Joe Santagato and Johnny Petrop: Putting Astoria on the Map
By Ilija Sekulovski
This week we’re bringing you not just one, but TWO Humans of the Week. We sat down with Johnny Petrop, an up and coming rapper taking the hip hop world by storm, and Joe Santagato, a world famous, HILARIOUS Youtuber with more than 200,000 subscribers.
Joe, How’d you get started with videos?
Joe: Well, I picked up a camera one day and was like… I got some shit to say. So, I recorded what I had to say, used some editing program that was on my computer and put it out on Facebook and people seemed to enjoy that. So, I was like “Alright then, I’ll do another one,” and it just went from there. Now I do one every week.. it just kind of grew and became habitual.
Why don’t you iron the bed sheets you hang up in the back of your videos?
I actually got rid of those! I was putting holes in my ceiling…I hung them up with thumb tacks and started getting holes everywhere. And now I film in my room, which is in the basement. Cause my parents don’t love me.
So, Joe, you have about 200,000 Youtube followers?
Yeah. It started with me just posting videos on Tumblr with 4 of my friends, and I used to leave videos on my friends walls. Actually! Not too long ago, we were watching old home videos, and there’s a video of me at like 7 years old, and my mom has this HUGE video camera and I’m just in the camera like “LET ME FILM!” I always wanted to be in front of the camera.
Johnny, where do you get the inspiration for your music?
Everything I talk about in my videos is either something I do myself, or that I observe. You have to be able to laugh at yourself. I feel like I’m able to observe and take in a lot of things, and put a funny spin on it. It’s like when a comedian says something and you’re like “I do that, too!”
How do you make your rapping accessible?
I’m just trying to be me…be myself. I’m not trying to be Biggie, just be me. I think if you listen to my music, you get to know me– and that’s what I’m trying to do.
Is there anything in particular you rap about?
Every song, every rap I write, it comes from a different emotion. I just get into my own state and write from there. I have a track I wrote when my grandfather died and it’s just pure, raw emotion. Then there’s tracks that are just coming from having fun and writing about that. It’s just about grasping an emotion, taking hold of it, and putting it into a track.
What rappers do you feel influenced by?
I draw inspiration from all over the place, not even just rappers. I draw inspiration from my dad who’s a musician– he was always singing and playing guitar around the house. I’m influenced by new school and old school, old like Nas and Biggie, new school like Chance.
How do you think you both change as you put out new songs and videos?
Joe: It’s just all about progression. I look at videos I made months ago, and back then I thought it was the best thing ever, and now I’m like …that’s not funny at all. And I just keep moving forward with it, keep progressing. It’s all about putting out the best thing you constantly can. If you’re looking back a year and don’t see anything you’d change, I think you’re doing something wrong.
Johnny: I just put out my new CD “That Felt Good,” and that’s me a year ago. It’s who I was a year ago, and it’s dope, but the progression is there. I look at it now, and I feel like I’m a different person, in a different place– and my next CD will be even more “me” than that one is. There’s no reasn that the next one, five months or five years down the road won’t be even better.
What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever done or said?
Joe: Easter Sunday! I wasn’t home, I was at my aunt’s house. But this lady came to my door, and I have NO idea how she found out my address, but she comes to my door and says she wants to pay me $1,000 to come to her party. Literally just drive there and show up to her party in Great Neck. My dad opens the door and he’s like “WHAT? NO. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” But that’s the part of it I hate. I went to Orlando recently, and I was in the pool, and there’s a line of people just standing there staring at me. WHILE I’M IN THE POOL!
Johnny: Mine haven’t been as weird, thankfully! But I’ve gotten some very interesting messages from some 13 year olds. Not cool. I don’t wanna see that! But most of the fans are pretty cool.
Alright, rapid fire questions! Favorite movies?
Johnny: Remember the Titans
Joe: Remember the Titans…The Sand Lot!
Johnny: Chance the Rapper!
Joe: J. Cole and Kanye West.
Best pick up line?
Johnny: I like your face.
Joe: I don’t use pick up lines!
If you could give one piece of advice to someone trying to make it in the rapping world or on Youtube, what would it be?
Johnny: Just don’t give up. It’s a lot harder than it looks. Don’t give up on it cause it’s all worth it.
Joe: Content is more important than anything, EVER. Make sure you have good content. Don’t worry about how you dress, don’t worry about how your eyebrows look. Eyebrows aren’t important. Content is.