By Autumn Malhotra 

A family farm in Juncos, Puerto Rico is where musician Vybesoul spent most of his summers until age 11 when he and his family immigrated to the United States. In the workspace of his videographer, Mo, Vybesoul explained his life in Puerto Rico and how that translated into his music career.

“I miss Puerto Rico every day,” Vybesoul said. “Everything I do is influenced by my life there, and it started with the guitar…I was seven years old when I picked up my grandmother’s guitar and I never put it down. That is when it all started for me. That’s when I knew.”

Like so many before, Vybesoul’s family immigrated to the United States looking for better opportunities.

“We weren’t poor, but it was tight growing up.”

As with any big change, Vybesoul faced challenges coming to the United States. In addition to a shift in culture and language, he was stuck in-between two worlds.

“In Puerto Rico, I was bullied for being too black, but when I got here I was bullied for not being black enough.”

Many Afro-Latinx people have to face this dichotomy of explaining the complexities of their existence to people who wish to peg them either as Latinx or black. And, after being ostracized as a foreigner in Baltimore, Vybesoul used people’s words as fuel to push harder.

“Although I was bullied, I was confident in myself…So many people said that I wouldn’t make it, and that made me work harder to prove them wrong.”

In addition to shutting down naysayers, Vybesoul said his goal is to bring hope to Puerto Rico.

“I want to do what Drake did for Toronto. Wasn’t nobody going to Toronto until he made it hot. I want to put Puerto Rico on the map and show those kids that they can live their dreams. I want to make them proud.”

What would you say to kids who want to do what you do?

“It is cheesy as hell, but believe in yourself. You have to believe in yourself and get people around you who feel the same. When you do that you can do anything you want.”

Walk me through your creative process.

“It happens all kinds of ways. Sometimes the lyrics come first, but most of the time, though, I sit down and listen to the beat, and when I’m really feeling it I can write the entire thing out right there.”

What kind of music do you like? Who are your inspirations?

“I love all kinds of music. I can go from heavy metal to R&B to blues. I can find something to love in every genre, and I think that is important to draw from those things. I’m inspired by Linkin Park, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, BB King, Muddy waters, man the list goes on.”

What is your goal with your music?

“I want to give people an experience. I want it to be like nothing they have heard where they don’t get my music the first time they listen to it. I want it to be a unique experience.”

Vybesoul recently received recognition for his music when he was invited to open for Dru Hill at Rams Head Live! during the Frozen Harbor Fest in Baltimore. His EP drops this summer, and he plans to release one song a month until then.

See part of the interview here.

Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Vybesoul.

Autumn Malhotra is a sophomore government and politics major and can be reached at amalhotr@umd.edu.

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