Bio — Student 1 Rapper, Guitar Hero Champ, And All, Page Not Found &Bull Instagram

He wears a backpack onstage. He keeps a #2 pencil behind his ear. He dropped out of college to become a student of life. It”s a funny bit, yeah. But even with schticks aside, Student 1 is mad talented.

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Colorful and comedic, his music and persona have scored him attention from people all over the globe — Spotify listeners from 57 different countries streamed his music last year. Voters ranked him number nine in last year”s Picked to Click poll. Our contributor Jeffrey Bissoy-Mattis listed him in “The Come-Up” in December.

After seeing him perform at a recent eating disorder recovery benefit, I definitely wanted to know more about his story. So he and his manager/producer Alec Hoines stopped by our studios to talk about self-awareness, Guitar Hero and that incredible beat from “Paint.” Here”s a lightly edited transcript.

Cecilia Johnson: Welcome to The Current! I just wanted to get a couple bio things down straight. You grew up in Inver Grove Heights, right?

Student 1: I live there currently. I grew up in South Minneapolis; I moved there when I was three from Maryland. I think that”s where I get a lot of my influences from, at least from a local standpoint. When I was living out in Minneapolis, that”s when I got introduced to things like Soundset and people at Soundset, Atmosphere, like P.O.S and Doomtree. Now I live in Inver Grove Heights.

You said Slug is — speaking of Atmosphere, you said Slug is an influence on you. If you wanna talk about how you first listened to Atmosphere, that would be cool too.

S1: I was playing Call of Duty, and at this time I wasn”t very good at it — I”m still not, he can attest to that actually. But I had music playing in the background, and somebody suggested that I listen to “Yesterday” for my first song. When got to the end and I figured out he was talking about his dad, I literally dropped the controller and just turned around and stared at my computer. I was like, “Jesus.” That got me really interested in him. But I got way more interested in him when I started listening to the things that he made before Atmosphere, like Headshots and all of those tapes. Then I got really into Overcast! and it was just like — there was just something I really liked about him just going off the way he did back in the day — the way he wrote his verses, the way he spit “em. I thought it was really poetic, and really emotional. There was something about it that I thought was really gritty and dope. I just thought it was a great way to go about expressing oneself.

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Yeah, do you find yourself trying to be as visceral and gritty as you can, or do you like to mix it up?

S1: I definitely like to mix it up, just “cause I really have a thing for pretty looking verses. I don”t know if that makes sense, but I”ll always write my stuff in a notebook– and all of it”s really disorganized, but once you see the pattern, it”s all… pretty, I guess.

Pretty in terms of how the lines look on the page, or what letters you”re using?

S1: How the lines look on the page, how many words that start with the same letter are together, how often I don”t use slant rhyme, because I definitely prefer perfect rhyme over slant rhyme — Doom taught me that. Literary devices, how I write it down on the paper. Some words will be all caps, some will be nothing but lowercase, some words will be in cursive.

I really dig that. Before working in music journalism, I would write poetry a lot and I would always be like, “Oh, I”ll write this one eight syllables this line, and thirteen the next, and eight, and thirteen,” and weird stuff like that. That makes a lot of sense.

S1: Yeah. It gives me an idea of how I want to go about executing it when I have to in the studio.

Does it inform how you perform as well? Like, “Hey, I see how these group together really well, and this would connect to a flow”?

S1: That”s more trial and error than anything, just because I”ll have a good chunk of content for a work-in-progress, and there will just be some sort of mental block that”s stopping me from continuing. And then I”ll just look through pages, like, “Oh, this other chunk might fit.” And if it does — even if it only kind of does, I”m going to wait until I find something that fits really, really well.

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Not going with the “slant rhyme” of fitting.

S1: Yeah. I”ll find something eventually, just because I have multiple notebooks, and all of them are a mess. So I”m bound to find something that might fit a little better.

Okay. You”re “Student 1.” Did you like school when you were in it?

S1: <laughs>

Just wondering.

S1: I did at one point, but that was definitely back at a much younger time — also back when I wasn”t paying money for school. I can safely say, by the time I graduated, I still didn”t know what I wanted to do. So I went to community college in Inver Grove Heights, just to get my generals done, and maybe I would have it figured out by then. The second year, I got my second academic suspension. And it wasn”t because classes were hard or anything, I just wasn”t doing it. I was juggling that and music at the same time, and this was sort of at an early point for music.

I knew that I had to make a decision on whether or not I”m going to put all my focus on school or music. I was still in “I don”t know myself” mode. So I didn”t want to knock my generals out of the park and just major in something that I didn”t really feel some type of way about. And I knew I felt some type of way about music from the start, so I just decided to take a chance and do music. The decision has definitely made me get more in tune with myself, because not being in school right now kind of makes living my school. I feel like that”s just as much valuable knowledge, and I can get a degree later.

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Totally. One thing that comes to mind when I think about school is, you”re forced to pay so much attention. But in “Paint,” you”re like, “My focus been on the fritz.” I was wondering how you would describe your attention span, and how that affects your day-to-day.

S1: It”s very all over the place almost all the time. I think the main culprit of that is just how I live on a regular basis. I don”t really get a lot of sleep, which results in all-nighters and just being scatter-brained from the jump of the next day. And eating habits. I bet if I had better breakfasts, my days would go by so much smoother. I”m pretty sure all it takes is eggs. I don”t know.

That”s the secret. That”s what I heard. Alec, are you there for some of the all-nighters?

AH: Yeah. The all-nighters are actually at my house. So I”m definitely present for all of those.

S1: And just as awake.

AH: I might be the reason for a lot of those, but I take no blame.

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Okay, I guess I”ll let that slide. <laughs> Speaking of “Paint,” Psymun”s beat is one of the coolest that I”ve heard for a long time. Obviously I really like the verses and stuff too, but the combination is like, “Zing.” Were you working on that beat with him at all, or did he finish it, and then you got it?

S1: He sent it to us in a pack of three beats. Wasn”t he going to use it for…?

AH: Psymun posted it on Facebook, actually. He made a private SoundCloud thing and posted it on his Facebook. And then I reached out to him through Facebook and he said that he sold the beat to — I think it was Nike, maybe? And he sold it to them for a commercial. So I had to buy it from him for more than what Nike paid him, which, it cost us a lot upfront, but I think it was definitely worth it because the song has done pretty well for us.

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