Selina Carrera might appear to be your average student majoring in communications with a minor in music. However, what many do not know is that, juxtaposed with her academic career here at West Chester University, Carrera is actively pursuing a successful career in hip-hop music. In fact, she was just signed to a record deal with Columbia Records in March. The Quad recently had the opportunity to sit down with Selina and talk to her about her music, her influences and what she foresees in her artistic future. Carrera’s interest in music began at a very early age; she had been singing since she was four. She has actually been writing songs since she was in the sixth grade, and has six notebooks filled cover to cover with her work. Her musical influence also stems from her family. “I come from a musical background,” she said. “My dad was a Latin percussionist. He and my mom won Underground Dance Battle Awards in Philly and New York City.”
When asked about her musical inspirations, Carrera responded, “I would say it’s a fusion between Latin jazz and hip hop. It’s basically positive, good innovative music and just to have fun with music without treating negative messages to our youth and community.”
As far as her new record deal is concerned, Carrera claims she got it from working at Adidas and networking with music promoters.
“When I was at work , there was a concert going on down the street,” Carrera said. “I talked to a couple of promoters, and they introduced me to different people from Momma’s boy’s productions, James Poyser, Jive, and Chris Schwartz. (Schwartz) basically dug my style. He’s CEO of Rough Nation: they discovered the Fugees, Lauren Hill, Nas, Cypris Hill, Kris Kros; Basically he liked me a lot and went as far as wanting to manage me. No more than two weeks later, I got signed.”
Carrera’s tracks were professionally mastered by Grammy-award winning Phil Niccolo and produced by Rick Rube.
“Right now we’re still working on the paperwork, but they’re going to give me an advance to make the music. I’m gonna do a whole album. I’m working with different producers and song writers to get the right niche and the right song,” Carrera said.
“As soon as we have enough that the label passes on, then we can start distributing,” Carerra said. “They’re going to distribute in the United States. Canada, and Europe. They’re gonna work with me and develop me into an artist, physical training and what to say [for interviews].”
Carrera’s passion is hard for her to put into words. “It’s hard to explain, I’ve been doing this forever,” she said. “It’s like when you’re that in tune in music, it lives in you. It comes as easy as breathing. You hear something, you get a vibe from it, it talks to you in some way, and you just put it out.”
However, she does have a deep appreciation and acknowledges those who inspired her. She notes her inspiration has coming from her family first. “My father, my family, those who came before. My poet friends, they inspire me. Independent artists that deserve their shine but don’t ever get it. Where I come from, I feel like everything I come in contact with can in some way inspire me to do what I do. Also, the job to make my family proud. I’m one of the only one in my family to do what I want to do. A lot of my siblings didn’t make the right choices, stressed out my family a lot, and I’m the first one people can look at in my family. The fact that the choices that I make inspire others to do the right things, is enough there. [.] If I can inspire others to go for theirs, that’s all I need.”
Other musicians on campus also provide a source of inspiration for Carrera. “Deuce and Back of da Bus is great. I love them. To me, they’re so fire. John Graves, he just amazes me every time I see him. (A girl named) Janna, she’s like an actress, writer, English major. She’s just really, really cool. I get a lot of good vibes from her.” Other inspirations include poet Sunny Patterson, Jus Greg, Lauren Hill, India Aire, Jill Scott, Gil Scott-Heron and the last Poets, Erykah Badu, Common, Mos Def, JDILLA and Alyssa Harris, was on the 1st place team doing SLAM Poetry Nationally representing Philadelphia.
Carrera added, “I love when you get vibes from other musicians. In my spare time, I jam with my [other musician friends]. We feed of each other’s energy and just have fun. I hang out with my poet friends and battle.”
In addition to advancing her music career, Carrera is also part of “Poetry in Motion” and the co-founder of the Lyrical Playground, which is an after-school program for kids located at Kensington High School, North Philly. “It’s basically teaching high school kids all the forms of poetry and giving it to them as an outlet to get out of their environment,” she described.
Issues of the inner city youth are very important to Carrera. “There’s so much wrong in the city and no one realizes it. Once people are out of it, they never go back and try to fix the problems. I have a passion for my kids and where I come from. You see these little kids selling drugs and crack and going to war with cops, it’s not all right. It’s not supposed to be that way,” she said.
Carrera is open to the direction her life will take after college. “If this music thing goes the way it’s going. I’ll probably be in London touring. I could be actually out there as quick as the summertime, and if that happens I might have to take a year off of school. Besides that, wherever God puts me, [whether it’s] working with kids or writing with a newspaper. Besides music, I wanted to write for a music magazine. I’ll probably pursue that before I start [on my own]. If I can’t perform, I’ll keep myself in the loop.”
When asked what advice she had for her peers, Carrera had much encouragement for her fellow artists trying to be discovered. “Do [your passion] full-heartedly. Follow your passions, and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. No one can hold anyone back but themselves. You gotta be the go-getter. Nothing in life is ever gonna come to you. People used to tell me all the time, ‘Selina can’t sing’ but I just didn’t care. I went through this mid life crisis last semester trying to figure it out, and I prayed to God and asked for guidance. If you can stay faithful to God and Jesus, stay true to your faith, blessings are gonna come. You gotta get it, it’s not gonna come to you.”
Chris Pierdominico is a fourth-year student majoring in secondary English education with a minor in film criticism. He can be reached at CP591761@wcupa.edu.