(Photos By ¡OYE!)
“It’s been crazy. When you’re in front of thousands of people, you’re showmanship is really put to the test. RAGELIFE takes our live show very serious and we’re always trying to outdo ourselves. Our Milwaukee shows definitely have more of an underground feel since they don’t have national headliners but we take them just as seriously. I got mad love for the hometown.”– ¡OYE! (On Doing Mainstream vs. Local Shows) / ¡OYE! is a reputable name here within the Milwaukee music scene and has appeared on the site a few times now. For that reasoning and since he has some great things lined up for the new year; decided to chop it up with the proud nontraditional emcee. See what he shared about college life, his new group, and more after the jump.
The Illixer: The translation of your stage name in English is basically a call to attention. What is it about you/your music that is worthy of people’s interest?
¡OYE!: I’d say point of view and vision. Point of view being that of a Latino, student, poet, scholar, etc.; which I feel is a very unique one. I can only tell my story, you know? Also, anybody who has worked with me knows I’m all about the vision, or big picture of the story. I intend for the music to be an experience, every choice is thought through and nothing is quite what it seems.
TI: Briefly describe how you came to get involved in the world of Hip-Hop?
¡OYE!: I was born into it. Hip-Hop is Americana. Even if I am Puerto Rican, Puerto Rican’s were there at the birth of the culture as well. But as for the art of it, I’ve always been a fan of Hip-Hop music and found myself writing spoken word in my high school years. Not too long after entering college as a scholarship recipient of First Wave, a Hip-Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community, I quickly made the transition to music.
TI: Explain what the Ink Red brand is all about.
¡OYE!: Ink Red is an artistic collaborative effort that’s surrounded by fashion and Ink Red Clothing. The lead designer, Niko Tuna Crackers, is a great friend of mine and I’m glad to call him my business partner. Niko’s the “fourth member” of RAGELIFE due to his artistic and visual additions he makes to the group.
TI: You recently graduated from UW-Madison. What was it like balancing both college and a music career?
¡OYE!: I was done as of December, I’m just waiting until the spring to cross the stage. It has been an interesting journey though. If I had never gone to college, I would have never took my music career as seriously. I’ve been blessed to have some great collaborators and mentors who’ve really eased me into the craft and kept my head on straight throughout the projects I have and will have released.
TI: How do you feel your career would be different if college wasn’t in the picture and you just pursued music full time?
¡OYE!: Similar. I’m not one to rush music. I’m very patient at this point in my life and like to take my time in order to get the best quality out of my work. Pursuing music “full time” is tough unless you’re in a residency or privileged to have a family who’s willing to support that. Other than that, many artists are balancing their jobs and music, or class and music. Besides, I feel like I would have a lot less wisdom and experience if I wasn’t living on my own and taking classes. Who knows?
TI: What can fans expect from your latest project RAGELIFE and how would you rank it in comparison to your past works?
¡OYE!: Well, first off it’s a collaborative effort with myself, P/1 (Phonetic ONE) of Minneapolis and DJ *hitmayng of Milwaukee. The project started on stage when we went to LA to represent the Mid-West in the College Battle Of The Bands and things kept growing. Those three songs turned to eleven and now we’re just nitpicking the tracks, making sure everything is in order. I definitely think this record has some of my best writing, organization, and is also my first stab at a full length project. There’s a little bit of everything and it includes features from Yo Dot, Klassik, and K. Raydio.
TI: Where did you draw inspiration from to use for creating RAGELIFE?
¡OYE!: We want to bring you into a world that shows both sides of college life. In a nutshell, the life of being a minority student at a huge party school balancing books, art, and raging and then dealing with a completely different life we left behind at home.
TI: Name your three favorite songs off of RAGELIFE and explain why you chose them.
¡OYE!: “Champagne Range” – Klassik produces and has a feature on this track. Post – Apocalyptic riding music at its finest. “Throwed” – Produced by Klassik as well but feature’s K.Raydio. Crazy collaboration and sounds like nothing anybody involved in the collaboration world has ever done. “Let Me Go” – The first leak off of the record. It’s one of the funnest tracks I’ve ever been a part of and the beat is one that begs a repeat.
TI: What do you want people to take away from the new project?
¡OYE!: A story, an album to bump in the car, at the pregame, or when you’re just hanging out. I’d like for my supporters to start taking notice of the details that I pay attention to and hopefully provide a nice example for the city when it comes to the possibilities of Hip-Hop and provide a story for any other artists balancing school life and a music career.
TI: What are some of the things you have planned for the New Year?
¡OYE!: This record is the biggest thing yet! I also plan on actually completing my commencement ceremony in the spring. I’m currently teaching songwriting and music recording theory to college students at the UW and soon to be collaborating with middle and high school as well. It’s beyond a blessing to able to facilitate these passionate and talented individuals and can’t wait to see what the future brings.
**My Two Cents: Been wanting to interview ¡OYE! for a while now and it was worth the wait. He has an interesting perspective on his career and I love the fact that he’s teaching and molding future music minds. That is dope. Keep an eye out for RAGELIFE. The site will definitely cover the project as much as possible. Also, readers can keep up with details about the pending album and more by visiting any of the provided links and / or following ¡OYE! on Twitter. -MinM