Virginia rap artist uRLee (born Roger Lee Burley) possesses the distinctive ability to mix old school sound from the early (or “uRLee” as some fans would say) days of rap with contemporary, relevant lyrics. He’s also been blessed with the rare gift to be real in his lyrics without being cynical. His strong voice often matched with smooth music conveys messages of positivity for all listeners. While he raps with an “in-your-face” kind of approach, it’s always done so with personal vulnerability and dignity, using encouraging words to open listeners’ eyes and ears to hope and integrity.
Entertwine: Could you give us some insight into your musical background?
uRLee: My father is a drummer and has a real live band. My brother and I use to perform with his band throughout Virginia. That’s where I learn how to play instruments. I’ve always was in love with hip-hop/rap I’ve had influences from 2pac, Nas, big L, master p, juvenile, ice cube, common, to name a few.
ET: What can you tell us about the music being created and performed within the Washington DC metropolitan area? How has living in Northern Virginia shaped or influenced you, musically and personally?
uRLee: Washington dc scene is a merge between up north and south vibe with a twist of go-go. DMV tends to embrace southern style music. I particularly love up north style music. Northern Virginia gave me a sophistication style. My music tends to aim towards people in need it that can relate. Living in northern Virginia open my eyes to a middle class upper class lifestyle. So I’m able to rap about my life in the past but also my successes and hard work in the present.
ET: What was it like recording your album “Walks Of Life” at Cue Recording Studios? How does this album differ from your other releases (“Million $ Ideas”, “Made In Virginia”, and “No DJ”)? What life experiences and events have inspired the lyrical content and musicality of the songs you’ve recorded and released?
uRLee: Walks of life was recorded in 2012 which was the first time I actually recorded in a well-known studio. It was different but exciting. The studio rooms were huge. I got a lot of good insight from my engineers and just meeting new people. The other projects I’ve done were recorded at a home studio which is easier because you can take your time and your mot being charged so it gives you more freedom to do what you want when you want but you don’t have anyone critiquing your music so you don’t know if it’s good or not. Just life in general inspire me to write what I write. Different life situations being my life or others I’ve encountered help me write the songs. I feel like I’m a people’s emcee. I can just about relate to anyone.
ET: What went into the making of the music video for your song ‘Doors’? You also featured in the Roc Elli track ‘Free Spirits’, correct? What was it like working on that video?
Doors was recorded in Fredericksburg VA and was one of the songs off of walks of life. Roc Elli and I shot that video near a train station called VRE and Amtrak. Doors is about working really hard at your craft and once you achieved what you set up for yourself you stay relevant and change the world. Free spirits is actually a track I thought of and wanted to put my rap brother roc Elli in. The video was shot by Mistro from Caroline county VA and we did the video on top of a garage parking roof. I felt really good shooting that video because it was my first video. I felt like a natural that made me realize I was made for this. That’s one of my favorite songs till this day.
ET: What do the remaining months of 2014 have in store for uRLee?
uRLee: Well the remaining months of 2014 I’m finishing up my new album titled Layers. We’re working on releasing 3 single from that album. First single is titled VA which is a street, radio club anthem for all my Virginia fans. I’m also in the mix of working with a publicist named Nancy Byron follow her @rappublicist on twitter. She worked with a few major artists. Don’t forget to follow me @urleeva on twitter.