In a familiar story, local rapper Tino’s musical ambition started with a pen and paper.
“When I was around 8 or 10, I wrote a lot of poems because that was something I was good at,” said the 18-year-old Bowie High School senior.
His poetry led to freestyling, and then when he was around 13 he started taking rapping seriously and making music.
Tino’s first mixtape, Empty Minded, dropped Sept. 5 though the original release date was back in May 2011.
“The original release date was May 24, and I was really ready,” he said, but something happened to the laptop where the songs were stored and the studio lost all of his tracks.
Though this could have been a devastating loss, Tino said that it just proved that everything happens for a reason.
“With the first mixtape, I put out a release date before I finished so I felt like it was rushed,” he said.
Then, Tino spent the year really focusing on school, which is his top priority, and he took the time to rewrite a few of the songs before last month’s release.
He’s also getting back into poetry.
“The more poems I write the better my raps are coming out,” said Tino.
Tino’s working on his second full-length mixtape, Empty Minded II: Shallow Vision, which he hopes to release in January. He’s also planning on putting out a shorter mixtape sometime in the next several weeks.
Even though Tino has musical aspirations, he’s still planning on going to culinary school and maybe business school so he has something to fall back on if his rapping career does not take off.
His parents have been largely supportive of his music, but they emphasize that school has to come first.
“The one thing they told me is to focus on school, and if I do slip in school—no music. But I’m keeping my grades up, so that’s not happening,” said Tino.
The thing Tino loves most about music is that it’s a great outlet.
“It’s a good way to express yourself. When you have a lot of things on your mind and no one to talk to if you have a pen and paper you can write how you feel,” he said.
You can check out one of Tino's singles, Down Ft Obrian, here. WARNING: Contains graphic language that may be considered offensive by some listeners.