Rap music is important to many people. The genre is one of the most listened to and has countless blogs, magazines and websites dedicated to it. But for Elliot Baron, listening to rap and consuming the culture was not enough.
Baron, a junior electrical engineering major, is one in Stony Brook’s growing population of rappers. While most rappers look to promote themselves, Baron seeks to provide a platform for other rappers to perfect their craft and learn from others. Thus, he founded the Stony Brook Rapper’s Union.
“I wanted the opportunity to work with other people who shared my interests,” Baron said. “Possibly do some shows or collaborate with aspiring musicians. I checked the involvement fair and there was really nothing like that.”
He gathered some friends who also had an interest in hip-hop, and so the Union was born.
Baron’s interest in rap first began to blossom in his sophomore year of high school. He had a writing teacher who had taught him about poetry rapping at a weekend program sponsored by his high school and was inspired. Baron started listening to rap music and later performed on stage at a showcase.
Throughout the years, Baron’s influences have changed. While citing rappers such as Chance the Rapper and Brookfest 2014 headliner Childish Gambino as being his current influences, he does admit that his influences have changed as the years have gone by.
“My tastes and influences have changed,” Baron said. “There was a time where I really liked punchline rap, where I listened to Fabolous and rappers like that and tried to emulate that style. Then I listened to more lyrical rappers like Eminem and Slaughterhouse. As of now I listen to Childish Gambino and Schoolboy Q.”
The Rapper’s Union is not only a home for rappers, but also producers and poets.
“It’s really for anyone who’s interested in hip-hop at all,” Baron said. “Even if you don’t rap, I encourage you come out and just hang out with us. We really have fun, we just talk about hip-hop or freestyle and stuff like that.”
Freestyle, slam poetry and production mixing are all commonplace within the Rapper’s Union. As Baron said, it is a place for hip-hop heads to get together and bond.
While Baron is focused on getting his electrical engineering degree, he does plan on releasing an EP in the near future. Although the chances of getting into the studio are slim, he tries to make the most of his time there. But splitting time between academics and his music career has been challenging for the up-and-coming rapper.
Although Baron has not released his debut, he and the Rapper’s Union have exciting things ahead of them.
“To be honest, I have a lot of work on my plate,” Baron said. “I’ve been trying to put out music and have performances. I have a friend who works at the Tabler studios every now and then. I haven’t really put out anything legitimate or solid yet, just simply because I can’t put as much focus on it as I would like to.”