By Katelyn Harrop
Kayden Wong, known to his fans by the name “TuNe$,” was named Battle for Music Fest’s winner last Saturday, April 13, in Hofstra USA after competing against five other artists and groups.
The scoring was based on a combination of judge’s marks, fan votes and votes of audience members upon entering the venue. Wong’s victory, which earned him the opening spot in this year’s Music Fest lineup and studio time at Body in Motion studios, came as a second chance for the aspiring rapper.
After being defeated at last year’s Battle, Wong returned with new material, ready to take on his competition. Despite being prepared, the senior biology and secondary education double major was surprised by his success. “I was unsure if I would win because all of the other acts were so good,” said Wong.
Wong began writing his own raps in sixth grade, but did not begin seriously focusing on the craft until his sophomore year of high school. Wong was born and raised in Queens and was surrounded by music from a young age. His father and cousins were or are DJs, and his brother was also musically inclined. “Looking up to my older brother, it pulled me to do what he was doing,” Wong said.
On Wong’s début mixtape “iTuNe$,” which he created in 2011, the trend towards family continues with an opening beat from cousin, Scott Craig. “I started with his beat because he got me started,” said Wong. “And my brother is on the last song [too]. It’s not a serious goal of his, but he’s still good at it.”
Along with rapping under the name TuNe$, Wong also creates most of his own beats and records his own freestyles. When he’s not working on recording his music, he stays busy working as a Resident Assistant in The Netherlands, and performs in a hip-hop music and dance group. Wong has also performed live both on campus and at other universities such as St. John’s and Stony Brook.
With Music Fest just around the corner, Wong is confident that he will put on an unforgettable performance. “The audience can expect TuNe$ on a level that no one has seen before. Given the larger platform, I’ll be able to take my performance to another level,” said Wong. You can check out TuNe$’ music at www.wongtunes.bandcamp.com.