As a kid, I spent a lot of time in my elementary class joking and conversing with a boy, Ronaldo. Eventually, across middle school, high school, and now college, we became an audience to each other’s journey into adulthood. Throughout this extensive period of time, we shared plentiful memories. Some of my favorites consist of the moments Ronaldo and I would speak of music. It was evident that music encouraged our creativity and passions—Ronaldo as an engineer, and I as a writer. As Ronaldo now sits in my dorm room in Latin Way, I decided to ask him a few questions about his relationship with music and how it has changed him.
Tell me about the kind of music you grew up around. What is your favorite genre of music now?
"I grew up around Spanish music when I was younger. I heard it mainly from my older brother and my parents. My brother would listen to reggaeton and my parents would listen to corridos and old Spanish songs. From that, I transitioned into pop and hip-hop music which is also inspired by my brother’s music taste. My favorite genre of music now is hip-hop."
Ronaldo and I grew up around the same music. And while we’ve both transitioned into our own genres, we still find ourselves dancing when a classic Spanish song plays.
Who is your favorite artist within hip-hop and why?
"My favorite hip-hop artist is Kendrick Lamar because of the way he expresses himself and is able to connect with a lot of generations and individuals with different backgrounds. I like that he takes inspiration from artists like Tupac, Marvin Gaye, DJ Quik, N.W.A., Biggie, and more."
His face lights up when I ask him about music or Kendrick Lamar, it is something I know he can talk about endlessly.
Can you describe your favorite Kendrick Lamar song?
“It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite Kendrick Lamar song, but if I had to pick one It’d probably be ‘FEEL.’ This song is a reflection of the way I see things at times because in this song Kendrick is just expressing how he feels. It relates back to some of the thoughts and feelings I’ve had throughout my life.”
I love how Ronaldo expresses himself through music, songs, lyrics. At any time, there is a song that represents what he feels. Each song describes his emotions better than simple words. Junior year of high-school, we'd spend hours in his car listening to artist like Frank Ocean.
How has Kendrick Lamar influenced you and your passions as a student studying civil engineering?
“Kendrick has influenced my passion as a civil engineering student by finding new ways to push boundaries the way he does with his lyrics and storytelling. He has helped me see that a certain matter could be explored in different ways. Infrastructure is something that we can start to interact and perceive differently. When sketching a building or thinking of new ideas and designs, I like to listen to Kendrick because of the different avenues he takes with his lyrics.”
I know that studying civil engineering as a first-generation Latino will be difficult, but I am beyond confident that Ronaldo will pave new paths. After all, he has grown so much. Only years ago, we were kids with no idea what we wanted to do with life. He had never taken the time to sketch or write. Now, he carries a sketchbook around which consists of his intricate drawings.
So, do you think music and engineering are heavily related?
“I think music and engineering are related because they are both a form of art. They both connect the art and the consumer. With music, it can put you in a space where it can lift you up and aid your understanding. Engineering does the same because whenever you are in a space, you are consuming that space and everything around it—the way the space is set up, the colors, the textures, the furniture—it all subconsciously affects you and your emotions the same way music would.”
Before Ronaldo, architecture and civil engineering never interested me. I did not understand it, nor could I relate it to art. But, whenever Ronaldo would talk about the beauty of engineering, I grew an appreciation for his passions. Ronaldo is the reason I took an architecture class my freshman year. He showed me that it is a form of art, expression, and identity. I look forward to watching his intimidatingly beautiful sketches and ideas come to life.
Do you plan on incorporating music into your future career/work?
“I plan on incorporating music into my future work whether it be a song title representing a piece of work or taking inspiration from Kendrick’s or any other artist’s style. Being able to look at an album cover and take inspiration from the shapes, colors, settings, and design is something that I plan on bringing into my future career/work.”
Ronaldo tells me he plans on titling some of his models “ELEMENT” and “untitled unmastered”, both works by Kendrick Lamar. His desire to relate two passions further demonstrates that all art is a manifestation of other art.
Overall, how has music changed you?
“Music has allowed me to look for change within myself and be able to grow. It has allowed me to connect with others and build new relationships. Music is a tool that I have utilized to better myself and explore my creativity. Music has made me more conscious about lessons and issues that not only pertain to me but to other groups or individuals. While listening to music I’ve become more open minded about everything that happens around me and it has made me a better listener. I feel like music has brought me steps closer to who I want to be and what I want to achieve.”
I am so proud of him. Not only because he has dove into his aspirations and dreams, but because he has also learned how to express them. Ronaldo is very different from the boy I grew up with, and so am I. Back then, all we'd do is pick on each other. Now, I know our younger selves would be so proud that at each stage in each other's lives, we have encouraged one another to be more creative and more outgoing in our interests.