Q&A: Baltimore rapper John Regan 'Late' but making his lane

Last November, South Baltimore rapper John Regan released his debut LP, Sorry I’m Late. It’s an appropriate title: Regan began working in the music business at 15 but didn’t drop his debut album until he was 24. Sorry I’m Late showcases Regan’s rhymes through an accessible narrative — he’s married with kids but can’t stop chasing an artist’s dream. Stylistically, Regan’s flow nods to hip-hop’s “golden era” (he “grew up on Nas and Wu-Tang Clan”), which seamlessly matches Sorry I’m Late’s old-school sound of snares, scratches and samples. Regan recently spoke on the phone about his album, Baltimore’s rap scene and more.   

For those unfamiliar with your music, what song on Sorry I’m Late would you give them as a proper introduction to who you are?
It’d probably be the intro song, “Sorry I’m Late.” It gives you an in-depth synopsis of who I am and what I’m trying to do. I’m married, I have kids and I’m still trying to pursue a career in music and I’m still dealing with everything in real life. 

Your debut album has some noteworthy collaborations – Nottz, Joell Ortiz, Skyzoo to name a few — how’d you link up with nationally known artists?
Basically my manager Wil works in media so he developed a lot of great relationships with these people. … It was about being able to deliver a quality product that people can appreciate. I think that drew [the artists] to the project.

You’ve utilized the Internet and social media to build buzz around your record. What have you learned most from that approach?
You have to have your hand in everything. Online promotion is a big deal. Radio presence is a big deal. Performing is a huge deal. It’s not only just one part. You’ve got to cover the whole horizon.

What’s your experience like with Baltimore’s scene?

It’s a tough scene but it’s a good scene. I don’t know if a lot of people really travel and venture off into other places. ... It’s waiting for a really good artist to take the whole place over. … Somebody just has to be head over heels, amazing, incredible. Somebody that has everybody behind them – this whole city. … An artist willing to work with anybody and everybody in a positive light.

Is that "artist" you?

I’m always willing to do music with anybody. A lot of people see my lane music-wise isn’t really mainstream. Maybe somebody that’s more poppy, more mainstream [will be the breakthrough artist]. I don’t really go that route, and I try to stick to real, authentic hip-hop. That’s what I grew up on. I’m not going to do something that’s accepted as opposed to what I believe in.

2010 saw the release of your debut album. What do you have in store for 2011?

We’re still campaigning for the album. Getting it in as many places as it can be. I’m just trying to take this music and put it in as many peoples hands as possible. ... I’m working with a couple artists now. Performance-wise, any opportunity that presents itself. I’m just gonna keep it moving.

You can stream Sorry I'm Late at JohnIsLate.com.

Wesley Case writes about music for b. E-mail him at wesley@bthesite.com and follow him on Twitter, @wesleycase.

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