By Michelle Tully
Most college students on campus spend their free time hanging out with friends and listening to the latest music, but Matt Maratea spends his free time making his own.
The local rapper has six mix tapes- each full of multiple tracks posted on his Tumblr blog. He also has 50 videos on YouTube where he has received positive feedback from his growing fan base. His YouTube videos range from 3,000 to over 6,000 views and these numbers are continuing to grow. Matt Maratea promotes his music through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr.
Maratea revealed a little bit about school, shows, and his latest mix tape, Please and Thank You, which was just released at the beginning of the month. Even with his effortless ‘swagger’, you wouldn’t know just by his appearance that Maratea is a rapper.
Maratea is probably one of the nicest rappers you’ll run into on the street.
“Matt’s wicked nice, like one of the nicest guys I know. [He’s] just so friendly and outgoing with everyone. He loves meeting and talking to new people,” said a classmate of Maratea’s. “He’s confident in himself and doesn’t mess around with his work, like he hates missing class; I actually don’t think he’s missed a class once this semester.”
That’s one characteristic that separates Maratea from the rest – he’s into school whereas a lot of other rappers tend to blow off books for music. Maratea still has an interest in his academics and takes them seriously while still focusing on his music. He’s open to try new and different things and is interested in the technicalities behind the music.
“I’m like a perfectionist, always trying to get to the next level [with school and music],” Maratea said as he scratched his chin strap. He explained that he is a solo artist. Most people were probably under the impression that Maratea worked on his music the traditional way – in a recording studio – however, he does it all on his own laptop.
Today technology has filled the world with new opportunities and Matt has taken full advantage of that.
Although most rappers aim their focus towards working with other big name producers, Maratea creates his music outside of the recording studio. He actually uses a program called Logic Pro 9 on his laptop which is used in real studios. Maratea reaches out to other producers who create beats for him. With these beats, he sets up a mic stand in his dorm room which then gets hooked up to his laptop. After recording his original songs, Maratea goes to work by tweaking and editing his songs. He makes sure to devote enough time to each track to make sure the final product is perfect.
So why does Matt Maratea choose to create his music on his own instead of recording in a legitimate studio? Wouldn’t he gain more attention if he worked with real producers? The 18-year-old Worcester State Communications major has actually chosen a smarter route.
Not only does creating his own music allow him access to a variety of skills and opportunities, but it allows him to jump over the possible (and probable) scams that occur in the music industry frequently. A lot of “producers” are only willing to work with artists for the money. It doesn’t matter how much talent one artist has because there is always a studio fee and producers will take advantage of young artists for the sake of pocketing the extra cash.
Since Maratea has already met and performed with other well-known rising stars, he is building his own foundation through his own resources. “I pretty much have to harass the promoters just to get my foot in the door,” Maratea said, laughing. “The hardest thing is getting on that music level with those guys,” he explained. He went on to say that he has been talking to the people who do the booking of events to try and get his way into the Palladium and Tammany Hall. Scoring a spot or even talking to those guys comes as a challenge, but Maratea keeps pushing his way through. The first few attempts at booking a gig didn’t come easy. “Knowing of a few local places where I could perform I contacted the venues only to be denied a performing spot,” Maratea said.
Although Maratea has had a hard time getting booked for a show at the Palladium or Tammany Hall as originally planned, he booked himself a spot for a 21+ event at Sinnis Pub in Dudley, MA on November 9th. “There was a really good turnout, it was smaller than usual, but a good audience,” Maratea said. His dark brown eyes lit up with accomplishment. He noted that, “It was a 21 plus club, so none of my friends could really go, but it was cool to perform for an older audience.”
Two of Maratea’s proudest performances were with rappers Moufy and Mike Stud. His first performance came after he had gotten the numbers of promoters and finally got in touch with them. He said, “After the promoter of the Moufy show saw the type of crowd that I drew in and how I got the crowd to react to my performance I was offered a bigger show with a bigger artist: Mike Stud about 2 months later.”
Maratea has been able to play around with his tracks in his own version of a studio. This will be extremely helpful to him because when he does get signed, he will be able to work more in depth with the producers. “I really like this challenge because I love the experience I’m getting out of it. I get to learn a lot more of the technical side than those who just sing,” the solo artist said on the path he has chosen.
Having the knowledge and experience that Maratea has also opens up new doors and makes room for a wide spread range of opportunities. With these talents, people will want to work with the artist because they will be getting more than just a voice on a track. Aside from writing and producing his own songs, Maratea could eventually start writing and producing for others as well.
Surprisingly, rap wasn’t always Maratea’s genre of choice; before the rapper began writing lyrics and producing his songs, he was actually in a band with some of his friends. What started as a hobby opened Maratea’s eyes to a whole new world.
“I chose to switch to rap when my band members stopped working as hard as they once did with the music. A big thing for me is work ethic. Being a solo hip-hop musician I can be dependent on myself and not worry about anyone else who isn’t working as hard as me,” Maratea said as he talked about the anger he had built up. “From family troubles and what not to not fitting in at all is where my early topics came from. I’ve always had an interest in rap, but the early stages of my interest came through producing on drum kits and this led to me actually writing a song,” he explained. Just like that, Maratea decided to part with his band and began developing his new style.
Going from rock band to rap artist is quite a bit of a leap, especially as a white teenager trying to get in the rap game. “It is definitely tough being a white teenager in the rap business simply because many people won’t take you seriously at first,” said the artist.
As we know, Eminem, the “white trash turned evil genius”, is one of the biggest rappers in the game and has no problem running with other famous colored rappers such as Kanye West and Jay-Z. However, that wasn’t always the case. Eminem had to prove himself – which he did. More recently, white rapper, Macklemore, has made a splash in the hip-hop and rap genre telling Rolling Stone magazine that, “being white has benefited him.”
Macklemore also said, “If you’re going to be a white dude and do this s—, I think you have to take some level of accountability. You have to have knowledge of where the art came from, where it is today, how you’re benefiting from it. At the very least, just bringing up those points and acknowledging, yes, I understand my privilege, I understand how it works for me in society, and how it works for me in 2013.”
Maratea doesn’t see the color of his skin to be too much of a problem as long as he continues to represent himself seriously. “You can either choose to listen to people’s opinions or you can choose to do what you love,” he said.
He went on to explain that, “I’m never cautious about my lyrics because I want to give people what they want to hear; rap isn’t about worrying what people think of you. It’s saying what’s on your mind at a point in your life. I like to rap about having a good time because it allows me to forget about more of the bad times I’ve had. I want people to feel good about themselves when they listen to my music.”
Maratea truly believes that he will make it in the rap game because he works every day at it. “This began as a side thing for me. I feel as if over the last two years it has broken out of that ‘hobby stage’ and is definitely taken more seriously when it comes to the performing stages of rap,” he said. The young artist believes that no matter how his cards are laid out, he’ll always be making music whether it’s for five fans or millions of fans.
There’s a reason why Maratea looks up to rappers like Logic and Kid Ink; they have a strong work ethic and still remember why they got into music in the first place: for the enjoyment. “Nobody ever became well-known and lucrative off of something without working hard and progressing through it. I look up to these guys because they started just like I did and while watching their careers progress, I have learned a lot on what it takes to become what you strive to be,” he said.
After focusing a huge area of his life to writing and producing music, Maratea strives to keep moving forward with all of it. As a growing inspiration to everyone in his own community, and now ours, Maratea is proving it is possible to chase your dreams. He has already shown us that you don’t need a big fancy recording studio to gain success. “My latest mix tape, Please and Thank You, is mostly party music to sit back and enjoy. I didn’t touch on many deep topics because this is a project that I wanted people to have fun and enjoy life with,” he described. Maratea is going to continue to perform – starting with his upcoming show in Dudley, MA at the Sinnis Pub.
On a final note, the ambitious rapper firmly stated, “I love music and it’s something that will always be a part of me.”
You can listen to Matt Maratea’s music and watch his videos through his personal web page on Tumblr. You can also tweet at him through his Twitter account @Matt_Maratea