Originality was once a staple of hip-hop music, but has been largely lost in the commercialization and mainstreaming of the native sound as it's blossomed into a multi-billion dollar industry. Most rappers are knock-offs of other rappers and their styles comes from mimicking established artists rather than carving their own musical niche and making an individual and indelible mark on the culture.
When listening to the music of artist T-Nyce - founder and CEO of 85 Concept Entertainment - it’s understandable why his music has been accumulating a following and snatching the ears of hip-hop taste makers and legendary figures.
Born in Brooklyn NY, and residing in South Carolina, T-Nyce prepares to drop his 12th mixtape, The Gray Tape. His unique ‘90s hip-hop style and diverse collaborations with artists from the USA to England and Canada is ringing bells. He recently got a call from Hot 97's DJ Mr. Cee, who spoke about a potential face-to-face meeting in New York. And now, he may be taking a larger role in the BK-to-SC rap bandit’s future.
“He liked the originality and flow,” T-Nyce, whose real name is Thomas Garrett, told The Shadow League, “And he said it brought him back to the era where NY was on top.”
Cee was probably listening to The Green Tape, a project T-Nyce recently dropped with Majic Mike. Or one of the dirty joints he dropped this year like Blood Of A Slave, Heart Of A King, mixed by Majic Mike.
In any event, that’s lofty praise from the guy who spawned the careers of legendary rap kings Big Daddy Kane and Notorious B.I.G. Mr. Cee has said in the past that he’s always looking for the next big thing out of Brooklyn. As one of the most acknowledged DJ’s in the history of the genre, it’s Cee’s duty to keep New York hip-hop alive - even if it is via Greenville, SC. You can take the boy out the hood, but you can’t take the BK out of the boy.
T-Nyce is a former college basketball star. His 6-6 frame, quick first step and freakish hops, posterized and shamelessly victimized many a willing defender. His passion for music, however, always played tug-of-war with his athletic dopeness. Eventually, music won his heart and T-Nyce has since teamed up with Hoodrich DJ's own DJ Lil Keem who is Rich Homie Quan’s Official Road DJ. You can find their collaborative efforts on LiveMixtapes.com. T-Nyce has embarked on his first independent tour - “Nyce Tour" - hitting cities up from New York to Florida, promoting his movement and sharing the stage with some heavy hitters. It will continue into 2015.
Here at The Shadow League we post lengthy feature interviews with hip-hop, entertainment, sports and pop culture’s biggest stars. We also credit ourselves with the ability to recognize “new” talent -the kind of package that publications, fans and media outlets will be clamoring for. T-Nyce is one of those future studs. With his anonymity waning with every musical endeavor, we sat down with the 26-year-old as he took a quick break from putting the finishing touches on his aforementioned “Gray Tape” scheduled to drop July 18th.
J.R. Gamble: You wanted to be a basketball player. You had the skills. In the clips we watched, you got busy at Clinton Jr. College from ‘04-‘06 and Southern Wesleyan University from ‘06-’08. Was music always in your veins?
T-Nyce: Man I always had a love for music, but basketball was my passion, I remember playing ball on the court but rapping songs in my head while playing. I had huge dreams with that basketball at one point. I thought it was going to come true, but somehow this music took over that passion. Just going through different life experiences put me in the mind frame to write. From transitioning and dealing with giving up basketball to relationship issues to finding the right one, growing into a young man and becoming a father. It’s my passion now.
Gamble: Talk about your journey a bit.
T-Nyce: I went to a highly ranked basketball prep school in high school… I mean everyone on team was nice. We all had dreams of playing in the league or overseas. That’s every hooper's dream. I had all the looks from D-1 schools, but I just couldn't get them grades right, so I took the juco route two years and transferred later to a four-year D-II school. Basketball was the only way out for me. It cleared my mind, got rid of frustration and now music does the same
I really started taking music serious when I met my man Precise 1 in Atlanta. He was doing his thing in the ATL area and stateside. After linking with him and him showing me the ropes, I ran with it. When I moved to DC in 2010, that’s when I started shooting videos and investing in equipment to record. Since 2010 I’ve dropped 13 mixtapes, many videos, had many shows and have been consistently on growth with this music
Gamble: Who sparked your musical mission?
T-Nyce: I remember growing up, especially on weekends, being around my pops, and he'll play music all day from the house to the car. The same with moms, she was a singer since her days in high school and could sing good too. And growing up in the Mecca of Hip-Hop during a time where hip-hop was NYC, I’ve seen and felt all the movements. I’m also quite familiar with the Southern style of hip-hop which I’ve gained a great appreciation for since relocating years ago. Lyrical content is very important to me so regardless of where an artist is from, they are going to be lyrically dope if we connect. My other major musical influences were my brother and my cousins. Growing up watching them rap songs and embrace the culture was dope. I had a cousin who was an Indy artist and seeing him pursue his dream influenced me. My favorite artist growing up was AZ, Jay-Z and Nas. I loved how they painted pictures in your head with their words.
Gamble: What separates you from the massive moshpit of rappers trying to break through and distinguish themselves as a major player?
T-Nyce: Originality. A lot of artists now a days, mimic their favorite rapper instead of study them and use it to build their own craft. And I speak a lot on real life situations that most people don't hear a lot from artist these days. Mostly everything you hear is on genre and embellished. But I just stay in my lane and continue to bring music I enjoy, keep building my supporters and perfecting my craft; Finding new ways to present it to the masses.
Gamble: How did the move to SC influence your music?
T-Nyce: The move from SC influenced me a lot because I seen two different cultures. The music was different than the music being played from where I grew up at in Brooklyn. Seeing my friends bump Master P, Outkast, Hot Boyz and stuff like that…I really couldn’t get into it at first but after a while and being in the South for some years… it grew on me. I listen to all music because everyone has a story to tell and it all will be different because we all come from different environments. I'm glad I got to experience the southern culture it’s a part of me just as well as my NY roots. Just seeing the improvement and growth as an artist year-by-year is exciting to me. Met a few industry artists along the way, but until I get a deal that would be the most exciting thing to talk about…the day I can more easily make money off my craft.
What are the three things that guide you throughout life?
T-Nyce: God, Family and Life itself. I get good feedback from people who listen to my music. A lot of people are so used to me playing basketball and joking around that when they hear my music they second guess if it’s me (laughter). I have to tell them yeah it’s me, but overall I get a good response. People take my music seriously and that’s important. Just try to give people everyday life pictures we all go through… life’s trails. People act like struggles and mistakes are not normal, so I just give people my life and what I been through; my surroundings and what I know. Real life rap.
Gamble: Having lived in both hotbeds of hip-hop, what is your impression of the current state of the music?
T-Nyce: My opinion on the state of hip-hop is that financially it’s where it needs to be because it’s making money, but as far as the originality there aren’t too many paving their own lane. I think artists get caught in the hype too much. The money blinds them. Any good music is hip-hop to me, so salute to all the people making that. Man I want to work with Troy Ave. & Skyzoo two dope artists in the game right now. Until then I’m just thankful and blessed.
And he’s possibly the next great rap artist from Planet Brooklyn.