Paul Matt

Bethel Boyz Release New Mixtape

After hearing word that Monmouth University had its own rap group, I headed over to Bethel Avenue in Long Branch. As I walked into the house, I was greeted by Paul Matt, a junior and communication student, and one of the four members of Bethel Boyz. Singing and rapping at the kitchen table, wearing a “Suh Dude” snapback, Paul resists the mainstream categorization that other rappers chase after, mainly because he’s a completely new breed of Jersey oddball, something the rap game has never experienced.

Last month, the 20-year-old rapper released a mixtape called “Potential/Summer 16” which features 13 tracks and includes features from other members of Bethel Boyz. He’s known for his rather juvenile sense of humor and his larger-than-life personality. This persona — one associated with lyrics like, “I’ve been known to goof around, sometimes called the clown, that’s cause I never let anything bring me down. So I’m gunning for the thrown and a fitted crown, cause I’m the king of my own life.” – King of My Own Life — has him far removed from the conventional visuals of big time rappers; Paul exists completely in a category of his own making. Meanwhile, if you want to know what’s next, as I did, you’ll get the kind of answer where the platitude of a rap group merges with interview ramble into semi-deep profundity:

Paul Tyler Matt

When did you get into music and why?

•When I was younger and I first got a laptop I noticed garage band. I’ve always wanted to try music and I feel like that gave me the opportunity to. Music keeps me busy and I have a lot of fun with it.

Who is your inspiration?

•Drake has always been one of my biggest inspirations. When I was younger I only listened to the rock music my dad would play until I found my sister’s laptop that had a few Drake songs. That was the first time I ever heard something way different than I was used to listening to.

What’s your process?

•This mixtape was a really long process because honestly I didn’t have any type of layout. I completely let my ideas flow sporadically. There was no plan for a banger, a slow song, a romantic song, or a sound about just chilling, I just let the flow play out. I created all my own lyrics and recorded in my makeshift studio in the attic of my house.

How do you separate yourself from other artists?

•I try not to talk about guns, cars, or anything mainstream that other artists talk about just to gain attention because I don’t do or have any of that, so I try and keep it real and let my music really explain who I am.

Is Bethel Boyz expanding?

•Going solo isn’t on my mind. I’m focused on Bethel Boyz because we’re all in this together; we’re all in the same position. There are definitely other people, especially in the TDP (Tau Delta Phi) fraternity, that want to get in on what we’re doing, so it’s expanding. I’m having fun learning from other people around me.

What are your plans for the future?

•I performed live at a bar in my hometown over the summer and I want to keep performing. Little Cash, an artist I’ve been working with, is putting a CD out all over NJ and I might be in one song. I just want to keep my music going – that’s my main goal.

The ambitious rapper, whose main priority is to get a degree in communication from the University, rushes out the door to make it to school. By 3:00 p.m., I’m at the kitchen table deep in conversation with Paul’s right hand man, Tyler Christian Hackes. The member of Bethel Boyz is 19 years young and originally from Wayne, NJ. Just starting to find edge within the music world, Tyler’s positive yet realistic attitude completely came through during my interview with him.

Tyler Christian Hackes

When did you get into music?

•Ever since I got an iPod at a really young age, I’ve been interested in music and thought it would be cool to create my own. I was originally a finance major but I changed to music industry. I figured I’m on this Earth once, so I’d rather do what I’m passionate about than get an education in a major I [don’t care] about.

Who is your inspiration?

•Joe Lozito. He was the first person I saw free styling, and I thought, “Wow that’s dope.” I definitely knew I had the creative ability to do something similar and he influenced me to follow the same path, musically.

What’s your process?

•I write all my own music. I don’t think I’d be able to rap someone else’s [music] and say it’s mine; that’s just weird.

Is there a tone to your music?

•I rap about the stuff I went through, but with a mentoring volume to guide my viewers towards the right path. I feel like that’s very different from today’s mainstream rapping.

What are your plans for the future?

•I want to make sure I get [things] down pat, especially with my publicity and social media. I’m really focused on finding my image and my tone within Bethel Boyz.

As an frequent rap listener, where the embellishment of struggle rap is real and the wealth and the lifestyle that comes with it is flaunted in such a way that the taste of music often takes a backseat, it’s refreshing to see young, fresh, faces. Bethel Boyz’s dedication to making music that simply explains what is real to them where nothing is exaggerated is what really keeps their listeners engaged.

Photo courtesy of Tyler Hackes