“‘And out of nowhere I show up like . . .” raps one of the hottest, young emerging artist Mateo Vic on his freestyle ‘The Rise of Pheonix,’ a freestyle that has had the internet buzzing. Mateo Vic is talented, confident in his music and while he is yet to make his official announcement of his intention to dominate the music industry, industry heads are already taking notice of this young man’s talent. Independent of his music, Mateo Vic has been contributing to his local community for years now. From missionary trips overseas to build churches and feed the poor to visiting and ministering to the incarcerated in prison in Texas to coaching basketball and mentoring young people, Mateo Vic has been a busy man. Mateo Vic is Ladybrille’s Man of the Month. In this feature, we salute all of his efforts to date and also introduce you to an artist who we believe is destined to be the Next Big Star. Take note so when he is riding on top of music charts, or performing on your television screens, you can say you first saw him on Ladybrille, way back when.
First take a listen to one of Mateo Vic’s buzz generating freestyle tracks, ‘The Rise of the Phoenix.’[audio:https://ladybrille.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Rise-Of-the-phoenix.mp3|titles=Rise Of the phoenix]
Ladybrillemag.com:Mateo Vic, we will get into your music very soon. One of the factors we weigh to determine who our Ladybrille Man of the Month will be; (are) the contributions our candidates have made to their local communities before we approach them. We were impressed with your work in your local community. You’ve been involved in “prison ministries” . . . Tell us about that. Why is that important to you?
Mateo Vic: I joined the CHARM prison ministry because I know that once someone goes to prison we tend to forget about them as a community and also as a church; and once that happens, the inmate feel it’s over. They have nothing else to live for, some join gang etc. . . that is where we come in. We go in and show them Christ Love and let them know it is not over yet. With God, all things are possible and for those that are serving life sentences, there is a bigger picture, which is heaven.
Ladybrillemag.com: Interesting. Let’s get into your music. First, your stage name. What is the story behind how it came to be?
Mateo Vic: I use to go by “The Obissy” but when I became born again (Christian), M.V.P emerged (which stands for MATEO VICTORY aka Phoenix.) The name “Mateo” is Greek for “Devoted to God” and Vic is short for “Victory,” which is my mission statement (that is) claiming Victory in all I Do. “Pheonix” is like an alter ego. It is a (space) I get into whenever I get ready to go hard on a track, most of the time it’s when I freestyle .
Ladybrillemag.com: How would you describe yourself as an artist? Describe your musical style and delivery?
Mateo Vic: As an Artist, I honestly believe I am different from what the world is used to. [A]ll (will) see what I mean when my album drops. I feel I posses the best of everything. I take time whenever I do anything musical, whether it’s rapping or Ghost writing for singer I’m particular about my craft. The funny thing is, I really don’t listen to rap music as much as I used to. I get inspired by World music, traditional Igbo (Eastern Nigeria) highlife music, European, Indian, and Asian music.
Ladybrillemag.com: I heard your work when you competed for the Don Jazzy Beat Competition some months back. Right then and there, my hunch told me you were one of the chosen ones destined for a very successful career in music, if you stay the course.
Mateo Vic: What’s funny about that competition is that I heard about it the first day it came out on Notjustok.com. . . I wasn’t interested in (participating) but my team (was) persistent about it. They convinced me it would be great for promotion, so I told them to forward me the beat. Once I heard it that same night, I laid that rhyme down. Looking back on it now, I’m glad I did it and a big shout out to DON Jazzy (music producer), a legend in his prime.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Rap is very much about story telling. What is your story? What compels you to rap?
Mateo Vic: Music is the only thing that has ever inspired me and it’s the only thing I feel I was created to do. Plus, it’s a universal language. I am rapping because I believe I can use it as a tool to share the gospel and maybe change someone’s life, at the same time entertain and also educate them on what is going on around us.
LADYBRILLEmag.com:T here are millions of rappers. What sets Mateo Vic apart?
Mateo Vic: My spirituality and my perception of the world. I honestly believe I can change the world when it’s all said and done, and if it doesn’t happen in my time then maybe my music can spark the mind of the future generation that will.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: No one really knows who you are. You didn’t win the Don Jazzy Beat Competition. You are fresh in every sense of the word when it comes to your place in the music industry. Yet, you exude such inspiring and contagious confidence in your music. Where do you think that confidence comes from?
Mateo Vic: It comes from my temperament. I’m a choleric. I also play and coach basketball. I feel the same way about that to. It’s just how I’m wired. I know what I posses and how blessed I am. Growing up, my mom also told me I was destined for greatness and also I was special and I should never forget it and I haven’t.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: As a rapper, one of the key things that you have to be good at is your ability to pen lyrics that truly connect and are memorable with your audience. What inspires your lyrics?
Mateo Vic: Three things. First, the spirit of God inspires me, second my mom the strongest woman that I know, third is just everyday life. Just trying to communicate my opinion the easiest way possible and relate it to everyday things, and at the same time stay unique.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: How many rhyme books have you filled up so far?
Mateo Vic: (Laughs) I’m very unorganized. (Laughs) but by the grace of God I’m changing. I got papers all over the place and books everywhere. I’ve gone through at least four (4) books and now I am trying to learn how to stop writing and just go straight from my mind to the beat.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Do you have a special kind of rhyme book you use or any old stationery from the book store does it for you?
Mateo Vic: Any book can do it for me. I even use napkins sometimes when I run out of paper. (Laughs)
THE BUSINESS OF MUSIC WITH AN EMERGING ARTIST
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Let’s talk about developing your sound and style. Who are some of the music producers you have worked with to fine tune your sound, style and delivery?
Mateo Vic: None. Since I started rapping in 2004 back in high school, I learned how to adapt with the seasons to stay relevant. If you don’t evolve, you will be left behind. . .
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Who within Africa and the USA’s music industry, in terms of producers, would you like to work with?
Mateo Vic: I don’t think there is any one producer I can pick out and say, “oh I like this one more than the other.” I believe everyone has their strengths and also weaknesses. [T]here is also a season for everyone and depending on what season you are in, (determines) which producer you want to work with. But Samklef (Nigerian music producer) is brilliant.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What about artists within Africa and in the USA, who would you like to work with?
Mateo Vic: Tuface and Nneka (For Africa) and in America, DaTruth and Shobaracka.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: How do (these persons you mention) reach you?
Mateo Vic: My business line is (832-964-4932). My email is ([email protected]) or (they can) add me on face http://www.facebook.com/DeObissy.Victory
LADYBRILLEmag.com: I understand you studied at Southern Texas University. What degree did you obtain?
Mateo Vic: I’m finishing up my Kinesiology degree (at Southern Texas University). I’m so eager to graduate, and get done with school so I can focus all my attention on music.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Before I delve into some of your tracks that are creating buzz online for you, tell us some of the concrete steps you have been taking to build a fan base on and offline?
Mateo Vic: A lot of praying . . . I am also doing a lot of shows locally. We have just finished shooting the music video for my first single Cinderella off my debut album ‘Rise Of The Phoenix.’ The website will be up soon so (everyone) can have better access to everything Mateo.
MATEO VIC’S CINDERELLA (LADYBRILLE EXCLUSIVE)
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Alright! Let’s talk some of those amazing tracks of yours!
Mateo Vic: (laughs) Smooth . . .
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Let’s start with ‘The Rise of the Phoenix.’ WOW! Like where did that come from? Amazing! I listened to that track so many times; I had to just close my eyes to take in the words. Brilliant. What inspired that freestyle?
Maeto Vic: Abeg (Please) stop o. (laughs) That’s too much hailing (praises). (Laughs) but ‘The Rise of the Pheonix’ freestyles is one of my finer tracks. I really enjoyed the outcome. I really put a lot in the making of that track. I wanted to put out a vibration frequency into the atmosphere that would immediately grab the attention of whoever cared to listen and I think I succeeded.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: In the ‘Rise of the Phoenix,’ you say you speak three languages. What are they?
Mateo Vic: I speak English, Igbo (Eastern Nigeria), half Pidgin, half Spanish. (Laughs)
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Where did you learn how to speak Spanish?
Mateo Vic: Growing up, once a week every year, my church traveled to South America to build churches and houses for the poor and I joined them on three different occasions. We went to Mexico, El’Savador and Columbia, I think. So I pick up a little Spanish mix with the Spanish classes we were forced to take in high school. Add that with years of playing soccer with the Latin community. (Laughs) But I have lost it I only know few words now. (Laughs)
MATEO VIC’S ENIGMA[audio:https://ladybrille.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Mateo-V-Enigma-Freestlye.mp3|titles=Mateo V- Enigma Freestlye]
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Enigma was the freestyle I heard that made me look twice. How do you come with these words? They seem so effortless for you?!
Mateo Vic: (Laughs) Thank you. As I get older, I get wiser and I expose myself to more cultures and read more and listen to the news. The more my mind matures, the more my lyrical abilities develop as well. That freestyle was me just horsing around. I was amazed at the feedback I was getting. It took me less than 30mins to write it and 10mins to record.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: ‘I Could Use an Angel’ is a regular song, not freestyle. I loved the instrumentals on it, the rock and roll edge to it. Who produced that for you?
Mateo Vic: I don’t even remember who made the beat but I know I recorded it in my living room and my friend Falu Phalu (jazz musician slash producer) mixed it.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What inspired ‘I Could Use an Angel’?
Mateo Vic: I wrote it at a time when I was going through a lot in school. My parents were getting a divorce. It affected me and I began getting into a lot of trouble (as a teenager) with the law. It was overwhelming. I just felt like I could really use an Angel’s help (during that time).
Mateo Vic’s ‘I Could Use an Angel’[audio:https://ladybrille.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/I-Can-Use-an-Angel-MASTER11.mp3|titles=I Can Use an Angel (MASTER1(1)]
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Interesting. Good to see you have put that behind and can now find solace in your music. Name some of your top hip-hop artists that inspire you?
Mateo Vic: Growing up, I was inspired by Lil’ Wayne, Jay-z and Common, in that exact order. But these days, I’m inspired by rap artists such as DaTruth, Dre Murray and also K’naan. I love what K’naan is doing (for) Somalia.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Your word play is clever and funny. How did you learn to develop such mastering of words and word play?
Mateo Vic: I’m naturally (a) funny (person). I almost chose standup comedy over music a while back but thank God I didn’t. But, (I’ve been told) my sense of humor is my best quality. So I just try to take that and transfer into a rhyme.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: As an emerging artist, what are the key challenges you face in trying to launch your music career?
Mateo Vic: There are soooo many people who are not so good doing music that have messed the game up and made it complicated and harder for the ones that are good to be given a chance. So, when you honestly tell some to check you out or take a chance on you, they probably have heard that 1000 times before so their mindset is, what is gonna make you different from those other 1000 that wanted the same opportunity? But, that just makes me hustle harder.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: You got the people hooked. Since American rapper 50cent took mixtape to a whole new level, it has become an essential part of a rap artist’s career i.e. marketing and promotions. When should we expect a mixtape from you?
Mateo Vic: I have a big project I am working on that is due March 2012. It’s an album called ‘RISE OF THE PHEONIX.’ (Fans) will be able to download it free on my website. It is gonna be an epic album that’s all I can say. . .
KEEPING IT VERY LIGHT
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Alright sir! Let’s keep it real light. I think our audience gets the full picture of who you are from a career standpoint. Now let’s get to know if you are human, especially with your out of planet earth spitting (rapping) abilities. (Laughs)
Mateo Vic: (Laughs) Here we gooooo…. I’m just a simple man. I put my pants on one leg at a time like everybody else. (Laughs)
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Laughs) Hey! That’s what we will be testing to see. Here we go! Favorite shoes you own?
Mateo Vic: This grayish creamy ZARA loafers. It’s expensive but you can wear it with any outfit and it matches. I wear it a lot.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Laughs) Way to represent for ZARA. (Laughs)Your favorite hangout spot in Texas?
Mateo Vic: My house.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Raised eyebrow)
Mateo Vic: I know that sounds weak but I love it and that is where all my friends come to chill, do music, and play FIFA12 and NBA2k12…which by the way I’m a beast on. So whoever wants it can get (it) anytime any day. (Laughs)
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Laughs) Okay then. Your house it is. Your favorite city in the USA?
Mateo Vic: Houston, Texas where I stay right now. Nigerian and Chinese (immigrants) are slowly taking over the South West . . . it’s amazing and it seems to scare the (natives).
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Interesting. The last place you traveled to was . . . ?
Mateo Vic: I travel around many cities in the USA for music sake. But the last place I had to use my passport to travel was to Mexico where I went on a mission trip, seven years ago.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: The last movie you watched was . . .?
Mateo Vic: ‘Immortals’ which just came out last week. I love epic movies. I also saw ‘Puss in Boots’ which was hilarious and almost made me overcome my hatred for cats. (Laughs)
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Boxers or briefs?
Mateo Vic: (Laughs) I need some breathing room so boxers.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Nigerian delicacy pounded yam with egusi (soup) or American spaghetti with meatball stew?
Mateo Vic: I don’t eat pounded yam but I eat garri/fufu (white starchy substance, akeen to cream of wheat, made out of cassava leaves) every other night and my favorite soup is okra. I can eat that three times a day. (Laughs)
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Laughs) I guess no meatball and spaghetti for you. Nollywood classic hit ‘Osuofia in London’ or Hollywood’s ‘Coming to America’ starring Eddie Murphy? (Laughs)
Mateo Vic: I’m such a big fan of Nkem Owoh (Lead actor in ‘Osuofa in London’) and people tell me I act just like him sometimes. They say I’m a bush boy. (Laughs) So, I gotta to give it to Osuofia.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Laughs) (I think I would have chosen the same answer)(Laughs) How does it feel it to be celebrated, as Man of the Month, even though you are barely out of the music gates for your contributions to your local community and your talent?
Maeto Vic: It just reminds me of how blessed I am and how grateful I am for that honor. God is faithful to those that diligently serve him. Judging from Ladybrille Magazine’s track record, and the list of names that have held this title at one point in their careers, I’m deeply very honored.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Thank you Mateo!
Mateo Vic: The pleasure is all mine.
Interview by Uduak Oduok
Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.