When I catch up with Shauna Respass, aka ReeCee Raps, for a Sunday afternoon phone call, her voice is in and out. It’s not due to bad reception, it’s her literal voice, strained as the result of back-to-back shows in Durham and Charlotte over the weekend.
It’s all in a week’s work for ReeCee Raps.
“I think what has gotten me more respect than my talent a lot of times is my work ethic,” she tells me before referring back to our Q&A in 2019. “I haven’t really stopped since I spoke with y’all last. I haven’t stopped. I stay moving, I stay doing shows, and everything comes in time.”
But don’t get it twisted: as driven as she is, ReeCee Raps is talented too, and she doesn’t shy away from that either.
It doesn’t sound conceited when she tells me later, “I really feel like everything I do is great.”
She should feel that way, because it’s never never far from mind that life wasn’t always so great. Respass moved to Charlotte in 2018 after fleeing from an abusive relationship.
Now as the rapper and singer continues to grow her name, she wants to use that spotlight as a leader in the domestic violence field, educating folks on how to spot the red flags while helping survivors escape dangerous situations.
October will mark one year since she launched DOAP Events, through which she curates hip-hop shows and open mics.
And while past DOAP events have benefited Heal Charlotte to fund the work that organization does with survivors of domestic violence, in the organization’s second year she hopes to host events that focus fully on domestic violence awareness and education.
“I do want to bring it to colleges and high schools, where I can curate a whole thing with the beginning, middle, and end of the domestic violence relationship situations, like the aftermath, because it’s easier to continue being in that situation than it is to get out a lot of times,” Respass told me.
In 2018, Respass made a tough decision that she believes saved her life, leaving her home in Kansas City, Missouri, and driving to Charlotte, where her family had moved in 2015.
She brought two outfits and her dog, leaving everything else behind.
“I’m just really excited about giving back,” she continued, “because I know that if I would have known the signs before going into that, I probably would have never even got into that situation.”
Even as she plans to step back a bit to focus on domestic violence work, that doesn’t mean she’s putting her music career on the back burner.
ReeCee Raps has gained momentum in Charlotte and elsewhere over the past three years, performing around the state and in northeastern locales from New York to Maine.
Over the summer she received a Creative Fellowship grant from the Arts & Science Council, which went to recording and rolling out her upcoming album, Queen of Hearts. On the project, ReeCee focuses more on her singing than her rapping, a big change for her, but her emcee days are not behind her.
On Jan. 1, 2023, she will drop a new mixtape of raps over beats by the late J Dilla.
“It’s very introspective, it’s very close to my heart, so I’m really excited about doing that for the people that really love old-school hip-hop styles, boom-bap styles,” she explains.
The mixtape will be available for free download on her website, followed by the release of Queen of Hearts shortly after on all streaming platforms.
And with that, she’ll ensure that 2023 will be another big year for ReeCee Raps, and the only sure bet after that is this: she won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
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