Radio Stevie is a rapper, singer, songwriter. “Rap Queen,” his debut EP is produced by DJ Flavya, an emerging Brazilian-American DJ, and producer from New York City. The bass music EP was recorded at Haze Studio in São Paulo, Brazil, where both DJ Flavya and Radio Stevie now call home. The EP is in stores now on Up Style Records. This is Radio Stevie’s story, in his own words.
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B E G I N N I N G
As long as I can remember I have been a musical person. My brother and I are very close and growing up we’ve always found music to be more important than anything else. As children, we would bang on shoeboxes and tin cans and pretend they were drums and freestyle songs. We eventually learned to record and layer our voices on Karaoke machines and starting writing to instrumentals from single cassettes we owned. We created an entire universe of imaginary artists so that we could have a range of styles to work from and made up a pretend radio station to play our own recordings alongside real artists. This is what we always wanted to do.
I eventually started rapping because I liked writing R&B songs and I felt that some of the songs needed a rap, so I would just do it. I’m a child of the ’90s era when rap and R&B were booming on the radio and I became inspired by how incredibly the genres mixed. The more I wrote rhymes, the more it became natural for me to rap and flow. By high school and college, I was rapping and bootleg recording with friends all the time. Making collections of songs became my journal and the place where I felt the most honest with myself. I’ve sung things to my computer that I have never told anyone, so it feels good to finally explore my musical mind outside of the 4 walls of my room and to build something from the bottom up.
I N S P I R A T I O N
Musically, I am an R&B and pop kid. My biggest influences are pop icons like Michael Jackson and Beyonce. I am also a huge Depeche Mode fan and I love ’80s music. I listened to hip-hop and rap as a kid, but sometimes it didn’t always reflect my personality, so I learned to appreciate other sounds like jam music, downtempo, jazz, and electronic music. I think my love for many genres changes my approach to what a rapper is and can be. I rap because I can and because it is just another way to creatively use my words to express myself, which I believe is my true calling in life. I think before I am a rapper, I am a writer.
When it comes to writing music I am mostly inspired by whatever is going on around me and that can include people I spend time with, movies, books, nature, you name it. Sometimes my lyrics are direct instances of things happening in my own life or the world, and sometimes they are just things I see in my mind. I don’t really have one particular style. Sometimes I am playful and fun, other times I am serious, and sometimes I am fictional. I live in my head, so you never know what you’ll get with me.
B R A Z I L
I moved to São Paulo, Brazil from New Haven, Connecticut, nearly 2 years ago with my husband, who is from Brazil, and with excitement for a fresh start. However, months leading up to the big move I started privately panicking about what would be next for me. Although I consider myself to be a go with the flow kind of guy, I also like structure and planning. Moving to a new country with no idea of what I would be doing really freaked me out.
When I arrived, I tried to continue my work in communications by grabbing freelance jobs with websites that had an interest in Brazil. But when freelance projects stopped coming in I started to realize that I should try my hand at things I’ve always wanted to do but was too afraid to take the risk. Once I made that realization, creative projects starting pouring out of me. I wrote the book I’ve always wanted to make loosely based on a past version of myself, and shortly after I made a documentary featuring black lives in São Paulo.
Eventually, I became friends with music folks both local and international down here. Before I knew it, I was in and out of the studio sharing lyrics and songs that I have been creating for years. I also started to get a close look at how Brazilians create down here and the many styles that make up Brazilian music. Now, I’m finishing up my first EP with DJ Flavya and the music journey I have prepared my whole life for is beginning. I am still sometimes in shock by all that is happening musically.
São Paulo has been very good for my creativity and personal growth. I feared the word artist, but moving here has pushed me to fully embrace that title and what I believe is art. I will forever be grateful to Brazil for this experience and for giving me space, both mentally and physically to take creative risks. Everything about this place inspires me. Brazil is a beautiful country full of rich culture and passionate people. Creatively, the people here have been very open and welcoming to my creativity and I can’t stress enough how much this place has inspired me.
RAP QUEEN is a bass music EP that incorporates various sounds in electronic music from synthpop to trap music. Recording with DJ Flavya has been so much fun and I thank her so much for pushing me to be an artist. I have always found comfort in being a behind the scenes kind of guy. To me, I see art as a very emotional experience and I am a private guy, so to meet someone that genuinely feels inspired and excited by my lyrics and ideas has been incredible. Then, to build upon those ideas together and to watch them turn into something really awesome, and to see other people enjoying it is what makes this project so special to me.
I started writing RAP QUEEN at the beginning of the year during Brazil’s Carnival, which is a time of year when everyone is in the streets, full of life and celebrating culture. I wanted this record to feel like a celebration. RAP QUEEN is about representation, freedom, and the joy in both of those things. Lyrically, I want to amplify and add to the conversations that rappers such as Angel Haze, Le1f, Mykki Blanco, and countless others have started. Like those before me, I want to challenge what we can talk about in rap music. Our voices are necessary and with the title of this EP I wanted to make it clear that I am not going to put up a facade for the sake of what others feel rap should be. If the words queen and queer make people uninterested, or uncomfortable, that’s on them. But, I can only be myself.
Recording with DJ Flavya in São Paulo, we were both inspired by sounds and rhythms here. While there are plenty of sounds to Brazil, one that owns the night is baile funk, and producers here are doing really creative things with that genre. I wanted to incorporate elements of this sound on the record to connect with a Brazilian audience, so we starting thinking of artists to work with. Then, it just so happened that Flavya started producing music for Airá Ocrespo, an artist from Rio de Janeiro. When I heard what they were doing together I knew he was the one to represent for Brazil on 1 track on the EP. Plus, he’s a street artist, and when I arrived in São Paulo, street art became my map to the city and at times great history lessons. It felt right to mix our sounds together and I think we created something for everyone. The rest of the EP continues the theme of bass music blending trap, synthpop, disco, and hip-hop rhythms with my lyrics focusing on everything from important social issues to drag queens and fictional characters. We really meshed it all together into a cohesive project that I’m super proud of. I think there is something for all music lovers in this EP. I am eager to share my perspective and to share this blend of sounds with all those that are ready to listen. This moment has been years in the making and it is time to finally let Radio Stevie loose! This is only the beginning.
- RAP QUEEN EP is in stores now on all major digital platforms.
- The Prelude mixtape series featuring Radio Stevie & DJ Flavya reworks & remixes begins in October, with exclusive Soundcloud tracks leading up to the official Radio Stevie EP release.