“I grew up here in Highland Park, but it was before all this,” Reverie says, pointing to the flourishing businesses around us. “Everyone would be freestyling out here, it was just part of the culture,” she tells me, as she intermittently takes sips from her latte. I met Reverie — born Jordan Caceres — at a coffee shop in her hometown of Highland Park. Growing up there, before the gentrification, she was involved with graffiti and gangs. But her passion for words and writing, plus a move to Seattle, helped her focus on music instead of the gang life.
Reverie is working on a new record and about to go on tour in Europe; she'll perform at the Novo in DTLA on Thursday, Dec. 14, alongside Living Legends, The Pharcyde and The Grouch. She also appeared in the documentary series Independent. “A lot of what they documented was at my brother’s because that’s where I work. Then they would follow me around to do my errands and shit. It’s funny because to me it’s so boring, that’s what I do everyday,” she says. “I know a lot of it is fake, but the fact that they have a lot of people in their houses for days on end every year is a very intense thing.”
Although she now focuses on rap, Reverie has always had a creative side, channeling her affinity with words through graffiti and writing poems. “When I was 15 and I was going to Franklin [High School], all my homies were taggers and I really wanted to start really tagging, but I needed a dope name. I was writing like 'baby' and all these stupid chola names that were so played out,” she says. She would sometimes look up words in the dictionary just because she liked words so much, “and I saw the word “reverie.” The word right away caught her eye. “I liked how it looked,” she says.
Graffiti has taken a step back. With rapping in the forefront, Reverie has more to lose than ever. “I don’t make time for it anymore, so it’s not a priority. I also have too much to lose. I can’t go paint an overpass on the freeway. I want to be able to go back to Europe. I don’t want to die falling over a bridge or some stupid shit.”
Soon after finding her way into the graffiti world, Reverie found herself making her poems into music. Since her friend’s uncle was recording music and putting it up on MySpace, Reverie asked her friend to ask his uncle if she could record with him. Reverie used to do a lot of graffiti back then and had a reputation as a tagger, but the uncle allowed her into the studio. At first hesitant, she put up her music on MySpace and from there began to make music with the insistence of friends.
“That’s when I made my music page on MySpace, and since my name was already buzzing around East L.A, everyone was like, 'You rap now? What the fuck?'” Reverie says.
Despite the music, things was far from ideal for Reverie. She and her brothers were all involved with gangs at the time. Her brothers were in and out of jail for several years. Eventually her mother decided it was time to move. “My brother was about to be 18 and all friends that are 18 were in prison now, so we needed to move or he’s going to be in prison or dead soon,” Reverie says matter-of-factly. After her brother was released from juvenile hall, where he'd been held on possession of a shotgun, they moved.
They went to Boston, Salt Lake City and then Seattle. There, Reverie had the time and space to focus on her music. She and brother Louden Beats were able to head in a completely different direction in life. They began to make music together, building momentum. “Now I’m 27 and it pays the bills and I get to travel the world,” Reverie says.
She lived in Seattle for the first part of her music career, but L.A.’s proximity to the industry and her fan base sent her packing back to her hometown of Highland Park, this time to rap. “I basically do the same thing every day. Like how everyone goes to their normal job every day, I go to my office every day. I work on videos, send emails, work on music, make a beat, write rap, record a song,” Reverie says. “Every day is a little different but I’m always in my office.”
Not only does her music have a following in L.A, it has spread internationally. “My second biggest audience is in São Paulo, which is so crazy,” she says. Her fan base is so strong there that she decided to write a song partially in Portuguese as a shout-out to her Brazilian fans. “I made a song when I was over there. Some of the lyrics are in Portuguese. I speak some Portuguese. I haven’t released it yet, hopefully soon.”
Of her friends from her past, she says, “I see them sometimes. I’m still cool with them. They’re happy for me that I do this shit.
“But honestly a lot of the people I grew with are in jail,” Reverie says somberly. “‘They’re either doing life or dead.”