An architect passionate about hip-hop

@Roberto Arribas

While working on his final project at IE University, Segovian student Javier Martín de la Fuente writes and composes hip-hop under the stage names «People $KINNY J.»

Javier Martín de la Fuente

We only had the chance to talk for a few minutes. He told me he’s very busy, but was very friendly while we spoke. These days, Javier Martín de la Fuente puts all his energy into his final project for the Bachelor in Architectural Studies at IE University, and doesn’t have much time for anything else. There are only a few days left to present his final project, which is essential to complete his degree. I stop him in a hallway to tell him I’ve seen a video on social media where he’s rapping a song called «Nada,» and that I think it’s fantastic. “You didn’t know I make music too?” he says.

I knew Javier was a brilliant student at IES Giner de los Ríos, and was about to finish a degree in architecture on the Santa Cruz la Real campus, with very good grades. I also knew that he had completed an internship in New York and had spent a semester as an exchange student in Sydney. But I didn’t know he had a powerful passion for hip-hop culture and music. IE University students never cease to amaze.

Javier has been making music since he was 13. His first creation was the group EBYN (“En Blanco y Negro” or “In Black and White”) created with a friend from the Nueva Segovia neighborhood. From a young age, he liked urban culture, including hip-hop, skateboarding, and graffiti. As a natural self-starter, Javier always liked writing and composing songs. And two years ago he embarked upon a solo career. His stage names: «People» or “$KINNY J.” «My dream would be to be a musician, but I know how difficult and complicated it is to get to the top,»

«My dream would be to be a musician, but I know how difficult and complicated it is to get to the top»

He’s able to combine a degree as demanding as architectural studies with his artistic hobby. For him, music is the best way to express his feelings and to share his worldview with others. He has his own recording studio at home and does everything from composing the music to writing lyrics, making beats, recording, mixing and uploading everything to his YouTube channel, which he called «EBYN TV.» Now, Javier works to make sure his songs can be heard on all streaming platforms and can reach more people.

When he finds a spare minute in his busy student life, Javier shuts himself up at home to create his music. He also makes music at the Creativity Center at the Casa de la Moneda, the space IE University provides all students who want to explore their artistic abilities.

He tells me he has performed live before, and not just anywhere; Javier’s music has been heard in New York, where he was completing an internship in architecture, and also in Sydney, Australia. «Even though I write songs in Spanish, the English-speaking audience responds really well,» he says.

A brilliant student

Javier’s story is truly fascinating. He was born in Jaén, but moved to Segovia with his family when he was 12 years old. He completed high school at I.E.S. Giner de los Ríos, where he graduated with outstanding grades. He was accepted to study architecture at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, but decided to take another route after his mother told him about the scholarships offered by the Diputación Provincial de Segovia (Segovia’s regional council) and IE University to young residents of Segovia each year. He received one of these scholarships, covering tuition for the entire degree.

He recalls that in his first three months at university, he hardly participated in class at all, and was unable to communicate fluently with his peers. This was because he had not yet mastered English, the language used in architecture classes at IE University in Segovia. Now, as he is about to complete his degree, this Segovian is at ease in class. He gets excellent grades and speaks English naturally with his professors and classmates, who come from different countries like Kenya, the Philippines, Norway, France, Italy, Turkey, Morocco, and the United States.

One of the things Javier most values about studying architecture at IE is the opportunity to complete internships anywhere in the world at prestigious professional studios. Javier has worked at the AL_A studio in London, directed by the prestigious British architect Amanda Levete, and at Miralles Tagliabue (EMBT) in Barcelona, headed by the Italian architect Benedetta Tagliabue, one of the most important professionals in the field in Spain. He was also an exchange student at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia, an innovative center offering education based on hands-on learning, and which carries out cutting-edge research. As well as this, he spent half a year in New York, at Shop Architects, «one of the most prolific studios for construction in the United States,» and where, he says, «I learned a lot about being a professional architect.»

«All of these trips abroad have opened my mind a lot. I experienced the diversity that can be found in the world. They have helped me improve as an architect and as an artist because I have seen, up close and personal, what is being done in other countries»

Studying at IE has given Javier the chance to immerse himself in what is happening at the cutting edge in architecture, on an international level. Above all, it has opened his mind to other cultures and other ways of thinking. «My parents have also been key to my progress because they have supported me from the start. I am very grateful to them,» he says earnestly.

The Segovian student is still unsure about what his future will look like, «because the good thing about architecture is that it has a very wide scope, there are a lot of things you can do with it, from pure architecture to furniture or interior design.”

At the moment, all his time is devoted to his final project: an interpretation center for nature in Extremadura, which includes areas for exhibitions and a small research center. «At the moment I’m doing well,” he says, “I’m getting good grades and I hope to graduate in July.» Without a doubt, Javier is an example of how with a good attitude, work ethic, and passion you can achieve anything.