Gowhere Hip Hop

Gowhere Hip Hop EXCLUSIVE Interview: Matthew Santos

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Photo Credit: Stephanie Bassos

Gowhere Hip Hop is proud to present another in-depth exclusive interview featuring FNF's Matthew Santos! Many of you know Santos from his work with Lupe Fiasco, which we undoubtedly addressed along with insight from Santos on the Chicago and Minneapolis hip hop scenes. Santos also conveys more about his music, concisely describing what it is that sets him apart, and shedding light on his upcoming projects and singles. This is easily one of our most interesting interviews conducted, and we hope you take the time out to read the transcript below. At its conclusion, you can watch a previously released video of Matthew Santos performing his instant hit "Born To Do" live on ABC7 Chicago. We would like to thank Matthew Santos for his time and cooperation in providing yet another unique feature for our readers. Enjoy!

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GWHH: Given your exposure and success alongside Lupe Fiasco on the Grammy-nominated "Superstar", many people just know Matthew Santos as 'that guy who sings the hook'. Let some of these people know more about Matthew Santos the artist.

MS: I was afraid of being type-casted as Lupe's "hook guy", and I guess that for some people I will always be just that. I'm hoping that it's because I haven't unleashed my own album yet and the majority of people who know my name haven't heard what I'm truly about. My music is very different than Lupe's. I'm not a pop musician really, or an R&B singer, I'm more rooted in soul/folk/indie-rock with pop/R&B tendencies. The music I make is more of an alternative to the pop you hear on the radio, a little darker, and a lot deeper. I promise you my name and my career won't be contained in hip-hop hooks for long, yet at the same time, singing songs for Lupe Fiasco is a very lucrative and rewarding side project to say the least.

GWHH: The next big release for you is the release of the 1st single off of Lupe Fiasco's next album, Lasers, called "Shining Down" available now. Could you discuss how the track came about? Was the hook something you had written and proposed to Lupe or the other way around where Lupe came to you, wanting to replicate the success of "Superstar"?

MS: I think that replicating the success of "Superstar" was probably on someone's mind, but "Shining Down" is a whole different kind of beast. It may be my favorite collab with Lupe yet for I really get to open up on it. Lupe wrote the words, presented a basic idea of a melody, and then I worked on making his initial ideas a little more musical, more dynamic and more in tune with my own voice. Same process as "Superstar". Add some improvisation on some aspects of the melody, a tweak here and there, and you have your final hook.

GWHH: You're originally from the Twin Cities in Minnesota and have since migrated to a second home here in Chicago. How would you describe the similarities and differences in the music scenes of two of the largest Midwest cities in the country?

MS: I'm no expert, and since this is a hip-hop blog I'll comment on the hip-hop scene in specific. Chicago seems to embrace the "fresh" style factor of "the look" of hip-hop, whereas in Minneapolis I feel that that's not so emphasized. Minneapolis embodies the underground, grassroots idealism of Atmosphere, Rhymesayers, and Brother Ali, and Chicago seems to be about the progressive flash and bang of Kanye and Lupe. Again, I'm no expert, just an observer. Shout out to Meta, Dessa Wander and Doomtree hustling the Minneapolis hip-hop scene.

GWHH:
Many of your own shows out in the Midwest simply feature you and your acoustic guitar. Was the acoustic guitar your first gateway into pursuing music and do you have plans to release an acoustic CD of sorts?

MS: The acoustic guitar has been my tool for songwriting since I first started, not to mention my secondary instrument/accompaniment. I will always love and pursue the intimacy and raw power of the solo singer with his guitar. It's timeless. I've already released one acoustic album entitled Matters of the Bittersweet and I will no doubt do many more in the future.

GWHH: When can we expect the next album and what can fans expect to hear from Matthew Santos this time around?

MS: We hope to be dropping the new album late this fall before X-mas. I've lost many nights of sleep over this project, but at the end of the day I think that it's an incredible piece of work if I'm allowed to say so myself. It's gonna be unlike a lot of what we've done in the past with our EP As a Crow Flies (2006) and the acoustic album Matters of the Bittersweet (2007). We experimented a lot more, and I wrote some tunes unlike any other songs I've ever written before such as "Wide Eyed Fire Fly" and "On The Radio" which are much more rock/pop driven. But there are also some really laid-back soul/folk tunes like "The Good Life" and "Break Free" which are more signature of our established sound.

MS: I want to be an artist that people won't know what to expect from next, but they can expect that it's going to be quality. I'm not a niche artist that writes and sings the same kind of songs over and over again, and I think that's what sets me apart from a lot of other singer/songwriters.

GWHH: The one single that has made waves locally and on various television outlets is "Born To Do". Could you discuss that single and if it will be pushed as the 1st single officially? If not, what other records do you have in store?

MS: I'm not sure what the first single will be yet. We have 4 or 5 in mind for singles and B-side singles, yet we have yet to make that decision. I've mentioned a few of the titles above. I don't want to give them away just yet...

GWHH: Lastly, could you provide a website, MySpace, Twitter, etc. where the readers can follow you more closely.

MS: Twitter: @matthewsantos .. MySpace: myspace.com/matthewsantos .. Facebook: facebook.com/matthewsantos and lastly, our web page is under construction, but it will be www.matthewsantos.com Much love to ya!!

PREVIOUSLY:

Matthew Santos Interview x "Born To Do" LIVE

@ ABC7 Chicago

Performance starts @ 2:15

~ Sgt. Tibs

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