Born in Jackson, NC but raised in Elkton, Maryland, Andre “Royal” Watson has always been drawn to music. In middle school, the young rapper began making music, learning skills and techniques that solidified his ascension in the Hip Hop scene. The intimate setting of his hometown, Elkton, MD, allowed the rapper to recall specific details from his past for inspiration. Before releasing his debut single, “Be Great,” the rapper had conquered several business ventures, such as real estate, dog breeding, and a trucking business. Royal’s business intellect was groomed by his former military father. His entrepreneurial spirit, partnered with his promising songwriting and unique musical style, Royal is bound for an impactful music career.
In 2018, Royal was quickly thrust into the limelight as his single “Letter to Cecil County” began creating buzz. The single generated over 1.9 million streams on SoundCloud. Since then, the rapper has shared records with Demi Lovato, Tory Lanez, Jadakiss, Fabolous, and many more. But most of the biggest influences from his music to his business insight arise from his personal life experiences. Royal’s music gives listeners insight into his innermost thoughts and feelings. This intimacy allows the rapper a platform to express himself. For Royal his lyrics are more than just words, they are a passage to his internal self. His music serves as a form of therapy, as the young rapper juggles fatherhood, businesses, a musical career, and creating a legacy.
Teaming up with OVO’s engineer Angie Randisi and Sauceboy, ROYAL has curated a unique sound. This fall, the rising rapper is releasing his highly anticipated upcoming project, ‘Sooner Than Later.’ Recently, the rapper sat down with JaGurl TV for an exclusive interview describing the message behind his music and the path that led him to become the artist he is today.
Your initial interest in music started when you were younger, but it transitioned to a form of therapy as you entered your early 20’s. What were you experiencing at that time in your life that led you back to music?
Heartbreak. I was married super young, so going through that situation gives you something to talk about. It gives you a new perspective on life; it gives you a new perspective on love. What you think it is…compared to how you thought it was. Not even just that, heartbreaks with relationships, heartbreak with losing people close to you.
But.. those vulnerable moments are when I make the best music.
So, you really put your whole heart into your music?
For sure, that’s where you’ll get to know me, sometimes that’s where I get to know me. Sometimes you don’t really know how you feel until you write it down or say it aloud. So, that’s where I leave it all.
Which one of your songs reflects your sense of vulnerability the most?
I wrote a letter to my son. It was one of my first records. My firstborn, I wrote a song, ‘Letter to my son,’ and it was to him. That was the most vulnerable I’ve ever been and transparent.
As artists, a lot of times, we write from our perspective and push our narrative of whatever story we want to tell. That was the first time I was able to put a song together and say what I did wrong and what I did right. But it was more so apologizing for my wrongs and expressing my intent going forward to be a better person, a better father.
Within your song lyrics and throughout your platform, you consistently talk about giving back to your community. What do you hope that people receive from your efforts to give back?
My hope is that, and I know that everybody is not going to share my vision, but I hope that everyone at least makes an effort to do whatever part they can do. Being in Cecil county, you see how certain communities can be damaged by certain things. And there’s not one single person who can change it by theme selves. But I think that if everybody does a small part, then you can change it into something beautiful.
My neighborhood or my town, if you just let it go unnutrient, it will just fade away. I think it’s important, starting with the middle school high school age when they’re most impressionable, you put that bug in their ear early. You can’t expect all of them to do, but if you get one or two you did your part.
We didn’t really have many people doing that, for me, growing up. I take what I would’ve wanted growing up and try to be that person as much as I can.
As you maneuver through the realms of business and music what do you hope your legacy will be?
My goal is just to be you. I work with a lot of artists, and I’ve seen a lot of artists on the road and in general in this industry. I see how people get lost in it so quickly. The music industry has become a momentary pit, and I think that’s the motivation behind 80-90 percent of this industry. I just want people to look at my songs and look at my body’s of work and realize that I was giving you a message, whatever ‘cheat code’ I had to live. Whether it’s business knowledge or relationship advice, I’m trying to give you something substantial without a desire for momentary gain.
I’ve been blessed. I’m not doing this because I want to make a million dollars of it. Whether I do or not, I don’t care. I just want the music to be appreciated.
Tell us more about your upcoming project?
I’ve been working on this for the last two years it’s called “Sooner Than Later.” I honestly was supposed to release it two years ago, and then it just keeps changing. I record a lot; I record a ridiculous amount. So, I’ll record a new song, and I’m just like ‘hey, we should change this,’ ‘we should add this here and move this around.” And it just keeps evolving. But I think we’re in a good space; I linked p with so really, really talented people to help me kind of glue it all together. We’ll be releasing that in October.
It’s definitely OVO involved. Everybody on that team since I was introduced has been phenomenal, from the producers to the engineers to the writers to whoever. Everyone has been amazing. And everyone has stepped in on different things, that I might have need or have been missing.
As you mentioned before your music is very vulnerable. As you experience different things in your life will this project have that same form of intimacy?
I think this is the most vulnerable [i have been], outside of the letter to my son. But this is me getting in-depth into what I’ve gone through since I’ve started this journey, like my mindset, my most secret thoughts, and secret experiences that my closest friends don’t even know. I think you’ll learn how I got to whatever point I am in life; my ups, my downs. I think speaking on the downs is where the vulnerability factor comes in.
Royal’s current hit “Only for The Night,” is out now. His long-awaited project ‘Sooner Than Later’ is set to release this October.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity