From Disney to Américano
Singer-rapper known as ¿Téo?—aka the formerly Disney-linked actor Mateo Arias—plays Velvet Jones, riding the power of his hit “Uno Dos,” with another Hollywood-connected rapper, Jaden Smith.
When: Tonight, 8 p.m.
Where: Velvet Jones, 423 State St.
Information: 965-8676, www.velvet-jones.com.
Disney kids grow up and outward, as kids will. This we know from the story of Miley (“Hannah Montana”) Cyrus, Britney (Mouseketeer) Spears and other kid culture innocence who evolved into edgier turf once away from the Disney mothership. That’s at least a small part of the story of the artist known as ¿Téo?, bringing his multicultural rapper-singer sound to Velvet Jones tonight.
If the name and current look is unfamiliar, you or your children may know him from his given name, Mateo Arias, who played Jerry on Disney’s series “Kickin’ It,” and is the younger brother of Moises Arias, of “Hannah Montana” fame. Born in NYC in 1995, the Arias brother’s parents are from Colombia. At this point, the music-making imperative, and mounting success in the music world, has fueled a new chapter of his life. The hair grew, the name and persona changed. Welcome to the world of ¿Téo?, where rap, bossa-nova and other Latin American styles and touches of other genres meet.
So far in his tender phase as a musical artist, ¿Téo?’s greatest hit and claim to fame is “Uno Dos,” a collaboration with another Hollywood-linked rapper, Jaden (son of Will) Smith, which has wracked up 6.5 million hits on Spotify. A sensuous neo-bossa nova tune, with rap attached, contrasts starkly with the tougher sound of his current hit, “Américano,” a harsher rap-fueled indictment of life and identity in America.
¿Téo?–not to be confused with the Belarusian singer Teo (without question marks attached)–is also a collaborator in the company, crew, concept and fashion line known as MSFTSrep, along with his brother, Jaden Smith and others. The crew’s cryptic mission statement explains that the name is “short for MSFTS republic – could be looked at, in simplest terms, as a creative work force dedicated to supporting and waking up the population of planet earth, through attaining knowledge and personal growth. But even that puts it into a box.”
Other popular tunes in the ¿Téo? catalogue include the creatively-monikered new song “(n.) Mari-knee-jah,” and “Palm Trees,” from the album “Pockets.” An escapist tale runs through the lyrics, attesting to the singer’s conflicted and wavering desires to be a loner and a widely public figure. He’s a fame-seeker and a fame-dodger, by turns. In the last verse, he addresses that inner friction: “Keep my eyes sober/By switching my genre/Meant to be a roamer/Told you I’m bipolar/And a liar.” As he wrote on twitter in January, “I wanna be around a lot of ppl this year.” A busy touring schedule on his current “Américano Tour” should keep him before and with plenty of people, including a Santa Barbara contingent at the Jones tonight, and a show at the Troubador in Los Angeles next week.