Three underdog musicians from the Northwest Side aspire to be Chicago’s next Kanye West or Common.
Wilfredo Berrios, 19, wakes up every day with the intention of creating new music and perfecting his other beats. He arrives to his studio on the corner of Belmont Ave and California Ave, sits in front of his computer, puts on his Dr. Dre Beats headphones, and gets lost in a world of 808 drums and synthesizers.
Berrios also goes by the alias J.B. the Philosophy. It was given to him by an artist he used to work with because of his versatility and is always evolving like a philosophy. He began making beats when he was introduced to the Fruity Loops program at the age of 13. Throughout high school, music producing transitioned from being a hobby to a necessity. Inspiration branched from everyday living—from his friends, family, other musicians and a variety of music and random sounds.
“I consider my sound urban. I like to use a lot of synthesizers and 808’s. It can range from Reggaeton to Hip-Hop to Techno and even Dubstep,” Berrios said.
George Vincente, 20, also known as DeVise, is a childhood friend of Berrios and is also seeking a career in music. Usually Vincente starts his day at 10 a.m. to call Berrios to go to the studio. From there he reads a good book and becomes inspired by wordplay and metaphors. He leaves by 3 p.m. to go to work and when that’s over he usually repeats the same process.
Like Berrios, Vincente has been pursuing music since adolescence. Seeing how his favorite artists such as Drake, Sir Michael Rocks, and Lil Wayne had strived in their careers had motivated him to work hard and become successful.
“My inspirations are my family and friends. Every day I think about how much better life could be for everyone if they didn’t have to worry about money. That’s also why I want to rap so I can help support all the people who helped me out,” said Vincente.
Jomel Robinson, 20, is also a friend of Berrios. They met through a mutual friend a couple of years ago and have been close ever since. A few days of the week he dedicates his time in the studio where he escapes with his pen and notebook and loses himself through rhyme. He began to describe his method of creativity.
“I usually have to hear a nice beat that I can really feel then everything else comes from there,” said Robinson.
Robinson mainly goes by his stage name Jo Jizzle. The name comes from his nickname JoJo, but he felt it wouldn’t be appropriate because there are several artists with the name. He began writing music at the age of 15.
His favorite artist is Kanye West, because he feels his music directly speaks with his audie
nce and his music is relatable. He too wants to generate that same effect with his lyrics and someday looks forward to working with West and artists from Young Money, a record label that was founded by Lil Wayne.
Aside from struggling for success, the three also stress from criticism whether it be from other people or from themselves.
“Obstacles? Man, oh man. I got a lot, but the hardest one to overcome was criticism. When I first started trying to rap I used to sound huff and took a lot of criticism for it but instead of giving up I worked my butt off to perfect my sound and I think that was one of the biggest obstacles,” said Vincente.
Yarie Silva, 18, Robinson’s girlfriend, is aware of the criticism and sees how it affects her boyfriend and other aspiring artists.
“People often try to drag them down and tell them they’ll never make it. It never really fazes Jomel because he always finds a way to pass it by. Others seem to give up because it gets to a point where they feel pressured to make a certain type of music,” said Silva.
Berrios, on the other hand, is not concerned with criticism.
“Nothing really got in the way because I knew nothing was going to stop me. Music is pretty much all I have,” said Berrios.
All remain ambitious and maintain a support system that helps them remain grounded whether it is friends, family, or a fan base through social networking. Although they haven’t attained fame others are still impacted by their hard work.
“My boyfriend’s pursuit in music has taught me the value in music. It’s not just about a catchy hook or melody. It’s an art where he expresses his feelings and thoughts through sound,” said Silva.
The quest for success doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon for the Chicago natives. In fact, Berrios and Robinson have had the pleasure of working with famous music manager, Shorty Capone, who has managed Lupe Fiasco and worked with Tupac Shakur, and Chicago duo Dude ‘N Nem.