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There’s no shortage of young hip-hop producers attempting to carve out a niche and get their beats into the hands of the next big rapper. But very few have the straightforward enthusiasm of the ASAP Mob’s own P on the Boards.
At the ripe old age of 22, he says he’s got the artistic maturity and skill of a seasoned vet, but expresses himself as though his fervor for his craft will never age.
“I don’t really have a knack for sports and stuff, I was more into creating and thinking,” says P, or Patricio Contreras as he’s known outside of his ASAP affiliation. “I started drawing as my first creative output. That was really the first hobby I started expressing myself with.”
Living back and forth between New York and Miami, P felt inclined to be creative somehow, but drawing and sketching weren’t exactly the most respected outlets among himself and his peers during adolescence. From using the pen for pictures came using the pen for poetry, and soon after P began using rapping as a medium to express himself.
“I was like ‘I could rap, it’s just like being poetic. That shit comes easy’ and I started rapping,” he says. “I was doing talent shows, had the MySpace page popping, music page getting plays; it was booming.”
Being an emcee wasn’t enough. “I figured I couldn’t really express myself artistically with just words, I felt like I needed more mediums,” he says. “So I just started making beats and it was like I could express how I feel or an emotion or how I want to make people feel and they could hear it.”
Since his introduction to producing and beatmaking as a means of expression, P has found the kind of success most young producers can only dream of even partially obtaining. As a part of the wildly successful and globally recognized ASAP Mob, P has been able to work alongside the likes of Harlem superstars and personal friends ASAP Rocky and ASAP Ferg, and become a part of the New York based ASAP movement.
“I met ASAP Ant when he had his clothing line Marino Goods and I was a huge supporter of it. This kid was making shit that people are stealing designs from right now, and I fucked with it,” P says. “One time Ant told me he wanted to start rapping and I was like ‘I make beats.’ At the time I had a couple placements, and I was kind of becoming a name. He told me he wanted to rap and I supported everything he wanted to do. We did ‘Ridin’ Around Slow,’ Rocky loved it, and it was just like that. We put a seed in the ground and it grew organically.”
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Soon after P linked up with ASAP architect ASAP Yams, and landed his standout work with his productions on the ASAP Mob mixtape, such as the massive posse cut “Bath Salt.” “Bath Salt” featured like-minded NYC up-and-comers Flatbush Zombies, and at the track’s core laid the sonorous, schizophrenic production. “That was like the career defining record for me. I was trending on Twitter and all of that,” P says.
Since the release of the Mob’s mixtape, P continues to produce and has worked with other rappers, including fellow newcomers Bodega Bamz and Dash. His work on ASAP Ferg’s debut album came in the form of “Dump Dump,” a monstrous crowd favorite that began resonating with fans before it was even properly released. Live videos posted on YouTube before Ferg’s album even dropped had people already beginning to memorize the hooks.
This point in P’s career finds him working alongside artists he’s looked up to and respected such as east-coast icons Mobb Deep, and continuing to work with the Mob. He says “all the records” he’s recently worked on with his crew will be released, whether it be on an individual or collective project, and that the ASAP squad as a unit is still as intact and strong as ever.
“It’s like the Justice League, everyone’s your favorite. Everybody does something and there’s so many of us and people know their history,” P says. “For the kids and shit like that, I would love to grow up on music like this. Movements are rare in hip-hop, and these movements now are trash; there will be like one cool rapper. I’m a fan of them [ASAP] and I still like their new shit today and make ugly faces like ‘That shit fire! Let me get that.’ It’s like being a fan of your favorite rapper, and you know them and they’re the homies. They’re all my favorite rappers.”
P believes himself and the ASAP Crew achieved success on their own terms, without searching for approval, and he’s on a path to continue working along the same lines.
“I want my music to evoke action, I want people to feel music again, not just to put it on and make Vine comps or some bullshit,” he says. “I don’t do shit for the money. I just want the music I want to hear…I want that to be all I hear on the radio. I want to hear good music, I want my little brother to have the same experience I had with music. I want to have the Alchemist’s and Pharrell’s careers combined, as far they never had a horrible record, they never had a horrible placement, no one has anything bad to say, they never sold out, and they’re still doing it today. That’s what I want to do.” P concludes, “I’m a creator, I’m not the person that wastes the energy the world gives us. I just want to inspire.”