Today’s Rapzilla Freshmen interview brings us to seni. aka smoovy. This young Polynesian rapper, producer, and singer had quite a 2019. Some felt he was worthy of the Freshmen nod last year, but we thought his 2019 would cement him – it did. One of his biggest moments was appearing on the 116 Summer Playlist track “Switches” with Joey Vantes and Jon Keith.
Now, the humble and quiet artist spoke to Rapzilla about what’s going on.
What are your thoughts about being a Rapzilla freshman this year?
Man, it’s crazy. In high school, I remember going to Rapzilla. I think it was sophomore or junior year – I wasn’t an artist I was just a fan and I was going on Rapzilla to discover new artists. I remember discovering nobigdyl. on there, Ty Brasel…and to think of where I am now. To be a freshman, to be part of what they were part of is crazy. I’ve had to deal with people saying a lot of things. Like last year people saying, “Oh you should’ve been on that last year.” Just crazy that this was the year that…I made it!
There’s a lot of inspiring artists in the culture right now. I remember last year when I interviewed Panda Cafe, and all of those guys shared the impact that you had on them. Can you think of anyone who has impacted you?
Yeah I mean, first there’s always Lecrae. I grew up as a pastor’s kid so I didn’t listen to much music. But when we found Lecrae it changed things for us. Immediately thought “This is dope.” His music was just really good but not only that but it was Christ-centered, so for me from the time I was a young kid he’s a huge part of this whole thing.
Very early the CHH movement for me was Reach, but right now it’s RG. I love what he’s doing, for music and for his culture. I love what he’s doing for the Latino culture and the Hispanic culture. It’s amazing. I hope to do that for my culture and my people. I’m Polynesian and it’s a big part of who I am. We’re not represented too well in hip-hop. We’re a small minority in America and in the world. I just know I can be the representation. I just wanna let young Polynesian kids know that it’s okay to make clean music. Most Polynesian music is secular. You can still make dope music without compromising your values. I wanna do something different that can inspire the next generation.
Recently I heard you on Thomas Iannucci’s album. What was it like working with him?
We just seem to have this connection that only islanders can have. I think I met him like a year or two ago. We’re in a group chat so I remember when he was working on that album I told him I could make a hook for that. It was perfect because he wanted to reach the locals in Hawaii. It’s a concept that isn’t talked about much. I was glad to be a part of that. It was an important thing for the culture.
Share a little bit of where you are now in your artistry and give us a glimpse of where you’ve come from.
Right now I’m finishing up on a lot of music. Working on visuals as well. Still figuring out how I want to drop it. Maybe a couple of projects this year. Last year was me trying to find and figure out my sound, so this year will be letting others hear it.
I was a hip-hop fan for a long time. I grew up singing in church. Hip-hop didn’t really catch on until my sophomore or junior year of high school. I started making beats on Garageband, and it became something that I liked. I remember when I recorded my first feature, which was really bad, but that was the first time I recorded. In the first couple of years of becoming an artist, 2017-2018, I was doing features for free to get some practice in and work on my craft. But after a while now it seems like my features are better than some of my own songs.
So where did it shift for you? What encouragement could you give to the fan who is reading this today? Put yourself in your younger self’s shoes and give young seni. some wisdom.
Find yourself a group of friends who are also like-minded creatives. Build with them. Share your music with them. You need a support group that will help you grow as an artist. Who will help and be real with you. Then once the music is where you want it to be, stop listening to other people’s thoughts. Once it’s at the quality you like, you don’t always have to listen to others. If you truly believe God has called you to do music, eventually don’t care what other people say. When you’re surrounded by a team you trust it helps you create the best art that you can make.