With the evolution of the Internet, specifically as a source of publication and promotion for creators, the quest for exploring new materials such as music has become unburdened and pleasing. With contentment, we stumble upon T.Shirt in a not-so-far-away corner of the cyber space.
The young and aesthetic emcee, who has been labeled by many as an “up-and-coming talent”, is super incessant when it come’s to work, music and daily grind. T.Shirt is the intersection of today’s lifestyle; while the hip-hop industry is choking on artists devoted to materialism and eccentric demagoguery, and the underground scene is crying out loud about sociopolitical issues, T.Shirt crosses all these affairs into a new, classy yet chic breed. A firm yet fluid flow always accompanies T.Shirt’s rhymes, though in some cases you might get a twist of mind-bending visuals in his videos, such as “Ode to Reakwon” and “For The Record”.
The young artist has not only been making buzz around the web, but also got the attention of XXL magazine, resulting in being featured on The Break Presents, a section committed to apprising new and deserving acts. Amazed by his career, we decided to sit down with T.Shirt and ask him about life, goals and his ideologies, and the young artist simply agreed to give us a chance to have an in-depth look into his life.
T.Shirt: I was the kid writing poetry and sliding it to my favorite girl in class trying to get her attention. From there it turned into me looking at my options in life and Rap as a profession had this sort of glow around it I couldn’t deny. I thought I could probably get pretty good if I set my mind to it.
88: How would you describe Queens in terms of its influence over you and what you are all about?
T.Shirt: Queens was all I knew for a good part of my upbringing. It was hanging out at night on the block in the Terrace, it was going to 141, it was getting kicked out of 141, it was running around with girls in back-alleys, it was the brown Nova with the yellow stripes up and down the strip, it was playing football at 122.
88: It is a common task to ask artists about their influences, not only I want to ask you about the major acts that have moved you be the T.Shirt your are, but I also would like to know about the native NY acts that have greatly influenced you.
T.Shirt: I’m straight all about the classic NY rappers. Big, Jay-Z, Nas, Wu.
88: By reading through your website and listening to your music, I have realized that there seems to be a unique form of mentor/pupil relationship and also a large sum of respect going on between you and Raekwon. What is it about Raekwon that demands respect? Is there any form of collaboration planned to be released between the two?
T.Shirt: I wrote “Ode To Raekwon” as just that. An ode to one of my favorite rappers, his style, the wordplay, the dress code, the street knowledge. In my opinion he’s one of the illest. One of the guys I look up to in the game. I can’t wait to do a record with the nigga.
88: We were really motivated to interview you, not only because of your music, but also because of the visual artists that you collaborate with and your taste in this criteria. Do you choose your own visuals and artists, or is there a friendship among you that gets the work done? Even though it might be a general question we would like to know what do you think would be considered acceptable, visually?
T.Shirt: I like simple visuals and slow, careful shots. I’d say I’ve probably co-directed every visual I ever put out; at least in the last two years. That’s just to say that it’s important to me to keep everything on the same page. I don’t like projects, especially visuals, to get away from me in a sense. I’ve said it before, in 2012, there’s probably not a more important tool for an artist then their music video.
Couple of favorite videos include Beirut’s “The Rip Tide”, Kanye’s “Flashing Lights”, TV On The Radio’s “Will Do”, Gill Scott-Heron’s “I’ll Take Care Of You (Jamie xx version)”, and Drake & Wayne’s “HYFR”.
88: You’ve been featured in XXL magazine, which is considered a breakthrough for an emcee. What are some of your proudest achievements in your career so far?
T.Shirt: Whenever a project gets fully received in my opinion, embraced by my core fans, turning on new fans etc., it’s a great achievement in my eyes. There’s so much music nowadays that just to be in the mix, just to be bumped and enjoyed is an achievement to me. THE FUCK album hit. The I Should Just Chill album hit. “Ode To Raekwon” hit. The “FOR THE RECORD” video hit. The Purity Ring tape hit. “The PUSSY” (ESSAY) video hit. “24 Frames” hit. I’m super proud of these joints.
88: How do you choose your producers and the people you collaborate with? Are there any plans for self-produced materials? I also wanted to know what is your take on the beat-scene, originated from the works of artists such as J Dilla, Madlib, and Pete Rock, and cultivated by likes of Flying Lotus and Dabrye? Who are your favorite not-widely-known producers or those, with whom, you would like to work with?
T.Shirt: I’ve purposefully stayed away from learning to produce. I stay in my lane. I learned to listen, I learned to not write to everything that held a rhythm. I’m a firm believer in getting really good at a few things and not being greedy. I choose producers I work with by how hot the beats they send me are. It’s pretty simple; you send a hot beat, a beat that comes on and has it’s own sun revolving around the shit, I’m most likely gonna ask to write to it. Dilla made some amazing shit. Flying Lotus too. I’ve unofficially rapped to both of those guys compositions. Not widely known guys that I think are killing it are Steel Tipped Dove, Ayesroc, Goodson, and Mahdude. In the not so distant future I’d love to work with RZA, Kanye, Rick Rubin, and a whole lot more. Basically producers who understand texture in the music.
88: What are you plans for future? What are your set goals to achieve?
T.Shirt: I’m just out here working, my man. More music, shows, videos, events, deals on the table, living, bitches laughing, maybe a walk on appearance on your favorite sitcom, more writing, contests where I give away quality free shit, more exploring.
88: For the last question we would like to have a glance at your musical taste, please name some of your favorite songs, even though we know it is quite agonizing!
T.Shirt: There’s so many. Depends on the kind of mood we’re in, right?
Grizzly Bear – Gun-Shy-
Kanye West, Rick Ross – Devil In A New Dress,
Kanye West – Gorgeous feat. Raekwon
Frank Ocean – Pyramids
Frank Ocean – Lost
Minus The Bear – Pachuca Sunrise
Jay-Z – Where I’m From
Dom Kennedy – My Type Of Party
Cocaine80′s – Motivation
And Schoolboy Q – There He Go