Rapper and San Jose native Rey Resurreccion can usually be found in his studio room, perched several floors above the bustle of downtown San Jose’s streets. Freestyling since 1999, the rapper now has multiple LPs and EPs and has gone on tours throughout the States—all with no record label. We caught up with him after the release of his latest single “Let It Bang” from his forthcoming LP Heart of the City.

SanJose.com: When was the moment where you knew you wanted to be a rapper?

Rey Resurreccion: I don’t know if there was a really a moment. It was really a bunch of things started happening. I guess it just started when I was young and I used to freestyle with my friends and when I would go to shows and see my favorite rappers. I was really in love with hip-hop and I felt like I wanted to be a part of it.

How have things changed since then?

For one people started gravitating towards our music and what we were doing. And we…it felt possible that we could take it as a professional or pursue as a professional and you know, make a living off it. From then on we started getting more shows, booking studio time, and trying to take a more professional route to making music.

What inspired you to write “The Hometown?”

The beat inspired me. It was produced by Cutso from The Bangerz. And he was in here playing a bunch of beats, and he just played this beat for fun. He didn’t think anything of it. It has an old mariachi banda sample. Where I grew up, I heard that music everywhere. I grew up in an all-Mexican neighborhood; my neighbors had a mariachi band. So as soon as he played the beat, when I heard it, I got that feeling back, being in my old neighborhood. The song came really quick, I just kind of sat there in one night and wrote the verses, recorded it. We didn’t think it was going to be a big song as big as it is. We just kind of made it for fun and people happened to like it.

Can you tell me more about what it was like to film the music video for “The Hometown”?

It was really fun. We got as many people as we could out to the Cannery Park. The Cannery Park is where lot of companies are based. So we put out a post, had a bunch of people show up, and we just did this big posse shot. The whole idea of the video was to show the culture of San Jose and the diversity of San Jose. There’s still a lot of stuff I didn’t get to cover, but I feel like the vid was cool because there’s Filipino people in there, there’s Mexicans, blacks, Asians, white people. It was cool that that’s a big part of San Jose, that’s how diverse it was.

How would you describe your childhood growing up in San Jose?

My parents were divorced so I moved around a lot. I grew up in all-Mexican neighborhood for the most part. Moving around a lot helped me to learn how to make friends easily. That was cool because since I moved around a lot by the time I went to high school I knew so many people by going to so many different elementary schools. I was able to socialize a lot and when I got into rapping I was able rap for all my friends, sell them my tapes and stuff like that. Growing up, I was into skating, I was into graffiti, basically a lot of hip-hop breakdancing and stuff like that, being a kid running around in the streets.

What’s your favorite place to be in the city?

Probably up in here in my studio. I call it suite 801, I definitely spend the most time here for sure. The older I get the less I like to be out at the clubs all the time, so I’m usually in here a lot.

How has living in San Jose, in the Bay Area, influenced your music creation?

The Bay Area is known for being independent in hip-hop and rap: out of the trunk style, they would sell CDs and tapes out of the trunk. Being independent, I’ve learned to not depend on a major record label and do it on our own and be proud. Another thing is the diversity, being able to be around so many different cultures. The culture of the Bay Area in itself is unique. I’ve been able to travel the country and see different plants and a lot of people have a lot of respect for the Bay Area, who we are and how we are as people.

What is your biggest struggle as a rapper?

For one it’s a very saturated market. There are hundreds and thousands of rappers out there. That’s one thing. Another thing is being an independent artist. I don’t have any funding from a label or anything like that. Anything that we do is funded by us. Another thing, I don’t know if it’s really a struggle but being out here in San Jose it’s not really a market to make a living out of. So I have to travel and do shows aside from doing shows out here.

What lyric of yours is your favorite? What does it mean to you?

I have some that are like favorites, I also have some that I like because they are important. I have a song called “Quarterlife,” about me approaching my quarterlife and what that entails for the average person. And being a rapper, being a musician and an artist, you walk a different path than the regular people that go to school, get jobs, get married and all that. I wrote the song based on that and I have a line in there that says: “For all my 9 to 5ers, hustle those grinders mothers and fathers / Running around the papers and dollars, tell me how could we live without ‘em.”

Basically, it’s like saying everyone approaches that time in life where you kind of think back about what you’ve been doing and what you’re going to do. So I wrote a song about that basically.

What advice do you have for aspiring rappers?

Be ready for some hard work, really practice your craft before you present it to the world. With the Internet now, it’s so easy to do something and show it to the world. You can get a cheap program and make a song but it doesn’t mean the world is ready to hear it. 15-20 years ago, people would hone their careers for couple of years and then come out. Now it’s a little bit different, it’s worth taking the time to practice and get better and then come out.

What are some typical things you do to practice?

I practice by having a bunch of shows, especially when I was younger. Doing the small shows like in bars and small venues, practicing my live performance, freestyling with the my friends. As a producer I just practice my instruments, and I practice making beats. Really just a lot of freeflowing, getting creativity going.

What is the best way you get your creativity?

I don’t have a 100% straight answer for that. Sometimes if I’m having a bad day it feels good to get into the studio, and other times, inspiration and creativity comes in waves. I try to find the best way to capture that. Something it just doesn’t come and I just take a few days off. Sometimes I wait for the moment; it comes and I just work on music.

What’s the best place to get food in San Jose?

It always changes … I don’t know I have a diff mood for everything. My mom’s house is my favorite place to get food of course. I like Iguanas, I like Back A Yard, I like SmokeEaters. It’s always different. I don’t have a set favorite.

What are your goals for the future?

To make a living off of music, to be able to make an impact and have some kind of influence in the music industry, and to be able to get to a position to where I can help the next generation of creative people out here in San Jose. Artists and producers and things like that—I feel like there are people that are doing that, that are trying to help, but there could be a lot more resources for the youth to have a place to go when you need to do something for music or need some direction or guidance to keep them off the streets.

Who is your role model and why?

I used to have a lot of role models, but I learned … someone told me once to never meet your heroes. Just because when you meet your heroes you figure out they’re human and they’re just like you. But definitely my father for sure. He’s a very hard worker, he’s a very positive person, supportive person. He’s the closest thing I have to a role model or hero.

What was your most memorable performance and why?

When we performed at Music in the Park in San Jose with The Bangerz. It was one of the last Music in the Parks when it was still at Cesar Chavez. I performed the song “The Hometown” and it was great to perform such a meaningful song in front of thousands of people in our hometown.

What’s the weirdest thing about being on tour?

The first time I went on tour in 2010 we basically got pulled over every day for 10 days. We got pulled over 10 times in every single state. That was definitely a crazy experience because the next two times I went on tour we never got pulled over. I was just so paranoid after that. That’s pretty memorable. And just meeting crazy-ass people when you’re on tour. Every night it’s pretty much the same. Every morning you get up, drive to the next stage, 5-10 hour drive every day, show up, do sound check, take a shower and get ready to perform. It’s the pretty much the same thing every single day. You meet these crazy people and it’s like a blur almost. Sometimes it feels like you meet the same people, but it’s just the same character types almost.

The preceeding interview has been edited for length and clarity.