“It was all a dream…” Notorious B.I.G. begins his iconic song, “Juicy,” an homage to the hip hop American dream – something Manuel Silva would like to achieve someday soon.
Weaving unconventional sounds with fresh beats (he recently captured an audio recording of children playing in a park for a song) and thought-provoking lyrics, Silva strives to create original content that is as euphonious as it is meaningful. Penning socially conscious lyrics and matching them with his crafted beats, he still hopes to maintain the delicate balance between sending a message and sounding preachy. “I want [my music] to sound good so people don’t say ‘I don’t want to listen to this guy, he’s too positive’,”he jokes.
The humble 21-year-old Baruch junior has been writing songs since the age of eight. Growing up in a poor community in Far Rockaway, Queens, rap and hip hop was a predominant feature of the neighborhood culture.
Silva released his first project when he was in the ninth grade. He hesitates to say it was outright terrible, but notes that a girl from his high school threatened to have her brother shoot him if he continued to make music.
Despite this, he continued and about two years ago became even more proactive about his future in hip hop. “It’s a career people can do. You can make money and you can make a living off of it,” he says. For his most recent project, The Dopeness Part II, Silva invested money in a professional studio and is currently searching for a manager.
He had his first big break last October when he decided on a whim to enter a showcase hosted by Hot 97’s Monse. Beating out 22 artists from around the city, he won a media blast of one of his songs, a professional photo shoot, studio time, and a meeting with Bad Boy Records. However, after a series of miscommunications, all Silva reaped from the contest was the media blast of a song he admits wasn’t his best work. He didn’t let this put a damper on his creativity, though.
Currently, he’s focusing on building a fan base by performing shows around the city and connecting with other artists, such as Scribe the Verbalist who is featured on one of the songs on The Dopeness Part II.
In preparing for his next project, Silva wants to increase his mainstream appeal by tinkering with commercial sounds and incorporating new subject matter. While a lot of his previous work has been about love or other personal issues, he hopes to experiment with fiction and fantasy (“like dragons and unicorns,” he says). He hopes to include influences from indie rock, digital sounds, and sampling. Silva wants to give the project a summer-like feel and include vivid imagery, while still keeping true to his hop hop roots and fan base. He feels that with all of the changes in hip hop music brought on by artists like Drake, experimentation and genre-mixing is more encouraged and accepted.
However, Silva doesn’t just create music, he has a strong appreciation of art as well. His blog serves as a platform for all of his forms of expression. He recently took up photography, which is clear from the number of vibrant pictures adorning the site. His goal is to get into film. Silva considers himself “an idea man,” something that is evident in his versatility.
While his main concern is funding his projects, he hopes to continue building his fan base and getting his music out there so that it “spreads like a virus.” With his determination and the quality of his work, he may very well be on his way.