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Artist Profile: Eto is A Torch Bearer of True Hip-Hop

Eto has carved a niche for himself in the hip-hop scene over his two-decade-long career.
Eto has carved a niche for himself in the hip-hop scene over his two-decade-long career. By Courtesy of Ramon "1000WORD$" Lazo
By Ryan S. Kim, Crimson Staff Writer

Emerging from Rochester, New York, Eto has steadily carved a niche for himself within the underground hip-hop scene over his two-decade-long career. Renowned for his distinctive storytelling and matter-of-fact delivery, he has worked with the likes of DJ Muggs, V Don, Ransom and 38 Spesh. Eto's foray into the rap game began at an early age and he has been relentless in his pursuit of stardom ever since. His music conjures up images of contemporary mobster films, drawing listeners into his meticulously woven narratives of street life in Rochester.

Eto's introduction to music began with his mother, who instilled a love of words in him from a young age. Despite dropping out before high school, Eto continued to develop his vocabulary and hone his skills as an artist. Eto attributes his wit and vast lyrical ability to his mother's influence.

"I gotta thank my Mama,” Eto said. “She was pretty strict with me. I would say definitely she is to blame for my ways.”

Eto first began experimenting with producing and rapping in his mother’s basement in Rochester. In 2020, the rapper teased a yet unreleased project called “Mama’s Basement,” which he produced entirely by himself. Eto jokingly recalled the early days of recording at home, emphasizing his mother’s constant support.

“I drove her through hell, she would stomp on the floor,” the rapper said. “When she got upset she would speak in Spanish, but she was the biggest supporter indeed. She loves all my friends.”

When asked about his creative process, Eto emphasizes the importance of the beat in bringing his stories to life.

"Really, it has to be the music, the beat,” the rapper said. “There's no way I'm going to write if I'm unsure of the beat."

Over his 20-year career, Eto has collaborated with some of the most notable names in hip-hop, such as producer V Don, with whom he has been working since 2007. Their first project together was released on MySpace and laid the groundwork for their future collaborations, including their fan-favorite album "Omertà," released in 2017.

“Me and V Don have been working together since ’07,” Eto said. “We released our first song together when I met him on MySpace.”

This year Eto plans to release his new album “Kings Highway,” which features a collaboration with the legendary Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon. This project, he believes, will stand alongside “Omertà” and “Hell's Roof,” the rapper’s 2019 tape with DJ Muggs, as one of his most significant works to date.

“By far, outside of me and V Don’s ‘Omerta,’ ‘Kings Highway’ is going to be my biggest,” Eto said. “It's going to be my breakthrough.”

While preparing for the roll out for “Kings Highway,” Eto also revealed that he has begun work on a sequel to “Omertà” with V Don.

“‘Omertà 2’ on the way,” he said. “I'm probably like eight records in. I got featuring Ransom, featuring Conway the Machine, and featuring Crystal Caines.”

Eto’s dedication to his craft has not gone unnoticed, as he has amassed a significant following both locally and internationally. Reflecting on his career of over two decades, the rapper shared that a solid work ethic has been most instrumental to his success as an independent artist.

“It is crucially imperative that once you got the ball bouncing to not stop,” Eto said. “We have a lot of work to do.”

Aside from his solo endeavors, Eto is also committed to uplifting his hometown of Rochester. He has been a long-time friend and collaborator with fellow Rochester rapper 38 Spesh, with whom he created the “Flour City” series, a trilogy of songs that pay homage to Rochester. Eto shared plans to record a full-length album with Spesh after the rapper finishes up his nationwide “Beyond Belief Tour” this summer.

“We completed the ‘Flour City’ series, the three-part one, because we wanted to name the album that,” Eto said. “Once this tour is done, he just included me in the tour, we’re definitely gonna start this album of ours that we've been talking about for awhile now.”

Despite the challenges that come with being an independent artist, Eto remains focused and continues to make strides in the hip-hop world. With a string of successful projects under his belt and a new album on the horizon, there’s zero doubt that Eto will continue to captivate listeners with his gritty brand of storytelling and lyrical prowess. As Eto himself states, “We're not going to stop grinding.”

—Staff writer Ryan S. Kim can be reached at

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