Alumni Profiles is an ongoing series highlighting successful graduates who, with a SUNY education, achieved interesting and influential careers.
Brendan Martin grew up in Colonie, New York. He went on to attend the University at Albany to study business and graduated with high honors. While in high school and college, Martin wrote and performed hip-hop and rap music, writing from his own experiences and what he went through growing up as a child.
Brendan, or B. Martin, has gained a substantial following after winning UAlbany’s Battle of the Bands, T. Pain’s Motivated competition, Hot 97’s Who’s Next competition to open for J. Cole, and recently won the Battle for the Best competition at SXSW 2012.
Martin has performed alongside Mac Miller, Lupe Fiasco, Big Sean, Young Jeezy, and Snoop Dog. He also was invited to Summer Jam 2012, where Martin shared the stage with ASAP Rocky, Big K.R.I.T, Azealia Banks, Pusha T, Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar.
1. How did your decision to pursue a business degree at UAlbany help you in your music career?
I always knew I wanted to pursue music, so I had to learn what it meant to run a business. My classes in Marketing definitely contribute to the branding and imaging aspect of my career.
In addition to what I learned in the classroom, I also made solid relationships with my professors and other students that still benefit me until this day. For instance, one of the people on my team went to UAlbany with me. It gives me that extra level of trust to have known them in the past.
Finally, those late nights in the library really helped. I think the hard work I put in at SUNY now translates into self-motivation and late nights in the studio.
2. What about SUNY, do you feel, makes it so unique? How would you introduce the University System to somebody who doesn’t know anything about it?
SUNY is unique because it has a very diverse and multicultural faculty and student body. It’s a NY school but the people are from all walks of life. It brings cultures together from around the world. I was able to see bits and pieces of the world all while being a student on campus.
Even the programs are unique. You don’t only have to study one thing or be limited in what the school wants you to learn. For instance, I studied abroad my junior year in Spain. While abroad I was able to learn fluent Spanish and travel to 6 different countries. This experience was life-changing, and I would strongly recommend it to any student in the SUNY system.
3. Why did you decide to write your “SUNY Anthem”? Did you take inspiration from your own experiences to craft the lyrics?
It made sense to do something that kids could relate to and still have a positive message. It is great for hip-hop, as it shows that the state supports the genre, as long as the message is positive. I’ve always been proud of earning my degree, and it’s very rewarding to give back while doing something I love.
The lyrics were certainly influenced by my experience at SUNY. I tried to keep a balance of my personal experience, some facts about SUNY and the campuses, and a pop-sound that everyone can have a fun time singing along to.
4. Did you intend for your “SUNY Anthem” to inspire others? What role do you think it can play in telling the SUNY story?
I always intend for my music to move and inspire people in a positive and creative way. My hope is that my fans and others who hear this song see another example that may leave them wanting to go to college and be successful. Because this is a project I truly believe in, I think that will resonate through the song. My hope is also to inspire others to follow their hearts, disregarding what may seem “right” at the time.
On a larger level, I strongly feel that my “SUNY Anthem” can be a unifying force to bring all 64 campuses closer together. I see it as something to evoke SUNY students to have pride in their university.
5. What advice do you have for SUNY students who want to pursue a career in music? Or their own dreams in other fields?
My advice to those interested in a music career is simple. Be yourself and study those who inspire you. If you are honest in your music and draw from real life experiences, it will translate through your music. Also, look at other musicians and writers who inspire you and study them. Learn why you love them and what makes them great, then use the tools you find to tell your own story.
6. In general, what advice do you have to share with SUNY students?
In general – I think it’s important to love what you do. If you love your job, then it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like passion. So never give up until you find something that makes you wake up excited everyday, and you’ll never be happier.
Behind-the-scenes photos from “SUNY Anthem” video shoot:
Maxwell is the Coordinator of Digital Engagement for The State University of New York.