must. Create your own style, inspire people, and set the standard. You should be authentic and original as possible.