r.O.b. Talks Newest Project “CircaXXV”, Crazy Fan Stories, and More

Reporting by Georgette Pierre

Born Robert Castano, this young MC is better known to his fans and cohorts as r.O.b. (Realist One Breathin). Told he wasn’t going to live past the age of nine due to a breathing complication, r.O.b. has taken his lyrical abilities beyond heights imaginable. Building his buzz organically, r.O.b. released his first mixtape in 2011 as well as various visuals that creatively explored the world through his eyes. Now less than two years later, Castano is back with his latest project, Circa XXV (that dropped today). During his album listening event in New York City, I caught up with r.O.b. to chat about his major influences, plans to differentiate his sound, and the impact he wants his music to have.

Read the interview below.

Q: You spell your artist name r.O.b. What does it stand for and what’s the story behind that?
A: The funny thing about that is there’s always more than what meets the eye when it comes to my brand. I like to incorporate slick metaphors and have a story behind everything. But with the name it’s just what it is. Someone suggested it to me “like it would be fresh if you spelled your name r.O.b.” I totally agreed and ran with it. Ironically Bobby Ray’s name is spelled B.o.B. 

Q: Describe your sound for someone who hasn’t heard your music before.

A: My sound is definitely a blend of soulful music with a mixture of futuristic vibes sonically and technically. My sound is one of someone who listened to a lot of golden age rap. But I try different things because I love chill wave music and electro so you’ll hear me sing or rhyme over beats that aren’t technically ‘hip-hop’. 

Q: Your voice is very refreshing to listen to, which is rare nowadays. What current releases do you have out?

A: Thank you so much. I’m very happy to have a voice that really can’t be pinpointed to someone else. Besides my mixtape with Don Cannon, “Higher Learning: The 90’s Tape” that dropped in 2011, I’ve dropped tons of loose records just to constantly feed my fan base as well as bring in new fans during my shows. I most recently released a visual for “Impaired Vision” off of my new project “CircaXXV.” 

Q: What’s CircaXXV about?
A: “CircaXXV” is an audio journey into the mind of a person who’s out in the world going for their spot and dealing with the different emotions that this journey can present, both good and bad. The best compliment I’ve received about the project is that ‘this is so me’, which makes me feel confident I’m channeling life properly through my music.

Q: When is the new project coming out?
A: It’s out now!! It dropped 3.1.13. You can download it at IamFuturistic.com. 

Q: Saying you can rap is no longer enough. What have you done in your professional career to expand beyond the artistic side?

A: Very interesting how the game has become that when back in the day there were cats that strictly were about the music and nothing else.  Now the industry is such a big business. It presents other opportunities for many artists super early in their careers. I handle a lot of my own day-to-day business alongside my business partner. That includes booking my own shows, reaching out to websites for posts and interviews, connecting with tastemakers, etc. I left college early because if I was going to learn about the industry I figured I’d learn it hands on through building my own brand.

Q: You’ve been featured in Vibe, on MTV’s Sway Calloway’s SiriusXM show amongst a few. Now that your buzz is growing, how do you plan to build on that? What are you doing to stay relevant?

A: The way I plan on building on what we’ve been able to do is continuously give flawless quality such as having a digital booklet upon download of my new mixtape “CircaXXV”. I want to make sure the listener connects with my thoughts and me as a person when downloading or viewing anything. Another way is by just staying true to me and not over saturating the market with so much material. Although that seems to be the trendy thing to do, it’s not necessarily my formula seeing that I put so much into every piece of content I put out. I plan on staying relevant by continuing to put on great live shows, which is a must-see if you haven’t and by letting people live with and understand “CircaXXV”.

Q: Where do you find inspiration for the concepts behind your visuals and your music?

A: As far as the visuals go, I try to make sure whoever is shooting and editing understands the vision I had when creating the record. I want to bring the viewer into those same exact thoughts.  For example, my visual for “Hometown” was so fast paced because I wanted to describe a day in NYC. Same thing for “Impaired Vision.” It was shot in a basement because that’s the feeling one could have when being so deep in thought. You feel as if you’re by yourself somewhere, far from the world. 

Now when it comes to the music, it’s solely inspired by the things that happen in life. I have a record called “Up” (produced by The VIPS) where I felt like nothing or no one could stop what we have. Then I share moments on a track called “Tears and Champagne” when I say “Great nights are simply forgotten” because of the stress that taking it to the next level can bring. 

Q: What is your end goal with pursuing music professionally? What do you hope to accomplish?

A: My end goal with music professionally is to inspire people worldwide. I want them to believe in themselves and to live their best tomorrow, today. Regardless of what people may say whether it’s family, friends, mentors, or whoever. I know if people looked up to what I’ve overcame to reach success, it’ll inspire them way more than me going platinum, having a Top 40 hit, or being in the latest sports car. Don’t get me wrong I want all of the accolades that come with being great but my priority is to inspire anyone out there who loses hope because their homies said it’s not realistic to be a doctor or educator on the highest level. I’m here to inspire all, not just those who wish to be entertainers.

Q: How have people connected with your music? Are there any crazy fan stories?

A: The connection people have had with my music has been amazing. They don’t listen to it just because of my beats or because my flow or style is trendy. They listen because of the message and the man behind the music. It’s insane for me to have so many views for my visual “On My Way” being that it’s the simplest video ever but it has such a good story. It really shows how people feel. I wouldn’t say this is completely crazy but I did have a show in Philly at a skate park and a fan came with a huge photo collage of me that included my song artwork  amongst other things on white print out paper and started walking around handing them out to people yelling “you need to see this guy perform. He’s great!” She must’ve had 30-50 pieces of paper. That’s love.  

Q: How can people find you online? 

A: People can check out my website, IamFuturistic.com. The site has all my social network links, show/tour scheduling, new music, news, everything. Thank for you this wonderful interview. 

His newest project, “CircaXXV” is out now and can be downloaded by clicking on the image below.