From the Vanderveer Projects, East Flatbush, N.Y., this MC bears all the markings of a gangsta rapper: tough, headstrong, and dynamic. And for years, he was full out gangsta going by the name Severe. He lived life hard-core, earning the street creds required for all gangsta rappers until a machine gun almost blew his head off. SEEIN didn’t fear death; he lived with that prospect every day. No, all SEEIN could think about was his son. What would they tell his son about why and how his father died? Then he had an epiphany. Crushed between layers of polished bling and urbanized rapper decadence, SEEIN knew the true voice of the hood had been hijacked by naked greed. And so he set out to reclaim it. He dropped the gangsta and became a conscious MC. He emerged with new lyrics — stylized, edgy, and introspective. Depth was back. Songs like “Hard Life” and “Careless Rapper” speak of real life struggles. “SEEIN looks at life a little deeper than most rappers,” observes DJ Self Born, a popular Miami Beach DJ. “His music is introspective, like the old school rappers, he lets you into the real world.”
“Nothing was more real than growing up in East Flatbush,” says SEEIN. “I was always trying to fit in, but couldn’t. Life was crazy, but back then, crazy was normal. I finally realized I didn’t have to fit in. I was just different.” Even some of SEEIN’s earliest musical influences qualified as “different” for a young would-be rapper. “I woke up hearing Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, and Sade, spent my day listening to Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass, The Four Tops, and went to sleep hearing Marvin Gaye and Patti Labelle.” His dream to become a positive influence in the community was also sparked by some of his music idols — the legendary Rakim and KRS-ONE were, for Seein, compelling examples of how music can convey an incredibly powerful message.
SEEIN is harnessing that power through his music. “I’m going to change the world with my music. I’m going to save lives,” says SEEIN as though his success is already assured. And it’s not hyperbole. The song, “Try Again,” his anti-suicide theme song for 1-800-SUICIDE, the nation’s leading suicide prevention hotline, has seen over 13,000 hits for its video on YouTube. Scores of people who watched the video or heard SEEIN perform the song live have written to say that the song saved their lives. “Knowing I can help people through my music makes it all worth it. I want to give people a piece of myself. And I want to leave behind a legacy of peace.” Have no doubt about it, this modern day griot is doing just that.
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