“I didn’t have the typical Baltimore childhood,” Angelo Liebe began as we sat under a vaulted ceiling in the Walters Art Museum. It was ironic that we sat amongst the opulence of Faberge eggs, ancient Egyptian pottery and grand marble staircases as the story of his challenging childhood unfolded.
“Being a native of Baltimore is a mixture of both good and bad,” Liebe said. “My brother and I were raised in foster care … I used to live in the hood, but I’m grateful that I had the chance to move out.”
Liebe went on to describe the difficulties of living in poverty with daily police sirens as a musical backdrop. Several inner-city neighborhoods have a long way to go before they can be considered safe, especially for children. Conditions like the ones Liebe described cause serious mental trauma for both adults and children and are a main factor that lead many people, like Liebe, try to escape the inner-city.
He was brave enough to open up about his own struggles with mental health.
“A-year-and-a-half ago, I was at a very low point in my life. I hit the bottom and I was depressed. This project was actually born out of that place. And I’m glad that I am in a good space now.”
Recently, in a detailed Facebook post, Kid Cudi opened up about his struggle with depression, and then the world watched as Kanye West was hospitalized to strengthen his mental health. Yet, even with these two major artists being transparent about the debilitations of mental and emotional health issues, it is still a topic brushed under the rug by society.
On a lighter note, Liebe transitioned to his experiences as a junior in college at the University of Baltimore, splitting his time between schoolwork as a communications major and his music career. He said college has really pushed him to excel.
Though he isn’t located in coveted musical hubs such as Atlanta or Los Angeles, Liebe said location poses no threat to his music.
“You can hone your craft in Antarctica.”
True to his beliefs, Liebe’s experiences have propelled him forward. As children, he and his brother often created music together, thinking of the day fame and musical success would come to fruition.
“We thought that if other people could do it, why can’t we?”
Unlike the many people who lose that faith after childhood, Liebe stuck to it. It is times like these where he credits his brother for cultivating his love for music.
The music industry, well known for its fluidity, fads and constant evolution, poses no threat to Liebe. Pointing to his chest, he answers to the ever-changing styles of the music business.
“I do what’s in here. As for everything else that’s out there, I don’t keep up with it.”
The album, There’s No Other Way, clearly can’t be categorized. It is not a typical hip-hop or pop sound. When asked to clarify his style, Liebe laughed.
“My friends like to call it ‘pop-rap.’ I consider it ‘pop-rap-alternative.’”
He cited artists such as Jon Bellion, Ryan Leslie and rock artists from his youth as some of the many influences on his pop-rap-alternative style.
Liebe is already working on his next project, Love Me, Love Me Not, focusing on the complexities of unrequited love. We closed with advice he would give to musicians struggling with their craft.
What would you say to a person who is in the situation that you were in, pre studio, just working on their laptops?
Liebe: I would tell them to pick their top three artists and listen. Listen to the composition of the music, the drums, the base. It will help them learn how to build their music.
How do you get over the fear of releasing your music?
It never goes away. Honestly you never know what people are going to think. Sometimes I don’t know what my friends think about my stuff. You could be bumping something and think it’s great and then other people don’t like it. You just have to do it.
What would you say to encourage your younger self?
You’re doing good kid.
Listen to the album here.
Featured Photo Credit: Featured photo of Angelo Liebe taken by Autumn Malhotra.
Autumn Malhotra is a sophomore government and politics major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.