The internet continues to be the quickest way to reach out and touch someone, as Weehawken-based musician Dave Cirino knows well. After over three years of promoting his music on the popular MySpace website, Cirino was recently spotlighted as a featured artist.
MySpace.com has become a world phenomenon, not only as a social networking community, but as a vehicle for many artists, especially musicians, to get their materials out into the worldwide market.
According to Cirino, representatives of the webpage reached out to his brother Stephen Cirino and his independent management company IAR Media, which is currently representing Cirino.
“Basically they reached out to him because they liked my music and wanted to do a feature,” said Cirino.
Backpacks and Yak is Cirino’s mixtape of his R&B fusion style of music, which includes 12 tracks produced by his friend the late J-Dilla, and executive produced by Dave and Stephen Cirino.
However, Cirino is not a typical R&B musician. His unique style has been coined as the R&B backpack movement, which brings forth a new fusion of musical styles to complement the traditional soulful sounds of R&B music.
“The music itself is definitely R&B if you listen to it and I’m singing to the beat,” said Cirino. “The whole backpack movement is just me being different. As an [R&B] artist I’m not ‘traditional’ like Usher, Neo and Chris Brown. Then you have the neo-soul movement with artists like Musiq Soulchild. The backpack movement is a hybrid of neo-soul, R&B and hip-hop inspired [music].”
The backpack movement
According to Cirino, the term backpack is supposed to mean intellectual or conscious rap, which is being produced by artists like Kanye West. It now includes more contemporary social lyrical content than the typical songs about “going out to the clubs.”
“It’s standing out compared to what is [out there],” said Cirino. “R&B is saturated now with artists that sound the same. If you listen to a lot of R&B and hip-hop, a lot of the content is really repetitive and not a lot of lyrical content to make you actually think.”
“I like to create stories and I like to create characters,” he added. “I think that’s what is really missing now.”
In addition to Cirino’s mix-tape that has been getting positive feedback on MySpace.com, he is also promoting his second independent album R&B Rockstar, scheduled to come out in May.
“Now we have a little bit of exposure,” said Cirino. “I started an independent label out of growing up in a small suburban town in south New Jersey.” Cirino’s interest in the performing arts started at the age of 8 when started writing plays.
“I was always creative as a young kid and I was always writing,” said Cirino.
“Rapping is what shaped my sound as an R&B artist.” – Dave Cirino
Cirino took on a few acting roles and did commercial print and television ads, and continues to do some independent films today. At the age of 15, Cirino started rapping and setting his sights on a possible music career after spending a summer listening to Nas’s Illmatic and D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar.
“Rapping is what shaped my sound as an R&B artist,” said Cirino, who had also been a member of his church choir as a young boy. “That hip-hop swagger is what I use to shape my R&B sounds. I can freestyle an R&B song [now.]”
At 18, Cirino enrolled in Montclair State University, where he started to make contacts in the music industry.
“I have seriously been doing music since I was 18, and I’m 28 now and really focusing on my music career,” said Cirino.
Unfortunately, Cirino’s career path hasn’t been an easy one, especially having come across problems with labels and recording companies. One signed him as a featured songwriter then didn’t pay him for a song that was used by an artist overseas. He is currently in a legal dispute with the company.
Although the situation discouraged Cirino, he, his brother and their independent company came together to make moves of their own, figuring the only way they will appeal to bigger name labels is by creating a fan-base.
“We have to create buzz and do it ourselves,” said Cirino. “We’ve been getting some good feedback [from MySpace] and people that I haven’t seen in years have been hitting me up.”
Since then, Cirino’s page has been building a steady following via the internet.
It was so incredible,” said Cirino. “After 10 years it’s a good feeling because I have been doing it for so long. I have been so vested into my craft and now I am a master of my craft.”
In addition, Cirino’s mixtape Backpacks and Yak has been featured on other sites including musicremedy.com, which is an urban website for hip hop and RB. His first indie album, called Love Chronicles, which was released in 2006, is available on CDbaby.com. He also gives online tutorials on Youtube.com for independent musicians on how to create a home studio.
Cirino is also in the midst of preparing for a feature spotlight on the TV network show BET Jazz, which he’s hoping will air sometime in April before his second album launch.
For more information, calendar events, or to download the mixtape for free from Cirino visit his MySpace page at www.myspace.com/jre3.
Jessica Rosero may be reached at email@example.com.