UT rapper Plato III prepares to drop first album

Clara Wang

Public relations senior Ryan Silva picked up a microphone when he was 12 and hasn’t stopped rhyming since.

Under the rap name Plato III, Ryan Silva recently had his single “Natalie Portman” featured in the Austin Music Video Festival as well as on music blog Pigeons and Planes. He first signed with the rap group Native Strangers to a label in his hometown of Abilene. Silva eventually broke off and started creating solo projects. He has dropped three singles so far, one of which was produced by Eric Dingus, a local producer worked on Drake’s last album. He is currently independently raising funds to finish recording his first album “Life Before Death.”

Silva began rapping in the seventh grade, purchasing a $10 microphone from Wal-Mart and putting videos on Myspace. His mother influenced his earliest musical tastes by playing '80s pop, such as Prince and Michael Jackson and a variety of rap. Silva said his mother often rapped lyrics to N.W.A.’s “Dopeman” around the house.

Raised by a single white mother who worked two jobs and a black father who lived in the suburbs, Silva said his biracial background plays a major role in how he relates to hip-hop. In the small town of Abilene, he was often the only black person in his advanced classes.

“I was aware I looked a little different,” Silva said. “When I was around black people I was aware that I was the only not full black guy around.”

Later on, Silva happened upon Kanye West’s album “College Dropout,” while perusing the rap aisle one day, when he was in middle school. Features on the album led him to a string of conscious hip-hop artists such as Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Common. He eventually discovered Black Star, which encouraged him to write more thought-provoking music that helped him connect to others who didn’t fit into mainstream society.

“Hip-hop definitely came from black people who were left out by society,” Silva said. “I think a lot of other races have been able to identify with the art form, with being the outsider.”

Longtime friend and Communications Studies senior Leigh Brown believes that the genuineness of his music translates to the listener.

“Someone will find him in Austin,” Brown said. “I think he’s destined to be discovered here with these three singles that are so strong.”

Journalism senior Quentin Boudwin, who met Silva two years ago, said he was impressed by Silva’s music.
“He has an awareness of women and saying things that rappers don’t talk about ever or shine any light on,” Boudwin said. “He’s honest. He talks about growing up in the trailer park, and the only lights he has on are the lights on his shoes.”

Silva said he draws inspiration from his girlfriend, Lora Overton, who he met during his freshman year at UT-San Antonio. Overton said they have a “Yoko Ono and John Lennon” relationship, and although Overton was hesitant about hip-hop at first, his music eventually won her over.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when I saw her, I started making music that was more personal and more authentic,” Silva said.

Beyond finishing his album, Silva said his ultimate goal is to continue making authentic music.
“I think creation and art [are] one of the things worth living for,” Silva said.