While students at Monte Vista Middle School, Allen and a friend began writing down hooks, lyrics and rhymes, passing the scratchpad between them. (Imagine an ink-and-paper version of Eminem’s rap battle from the movie “Eight Mile.”)
“Me and my best friend, Jordan Preston, we started making music at the same time with each other in eighth grade,” Allen said. “Crafting a creative way to make fun of somebody, but using good words and good rhymes.
“That’s how it started, in the notebook.”
Through four years at West High School, Allen never gave up using words and writing songs. Now, the 22-year-old has hopes of breaking into the music world.
But he has no illusions about the business.
“It’s really difficult. Most people think that it’s going to happen. It’s not the case at all,” said Allen, who said the latest step in his musical journey is all about persistence. “What I do is I’ve been making 10 to 15 phone calls a day, numerous emails, until I get a call back. I try to get someone’s attention. So it’s been a long process.”
That process has been an evolution, Allen says, from something done for fun to something that could, one day, be a means to make a living.
Originally, Allen didn’t think of doing anything with his hobby, he said, adding that a lot of people didn’t even know he was into music. But six or seven months ago, he decided to try and go big.
“It’s also a business, as well as a passion,” he said. “If I can make songs all day long and have checks in the mail for making music and for performing, that’s why I do it. Not to mention how fun it is to make a song and get feedback from it.”
So far, he said, feedback has been both positive and constructive. He has several videos on YouTube under the moniker “Matty Moe,” and said he’s starting to make a name for himself by working with Bay Area producers who are well-known on the local scene.
He said his influences in music include rappers like Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg, but his tunes aren’t “gangsta” by any means.
“I’d say my music’s really creative, it’s spontaneous, it’s funny,” said Allen, who layers simile and metaphor on top of his beats. “Hip-hop people would say it’s a lot of punch lines.”
But he agrees it’ll take more than clever lyrics to get recognized by a major record label.
“I’ve heard I have great music,” he said, “but I’ve heard I need to get a bigger buzz going.”
Still, Allen has come a long way from writing down lyrics in his notebook at school — he now travels to South San Francisco three times a week to record. He hopes to build a larger local following by playing live shows in the Tracy area in the near future, with times and dates to be announced.
In the end, he said, he hopes people will enjoy what he creates.
“I want to do this the rest of my life. This is pretty much my passion. I go to work, I think about this. I wake up, I think about this,” he said. “I just want people to like my music.”