With over 12,900 monthly listeners, emerging hip hop and R&B artist Simon Tran is not one to be overlooked. Since producing his first song, “Until It Happens,” in 2020, Tran’s music career continued to grow, all while balancing his life as a college student. His most popular release, “Cartier Love,” was streamed over 915,000 times on Spotify.
Tran, a first-year pre-communications major who hails from Rancho Cucamonga, was interested in music from a young age. He recalls his father playing J. Cole’s “Work Out” on a drive to elementary school, a song that would spark his interest in hip hop and lead him to immerse himself in the genre. Rotating between his favorite artists, which include J. Cole, Kanye West, and XXXTentacion, Tran says that hip hop always gave him a “good feeling” when he listened to it.
When asked to discuss the first time Tran played his songs for his family, he remembers they were surprised by his talent and “started showing everyone else in the family.” Their positive reactions encouraged Tran to keep practicing, even in the face of criticism. When faced with criticism, Tran strives to put himself in the critics’ shoes and “look at it from their point of view” before deciding if he agrees with their opinion. He also strives to withhold any personal bias when reviewing his own music, a practice to improve himself as an artist.
Most of Tran’s lyrical inspiration stems from personal experiences, along with the experiences of his friends, such as fellow first-year Brandon Yu. The two often work on music together, with Yu sending Tran beats and melodies he creates throughout the week. Tran also composes his own sounds in addition to working with Yu’s beats.
“We just bounce ideas off each other,” Tran explains. He recounts how they often work “till the sun [comes] up.” In addition to growing as musicians, Tran thinks their work has allowed his friendship with Yu to grow stronger, and Tran now sees Yu “like a brother.”
Tran estimates it takes him 1-2 weeks to finish creating a song. Sometimes it can take longer for him to compose the right lyrics — leading him to turn to other artists’ songs for inspiration — but for other beats, the lyrics flow more naturally. “The lyrics just start to come,” Tran says.
Currently, Tran hopes to expand his audience and gain more awareness. His overall goal is to create songs that people will enjoy for years to come. Although he still has a long way to go, Tran feels he is closer to accomplishing his goals with each song he produces.