Vancouver, Wash. isn't the first place you think of when it comes to cities producing mainstream rap talent but it's a hotbed of hip-hop talent. Reo Cragun is a young upstart who's looking to be the city's next big star.

The 23-year-old spitta began buzzing in 2016, after a string of singles, including "Inconsiderate" and “Peso.” In 2017, Reo took a big leap, dropping his debut mixtape, Growing Pains, in August and landing on tour with former 2016 XXL Freshman Lil Yachty. Not long after he signed to Virgin Records and now the L.A.-based rapper is going into 2018 as a rising artist to watch.

His story is unlike most rappers. Growing up, with his father incarcerated, Reo was stellar in school. So good that he earned a full scholarship to pursue a degree in biology at Washington State University with the hopes of becoming a doctor. However, music was his calling. After his grandmother passed away, he packed up all his stuff and moved to L.A. to pursue music.

Growing Pains became a pivotal moment for Reo Cragun. It established him as a rapper and set him on the path for success. "It was so organic; we did this all in house," he tells XXL. "I produced a lot on that project and some of my right hands. We just kind of built it for the ground up. We weren’t taking beats from producers like that. I want to make sure it was my sound and authentic."

With more new music on deck and a major label behind him, Reo Cragun has the opportunity to make a big leap. Learn more about him here in The Break.

Name: Reo Cragun

Age: 23

Hometown: Vancouver, Wash.

I grew up listening to: "I grew up listening to the most random music. Linkin Park, Green Day, Kid Cudi, but at the same time I’m listening to like 2Pac and Biggie Smalls; just really versatile music. I learned to play guitar when I was in sixth grade. That’s when I was making my music, you know? I had lessons, my mom got me lessons to play guitar. I actually wanted piano lessons but she was like, 'Fuck that shit.' [Laughs] I did guitar lessons for a second then I just taught myself, YouTube saved my life. I learned how to do everything from there.

"I started recording myself and started to make beats when I was 17 and then from then on I started making my own records and playing at local shows. I stopped for a second because I went to school; I was on a full ride. I dropped out after my grandmother passed away and started music up again. I wanted to do it for real. I got a full ride for academics. After my grandmother passed I was super low but I got myself back together because at the end of the day my grandmother always preached go do what you want to do not what you’re supposed to do. I dropped everything; I told my mom that I was going to L.A. to do the music shit. My parents were like, 'Hell nah, you got a full ride, you got a bright future, what you doing?'

"They were right but I felt at that point in my life I was so comfortable. I was in this long-term relationship, she talking about future, getting married and buying a house and I was 21. It was the comfortability that was scary almost. It felt like I was too young to be that comfortable. I had like a steady job I was working at Costco. So I just said, 'Fuck it,' and jumped ship and went out [to L.A.], had no money, I was grinding, writing for other artists and then people got word of some of my records and that’s how I got jump started."

My style’s been compared to: "My sound is just me, it's organic. People aren’t really comparing my sound to anything for what I see. It just what’s coming from inside."

Most people don’t know: "I guess that I’m like smart. School shit was my shit growing up. I was always in school, I loved school and I always got good grades but it just funny because I’m an artist [laughs]. Usually it’s, 'Fuck that shit, I was skipping class 24/7.' I used to live and breathe school shit. I went to Washington State."

My standout moment to date: "I just played Bumbershoot Festival in the Key Arena on the main stage it was so dope. Thousands of people fucking with the music and the energy was crazy."

My goal in hip-hop is: "Just keep progressing and keep completely these personal goals that I have. I want people to accept the music and love the music and live with it. I want my music to do for them what Kid Cudi when I was a kid did for me."

I’m going to be the next: "Role Model, just someone positive they can look up to, nothing too crazy."

Follow Reo Cragun on Twitter and SoundCloud.

Standouts: Growing Pains

"Night Crawler"




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