Directed by Ronin for HotMop Films
VIBE: Let’s just start out with the basics, where are you from?
T-Shirt: Well, I like to say I’m from New York City because even though I was born in Manhattan, I was raised in Queens. And I spent some time in Brooklyn, so I’ve lived all over the place. I’m from the island.
Tell me a little bit more about your musical background and your musical journey to this point?
Well, I mean there was a time in my life where I was just trying to get a buzz on the Internet, just making and dropping tracks. There was no focus but something changed for me. We’re now dropping the fifth video for I Should Just Chill, and then getting right into promoting a new album, which is about 85% done. My new album is dropping--God, I hate to say dropping because when you’re an unsigned artist it seems so cliché and I hate to be cliché--but its dropping soon. In the past I would’ve dropped a bunch of songs with it but now I’m trying to be strategic. We’re trying to focus on the visuals for the album and then we’ll drop a track around Nov. 1.
On the track “What They Said” it seems like you’re addressing your haters, all the people who are calling you “crazy” for chasing your dream, can you elaborate on some of those experiences that inspired the track?
Well, usually when rappers talk about “the haters” they’re talking about the naysayers like your peers or other rappers but this specific track was more directed at my family. That track was directed at my grandmother, father, mom because rapping is brand new to them and it’s been many years of just having to go through the struggle and having to really fight for their support and respect. You know like when I’m up in my room doing music, I’m not just bullshitting, like I’m not in my room just doing nothing. It’s basically about just getting the people you’ve known all your life to respect your craft.
So on your most recent album, I Should Just Chill, it definitely seems like you’re telling a story about your life: your dreams and desires.
I’m trying to make things more specific, like the song “Lana, Kim, AMK” is not about Kim Kardashian or whatever. I took these 3 girls that I know and just wrote it for these girls because it’s rare you’re gonna find a girl who’s gonna watch you, talk about u, learn from you and be down for you. So that song is really just for all the girls who are truly down out there. “Don’t Take It Personal” was written about a specific incident with 88 Keys and that song speaks to young artists being taken advantage of. Like here you have this bigger artist 88 Keys and he’s taking advantage of young artists. It really bothers me that every song is about fucking random girls, getting money and then you have rappers out there who are rapping about rapping! It’s crazy. Like all my music is inspired by small moments that I take and make more universal [in terms of rhythm and rhyme]. Like with the track “20 Minute Blowjob” I’ve paid a lot of attention to lyrics because you have to find different ways to get noticed and so I knew that song would get noticed just off the track. The song was written while getting the act, I’m sure people can relate--it’s one of those acts where if you’re getting it you’re not doing much and it just gives you time to sit back and think. So the song is about all the thoughts that go through your head while you’re getting head. So its moments like that that I take into my music/
Are there any new little hints you can give us about the upcoming album?
I don’t want to tell you the title but I would definitely say it’s the next level of I Should Just Chill but the subject matter is deeper in terms of who I am, what I’m trying to do, what he believes in. This album is the darker version, the fall/autumn version of I Should Just Chill.” Like it goes deeper in terms of subject matter. Actually, I don’t want to say deeper but it just goes to another level.
What is your ultimate goal with hip-hop?
I want to rap interesting again. Like I want to separate from the [norm] of all these gangsters, [both real and fake] who are all doing the same thing and rapping about the same stuff. I wanna come out here and do something completely different.
Anything else you wanted to add?
I got new songs on 2 different shows shows, one was on The Ringer on CW and CSI:NY, last weekend. Hopefully as time goes on I’ll be getting more shows and hopefully some movies.
Interview by Zoy Britton