When you see Remo Macartney, you see someone who has finished his undergraduate degree in Chico, California. You see someone who moved east to attend Colorado State University in 2015 for graduate school, and in a few weeks will defend his thesis for a master’s in sociology. You see a guy whose Instagram is full of pictures of his dog, Dutch, and rides his bike everywhere. What you might not realize you are seeing is an up-and-coming rapper under the name Remo P.M. with a new published song on iTunes.
“Most people immediately see me and just get really surprised when they hear me say I am a rapper,” Macartney said. “It is kind of fun now to see people when they hear a song or a verse of mine or something. I have a couple verses that I have just on deck in case someone asks.”
Like many college students, Macartney tried major after major in his undergraduate studies, starting with psychology, moving to music, anthropology and then finally settling on sociology. Although he was an artist, Macartney could not find his place in the music classes at his first university. He quickly found that sociology was something he felt passionate about.
“Some people wonder; they think you if you go to grad school for a sociology you have to be either a professor or a teacher,” Macartney said. “I think those are great things. I do not know if they are necessarily what I want to do. But, I tell people, the positive thing is that all the skills I have learned, I can use anywhere for anything for the rest of my life. You are kind of building a tool box instead of setting yourself up for a specific career.”
Within sociology, Macartney is particularly interested in subjects of gender and feminist theory and says that taking a women’s studies class in his undergraduate studies completely changed his life. His gained academic knowledge has led to self-reflexive music.
“There was a while where I was making music that just really overtly had some sort of political and theory side of things,” Macartney said. “But, as I kind of learned more about privilege and positionality, I decided to make sure to position myself in my music and kind of include myself in any criticisms I made. I did not want it to be overt and sound like I was lecturing people, so I have completely moved away from that direction in terms of how I write it. There is a lot of political hip-hop I like. It is kind of complicated how I include it.”
Macartney says he is also open to criticism by others when making music. He has put out songs before on domains such as Soundcloud that has received varying reviews.
“I think criticism is good,” Macartney said. “Especially looking at privilege and intersectionality, I want people to criticize me because I want listen to what their criticisms are.”
Macartney’s sound is a mix of old-school and dark hip-hop genre. The graduate student is influenced by artists such as Wu Tang Clan, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem. Every song is personal, and his music deals with many themes around mental health. Consistently, since the beginning of his journey in music, Macartney has created music that dealt with these subjects. His latest song on iTunes, “Mulch,” addresses these motifs as well.
“Music has always been a way of therapeutically handling obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and depression,” Macartney said. “I have tried doing the super poppy modern stuff and sometimes that can be fun, but it just does not feel authentic. It has to come from an authentic place.”
Even though the themes of his music have been persistent, Macartney’s technical sound has evolved over the years. In high school, he had a hard-hitting, 2000s era sound and all the bars he wrote were in a set-up, pay-off format, delivering two sentence couplets at a time. Everything would have a punchline, and now he writes more story-telling focused, atmospheric and technical music with more complex rhyme patterns.
“Remo has grown quickly as a hip-hop artist, all things considered,” said Andrew May, Macartney’s long-time friend from California. “When I met him, he was not too deep into the world of hip hop, but because I liked it a lot, we bounced ideas off each other at Chico, and we developed a greater appreciation for the genre. He has very complex lyrics, and that might take a while to find a large audience, but he values sharing his personal stories and his emotions through his music, and I think he will keep that up.”
Macartney’s new song, “Mulch,” can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp and Youtube. He also has a SoundCloud account where his other songs can be found. Macartney is particularly excited that he has work published on other domains than just SoundCloud because while SoundCloud is largely a community of other artists, his new presences elsewhere is more catered to listeners.
“Congratulations on being a formally published musician,” wrote Colette Crosby on Facebook when Macartney shared his song. “You were born one, but it is nice to see you hit this milestone.”
Reporter Miranda Moses can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mirandasrad.