By Jewell Porter
Rob “Sarob” Tate ‘16 wants what most musical artists want when people listen to their music: to make his audience “feel” something.
“I want them to feel okay, and I know that sounds weird, but I want them to feel alright about themselves,” the political science major from Dayton, Ohio said. Quoting one of Maya Angelou’s famous sayings, the rapper said that he hopes that people will remember the way that his music made his audience feel.
Tate emphasized that many people are going through a lot both emotionally and mentally, so he wants people dealing with those issues to feel like they are not alone. “It’s like, I get it, and here’s something to help you get through it,” he said.
Sarob is known on campus for his two mixtapes: “decent.” and “noon.,” which were released in the past two years. Tate said that he continues to work to improve his artistry in every new mixtape or song he puts out. “Decent.,” his first mixtape, “was bad. It didn’t sound great,” he said.
On the other hand, “noon.,” his second mixtape, was “pretty good,” but when Tate listens to it now, he hears “a lot of stuff [he] could have done better.” But when he looks back on this mixtape in a couple of years, he still expects that he’ll “look back and see other things [he] could have improved on,” he said.
Much of the mixtape was written when the rapper was still in high school, so the songs often did not flow or work well together, he said. “Noon.,” his second mixtape, was an improvement from his first mixtape, but Tate plans to test his new skills and knowledge of music when he puts out his first album in December: “the down.”
To Tate, the actual experience of “the down” is different for everyone. The main purpose of the album, like many of the songs on his last two mixtapes, is to help break people out of the bad feelings that they may be having.
“I kinda wrote it like it’s a book, so each song changes like you’re turning the page,” he said. When the song fades out in the right ear, the next song will begin again in the left ear.
Like his mixtapes, “the down” will talk about the experience of the down generally, to ensure that different people are able to relate to it.
Similarly, his album will showcase the artist’s low-key persona as “decent.” and “noon.” both did by mimicking the aesthetic style of the album (all lowercased letters and periods at the end of the title).
But he also plans to change some things up in “the down.,” thanks to some lessons he learned from his first two released projects. Tate used to believe that the lyrics made the music all it needed to be, but now he holds that although good lines are necessary, it is often the music behind the raps that makes the song stand out.
“I want to make music more musical rather than just lyrical,” Tate said. “I wanted to just be a good writer, but sometimes that’s not enough.” For example, he added more samples from artists like Marvin Gaye and D’Angelo as well as some vocal clips.
Over the summer, Tate took his music to the stage as he performed at concerts in the northern Ohio region. “Oftentimes, I didn’t even have a DJ,” he said. “I would just ask people like, yo, can you spin for me?”
Despite being at the beginning of his musical career, Tate already considers himself to be an artist. “I hate the term up and coming artist,” he said. “No, it’s like I’m already an artist.” But he pointed out that being an artist does not mean that he is necessarily part of the music industry.
“The music industry can wait. You want to have great music videos and great ideas and excellent hooks and stuff like that,” he said. Tate added that it is also necessary to understand musical history, do your research and you have to hustle.
“You have to do it for intrinsic reasons and not extrinsic reasons,” he concluded.
Tate will be performing this Saturday at the FSLabration. He will also be performing with fellow rapper Joey Aich at the Independence Day Festival on Sept. 19 and 20 in Columbus.