INTERVIEW: Tt the Artist Blends Art with Rap

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Baltimore-based artist and rapper Tt the Artist is proving that making a name for yourself outside of the New York and LA scenes is not impossible – she’s making it happen. As she gears up for a fall tour, Tt the Artist kindly took the time to answer a few of our questions. She is my favorite rapper out there right now and I want everyone to check her out!

Art Royalty has a raw sound set over awesome beats – the sound is completely different from what we hear in mainstream rap and hip hop today. Who are your biggest influences from the past and from today?

I am heavily influenced by Miami Bass and 90s dance, pop  and Rnb music. I also loved the 90s hip hop. Everyone was so fresh and original during that period. Some of my favorites were Haddaway – What is Love, Corona – Rhythm of the Night, Amber – This is your Night, and Real McCoy – Another Night. Technotronic’s Pump up the Jam actually influenced my track, “Fly Girl,” featured on Art Royalty. I was also into  Miami Bass music acts like Uncle Al, Uncle Luke, 2 Live Crew, 69 Boyz the list goes on. I never thought I would grow up and make dance music, but it just came so naturally.

As far as my influences today, I listen to so many artists but lately I’ve been into Daft Punk, Disclosure, Zhu, and A.G. Cook. I am in the process of evolving my sound for my next solo project so I have been really listening to a lot of music with melody.

How would you describe your sound and how is it evolving with “Gimme Yo Love”?

My sound switches up. When I hear a track, I hear what needs to go on it vocally first and I don’t always have the concept right away. I usually start with a melody in my head and what sounds like “gibberish,” words that flow to the beat until I get enough inspiration to start writing lyrics. Gimmie Yo Love started out as a two track project and evolved into remixes. What makes the project so great is that every remixer had their own interpretation to the music. I think this gave the project versatility to be presented to different audiences and I always enjoy the fact that my music can be played in different environments.

How has the Baltimore scene allowed you to grow as an artist?

Baltimore is a great place to grow and nurture your craft. The cost of living as well as the ability to curate and put on your own shows is just a perfect foundation for any indie artists trying to establish a career in the arts. I moved back in 2008 after spending two years in New York, where I never had time to produce my own work. Now that I look back, I am happy I made the decision I made to move back to Baltimore!

What is your song writing process – what inspires you most?

I get inspired by culture. I’m into art and fashion so things may influence my references in my lyrics. I am also inspired by everyday life and relationships, how we feel, how we connect…I like to make music that people can relate to and really vibe and groove to.

“Thug It Out” is one of my favorites – how did that song come to be?

I actually recorded the hook about two years ago. It started out as just a club track, but after I linked up with Mighty Mark, my producer, we extended the beat and I ended up writing a full song. I just wanted to make one of those tracks that had the effect like Crime Mob, “Knuck If You  Buck,” something that would go hard in the night clubs and make people want to rap along and turn up. At the same time, I was showcasing that I could spit some bars while making a club influence track at the same time.

What plans do you have for late 2015 going into 2016?

I am headed out in September-October for my Fall tour. While I am on the road, I will be writing and working on new concepts for my next solo project, “Women Anatomy,” so stay tuned. I am really excited about the evolution of my sound and also new collaborations with some amazing, talented producers and artists.

What challenges do female rappers face in today’s industry? How do you overcome them?

Most of the time, before our music is heard, it’s all about, “How does she look?” Once the music is heard and deemed good, it still goes back to, “How does she look?”

Within male hip hop there is such a wide spectrum and representation of male artists from different sizes, races, weights. It’s almost like men get a pass when it comes to image. Some people would even say that female rappers are just not as good as male rappers.

I hate when people say there are no good female hip hop artists that have good music, when I can name at least 20-30 dope female acts that are on the rise and have quality work. It doesn’t make sense to me because everything we hear from male rappers isn’t always “quality,” nor do they have to defend or validate the choices they make in their music as much as a  female artist does, in my opinion. I think the female artist that breaks through is the artist that is unapologetic and has her own vision and point-of-view. These days, everyone is so “ready made” and trendy. I get excited when I come across a female artist who is doing something innovative and 9 times out of 10, I reach out and try to collaborate.

I don’t think enough women work together, because everyone is so busy waiting for their “moment,” because the industry makes us feel like there can only be a few. But I believe that it’s about doing your own thing. The internet has made it possible for you to build your own industry and create your own  moment! So, although we face many challenges, today we are able to continue to progress through media. If the industry doesn’t want to build you up, build yourself up.

What are you listening to today?

At this moment I am listening to a throwback 90s dance mix on Youtube. Typically, I am on Spotify fishing for new music. I have really good playlists that cross over into all genres.

Does your visual art converge with your music at your live shows? Do you have a tour planned by chance?

My art always influences my visuals. I self produce and direct most of music videos. I also collaborate with my amazing artist friends. This keeps my work fresh and current. I will be touring this fall to promote my latest release, “Gimmie Yo Love.” I am very excited to get on the road and plant seeds in new cities.

What’s the first thing you want people to know about you as a person and an artist?

As a person, I am an artist first and foremost. As an artist, I am all about being innovative and reaching for higher heights. I like to explore, collaborate and experiment. I do feel like I have something special, and each day I am excited to share that with the world.

For more information, visit http://tttheartist.com/.

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Steph

My love for music is all over the place. Punk, hip hop and rap, electro, heavy metal, country - ANYTHING GOES!

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