Student musical artists collaborate and contribute to local hip-hop community

Ethan Murphy, Reporter

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An App State student began producing his own hip-hop beats shortly after high school. Now, he produces original music alongside other members of Boone’s hip-hop community.

“I’ve been thinking very hard about this lately. I’ve been thinking that I want to move somewhere like L.A. and just give my career a wild shot,” said Aaron Barnhart, a junior marketing major. “I’ll be pushing my own songs and writing more, so there are opportunities there. I really want to get into the whole thing and do it all.” 

“I’ve kind of taught myself how to produce through YouTube and things like that, but when I first started in Boone, the music program wasn’t really working for me,” Barnhart said. “It wasn’t really geared toward hip-hop production or what I do. Through friends and other people, I’ve learned much more about audio production and music production.” 

Local rapper Senico Haines has made his own music since seventh grade, but has since set his sights on even more.

“It’s a lot bigger than just rap for me at this point. I want to do fashion, art, and my own world, sort of like Tyler, the Creator with ‘GOLF,’” the junior marketing major said.

Drawing inspiration from his surroundings, Haines said he has found his personal style since moving to Boone.

“It’s tricky to maintain a certain emotion I felt at the time while I’m writing. If I’m in a certain area like Boone, it has a certain vibe about it that affects me. There’s a more mellow vibe up here, which is a change for me moving from Charlotte.” Haines said. “Working with different producers and styles made him into an original artist. For him, it began with the inspiration, and experiencing new things can’t be forced.

Haines said he works with local artists like Barnhart to create new beats. 

“I feel like we have so much in store here. We’re just getting to know each other, but we’re already developing some crazy sounds,” Haines said. “The most important part in music production with other people is that you can’t shut their ideas down. If you want to work with anybody, you should always try to create an open environment.” 

Phillip Martin, a Christian rapper and senior forensics major, wants to spread a positive message to people everywhere with his music. 

“My point is to reach people. I want to help people through their mental state. I want to encourage everyone: homeless people, people that don’t have a lot, students going through their own problems,” Martin said.  “You can be in the worst spot on Earth, but when you listen to my stuff, I want it to motivate and lift you.”

Having numerous mentors throughout his own life, Martin said he wants to mentor others.

“I want my music to spread a positive mindset to people. I want my words to really hit people in the heart and simmer in their mind,” Martin said.

Haines discussed the struggle and unity of a hip hop community in Boone.

“Because rap isn’t the dominant genre of music here, I feel like all of the rappers are kind of under the surface. So, when you do find another rapper or a producer, you really stick with them,” Haines said. “In that sense, this kind of community is a littler harder to create up here. At the same time, it’s because of that rareness that the sense of community is a lot stronger.”