Long before he was experimenting with old-school soul and socially conscious rap, junior marketing major Giovanni Recinos was listening to the peak of R&B — Bow Wow. Although Bow Wow is most known for his role in the 2002 movie Like Mike, his lesser known hits were responsible for Recinos’s interest in rap.
“When I was a kid, I was gifted a CD player and this Bow Wow record that I would never listen to now [laughs]. I used to play that thing like all the time and I just realized I have this connection with music,” said Recinos.
Moving on to more refined rap legends, Recinos was deeply inspired by Top Dawg Entertainment, an independent record label home to icons like Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and SZA.
“Their storytelling is just so innovative to me. Kendrick was talking about his struggles of being in Compton and trying to get out and being a good person surrounded by so much peer pressure, and then Ab-Soul was talking about the corruption in society and how females deserve to be treated better,” said Recinos. “They all have their own styles and their own personalities, and to me that was something I really admired. I want to be able to tell a story like that.”
In his most recent album, In This Dangerous Life We Live, Recinos did just that, addressing racial inequality and mental health issues. All seven tracks were written around the time that the Black Lives Matter movement garnered a great deal of attention following the death of George Floyd, but the last track especially emphasizes the overwhelming anxiety that accompanies a high-tension year of social injustice.
“As an artist, [writing the album] was really hard for me, but it was just something that I had to talk about. It was one of those things where I couldn’t stay quiet. I’m trying to be like as a conscious rapper, so I wanted to talk about all the corruption I see,” said Recinos. “The last song on my album is probably one of my favorites ever, it’s kind of about the depression of like 'why should I wake up tomorrow?' You just gotta hope for a better tomorrow and then you can create that better tomorrow.”
Keeping close to the themes of mental health, his upcoming album Born To Die follows the same thematic undertones.
“[The album] is kind of this realization that death is inevitable and I don’t know when it’s gonna come, so I just gotta make the best of what I can when I can. That’s a lot of what being in quarantine was — realizing that I have a chance to get better at rapping, get better at a lot of things,” said Recinos.
In the future, Recinos would like to put his marketing degree into to use, hoping to work with labels on marketing within the music industry. Working with musicians is nothing new to him, as he collaborated with friend and Ten Track Shuffle alumnus kxvg on Kamikaze last year. When it comes to promoting his songs, Recinos plans to rely on his marketing background to expand his brand.
“I really am trying to think outside the box so that I don’t have to be that one guy in the Instagram comments like ‘listen to my music!’ I want to actually get people on to music and find a way to market it really well,” said Recinos.
As for his upcoming album, Born to Die, Recinos has been utilizing his social media presence to spread the word. While one track, 4U, has already dropped as a single, the complete album will become available in February.