CLARK, NJ – People living in suburbia don’t expect one of their own to make it as a hip-hop artist.  Rappers don’t expect someone born and raised in a small suburban New Jersey town like Clark to have what it takes. Hip-hop MC Ren Thomas is proving them all wrong.

“I fell in love with hip-hop when I was about 8 or 9,” said Thomas, who will be on VH1’s newest reality show, “Signed.” His older cousin had a group of friends who would get together and rap. Thomas said it started out as him trying to impress the older kids. As he began writing his own verses, his love for the music grew.

Thomas said his parents have always been supportive of his choice to pursue his dream of being a hip-hop MC. 

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“My dad even helped me build a studio down in our basement,” said Thomas. While other teenagers were out getting into all kinds of trouble, Thomas said he was in his studio working on his music.  “I think my parents knew it was keeping me out of trouble.”

Thomas faced many naysayers as he shared his dreams with others. According to Thomas, when it came time to talk about college, guidance counselors at Clark’s Arthur L. Johnson were worried when Thomas said he wasn’t going to go. 

“They brought in my parents and everything,” he said.

Even peers sometimes didn’t fully see how Thomas would fulfill his dream. He found himself going out to other towns and cities to surround himself with people who also had a love for hip-hop. 

“I’d see people rapping and ask to join in.  They’d hear where I was from and laugh,” remembered Thomas. But once his turn came, people were pleasantly surprised.

Thomas credits all the doubters for giving him the determination to keep moving forward. 

“They thought I was crazy but it made me want to do it,” Thomas said.

After high school, Thomas got a regular job and would travel to hang out with friends who were away at college. He would always find himself joining in a rap battle and even winning. Eventually he met up with another artist from Roselle who went by the name Tab. They worked on an album together and sold mix-tapes. They got signed by a small label.

Thomas continued to perform locally and make connections with others in the industry. He found himself in rap battle leagues and taking home championships throughout the country and even internationally. 

He made a name for himself as a battle MC in competitions such as Ludicris’ Magnum Live Large Semi Finalist (2012), EOW USA Champion (2013 – placed 3rd worldwide), EOW USA Runner Up (2015) and TeamBackPack 2016 Cypher Championship at Mission Underground New York, which he won.

Thomas is currently working with a label out of Philadelphia called Sensi Starr.  He’s done three nationwide tours with them and recently put out his newest album “I Been Nice.”  With half a million streams on his release under his belt, Thomas said the best is yet to come: “I haven’t peaked yet.”

In his song “Try Again,” Thomas references real-life interactions with fans and how it helps him forget those who doubt him. 

“They don’t know what it is to do these gigs and get off stage and touch hands with these kids, who send messages online, who are fans of the music,” he said. “They were suicidal and my words helped them get through it.”

"Tupac said I'm not saying I'm gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world,” said Thomas, quoting one of his inspirations. To Thomas, that’s what this is all about. While many dream of being part of the hip-hop scene for the money and fame, Thomas is content with reaching people through his music.

You can catch Thomas on “Signed” on Wednesdays at 9 p.m.  You can also follow Thomas on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter.