Raé Luna: Connecticut's Underground Champion

Talking music, military industrial complex, queerness & more with Raé Luna (she/they), the Gay Rican John Cena that is here to save CT.

Mar Pelaez


Back in December 2022 I met Raé & her manager Bryan over Zoom. Then, destiny or maybe fate, brought us back to each other in May 2023 when we met at East Rock park to catch up, take some pictures and drive around New Haven with me and the Raé crew.

If you haven’t heard of Raé Luna yet (first, fix that) here’s a broad overview. Raé Luna is a CT based rapper. She’s been referred to as a “girl Earl Sweatshirt” or even an “American Little Simz” — both very high honors & the vibes are definitely there, but to me, Raé is doing something new and refreshing that can’t really be compared to anything else out there in the music scene. With a melodic voice, killer lines and some soul elements, she’s created something beautiful. Check out her most-streamed bop, “Pass the Water” which blew up on TikTok (& was recorded in her car, which you wouldn’t fucking believe), or take a deep dive into their 2022 album “Like I’ll Die Tomorrow” with some absolutely sickening samples, mind blowing lyricism & fire features.

You know that Raé Luna is destined to be a star the second you meet them. I felt it over Zoom, but in person the feeling was undeniable — in fact, they know it too, which is honestly even cooler. But more striking than Raé’s star presence, is how grounded, down to Earth and connected to their roots Raé is.

They’ve been writing raps since the 2nd grade — they’ve been playing instruments, singing, making beats and even more since they’ve been 8 years old. They don’t shy away from delving into their past through their music.

The soundscapes of her childhood are a beautiful amalgamation of hip hop classics like Lauryn Hill & Biggie mixed in with the sounds of her Grandmother’s culture, salsa. Raé talks about the financial struggle she grew up in really openly & even by just listening to her music you can tell how all the different parts of her story, the good and the bad, have shaped her into the musician and person she is today. Music has always been the way out for Raé and from an early age she began dreaming of what a life of music could look like.

When Raé was a senior in high school, they were planning to go straight to the military. Raé Luna was going to enter the Marine Corps. Raé was in ROTC for all 4-years of high school and even went to boot camp to prepare for military life. Raé opened up about how a lack of opportunities at her high school led her to join ROTC.

“It’s ‘cause I was brown & poor and they were going to pay for college. The arts programs were underdeveloped as fuck. I took the ASVAB and everything. And I never fucking went. And I thank God everyday that I never fucking went.”

A story that’s much too common, and it hurts me to think Raé’s talents might have never seen the light of day if she ended up in the military, and I wonder how many young artists never got to perfect their craft because they gave up their dreams for all the false promises the military industrial complex gives marginalized youth.

Quarantine brought those plans to a screeching halt and Raé fell in love with music all over again. At an overnight shift at FedEx she “accidentally” wrote “Pass the Water.” That’s when Raé Luna was born, which is a name they’ve only been writing under since 2021 — unbelievable when you dive into the world of their music to find an extremely developed sound.

Raé Luna describes her style as “abstract rap,” a title that fits really well. But don’t get it twisted — she can’t be put in a box and her flow is tough to match. Her biggest influence is Mac Miller — which makes a lot of sense. She studies her heroes, she doesn’t copy — she pulls from her inspirations to improve her craft. She listed: Mac, Tyler, Earl, Joey Bada$$, Lil Wayne, Lauryn Hill as just a few of those heroes that have guided her sound.

Raé Luna loves her craft — and you can feel it in the music.

“I love the whole process, front to back. I love writing and crafting words. To paint this picture so other people can imagine in their heads a whole landscape. But honestly, my favorite part has to be recording. I love getting in front of that mic.”

And Raé deserves all their flowers, because they are the kind of musician that doesn’t let anything get in the way of them making the dream happen. Their studio setup is in the family living room. They have a scissor stand, mic, interface, beat pad and more. Right smack dab in the living room, their family knows to keep quiet when they hear the beat drop. Before that, they recorded in their car and the occasional closet.

Raé is also a product of the social media music scene. “Pass the Water” dropped in August 2021 and until February 2022 the song had about 40 plays — total. Then, despite not being an active TikTok user, she decided to try her luck on the online lottery of going viral. And she struck gold.

Everything Raé spits is real… with some hyperbole, of course. Her songs are beautiful meditations on ego, spirituality, queerness, family, her roots and mental health. She opened up to me about how queerness has complicated her relationship with religion. All her songs are raw and real because that’s where she vents about her pain, she touches on substance abuse and the tangled relationship with her father. Overall, she just likes to write about the human experience, she says she doesn’t consider herself a “sad rapper,” a descriptor that others have used for her. In our most recent conversation, she really dug into how she struggled with being present in the moments that matter most.

“Lately, I’ve been really, really intent on living inside every single moment, because this is really happening right now, this is everything I’ve been dreaming of since I was seven. I’ve been focusing on basking in it.”

She talks about missing moments in her own life and making an active effort to shift away from that and take the wheel in her own life & it’s been working. In the last few months Raé has been living her dreams and I can’t help but feel it comes from being so grounded and introspective.
In just a few months, her career has taken a huge turn. She recently signed a distribution deal, which has hugely changed the resources she has access to. These past few months have been a dream come true for Raé. The very same week Raé and I met up she had performed at SOBs, a legendary music venue. Mac Miller, Kendrick, Wu Tang Clan, Lil Wayne, Erykah Badu and even Celia Cruz have all played at the venue before reaching their peak fame. Raé Luna is amongst legends, before they even turn 21. When we met, she was still riding the high of the event, calling it “the best Tuesday of her life.” Raé talked about what it felt like to bask in such a historical space:

“That room… as soon as you walk in that venue you feel where you are. I’m a believer that energy doesn’t die — and performance energy stays in a venue. Everyone that’s ever performed on that stage leaves energy there. And you can feel that shit in the air.”

Things are looking very bright for this star. She hinted at a summer song before the end of the season, so keep an eye out. Follow her on Instagram, @SameDirtyJeans.

Raé is just getting started. Get on the ship before it sails too far. Raé is Connecticut’s underground champion & she won’t forget about this little state anytime soon. Her perfect balance of humility & confidence, as well as her writing skills, ability to collaborate with other artists and strong stage presence will take her very far. Raé Luna is living her dreams, and we’re lucky to be along for the ride — let’s bask in it.