Aric Andino: Learning How to Freestyle, the Drastic Changes in Hip-Hop, & the Thief of Joy

I met up with a rapper by the name of Aric Andino. We met up at Chick E.D’s, located in Springfield, Massachusetts. The restaurant had an inviting aura and food smelled amazing. Aric Andino was there with an equally inviting smile preaching about how Chick E.D’s was the best spot chicken spot in Springfield. With customers bustling in, I could see he wasn’t lying. Aric Andino is a twenty-three year old rapper from Springfield, Massachusetts. With three mixtapes titled “Power Moves” he confidently  stands by his great musical capabilities. I grabbed my mango-orange colada and wanted to hear more on what he was bringing to the table.

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Who is Aric Andino?

Who is he?

You could be blatantly honest, you can cuss, I don’t care.

Black guy [both laugh] from Springfield mass, tryna make it. You know what I saying?

[both laughing] That’s it?

That’s it.

I’ve listened to most of your songs, and what I picked up as a listener is that it sounds like you’re inspired by 2000’s rap? Am I correct?  Specifically the mixtape era? Like how Lil Wayne would use other artists’ tracks and just flow over it. I feel like you both are pretty similar, are you inspired by that?

Yeah, I mean like you know he’s an inspiration. I suppose, but I don’t.. like..I thought that what a mixtape was [laughing] you just find other people’s beats and remix ‘em. Its free for people, they know I could rap so I just did it.

Is there meaning behind your mixtapes being named “Power Moves”? What does power moves really mean?

I wrote the definition down! [searches through phone to find definition] I’ma give you the definition.

Right, give me the definition real quick.

Power moves: relying on speed, momentum, and acrobatic elements for performance.

That relates to your music how?

Alright so, the way I rap I am very… I just think effort is fun and cool. Whatever other people do, I don’t knock it, I like it. I do this [bops] to it, whatever but that’s not what it’s about to me. I like to have somebody to be able to do that [bops] to it. The perfect mix of flow, lyrics, rhyme scheme, and.. you know… speed. You know switch the flow up, you gotta hit hard with the bars, go with the momentum of the flows. Its almost like one big puzzle you really gotta solve, like each verse, each song.

Do you consider yourself a freestyle rapper?

Yeah… I think freestyling is different from what most people think it is. You just come off the top of your head and think of some shit. I’ma tell you right now, don’t nobody do that… Ain’t nobody wants to hear that. You just hear people go [freestyle], they do it for a little and it sounds cool or it sounds cute. You listen to it twice and you’re like “Alright, you could’ve done better”.  The concept is, you think of anything twice the chances are that its gone be better than what it was when you think about it once. So… and I don’t settle, like for each line it has to be dope, like fire. I don’t like going to the next one without being like “Yo, this is is the shit, alright cool”.

When did you realize you were a rapper?

Three years ago. I was in college, I took a creative writing class and we were supposed to write everyday in our journals. Then I was like “thats wack” [both laugh] “I’m not doing that”, so I wrote a couple poems for like a week and then I just started getting with the assignment. So I was like [to his professor] “Hey, can I write bars or something?” And she was like “yeah”. So I was like “nah, really?”, she was like “yup”, and I was like “aight”… so thats how it started [both laugh].

That’s interesting!

At first I was definitely garbage, absolutely trash. It was really, really, really bad…Like I just kept at it. I could kinda freestyle better now… nah I could do everything better now. It was really bad.

That’s good to admit that.

It was part of the process, so it is what it is. I’m nice now though, don’t get it twisted.

I believe you. I’ve seen, I’ve heard. What hip-hop artist influences you the most?

I don’t know, I think it’s the culture of hip-hop, there’s no one artist. I think comparison is like the thief of joy. It really is!

Comparison is the thief of joy?

Yes.

I like that.

I read it somewhere, it takes away from you liking someone else. People probably won’t like Lil Uzi if you’re thinking of Drake. If you take Lil Uzi for what he is and what he does, it’s not bad. Nothing’s bad really, if you think about it. I can’t judge no one for putting their art out there. Now that I finally do this, I’m like “Yo”.

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What’s your favorite project so far?

I don’t know, I’m always working.

So if you met anybody and they were like “Yo…you rap? Thats dope?”, was song would you show them first?

It really depends on the situation and who.

Theres a situation that it depends on?

Yeah, I got like something for everybody.

So you have a whole array of diverse projects?

Yeah! I could pick which song, which project you could listen to.

Aric Andino’s most recent mixtape, Power Moves 3.

Who are in your personal top five?

For what?

Rap or anything. You could be listening to Blink182.

I can’t…um.. find five different ways to say my name.

[both laugh]

Would you ever consider featuring with anybody?

I’ll feature with anyone, for right now all features are free, they can just let me know. Well, its free if you can get the studio time. Cause I’m not gonna pay for the studio if you want my verse. It don’t make no sense.

I sort of get it.

[both laugh]

When you make it, lets speak it into existence, is there any rapper you would like to work with?

Hmm… I have to find a way to work with Drake, obviously.

Would you be apart of OVO?

Yeah, thats something I think about. I wrote that in one of my rhymes.

Yeah, you did!

You know, I think I would… I mean, I wouldn’t see why not.

Would you ghostwrite for Drake?

I would ghostwrite for anyone.

For anybody?

Yeah, I have this thing where I can… number one I’m like editor, I can look over things and be like “this needs to be fixed” for like work, just whatever, for like lyrics, choruses, even like papers.

You are pretty dope, I’ma be honest.

[laughs] you think so?

I know so! How do you think hip-hop has changed in the last ten years?

Drastically.

Do you think its positive or negative? 

It’s a bigger market now for it. Easier access for everyone to get out there, like I don’t even think we need labels. The biggest thing is just funding. I kinda know where and how to do everything.

It’s just the money…

It’s just the money, so once I’m able to get that… its a wrap.

Do you like the change?

One other thing I forgot to say is that the attention span has gone down.

Yes, I agree.

The length of songs—each era, “Fight the Power” is like ten minutes, and they banged that.

Now, a good song is like two minutes.

Yeah, like two-three minutes. You really don’t have much time, you gotta like kind of compress all that genius-ness into two-minute track or like say the same thing over and over again. I think instant gratification is definitetly more of a thing, they want it now, immediately. They want it the first time, nobody wants to hear it twice or three times, four times and still be able to understand it. They wanna know the words and everything by the second time they hear it.

Me, I like to listen to a track at least five times before I say I like it.

Yeah.

Unless it’s really trash. 

[both laugh]

You’ve performed in countless places, whats your favorite thing about performing? Whats your least favorite?

I’m not nervous anymore, I used to get really nervous. Like the inside of my body, I could not control it… I don’t know what it was, don’t know if it was anxiety, it just felt like its crumbling. I was like tryna breathe through it.

So your favorite thing is that you don’t get nervous anymore?

Yes. I also like to put on a show for whoever is watching. The biggest thing I want to get out of music is spreading a positive message. Use my platform, just be a role model.

You want to be a role model? 

That is me, yeah. I already am for the most part. My whole life I’ve had to kinda keep myself above standard. Thats why I don’t do hood shit.

[both laugh] I got brothers and sisters watching.

Whats your least favorite thing about performing?

It depends on the day, if its raining outside my joints hurt… I gotta get low [both laugh] these are the facts

I respect it! Would you ever experience with different sounds?

Yes, I’m doing that now actually. Its like a lot of things I could do. I think— they say talent comes from your mind, right? So, its not necessarily I’m just good at rapping, it’s like how my mind works with rap… and I like rap, so I put my mind to it and I’m good at it. I take my mind, I put towards something else, I will be good at it. Whatever you put your mind to you can do it. Its amazing.

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