Crafting minds by day and drafting rhymes by night, rapper Oscar Urbina took some time to speak about his upcoming mixtape MP2 Darkness and how he balances life as a full-time teacher and rapper.
His new mixtape is the follow-up to Molly Pitcher and was originally slated for an April 7 release. It’s now been pushed back to the 11th.
Although it’s being called a mixtape, the project feels more like an album because the songs flow through a concept from start to finish.
Urbina says the project came about during a tough time in his life when he was trying to figure out which direction to go.
“I had to reevaluate the way I approached things in my life and it was kind of a dark time,” he revealed. “Even reevaluating how I felt about God. In many, instances it was almost like a little two year period. It was kind of needed. From the 1st track to the last track, it was an experience that I put on paper.”
The goal was to be really transparent about his life with hopes that it will liberate somebody.
“All the songs were difficult to write. They are all things that everyone has thought about before. ‘Rocking With Ya’, sees my faith take a hit. ‘Ann’ was tough because it was about a failed relationship. ‘Relevant’ I talk about a bunch of things happening around me. ‘Callous’ is interesting because what I’m basically saying is that sometimes when I was numb because of certain things that happened, I would like the feeling.”
He continued, “As a Christian, you’re not supposed to feel that way. But sometimes I was admitting that when I was cold hearted and numb, I liked the feeling even though it might not have been healthy. It was a weird song. Sometimes I was purposely callous to avoid feeling stuff, but it got me by and I liked it.”
In the song “Old Ways,” Urbina admits that often times we find ourselves reminiscing about how we used to be even if how we used to be was not who we should have been.
“That’s hard to say to a degree.”
Speaking of ‘degree’, Urbina has one to be a teacher. He is certified to teach History and Theology and will be teaching Theology to High Schoolers next year. This year he is a bit more flexible, teaching a variety of subjects. However, his experiences in the classroom helped inspire his first single off of MP2 Darkness, “Teacher Chronicles.”
The song places a focus on going above and beyond teaching students their standard scholastic programs. On the track, Urbina urges people to prepare students for the world – teaching them to build character.
“I was in school when I graduated, I wasn’t prepared for the world. They have us in school for five days a week, for seven or eight hours, for 13 years, and then we’re ready to leave, we still don’t know what we are doing,” he explained. “A lot of things that I never used in real life. It’s great to learn arithmetic, writing, and reading, we can go on and learn some things in the real world too though.”
He recalls going through his early 20s and constantly saying, “Man, I wish they would have taught me that in school.”
“I’m not saying those subjects don’t matter, I’m saying we can do something else too. Finance, relationships, health, gender psychology, business management, world views…”
The rapper then spoke about some techniques he uses in the classroom to help his students get more than just traditional studies.
“One thing I think teachers should do more is the art of motivation. Every Monday I show the kids a series called TGIM (Thank God It’s Monday). It’s time to put in work, let’s start off the week to try and achieve our dreams and goals this week,” he said. “I teach about the effects of drugs, different religions…we just did a series called 20 reasons why Mohammed is not a prophet. I go out the box in my own classroom.”
His creativity in the classroom along with his hustle at getting his music out is not only challenging but exhausting. It is essentially working two full-time jobs back to back.
“I’m tired all the time. There’s not really a time when I’m not tired,” said Urbina. “My job doesn’t end when I get home. I have to grade papers, I have to email parents, I have to juggle a bunch things for portfolios. It’s why a lot of teachers don’t make it past five years. I can use music in the classroom and use what happens in the classroom for music. When I’m teaching, I have to be studying and reading. Subconsciously it does help me prepare songs.”
He said most of his music writing happens during the weekend.
Spring break and summer vacation is just really an opportunity for him to focus 100% on being an artist. Where one job ends, another one takes over.
With this summer fast approaching, Urbina plans on creating a bunch of visuals and music videos for the mixtape. He will also undoubtedly begin putting together the pieces of his next “true” album.
Last week, he released his second single, “Carousel,” which features Mogli the Iceburg. It was the only hip-hop feature on the album.
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For more info on Oscar Urbina’s mixtape click here.