R&B music is getting a facelift and singer-songwriter/musician, Mateo is the surgeon. Like his name states, “a gift from the Heavens”, Mateo is lending his gift to alter the sound, image and passion behind the genre. The Ohio native, who is an alum of the prestigious Morehouse College, is leading a new era of artists with his distinct voice and “Urban Mod” – a genre created and proclaimed by the artist and rightfully so. Already sharing the stage with artists such as J. Holiday, Day26, Mario, and Erykah Badu and releasing the acclaimed Underneath The Sky mixtape series, Mateo has proven he has the “it” factor. With Grammy Award winning producer Kerry “Krucial” Brothers at the helm of Mateo’s major debut, it is only a matter of time before the world sings his praises.
Growing up in a musical household, Mateo’s musical journey was somewhat preordained. His grandfather was a heralded jazz and session guitarist at King Records where he played for the likes of James Brown and Charles Brown. His grandmother was an acclaimed singer who toured Canada and the Northeast, so it only made sense for Mateo to start playing classical piano at the age of five.
“I grew up doing [music], and ended up going to school,” says Mateo. “I had not planned on doing music as a profession. I was going to do it on the side because I didn’t think it was something you could really make money off of. I was kind of like everybody else. You know, you go to college, get a good job, make that paycheck every two weeks and push everything else to the side.”
Mateo enrolled into Morehouse College majoring in music and business. Upon graduation, Mateo moved to New York where he became a strategy consultant. But no amount of numbers could replace his number one passion; music.
“I hated every moment of it. I was like, ‘I’m going to do music’,” recalls Mateo. “I quit my job and everything just started to flow for me. I met some people who did music on the Eve show out in LA, so I moved to LA.”
Mateo quickly immersed himself into the entertainment scene in Los Angeles. Working on the Eve show and performing in the live music circuit, Mateo ran into former MTV VJ Quddus Phillipe. Quddus, who was working at MySpace Records at the time quickly took interest and brought Mateo over to the digital label which signed him nearly on the spot. However, after a two year stint, Mateo decided to part ways with the label in 2010. Upon his departure, Mateo came into contact with multi-Grammy Award winning producer, Kerry “Krucial” Brothers. Krucial, who is known for his work with multi-platinum recording artist, Alicia Keys, noticed Mateo’s innate talent and signature voice.
“Krucial is definitely one of those producers who doesn’t live within the constraints of a box,” states Mateo. “He’s not afraid of live instrumentation, horns and strings – things that you can’t do with your computer.”
Since signing with Krucial, the two have been working on Mateo’s debut album. The project has been deemed as a true hybrid of R&B, Pop and Alternative music.
“It’s R&B music but, it’s like a lot of urban music right now; influenced by so many different genres,” says Mateo. “For me the music that I love influences what I do so, of course the R&B/Soul stuff like Lauryn Hill, India.Arie and Donnie Hathaway but I’m also a huge fan of Coldplay and Kings of Leon. Stadium music is what I like to call it. I kind of merge those types of elements in my music. I call it Urban Mod because of this new kind of modernism in urban music.”
Urban Mod has been the influence behind Mateo’s latest mixtape Love & Stadiums which is slated to debut March 30th. The tape will be a sample of what is to come from his highly anticipated debut.
“My goal is for people to hear the music and be able to see themselves inside the stories,” proclaims Mateo. “I want to be the artist that was authentic yet relatable whether it be about love, good times, bad times, the past or the future. That’s what my goal is. I want my music to touch certain moments for people, so that when a song comes on it reminds them of where they were and where they are now. Ya know – timeless music.”
With an out-of-this-world sound, inspiring lyrics and an authentic voice, Mateo is definitely one of those rare breeds of artists that have it all. Selling out shows and releasing music digitally to incredible downloads and accolades, Mateo is poised to become a living legend.
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