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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Blaque out

Bay Area singer Matt Blaque
S. Lichter
Bay Area singer Matt Blaque

 

In college, Matt Blaque played fullback. When he quit football and left Lewis and Clark College to sing, he brought his team mentality with him. Now he’s writing hooks, and doing back up vocals for almost every underground hip hop artist based in Oakland.

“Working with other people gives me a different level of drive,” he said during a phone interview.

Blaque is soft spoken, but he has an intense work ethic. In 2010 he was named West Coast Hip Hop’s R&B Artist of the Year, and he’s taking his success in stride. Besides his solo project, single available on iTunes, last year he came out with two collaborative albums with prominent Bay Area rappers, Guce and Chosen.

“That was pretty much how it started, just me dealing with rappers, so I got a lot of my writing experience working with rappers, which is probably why my lyrics are usually kinda wordy.”

After leaving Lewis and Clark, Blaque enrolled in Ex`pression College for Digital Arts in Emeryville CA. From there he landed an internship with Narada Michael Walden, a Grammy award winning producer who’d laid tracks for Whitney Huston, Mariah Carrey, Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross.

The internship gave Blaque a chance to show off his song writing skills, and after a few months Waldon made Blaque a Senior Songwriter. This promotion gave Blaque a chance to write lyrics for Toni Braxton and Brian McKnight.

“My main musical influence is Baby Face. I thought his writing was great and his use of harmonies and melodies. I like Donnie Hathoway, Marvin Gaye, you know, Beyonce…”

Blaque grew up in East Oakland in close nit catholic family. He started singing at his church when he was 5 years old, and that experience set the foundation for his career.

“The church and the church choir definitely had an influence, and I think that’s where I got a lot of my harmonies, so it definitely ties into what I’m doing right now,” said Blaque.

Since his first time in a recording studio, Blaque has mostly worked with rap artists. He was 15, the first time he sang on a track.

“I was in Sacramento and a couple of my friends were rapping for this label, and they knew I could sing so they just brought me in on one of their songs, and it made their album, and ended up being a pretty big song in Sacramento, and that’s where Messy Marve heard about me.”

Blaque has latched in Oakland’s rap scene seamlessly. The Jacka, an Oakland Hip Hop demigod who’s been rapping and producing music in the Bay Area since the early 90s, heard a hook Blaque did for Messy Marve and called Blaque up. That collaboration resulted in Blaque’s first radio hit, ‘All Over Me.’

Soon after that, in 2009, Blaque got a call from Laroo, another local rapper.

“A lot of my success has been based on songs that are collaborations, like the song with Jaka, my first big song that hit the radio. Then ‘Put Me On’ with Laroo came right after that. At this point I’m in the process of getting my own work out there.”

 ”A day in my life? Wake up, check my twitter, set up some studio appointments, and then pretty much do studio work for the rest of the day. You know doing hooks, and working on my solo projects and then on the weekends, you know if I have shows I do the shows, rock the crowd meet the fans, and wake up and do it again.”

Though music has always been a part of Blaque’s life, he hasn’t always had the money to make it his only focus. He’s had many odd jobs over the years.

“I pretty much ran the gambit. I’ve loaded boxes in trucks, and worked in retail, and I was a custodian in the school district for many years so I know what it’s like to work hard for a dollar,” he said.

“That work’s probably what drives me to do music well.”

 ”It’s always good when you can do something that you have a passion for, and I definitely have a passion for music. It’s hardly work,” said Blaque.

“Expect good things out of us in 2011, cause we’re here.”

To see some of Matt Blaque’s latest work check out http://www.thebayisback.com/tag/matt-blaque.

About the Contributor
Caleb Nelson served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Fall 2010; 2010-2011; Fall 2011 News Editor: Spring 2009; 2009-2010