Seein Is Believing

Can a socially conscious MC make it in the bling-drunk world of Miami rap? One man aims to find out

Impressed with his lyrical skills, Billy Monahan offered the aspiring MC a record deal with his new label, Cleva Records. "I didn't want to do Christian rap," Seein says. "I didn't want to just preach to the choir. I wanted to reach the streets."

The lyrics to a track like "Hard Life," for instance, detail his daily battle — not to acquire toys, but to provide for his family. "Still struggling, I'm trying to keep my head above the water," Seein intones. "I'm trying to be the best supporter, for my son and for my daughter/Trying to be a good example, trying to make the money legal."

Beyond the lyrics, the track showcases Seein's multilayered arrangements. A tender, cascading piano melody — reminiscent of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" — is set atop throbbing bass and vigorous, ricocheting percussion tracks to create a euphoric vibe that wouldn't sound out of place at some of South Beach's tried and tested hip-hop hotspots, like Prive or B.E.D.

Seein: Still pissed about having to rap in the hallway
Seein: Still pissed about having to rap in the hallway

For the past year, Seein has been busy recording tracks for a full-length disc in the studio, which Monahan hopes to release on Cleva sometime in the next few months. For now, Seein is touting his EP and playing shows at local events such as the Calle Ocho festival.

Jalen James Acosta, a Miami-based producer who found international success with the tropical group Toke de Keda, believes the time might be right for a local MC such as Seein.

"There are not many rappers in Miami like him," Acosta says. "His song öHard Life' opened me up to his style. Having the delivery and the flow is only one aspect. But it's another thing when you actually have [a rapper] with something to say."

Seein himself is well aware that his socially conscious approach puts him at odds with most of the MCs in Miami's ultracompetitive hip-hop scene, where stars such as Rick Ross and Trick Daddy stand at the top of the heap.

But he remains optimistic. "I'm speaking to people in a way they haven't been spoken to in a long time," he says. "I have a purpose here in Miami, and it took me a lot of effort to find it. Now I got butterflies. I feel like I'm approaching a benchmark in my life, like I'm walking into my destiny."

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