It was Sunday June 17th, 2018 at 8:33 pm at the Corinthia Hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia. I had been blessed to attend the 2018 FIFA World Cup. I was sitting in the lobby writing a paper on the opening Ceremony of the World cup when I saw Marco Leyba pass me by. I didn’t see him at first, though something made me turn as he walked right by me, I felt something and without thinking I turned my head. He was surrounded by 22 people, and the way they got along I immediately knew they were his family members. The joy and love that they shared was breathtaking, something I’ve never before seen, maybe that’s what I felt which made me turn my head.
Quite simply… I went up to him and asked for a quick interview. He accepted with the condition of making it quick. So we went to my room as he told his family members that he’d be down in 10 minutes and not to leave without him, while smiling, in Spanish.
We entered my room, 219. Sat on the spacious glass table. I took out my voice recorder and pressed “Record”
Me: Thanks for accepting man I promise this will be quick.
Marco: No problem bro what do you wanna know.
Me: Well right off the bat, you are a millionaire and you’re clothes resemble someone who makes 30,000$ a year What’s up with that?
Marco: I never dreamed of having money so I can show off my person. The biggest reason I wanted money was to provide for all my family and treat them to the best events in the world without a worry in the world, so we could all just relax and have fun. Nothing better than that man I’ll you.
Me: I can tell
Marco: The bling bling thing was never for me. Big houses, fancy cars, golden chains…. na. I wear clothes that make me feel comfortable and that’s it.
Me: And the rest goes to your family?
Marco: Well no not really. This tour I just finished I financed it myself.
Me: O ya we will definitely get to that.
Marco: My passion is traveling, getting to know new cultures, new types of people (he pauses) Freedom. Nothing like it man. The world is out there for us to enjoy so that’s exactly what I,m doing. I also love improving myself in the process, I’ve always thanked God that I’ve had a fire inside me, always hungry to get bigger and stronger. I’ve always wanted to better myself, it’s one of my passions. O and performing too (He laughs). But as soon as I get back in a month I´m going to take a brake from performing and to start training intensely with one of my best friends to prepare for “SealFIT”, a three month bootcamp very similar to what the seals go through in “BUDS” but much MUCH lighter.
Me: Why would you do that?
Marco: Like I said, that fire inside me CRAVES improvement, CRAVES taking things to the next level. They say people who finish that really know the real meaning of “mind over matter”… can you imagine? Plus it was my best friend’s dream, who is also like my brother, to get into the seals and could never get in, so this is also for him, cuz the course is not cheap.. about 3,500 dollars each.
Me: Ok ok I feel you. So you financed your tour 100% by yourself. Why is that?
Marco: Liberty my man. Having other people finance it so they can then start wanting to control me and telling me what to do? Hell no. Shit I have the money, most people get in this for the money, the money I already had it, so why not. Same thing with a record label. A lot of people approached me with the whole “I can make you famous” thing… Do you have any idea how many I turned down? I don’t care about the mega fame so I didn’t sell out, and what’s cool is I attracted producers just like me. Who weren’t in this to cash out, just to share the love, so we were able to harmonize our production in an amazing way and come out with a legit album that we were all more than happy with. I want people to come up to me because they connect with my music, not because they saw me on a TV screen.
Me: Ya about that. Literally all of your “fame” is through the internet. Through youtube right? I mean some videos of you improvising have millions of views and they look like they were shot off of a regular 50 dollar camera.
Marco: Ya some of those were shot whit an iphone.
Marco: Ya man. Raw, quick, and to the point. Obviously my official songs are professionally recorded, but most of my “Improvs” are with an Iphone or whatever I had at the moment. My favorite one which just passed 5 million views is when Im in the car with my three brothers driving through PCH. Have you seen it?
Me: Ya man I love how you mix English and spanish like a true master. Tell me about that a little, how did you decide to do both languages instead of just narrowing down on one?
Marco: The way I see it, why use one hand when God gave me two. I am blessed because not only am I Bilingual, I’m bicultured. What I say is real and people identify with it, regardless of the language. So both languages are authentic, When I rap in Spanish I don’t sound like a gringo and vice versa… each one giving me the best of what it has to offer. So I can do songs all in English or all in Spanish, or mix them up. When I improvise though it’s however it comes out in the moment so most of the time it’s a mix of both since they are both part of me.
Me: And you have your own authentic style for each right?
Me: You didn’t worry doing it in two languages would cause some fans to feel left out?
Marco: I mean ya I definitely thought about it. The way I see it though, everybody in Latin America who is educated knows English, a third of the population in the US know Spanish. For everyone else who is just stuck with one, be it just English or just Spanish, I believe it gives them an incentive to learn the other one… if they truly connect with what I say. Plus I wanted to bring in something completely new. There are amazing rappers in English, there are amazing rappers in Spanish, but there are almost none who are amazing in English AND Spanish (he winks at me)
Me: I feel you. It’s amazing how you make your own money using your art. Tell me about that.
Marco: Let me put it to you as simple as possible. People see any of my video’s on youtube, percentage of them click a link beneath the video which takes them to my blog. Then a percentage of those click a link on my blog for them to join me in my online business. Then a percentage of those people join. Obviously the percentage is very small, one out of every 5000 viewers joins my business… but when you have 30,000,000 views…. you do the math. Not only that, I have helped thousands of people become financially independent, hundreds to become rich, and a few to also become “famous” online using my same strategy. I only believe in charging people money when they have the potential to make that money back by the thousands, that’s why all my concerts have been 100% free.
Me: Why not charge just a little so everything doesn’t come out of your pocket?
Marco: Aahh the best things in life are free man. I give concerts for the people, to encourage them to live their dreams, to show them it’s cool not to do drugs, to empower them, to fill them with hope. The money I already have, I don’t need it, God gave it to me so he could use me as a conduct to express his love. And plus, something I learned from the great Mark J, give more get more.
Me: Deep. I think that’s it man thank you so much or your time.
Marco: No problem man, time to get back and enjoy my loved ones. Have a good one brother God bless.