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Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Student rapper balances school and music

Ray Molano, a student musician sits with the gator statue. (Xpress Photographer/ William Wendelman)

A.P.E, also known as Ray Molano, began writing raps 15 years ago and has not looked back since. Just this past Friday, he dropped a track called “El Pensativo.” 

​Molano, 26, is originally from San Jose, California. As a child, he listened to a lot of old school R&B, and he aspired to be a singer.

He would take his parents’ cassette tapes and record over them, singing along to The Temptations and Marvin Gaye. At the age of 11, he decided that he wanted to become a rapper.

​“The moment that I got my hands on 50 Cent’s ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’,’ and I saw the way that he put words together, I was like, that’s exactly what I want to do,” Molano said about the album that inspired him.

​Molano chose to come to SF State because of the College of Ethnic Studies and the school’s history of activism.

His interest in Latino studies was piqued when he took a Chicano Studies course at age 17.

He plans on graduating in spring 2020 as a Latino studies major with a minor in race and resistance studies. 

​“I wanted to be around people that were actually in their communities doing the work as opposed to just talking or reading about it,” Molano said. “The research is important, but I just wanted to be active.”

Molano said his favorite part about being a student at SF State is the people. After graduating, he plans to focus fully on making music.

​“One of the things that I heard from one of the professors is that when it comes to grad school, you have to want it, and if you don’t want it, don’t pursue it,” Molano said. “And what I really, really want is music, so everything is going into my music and my career after I graduate.”

​When he was younger, Molano wasn’t the best student. He wasn’t interested in the things he was taught in school, and spent most of his time with headphones in, listening to music.

​In his music, Molano usually writes about his life experiences. Recently, for the first time, he wrote a song in the moment instead of after the fact.

He wrote El Pensativo about his experience being kicked out and having to find a new place to live in the expensive city that is San Francisco. The title was inspired by the Loteria game. He chose El Pensativo because he wanted it to be open to interpretation.

He chose to write an English song with a Spanish title to reflect on how he looks, despite not being fluent in Spanish.

“I am a result of colonization and I am using the tools I am given,” said Molano. “Both Spanish and English are not my native languages, I’m just forced to speak them.”

​“I’m somebody who overthinks quite a bit and is very, very anxious, so writing like that is really new to me,” he said about writing his new song. “I’m not really good at writing like that because I’m always just in the moment, and I can’t sit down and write, but this time, yeah, I was able to write something that was in the moment.”

His music is currently available on multiple streaming platforms, including Spotify, Soundcloud and Google Play. Information about Molano and his work can be found at

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Student rapper balances school and music