How To Be Successful

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EP 808's and Astral Tapes - HIRII THE HUMAN

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Welcome Readers!

Thank You for choosing RPRAI as one of your many e-zines!

You will learn about the Artists of Today and take a journey into their lives. Discover their passion to create and master the Art that matters so much to them while taking a glimpse into SP's world through her mighty pen.

View the Listings & Click each section.

COVER FEATURES..........................................Home Page

POETRY....................................................................PAGE 2

MUSIC REVIEWS......................................................PAGE 3

WRITER'S CORNER..................................................................PAGE 4

STYLE/FASHION......................................................PAGE 5

CUISINE..................................................................PAGE 6

PHOTOGRAPHY......................................................PAGE 7

STUDIO GALLERY...................................................PAGE 8

PROMOTIONS........................................................PAGE 9

MEMBERSHIP

Qaewin Pronounced (Kay-Win)

Hello Kool World this is your girl Serenada’sPen
I'm here to introduce one of my favorite up and coming Hip-Hop artists Qaewin aka Kevin Nguyen. I met him on Facebook early this Spring while searching for friends to add & just to see what people were doing in the world. He was already doing the RIGHT thing as a rising star. 
His solo project SCRIMMAGE  visible for all to see & there was something about it that made me want to listen. His music reminds me of what excited me about music in the 90's-- fusing classic & contemporary R&B with rap lyrics. He will take you on a journey back with his new approach of a nostalgic style we all grew to love. He was willing to give some of his time from his interactive life to share with you who he is so that you have a better understanding of this "Artist on the Rise" 

Hello luv, how are you today?
I'm living and breathing, so blessed. Counting down the days till' summer, like any other student at this time, hahaha.

Very Good
I am so glad to have the pleasure of meeting you so we can get to the bottom of your creativity.

Yes ma'am, honored to do this. It's my first blog interview!

That’s great! So this is a true honor for me to be the first one to do it with you.
Yup.
So, let's begin with YOU. Who is Qaewin? And how did you come up with this fly unique name?

Qaewin is an evolution of my old name, K.Win. When I googled K.Win it was tough to find. (there were radio stations, & other aritsts named K.Win/KWIN) plus I decided it was too bland and lacked creativity.
Qaewin is pronounced like kay-win & is just a creative way to fuse my first initial with my last name (Nguyen) into a moniker. The Q was a nice touch, I think.

You did a great job creating an Artist name that specifically represents you as an individual Artist.
It was a well-thought out decision instead of a quick- thrown together concoction that makes completely no sense. I like how on your album cover you have Qaewin & the pronunciation next to it. Your listeners will know how to say your name & might I add, it just looks kool.

One of the distinguishing features I noticed about you was your ethnicity. What is your background?

I'm Irish. Just kidding, I'm Vietnamese. Love it.

Ha ha! funny. But for real maybe you know something we don’t know. There may be a pot of gold waiting for you at the end of the rainbow.

Did you grow up speaking Vietnamese in your home?
Yes I certainly did. My parents always made sure I was aware of my roots

Would you ever rap speaking Vietnamese?
I wouldn't neglect it, but Vietnamese doesn't necessarily have the flexibility that the English language has. On top of that, there are no multi-syllable words, and there are less words as well.

I’m really into fashion & notice many details of changing trends. I like how you’re reppin the “Poindexter” shades. How would you describe your “Qaewin” look compared to how Kevin dresses?
Haha yes. Something people aren't aware of when they meet me is that the glasses are prescription, and I have terrible vision without contacts or glasses. I would say my look is anything I think is appealing to me. I like creative-looking stuff.

Would you say there is a rise in rappers or limited?
I would say there's a definite rise of rappers, especially with the growth of social media outlets. Which has had a positive & negative impact on the music, because when artists see someone else attaining success with a simple, repetitive, catchy dance song, they'll try the same method & that's where the passion is lost, not that dance tracks are bad, but I walk around my school and people think that the definition for rap is something along the lines of : angry black people shooting guns,smacking hoes,and bragging about things. Nonono, it's much more than that.


This is 1 of the reasons why I felt there was something special about you. You’re also very aware of your environment & instead of tuning it out, you pay attention to it. The art of Rap is universal & the sad misconception in this country is there are areas where people are ignorant or unfamiliar of its entirety. It’s not necessarily their fault but it is challenging to be someone who sees the “bigger picture” when others don’t. You’re considered a “rarity” because you’re living in this kind of environment but you have a deeper understanding of what it’s all about.

If television is the only source of knowledge of “rap”- anyone can misconstrue it to mean something racial or gender-based. I’ve also noticed an increase in aspiring Artists, much like yourself, who are trying to gain recognition using the instrumentals & background music of hit songs from mainstream Artists. I agree it does lose the “true potential” they could be exposing to the world. If everyone is doing the same thing then no one is showing originality, thus uninteresting fresh material to be acknowledged & recognized.
I'm blessed to have the knowledge and increased appreciation of the art in contrast to other artists. That in itself makes me feel like I have the upper-hand. I try to just stick to what I think, and not to let expectations mold me. Even if It does take longer for me to rise as an artist, I'm sticking with what I believe. And yeah, I feel like a lot of artists do that, even if I do use another artist's instrumental, I make sure it sounds fresh, is unique, and it meshes with my style.

Would you say there is a rise in Vietnamese rappers or are they limited?
I found like 2 Vietnamese-American rappers on YouTube that were nice. That's about it, and they weren't really well known yet. Seems like every other Asian ethnicity has had a hip-hop representative so far, guess it's my turn!

And that is a Great thing to be the First at anything!

There are many different cultural influences in the rap game. What will you bring to the table to put Vietnamese rappers on the map?

I think I can tell stories that people can relate to. I wanna' represent not just rappers, but Vietnamese people in a good light. Just put us on the map as far as Asian-American hip-hop artists. That'd be cool.

I remember, what seems too long ago, when a rapper named “Jin” under DMX’s label Ruff Ryders came out on the set. Have you heard any of his work?
YES !!! I don't know if I mentioned this, but Jin was one of the artists that made me think I could do it too. Jin is a huge influence.

Do you free-style & participate in battles with other rappers like in "8-Mile"?
Ehhh I used to and sometimes mess around with my friends & freestyle,or occasionally battle, but there's not really an influx of hip-hop appreciation where I currently reside.

That has to be a little disheartening. There’s something exciting about pulling from your gut the best rhymes you can think of to knock your adversary off his toes, am I right?
No doubt, but sometimes I'll battle or cypher, and come up with some pretty slick metaphor, maybe a few folks will get the line, the rest are like “What? Man that was waaack”. I'm like, c'mon son, if you got what I was saying I'd get more props. Since there's not much competition here, I don't do it a lot.

Where were you born & do you still live there?
I was born in Portland,OR, where I spent a lot of my younger years. I live in Tennessee now, so there's a big contrast.

And what is the genre of music that is prominent there?
I'd say Country because a lot of country artists spring up from Tennessee.

Because Hip-Hop is not the strongest influence where you live how are you able to stay sharp & progress with your rhymes to always be ahead of your competition?
I try to absorb a lot of information and observe things around me. I listen to a lot, A LOT, of music, so I try to study the greats and get influenced and inspired that way too. I don't try to box myself in, I have music from John Lennon to John Legend. I recently tried to diversify and get into a lot more types of music. I think it's had a positive impact on me.


Have you faced any challenges as a Vietnamese rapper out on the streets with other rappers or is there a sense of “brotherhood”?

Of course, there's a bit of obscurity when people see an asian kid rapping. I think partially location has an effect on it. If I was in LA or somewhere like that, things wouldn't be an issue because it's a huge melting pot in big cities and some of my favorite youtube comedians and rappers are from around the area.
There are some artists around my age that I've been looking out for & supporting. Then there's those rappers or artists that disrespect me for various reasons. But yeah, of course some other artists are going to try and throw adversity your way or challenge you, I just keep composure & speak through my music.


That’s messed up. You’re just trying to make a name for yourself! I bet they’re just jealous of how talented you are. Usually the disrespect comes from a place of insecurity & fear. A rising icon’s light shines brighter than the rest & they’re just trying to snuff it out. Keep doing what you’re doing because haters are going to be waiting to take you down the further up you go. You’re very ahead of your years… that is also threatening to your competition.
Exactly, like as a younger cat (and I mean about a year ago) I got hit real hard when someone was dissing & criticizing. But then as it kept coming I learned to disregard it and not care anymore. Of course, I always have to keep an open mind and take in useful advice in order to better myself sometimes. Of course it demoralizes you, especially when you don't have many fans yet, but basically every artist, 
deceased or living, has haters, ya diiig?

What is the earliest age you can remember being inspired or intrigued by the sound of music?

I remember listening to Ne-Yo as an elementary school kid & just loving his music, so that really intrigued me and caused me to venture into other genres, eventually leading me to 
hip-hop.

Oh wow, now I feel old & I’m only 27! Lol. So you were inspired by our boi Ne-Yo. I like him too. He’s also a song-writer & performer which gains more lead-way in the industry. When I was around that age my musical influence before TLC, All-4-One, New Edition, Brandy, etc. was Sade. So I guess jazz was my genre defining catalyst.
Pssh you shouldn't feel old! I'm pretty sure I found a gray hair a while ago.

Many Artists recall music being the influence of their lives through their parents' music or the music their parents listened to & played around the house. Do you have this experience in your home?
Well my parents are Vietnamese immigrants, so they didn't really introduce me to a lot of music. But I remember my Dad playing Michael Jackson, the Temptations, some Oldies, & Jazzy stuff that I liked & was always exposed to. Also, like a lot of Asian-Americans, I took piano lessons for a few years, so that helped develop my musical appreciation.

Oh you must mean like all the “prodigy” Asian-Americans who tend to Master every art form out here & makes the rest of us Americans all green with envy. Yea, I gotchu! Lol. Piano is an awesome instrument. I’ve always wanted to learn how to play. When I went over to my Caucasian friends’ houses to visit they all had pianos. Of course it wasn’t a big deal to them but it was for me. I would sit and just press the keys just to hear what sound came out. If you can imagine- it wasn’t pretty, but it was fun lol.
Haha yup. I dreaded it a lot of times (taking lessons), but as I grow older, I'm glad I got into it.

It’s still great that your father experienced “classic” music. It probably brought something special into his world as a Vietnamese immigrant.
Music is so important to me. From early on, I would notice how music could put me in different moods, and how powerful and influential it is. Him being a Vietnamese immigrant, and wanting a better life for me, he wanted me to appreciate music and be able to perform it, as a way of keeping me busy and out of trouble.

Did your parents' influence your musical taste in "old school" music or was it something you picked up on your own?
I found all that by myself. Not even the music my friends were playing really interested me. Thank God for the internet, that's where I startedfinding out about older artists like Nas, Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One, The Fugees, Black Star, Tupac, Common, and many more artists that kids my age aren't necessarily into.


It’s so interesting how even though we’re ages apart we’re still part of the same generation that shared the same musical influence from the same artists. My sister is forty years old & her generation listened to RUN-DMC, PETE ROCK, BEASTIE BOYS, CHUBB ROCK, BIZ MARKIE, KRS-ONE, TRIBE CALLED QUEST, COMMON, and more. Technology has played a major part in exposing everyone to what may have been inaccessible in certain areas of the world. There are countries where certain kinds of music was prohibited or “banned”. Rock & Country are two genres that were not shown all over the world. The US has definitely been the country to have all genres right there.
Yeah I remember watching Jazz history documentaries and Rock history ones and learning about all that. Those two genres have molded so many others, and it's cool to learn about that. Music is always evolving, and the US is definitely has probably the most diverse selection of genres.


There are rappers out here who like to produce their own music with their rhymes. There's no doubt in my mind you can do the same. But what is it about "R&B" that made you incorporate it into your songs?

As I mentioned earlier, I listened to R&B before I ever paid mind to any rap songs, so that's stuck with me. I just like R&B because it's calmer than hip-hop, it's smooth, & when you blend it with hip-hop, it sounds real nice. Especially since I'm trying to learn how to produce, I'll definitely incorporate R&B elements.

True there is a calm with R&B and that’s why I wanted to emphasize your penchant towards this particular genre. It‘s obvious that it “speaks” to you. Blending two totally different genres shows the diversity in you as an artist. There’s the aggressive, rawness of hip-hop & the soothing, sensitive nature of R&B.
I think the duality is great. You got your songs you can listen to trying to sleep, then you got your rawer, more aggressive sounding music. Maintaining different tones in my music is important. I'm always trying to improve on it.

When was that "ah-ha" defining moment when you realized this is what you wanted to do as a career? Something you could see yourself doing in the long-run? 
Since around 5th grade I really got into it, but never dared thinking about pursuing a rap career. Of course, through YouTube, I found out about Jin in 6th grade, the only Asian-American rapper that was dope that I knew of. It's crazy how in a few years I've seen Asian-American artists start to rise and break down barriers, (I sound like an old head haha) & that really inspired me to pursue a career. I started taking it seriously about a year ago. I could definitely see myself doing this in the long run , as long as I keep improving & gaining loyal fans, they'll take me places.


You’re an old soul! That’s why I’m still surprised we’re holding such a mature conversation. When you get older you’ll definitely be ahead of your years, but in a good way, because your peers will catch up.
I’m glad you mentioned Jin because he definitely represented Asian-Americans in the rap game.
I’m glad you mentioned Jin because as an Asian- American in the rap game he stepped up to the plate. His actions changed the dynamic from rap being only African American dominated.
Do you think you would still pursue this path if Jin & other Asian rappers didn’t break these barriers?
Hahaha so I've been told. I feel like if I don't hold myself to a standard of professionalism and maturity, I won't be taken seriously, especially being only 15. In return, it's harder to gain fans around my age because they don't really care for the topics I speak on sometimes. Of course I love to mess around. That doesn't necessarily mean I don't like to wild out and act like a 7 year old sometimes. 
If Jin or other rappers didn't break the barriers, I honestly think I'd shy away from that. So shout out to Jin for paving that lane.

I can tell you're a youngin' [ But no one can tell with your Qaewin persona ] can you tell us how old you are & when your birthday is?
I'm 15. Born September 18th, 1996. I also have a twin sister, Katrina.

Oh snap- Double Trouble! That’s awesome. I wonder which one is the good twin. Hmm? Lol just kidding. Do you want to see a pic Kool World? I know I do!
I can send one in :)

Does she also spit rhymes?
Naa, but she's an incredible artist. We're both artists, definitely cool. I can draw too, but she's on some other level.

I'm sure you're walking the hallways at school throwing rhymes all over the place just to receive props from the guys & love from the girls.
Word. Haha. I prefer girls to approach me sometimes, weird haha. I used to be suuuper quiet, like pedophile at a PTA meeting quiet, I've grown out of that a bit. A lot of dudes hatin' hard & still take me as a joke, but I'm not offended, I've heard some garbage music comin' out their cars & whatnot. It's alll good.


Hear that ladies? Qaewin appreciates a step-up from you sometimes. He aint threatened ;-)
Wink wink.
Don’t worry many of the Greats in history were quiet people. Everybody cannot be up in your face A-type. Over time you’ll build up that swag that’s reserved in the trenches for when the time is right. Cats see what you got that’s why they’re hatin. They know eventually you will surpass them in the runnin & you’re gonna get all the attention from the ladies. Everything we go through in our lives are supposed to build our muscles for every new obstacle.
I feel that way too! At the same time, I don't let it gas me up. I used to be EXTREMELY quiet. That kid that didn't really fit in or whatever. It wasn't until recently, because of the career I'm pursuing, I realize I gotta' climb outta' my shell a little for certain purposes. But a lot of times, especially near strangers, I'm really reserved.


How do you brand & market yourself during the week when you're at school when you don't have the luxury & security of your "creative niche" at home?
I always write lyrics and draw in class, more than I should. I hate when people look over my shoulder & read them out like a proper English teacher, but yeah people at school who support my music spread the word around. My ADHD is nuts, & I have yet to be diagnosed, I'm pretty sure I have it. Rabbits. But yeah I handed out mixtapes @ school when Nguyen,Lose,Draw dropped & that generated some buzz, & strangers hit me up on Facebook saying they loved it, I love when fans tell me, it indicates I'm doing the right thing musically.


If I can remember clearly, lol unless a teacher creates 
assignments that are mentally stimulating for their class students get stir crazy. There were days I doodled in class or prayed I was somewhere else. “Fun”+da+mental= Educational + Fun teachers are a luxury many schools don’t have. But if you do have it- look at the positive side. Ideas are flowing freely & more often.
Yeah it has it's good and bad. My grades consequently suffer  when I can't concentrate though. As for teachers, I just need to learn to deal with them. People in the real world are going to vary even more, and you gotta' try to see things from another's perspective. So of course I would want a fun, easy teacher, but either way, I'll be doodling and writing lyrics in class.


Do you design the covers of you mixtapes with your own drawings?
I have yet to put my artwork on a mixtape. I'll do that soon. I have so many drawings, a lot of weird ones haha.



Okay- This is the popular question all Artists in the game & rising-up are asked. If you could name one, who is your all-time favorite rapper? And why?
I hate this question haha, I have like a top 20. But one of my favorites right now would be Lupe Fiasco, he really inspired me in a lot of ways.

Yea it’s a dreaded question but it helps to narrow down to your top icons. Since we know Lupe Fiasco is your current favorite, tell us at least 5 of your top 20.
Here's five newer artists, in no order : Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, BIG K.R.I.T, Lupe Fiasco, Cj Trillo


If you don’t mind me adding- Lupe is real dope! There are 3 songs I’ve heard from him that really turned my head. He represents the image of rebel revolution. I may have coined a new phrase but he just pushes a call to “Action”. Powerful.
Very inspiring indeed.

Which R&B artists inspire you the most to use in your songs?
As far as more current artists, 
I like Frank Ocean,The Weeknd,Alicia Keys,
Curtis Mayfield,R.Kelly,
Ne-Yo,Drake,David Ruffin.

I swear I’ve been hearing about Frank Ocean & The Weekend for the longest! I’m probably the only person out here who hasn’t taken the time to listen to their music. I better get on it. Any song suggestions?

Frank Ocean : We All Try , Songs For Women
The Weeknd : High For This, The Zone
to name a few.


Curtis Mayfield & David Ruffin is definitely taking it back. I heard a song sampled with him playing the piano back in 97-98. It was fly & can’t remember the name for the life of me.

How do you go about choosing these certain R&B or Soul music Artists when you construct your songs?

Just whatever sounds good to me, I'll implement that into my songs. I do forget a lot of things, so I really hate losing great ideas.

Do you choose the artists based on their familiarity or what would sound the best?

I'm always open to listen to new things, constantly exploring, so whatever sounds the best to me.

I hear many different influences in your sound that would keep you relevant in the long run.
What artists have your classmates or people in general compare “link” you to?
I get Lupe & Cole a lot. Which are some of my favorites, but I try to not sound too much like them, but to establish my own style. Influences though? Oh yea.
 
If you could work with any Artists, which ones would you love to collaborate with?
ALICIA KEYS!!! Nas,Lupe Fiasco,J.Cole,Black Hippy,Cj Trillo,Black Star,Kanye, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Charles Hamilton, Dumbfoundead just to name a few off the top.

Alicia I hope you’re reading this! You have a fresh cat in the runnin for a duet in the future luv!
I would cry. Haha naw, but that would be great. I always marveled at artists who could write their own music, I think it adds more depth and insight to your life and viewpoints. A collaboration would sound great.

What is it about their craft that you think would be good with your sound?
I just love all of their sounds & they all stand for what I stand for from a lyrical perspective. I have too big of a list haha. That would be great though, I'm a huge fan of many artists.

As I stated in my intro to this interview, SCRIMMAGE was my introduction to what to expect from you as an artist. How would you describe the content?
Scrimmage was actually random tracks that were saved up, and I wouldn't say there was the trimmed down, organized, thematic format that my first project Nguyen,Lose,Draw contained. But it was the first time a lot of folks listened to me, and I think what I was trying to do was allow people to see versatility and improvement. This next tape has to be 10x better, I want it to generate a lot of buzz.

Are you in the process right now in creating a full-length LP (album) for your listeners?
I would love to do that as soon as I can see a broader scope fans. I feel like I still need to expand my fan base and sharpen some skills, such as writing hooks, before I delve into that. I want my first full length LP to be something I'd be completely satisfied with.

When can they expect the release?
This summer possibly. Maybe not. We'll see!

Great! We’re going to switch gears now & I’m going to lay off on the serious stuff. You can breathe now lol. Imma be easy like breezy.  Exhaaales

Take us on a walk in your shoes. When you're not in school how does Qaewin or Kevin spend his free- time? When you're creating music & when you're just chillin.

I absolutely love the game of basketball. I actually quit high school basketball recently to have time for school + music. I miss it already, so anytime & anywhere I can, I'm hoopin'. If I'm not making music, I'm listening to music. (while playing basketball) I don't really watch TV anymore, I'm always online, on my computer, tryna' promote my music.

Now I’m going to ask you this so don’t be shy lol.

For all your female fans out here are you taken or are you “single ready to mingle”?
I am Kraft cheese slice. Au natural silly =P

What personality traits in a girl would have you turn your head?
Intellect, self-respect, sense of humor. Beauty.


And what do you see in the "bigger picture" of your life. What are your hopes & dreams with music?

I want to keep honing my craft, grow as an artist/individual, & attract a loyal fan base, & do a tour sometime. Influence
youngins. 
Above anything else, I want my parents to be able to quit their   jobs, & not have to worry about bills or anything like that, and of course provide for my family still in the struggle in Vietnam. I always said as a kid that when I grow up they wouldn't have to worry about a thing, that I'll take care of them.

You have a very unique but common story that others can relate to. I hope the struggles will change for your family & they can see the better parts of life. Family is important & the fact you want to make sure they’re taken care of shows love & leadership.



For all the fans out there & newbies just now reading about you--How can they keep in touch with the latest & greatest?
Follow me through subscribing on youtube!
I'm also on facebook, twitter, instagram, tumblr, and allergy medication

Ok Kool World, there you have it! --Qaewin-- Thank you so much for your time & introducing yourself to us. It will be exciting to see where your talents lead you & we look forward to listening to all the great music you have to offer. Much props luv.

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