Romeo Don’t Die is a Guatemalan-Canadian artist coming out of Ottawa, Ontario. The 25-year-old rapper is far more than meets the eye, with not only his music but his entire persona. In his last project “Mans Gift 2 God”, he showcases his extreme versatility, blending and taking on various genres from hip hop to salsa. His catchy hooks, punchy one-liners, and his surprisingly insightful lyricism definitely make him someone to watch out for. In addition to is his love for his craft as an artist, Romeo also a culinary side and is a chef as well. He’s recently began doing pop-ups sharing his love for food, particularly Mexican and Latin cuisine, on his page @tacosoversex on Instagram. We had the opportunity to speak with Romeo Don’t Die and get his thoughts on everything from casual sex to flexing for the gram’ and tell us a bit about his music and brand new single, “Ask About Me”.
On being an independent artist: I think that it’s one of the best routes compatible with my approach to artistry because I have very particular styles, sounds, lyrics, and a lot of other things that I’m passionate about. Independence kinda just gives me those freedoms right because once you work for a label it’s kinda like working for a corporation or company. Whenever there’s bureaucracy involved you have to answer to people. So I think my art flourishes more with freedom and independence.
On Coronavirus: I definitely think it’s real. It’s not a conspiracy, as much as I’ve had drunk convos with people that think that it is. I think it’s something to keep in mind, and I think we need to exercise distancing as much as we can because that’s the most effective way of, you know, slowing down the exponential rate that it infects at. That being said with certain people I love or really care about it becomes a bit harder to maintain that distance if I really want to kick it close and do things. I’m also trying to fuck too like I don’t have a girlfriend so I kinda have to roll the dice each time. But I’ll still fuck with a mask on though, don’t get it twisted.
On his love for tacos: I think the reason why I got so into tacos is because a tortilla is like a blank canvas, you know, just like any other carb whether it be bread or rice. Also if it’s not a stew taco, it’s extremely portable which if you’re going down to Mexico or Los Angelos, where they have a lot of street taco vendors, it means that you can experience the city and environment you’re in while also experiencing the taste of the place you’re at. And I just don’t think a lot of other foods are able to provide you with that experience you know.
On flexing for the ‘Gram: As globalization continues to happen through transportation and the digitization of global markets; pandemics, civil and international conflicts will arise just because more people are in contact. As the world’s issues become much more prominent, flexing materialistically will lose its value and I’ve told this to people before. Anyone that was posting their new Gucci kicks or just something that was completely irrelevant whether it was when black people were dying at the hands of law enforcement, or during coronavirus, it just seemed so pointless. I think that is indicative of how flexing will become obsolete. And along with that celebrities as well, because in a way their whole life is a flex. Like I don’t know maybe one day someone who’s actually contributing socially, adding value politically, or whatever it may be, might be of more interest. That might be more of a flex in a way, but a positive one. Less status-based and more contribution-based. In a while though, not anytime soon, we gon’ keep wearing Balenciaga’s in the meantime.
On Palestine: In recent years there’s been a bigger light shed on Palestine in social media, to younger people, and others who may have not been privy to what is going on in the West Bank and Gaza. And even at first if I may have seen things that were somewhat misleading or misinformation, as someone who has been invested in understanding the Palestinian plight for a lot of years and visiting as well, I was still happy to know there was allyship. Sometimes it does come with misinformed people but at least it’s people who have their hearts in the right place. So I’m happy to know that, and I’m always going to be for the liberation and the right for Palestinians’ self-determination over their homes and lands that have been illegally annexed since 1967.
On his musical influences: My first musical influence came from my step-brother, Pancho, he used to always come to the crib when I was little. He had tattoos, chains, a Sean John headband, and like the flyest gear. And he was always listening to really good music, he loved Duck Down Records and Boot Camp Clik, which is a collective in Brooklyn. We talking Buckshot, Sean Price, rest in peace, and that’s sort of where I fell in love with the art of rapping. So it started with Pacho and the New York artists he put me on to at the time. And then for the first album I ever owned, the CD was “Country Grammar” by Nelly, that’s sort of where I fell in love with the musical aspect of hip hop, I was like 6-7. Once I began coming into my own, identity wise with my music, and my brand, my inspiration became more international. People like MHD from France and a lot of dutch rappers who were rapping over afrobeats and reggeaton. I also grew up listening to a lot of salsa romantica, so Eddie Santiago and all the people that are in that vein from the Dominican, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Columbia that have very soulful salsa, not so much festive salsa music. One song of mine that is reflective of that inspiration is “Para Mi“, just really soulful salsa music that has a certain level of pain and depth but is still rhythmic enough to make you move. I think that was really suited to who I was as a person, so I just ran with it.
On casual sex: I’ll start off by saying that when you’re genuinely interested, in love, or infatuated, any of those three, it enhances the sex. So I would take that over casual sex any day. Anything that has some sort of emotional investment, but I have had some good casual sex. It only tends to really work when there’s not even just an understanding. Sometimes you establish an understanding that people agree to and then they’ll turn around and start acting like y’all was dating. So it’s more than just an understanding, it’s a mutual feeling of we’re friends and we fuck, and if both people genuinely feel that way it allows that dynamic to flourish. So I’ve just had that a lot less than I’ve been able to find the other type of sex I was talking about. My thoughts are it’s good if it can happen, but more times it can’t on a consistent basis very well.
On his creative process: So when I write, first I have to hear the beat. I may have several things to get off on my mind, witty bars, life situations, whatever. They haven’t formulated into rhymes, they might just be thoughts. I usually like to write early, like mid-afternoon, when I’m having a late coffee, cause I drink a lot of coffee, or tea. I’m usually alone, in my room, the only other time I write is when I’m with Chanks but I’m usually alone. I put my headphones in, I listen to the beats that are either in my email from producers or I go online and try to find a beat. And I just start applying those thoughts and turn them into sort of easy and witty ways to digest my thoughts through my rhymes. I prefer recording late at night but I write during the day, I don’t like writing at night. I like the nightlife too much to devote it to writing.
On living in Guatemala: I’ve lived in Guatemala on and off throughout my life but most recently I was living there this past winter. At first, it was real nice, it was always really nice for the most part. It’s nice to be around family because in Canada it’s mainly just my mom and my sister. All my cousins my age live in Guatemala so it’s nice just reconnecting with family. I think when we’re younger we tend to place a lot of focus on our friends which don’t get it wrong, is not a bad thing; but enjoying yourself and having good times with family is a different type of vibe. It’s something that I don’t get to experience often because they’re so far. It was all real enjoyable until coronavirus hit and that’s when things got a little shaky. The whole country shut down, airports and borders shut down, and to this day are still closed. I had to make a split decision once I heard Trudeau was sending three flights, there were 2000 Canadians in Guatemala, so not everybody made it. I applied on the first two and didn’t make it, but managed to get on the third flight. I’m happy because although I could’ve been with family, I know in that particular circumstance, I wouldn’t be able to continue doing music or have opportunities that would only be able to happen here in Canada. Also, you know, with it being a poor country, you don’t know what kind of civil unrest can transpire with people that are starving and a government that even if they had the money, are so corrupt they wouldn’t take care of their people. So I felt like it wasn’t the best place to be, which sits a little bit on my conscience, cause I felt like well do I just leave when things get bad? That was another thought, do I stay here with my dad, my little sister, and my cousins? At the end of the day, you do have to look out for yourself, and they assured me they’d be alright. So I took their word for it.
On plans for his upcoming projects: “Ask About Me” will be out once the people see this, It’s produced by Chanksdaddy and will be dropping on his birthday. Chanks is such a genius in terms of his ability to fuse styles and make it make sense. He has the ability to mix different traits from different cultural sounds together. The track has kind of a house kick drum, but then the snares and everything else is reminiscent of an afrobeat, and I kinda just talk about getting money. I think it’s something refreshing and unheard of, so I’m excited for that to drop. I got a project that I’m going to drop in the fall, late September to early October. I won’t give the name but I’ll say, trust nobody. And at the top of September, I’ll have a song dropping with two artists that I like from Montreal. They remixed a song of mine, and y’all gon’ see who it is.
Make sure to stream Romeo Don’t Die’s new single “Ask About Me“, which is now out on all streaming platforms, and listen to his personally curated playlist below. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @romeodontdie, also check out his culinary side @tacosoversex. We’re so excited to see all the things he has in store in the near future, make sure to follow him so you don’t miss a thing!