Ryen is Set to Electrify Chicago
Written by Luis Hernandez and Alejandro Hernandez
In late October, the 24 year-old artist from Berwyn, Ryen, staved off just a bit of the collective lethargy that hangs over the long grey months of Chicago fall and winter with the release of his high-powered debut project, 24. Bringing a bit of supercharged life where there is none is just business as usual for Ryen.
“There’s a reason why I have this lightning bolt tattoo,” he says. “It signifies my energy.
Any record you listen to, you can feel the energy I bring to it. Everything that I make is real. I wouldn’t even describe my music as like this or like that, it's just energy you can feel. Any song you can play, you can feel what I’m saying.” And it’s true - songs like “Tu Droga” or “Hyper” will be sure inject a newfound vigour into any setting the second you press play.
Ryen approaches rap like a personal melting pot - mixing southern hip-hop, trap, reggaeton, and more all into one. The eclectic mix derives from Ryen’s lifelong fandom of all types of music.
“I’ve always been into music. I was the kid who sang in front of a mirror with a hanger. I love Ricky Martin while listening to Three 6 Mafia. I like every little aspect of music, from English to Spanish.”
But Ryen didn’t find his love for making music until entering adulthood. “In the beginning I wasn’t really focused on rapping or singing. I was just trying to produce.” Like many teens growing up in the YouTube era, Ryen found his first production influence by googling “type beats” and utilizing FL Studio emulate what he heard.
“I threw my first beat together in 5 minutes from just randomly clicking around FL. I looked up tutorials, I read instructional articles. I spent countless nights trying to figure out how to effectively use different instruments and tools. One frustrating day after another I learned how to engineer and produce my own work.”
With these newly acquired tools, he began making music - first by producing, and later by rapping over them out of necessity. “I didn’t know anyone at the time that could do any verses on my beats. I figured I would just do my own verses and see what happens,” he says. Eventually, Ryen made a post-schooling move to Milwaukee, where he formed a group called The ASA Project and began pursuing music full time. After a three-year run, though, the group began to go through some creative differences and decided it was best for the members to go their separate ways in pursuit of solo careers. Ryen moved home and, faced with an unclear path, decided to take a brief hiatus from music
“I took a two month break because it was like ‘your group has been you for the last three years’ and now it was like ‘now what?’ he confessed. “I hadn’t made any new music but I had hella songs already, so I had, like, the clip loaded.”
Once he had his feet under him again, Ryen got back in the studio - beginning to form his team and generating momentum towards his next official release. “I had to start from nothing. I literally had no team, no connections. My old manager, he was kinda doing his thing, I was doing my thing. I was just like ‘bro, you tryna come together and just do something?’ Then we found my guy who do my photos and graphic design. Then we found my video team last march, and we've been killing it ever since.”
By late 2018, Ryen garnered the attention of veteran rapper Navarro (previously known as Scheme), who is one of the most respected artists in the city, especially among the Latinx community.
Navarro expressed his desire in helping Ryen take his career to the next level. even taking time from his own set at Red Bull’s XICAGO Music Festival - an event highlighting the city’s Latinx music scene - to give Ryen the opportunity to perform “Hyper.” Performing his most electric single in front of a huge audience, Ryen asserted his status as an artist to watch in Chicago. “He didn’t have to take three minutes from his Red Bull set for me to do my song, and that got me a lot of good looks too. That was the eye opener for the city like ‘who is that?’”
A new squad and a new Ryen made for a new project, the eccentric 24, a demonstration of his creative musical complexity. Laid back trap tracks like “Foreign/Jessica Biel” lead into an EDM influenced type track like “Movimiento”. Throughout the project’s 20-minute runtime, Ryen effortlessly trades off his flow between English and Spanish on the whole project. Ryen packs this variety into 20 minutes of true self expression.
“Writing in Spanish is just a whole other energy because there are certain things that sound ugly in English can sound beautiful in Spanish. If I can’t say this idea in this way in English, I’ll say it in Spanish. Sometimes I’ll hear a beat and just automatically think ‘Spanish.’ I’m trying to be on MTV one day, and Univision the next day. I’m trying to be what MJ was to pop music to Spanglish music.”
The title 24 is an homage to his favorite race car driver, Jeff Gordon, whose cars sported number 24 during his days in NASCAR. “Me and my cousin used to be really into NASCAR, and Jeff Gordon for whatever reason was our favorite NASCAR driver because he was on top for a while, he was the man. I’ve always been a fan of fast cars. When I was 4 years old, my dad had like a red sports car, ever since I was little I was so fascinated by just how fast cars can go...It’s just a part of me, so I embrace it”.
Fast forward to now, Ryen’s fanbase is growing rapidly, however, his most important fan is still at the forefront of all his music making. “My mom is actually my biggest fan. It’s kinda crazy to hear her listen to “Hyper” as she gets ready for work. I know if my mom likes it, I know it’s raw..”
With his support system firmly in place, Ryen continues to stay on his grind, booking his first shows and staying in the right creative mindspace for 2019. “This year is gonna be the year where I win. It’s gonna be my setup year, pretty much where everything starts to happen and by the end of the year, I’ll be where I really wanna be at… I need a couple more months to kinda be in your face still, then I can start dropping my best stuff.”
It’s time to join Ryen for the ride with his new music video for “Hyper”. “I’ve always wanted to make a video that looked like a scene from a Fast & the Furious movie, and we did this with the smallest of a budget you can think, and I did it with all of my friends. Now I’m starting to see we’re unstoppable if we can do something from nothing.” Unstoppable is right, and 2019 looks to be a year of Ryen putting the Chicago scene on notice.