Working at Starbucks is one of the most interesting and wonderful experiences of a college students life. You get to meet and rub elbows with so many different people from different backgrounds, nationalities and people of different economic status. Its like a plethora of opportunity in a cup of coffee.
Raphael, 40 has been working at Starbucks for the past two years. He is a barista which is the lowest level but doesn’t plan on trying for a promotion any time soon. Raphael also has another job, he is a radio DJ and music artist. “My first recording, I must have been around 14 it was set up by DJ Wild-Style. My brother – in – law got that for me. Ever since then I have been recorded in several different studios, Starring Crew, Hand-Craft..at least seven different studios.” Raphael says the last studio of the seven he was in, is his own he finally set up shop in his home for more convenient recording.
“What sparked my interest to become an artist was the era I grew up in, It was different, the feel was different. It was about creativity. The rappers out at that time had a different flavor for each, it was like you had Fu-Schnickens, but then you had Phat-boys but then you also had Houdini, And if you wanted a smooth lady-type you could listen to Slick Rick.”
Raphael compared rapping at the time to being an author because they were all telling a story it wasn’t about just making a song, it was about making the listener relive your story through vocal art. When asked if his genre of music fell into the hip-hop category he was a little objective. “No, rap and hip-hop to me are different. Rap is the documentary of the streets, which was born by NWA. My genre is hip-hop, not rap. I don’t do rap.”
Raphael is currently an unsigned artist, who has over 10,000 likes and views on his music page. He has been self promoting through his radio station gig, he has been telling people about his many ventures through listening events, and has also been offered deals by major companies such as DEF Jam records. “I am currently working on a deal with Tune-core, which is this big time distribution agency. I have a manager working with me on that, he used to be the engineer for a hip-hop group; Stetsasonic.”
Raphael proceeded to eat his warm cheese Danish as he spoke, careful not to spray food particles as his excitement and voice tone changed. There are many people trying to break in to the music industry but if you don’t have the right tools or the right mind set it becomes the hardest mission of all time. Raphael has struggled to get his foot in the door since the beginning even though his brother – in – law is a music producer with his own business. Sometime business and family don’t mix.
Raphael has a dream to become something big. “My hopes are to get my radio-station off the ground. I want to also start a podcast, and since I am already promoting myself I want to get to a higher level to get a labels attention.” He was very clear about which label to stay away from. Labels he believes you should go to, are the ones that are the mother companies to others because that is less money going through the channels that you are losing.
Take for instance the company Young Money, who signed Nicki Minaj. Before Young Money distributes her checks, it also goes through Cash Money records, which goes through about two other levels coming from the top company that owns them, Universal Music Group. He is trying to find a way to get the mother companies attention.
“When people ask about progress, it’s very hard to explain in one way. On that journey I’ve worked with Dip-set, Chuck D and I’ve been working on films that no one knows what to do with it because it has so many celebrities in it.”
Raphael is also a film maker and a music video artist. Along his film making journey, Raphael admitted that most of the films he makes are documentaries about the music industry and the life behind it. He enjoys doing all of this even if it isn’t paying off at the moment, because it’s a journey and you make a lot of acquaintances on the way to the top or middle, where ever you may land.
“ My honest advice is keep moving. Its easier in this day and age so you have more to work with. In my day we didn’t have YouTube, we didn’t have Facebook. We live in the age where you can have a studio in your living room. If anything, my advice is if you want to succeed keep at it consistently.”