Rap-Up TV: Mateo Talks Evolution, Kendrick Lamar Cover, & Alicia Keys Crush

Mateo has been making waves online with his mixtapes and stellar covers (check his remake of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”), and he continues to push R&B forward. His evolution is apparent on his latest EP, We’ve Met Before, which serves as an appetizer to his upcoming debut.

“You know my history, you’ve known me before, but this is the next generation of what we’re doing,” the Cincinnati crooner told Rap-Up TV. “It’s a new vibe, it’s a new feel.”

One of the five tracks on the EP is a remake of Kendrick Lamar’s “Sing About Me.” He chose the song because he felt like he could relate.

“I think he’s a really dope artist,” Mateo said of the Compton MC. “I think that’s what he does very well, tell stories about real-life situations… That’s where this EP and all the new music has changed. It’s got a little bit of realness to it and that’s why I like Kendrick so much.”

While Alicia Keys sang background vocals on his 2011 single “Say It’s So,” he would love to do a true collaboration. “I would love a duet, a real official duet. She’s even more amazing when you meet her,” said Mateo, while admitting, “I definitely had a crush on Alicia back in the day.”

Earlier this year, he opened for Keyshia Cole on her “Woman to Woman” tour. “She definitely gave me some encouragement. She was like, ‘Yo, you’re really killing it.'”

His full-length debut is due in the first quarter of 2014. “This is the defining moment for music, period. That’s how strong I feel about these records,” said Mateo, who worked on the project with Kerry “Krucial” Brothers, JL Brown, and Zeke MacUmber. “We took it back to back in the day, old school style.”

We’ve Met Before is now available on iTunes featuring the single “How Good Is Your Love.”