Students who do cool things: Sebastián ( )tero ’18, musician and rap artist

CaraSeba

Sebastián Otero Oliveras ’18, who goes by the stage name Sebastián ( )tero, is a Puerto Rican musician who has made a name for himself as a rap artist on Brown’s campus. Alongside being a Brown student, he wields his music as a tool to create positive impact. Otero’s songs are rooted in his Puerto Rican identity in both their content and rhythmic inspiration, and he interprets this in different ways across genres. In his words: “I see myself first as a musician, then a rapper. I use rap as one tool to make music, to express what I want to say.”

You might recognize Otero’s music from his performances on campus. Otero is part of richard, a soul/hip hop group that he describes as “like a basement, very sweaty, very energetic.” In addition, he is half of a collaborative duo with Francis Torres ’16, who is also from Puerto Rico. The pair performs acoustic music influenced by Cuban and Puerto Rican sounds, and has a more calm and relaxing feel.

He began his music career young, learning the violin at four years old with the Suzuki method. While the violin is still one of his greatest passions, he has since branched from classical music into jazz  and song composition on the guitar. “I try to integrate the violin, singing and rapping,” he says. Continue Reading


What a Time To Be Alive: A BlogDH review

On his second mixtape release this year, Drake teams up with Future for What a Time to Be Alive. Of course, Drake is basically a hip-hop demigod whereas Future is better known for his features on songs like “Love Me” and “PNF,”  both of which happen to feature Drake as well. So why hook up with Future? The dude has hits but does he really have bars?

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While What a Time took just seven days to complete with most of the production supervised by from Atlanta producer Metro Boomin (Honest, Skyfall, Tuesday) it’s a polished, cohesive body of work. But even though Metro and Future – also from Atlanta – have a long history of working together, this is still through and through a Drake album; he dominates every song with superior lyricism, style, and overall prowess.

Many of the enjoyable songs on What a Time to Be Alive tap the same vein that made songs like “Hotline Bling” and “Legend” radio hits. Drake’s rhyming is subdued; he appears less interested in rhymes and wordplay than he is in vocally evoking his emotions. On “Diamonds Dancing,” Drake takes the spotlight with a two-minute long outro. With synths swirling in the background, he croons: “How can you live with yourself / Ungrateful, ungrateful / Your momma be ashamed of you / I haven’t even heard from you, not a single word from you.” It’s an instant jam. I’m brought back to 11th grade, standing out in the pouring rain waiting for the love of my life to come outside. She never came.

Listening to Drake like: how could you do this to me

Listening to Drake like: how could you do this to me…

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Student Musician Spotlight: DAP The Contract

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This week, Blog is spotlighting five Brown and RISD student musicians, all of whom will be performing this Saturday night at the Bodega Beats live session at The Spot Underground. We’re publishing all interviews of one musician talking to another.

Earlier this week, we had the event’s two DJs, Michael Moyal (aka Mulga) and Raye Sosseh (aka Chartreux) interview each other. Jahi Abdur-Razzaq Brown ’17 also interviewed fellow rapper Sebastián Otero Oliveras Brown ’18. A few days ago, Dolapo Akinkugbe Brown ’16 (aka DAP the Contract) interviewed Jahi. Now, it’s DAP’s turn to be in the spotlight. You can check out DAP’s work on his SoundCloud.

Keep reading to find out about his working with Mark Ronson (yes, for real), the influence of his Nigerian roots on his music, and why his post grad plans might include law school.

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Sebastián: So, DAP, you recently got back from Abbey Road Studios. Let’s just start with that.

Dolapo: Yeah, that’s a good place to start. That was this competition Converse does where they have artists apply. They have 84 artists go to 12 different studios around the world, and you’re given a mentor. Mark Ronson was my mentor, which was amazing. And he was mad cool, super laid-back, and made me feel comfortable. We made three songs together on a Friday, and then I worked on stuff with the horn section on a Saturday. So it was just like a perfect music weekend, really, in the best studio ever.

S: How did you feel when you entered Abbey Road?

D: I remember the first day, it was like a video when me and my sister walked in, and I was just silent. The best thing about the room was that when it’s silent–nothing sounds like that ever in life. It sounds perfectly silent but noisy at the same time.

You can hear anything in the room—it’s a big room—and you can hear every single detail in the room. It’s like the perfect noisy-silence, because you can hear a little hum, like you can hear the room breathe, but it’s perfectly quiet. That was the first thing I noticed. I didn’t even play any keyboards. We didn’t touch anything for the first ten minutes. We just sat there in silence, and it was just crazy.

S: Do you think that this is one of DAP’s greatest accomplishments?

D: For sure. That and performing at the Saatchi Gallery in London were the two biggest landmarks so far. Nothing comes close to that, really.

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Student Musician Spotlight: Sebastián ( )tero

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This week, Blog is spotlighting five Brown and RISD student musicians, all of whom will be performing this Saturday night at the Bodega Beats live session at The Spot Undeground. We’re publishing all interviews of one musician talking to another.

Check out the event’s two DJs, Michael Moyal (aka Mulga) and Raye Sosseh (aka Chartreux) interview with each from Tuesday. Yesterday, Dolapo Akinkugbe (aka DAP the Contract) interviewed Jahi Abdur-Razzaq (Brown ’17), rapper to rapper. Today, Jahi interviews fellow rapper, and musical Renaissance man, Sebastián Otero Oliveras (Brown ’18). You check out Sebastián’s work as Sebastián ()tero on Soundcloud.

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Jahi: Alright let’s talk about you. I think, the main thing is: why music? Why express yourself through this music as opposed to something else?

Sebastián: Right, I started playing the violin when I was 4. So music has been very present in my life, throughout my life. I don’t know, I just think I have this connection to music, and this energy to produce, and use this medium to express myself.

For example, I can think of a good thing to draw, or something, but my hands don’t do it that well. But I have my voice and I think I have the talent and the energy. So that comes together and that is Sebastián ()tero.

J: So how did you make the transition from violin to rap?

S: I played classical until I was 13 or 14. I got bored. I love listening to classical music but I can’t play it. I don’t like it. And then I moved to jazz. I played a little bit with jazz, and I’m from Puerto Rico and salsa is a big thing. Latin jazz too. So I also played over those types of genres.

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12 Days of Spring Weekend: Pusha T

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What is there to say about Pusha T (a.k.a. “The Cocaine Cowboy,” a.k.a. “The Cocaine King,” a.k.a. “King Push.”)? If you don’t know shit about this guy but you want to sound knowledgeable come Spring Weekend, just refer to Pusha as “the guy who raps about cocaine.” That reference alone will get you pretty far.

Though everyone is most aware of his recent work with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music label, Pusha, born Terrence Thorton, has been making music for over two decades. Pusha started the hip-hop group Clipse with his brother Malice (now known as No Malice, but he’ll always be Malice to me) back in ’92. Hailing from Virginia Beach, Clipse got started with a deal from Elektra Records, which was secured for them by no other than Pharrell. “The Funeral,” their first single off Exclusive Audio Footage, bombed commercially, although the video and track are definitely worth peeping.

Then comes all their albums you’ve probably never heard of; if you do want to venture into some of the classic hip-hop tracks, it’s worth checking out “When The Last Time” and “Mr. Me Too,” both of which Pharrell makes awesome appearances on. But if there’s one song pre-2008 that you’ve gotta know from Pusha’s discography, it’s “What Happened to That Boy.” You’ve probably heard the clean version way back at your best friend’s bar mitzvah. This track is pretty close to a masterpiece, save for Birdman’s verse which, like any Birdman verse, is full of really dynamic raps like: “If I don’t go to jail, ni**a, birds gon’ flock / Ni**a sitting on the toilet: bitch, get off the pot!”

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12 Days of Spring Weekend: Don’t Sleep on Waka Flocka Flame

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In a rather bizarre turn of events earlier in the semester, it was leaked that Waka Flocka Flame would be performing at this years spring weekend concert. In the last two years, BCA has booked artists, specifically hip-hop artists, at pivotal points of their careers. In just the short time since his performance here, Kendrick Lamar has surged into the hip-hop scene and is fighting for the title of best rap artist of our generation, if not all time. Chance, too, has started to collab with bigger names and is receiving more widespread acclaim in mainstream media.

So when I found out about Waka’s spot in the lineup, I was a bit surprised. I couldn’t help thinking back to my freshman year of high school, when I thought blasting “Hard in da Paint” made me cooler than I actually was (let’s not forget I was a chubby kid from the suburbs who thought Waka’s lyrics spoke to me). After reliving my glory days, it became clear to me why my memories of Waka Flocka stopped after my first year in high school: Flame’s last mainstream record success, Flockaveli, was released in 2010.

At first, the BCA’s decision confused me. Why would they book an artist whose career was anything but taking off? That was until I realized that Waka has been steadily producing mixtapes since his major debut, has been collaborating with EDM artists like Steve Aoki, and has become one of the most consistent rap artists of the last five years. Though he has not had as much mainstream success since Flockaveli, Flame has continued to produce and create music. What became clear is that though his career may not be about to leap forward, it has definitely not lost its spotlight it once had. Let’s start in the beginning.

Born in New York, Juaquin Malphurs, aka Waka Flocka Flame, soon relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, where he grew up and eventually developed his sound. Atlanta is often considered the birthplace of trap, and Flocka fit right in, starting his relationship with established trap artist Gucci Mane by the age of 19. In 2009, Flame had his first breakout single, “O Let’s Do It,” which eventually peaked at no. 62 on Bilboard’s Hot 100. This spark launched Flame’s career into the spotlight, and he never looked back. After his initial success, Flocka released his debut album Flockaveli in 2010. With Flockaveli, Flame crashed into the hip-hop scene with unapologetic lyrics about living in the trap and his life as a member of the brick squad (other notable members include Chief Keef and Gucci Mane). Known for its boisterous sound and party anthems, some of the album’s more notable songs include “Hard in da Paint,” “Grove St. Party,” and “No Hands.” The album debuted at no. 6 on Billboard’s Hot 200, and Flame was named the eighth-hottest MC of 2010 by MTV.

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