Ty Brasel – Growth

Q + A By Tyrone Davis

I heard “Praying Hands” for the first time after seeing it in the Facebook timeline as a sponsored ad early last year and I’ve been listening to it ever since.  You all did a great job at promoting the record because it was all over my timeline. Being a designer myself, the artwork caught my attention. 
That’s awesome.  It’s funny you say that because Facebook is where you get the most hate out of all of the social media platforms when sponsoring content.  That’s where I stray from the most.  Folks be on there talking crazy.  I guess I forget that there are a lot of people that discover me and really like the music because of that.  I felt like sponsoring ads on Facebook was hurting more than it was helping but that’s cool to hear.

That’s one thing myself and my business partners talk about a lot.  A lot of people are trying to figure out how to navigate social media and you have these platforms like Facebook and Instagram blocking content unless it’s being paid for.  5-7 years ago, you could post something and everyone would see it. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  
I was born in Memphis, Tennessee and I was raised on State Line Road where Tennessee and Mississippi touch.  I was in both East Memphis and Olive Branch, MS and they both had a big role in shaping who I am.  My pops left when I was about 9 or 10 and I didn’t really have a role model growing up so rappers became my role models because Hip Hop is what peaked my interest at the time.  I started watching and learning from them but I was also raised in church.

My mom brought me up in church but I was rebellious and didn’t want anything to do with it at the time.  Right after middle school, I got into drugs and started selling drugs and getting into the party lifestyle.  I would write and freestyle back then but it was real lowkey.  I knew I had an interest in music but it wasn’t until I went to college that I started to pursue it.  A friend and I started a music group together and that’s where it really started, for sure. 

Being from the area, who are your “Top 5” from Memphis?
Oooh, Ok.  So, when I was coming up in this area, everybody had to choose between Yo Gotti and Three 6 Mafia.  For me, Gotti was more for my age range because I’m 24.  I was born in 1994.  It was Gotti, (Young) Dolph and even more recently, Moneybagg Yo but when we’re talking “Top 5” you have to put 8Ball and MJG in there and then the actual individuals in Three 6 Mafia could make up the top 5 itself, lol.  But, in no particular order, probably Gotti, Dolph, 8Ball and MJG, and Juicy J or Scarecrow when we’re talking Memphis.

That’s interesting you say that you’re 24 because I’m 35 and we are into a totally different generation when it comes to music from Memphis itself.  I grew up in Clarksville, TN which is not too far from Nashville.  I’ve been listening to Three 6 Mafia since I was in 8th grade and they are one of my favorite groups of all time but Playa Fly is one of my favorite artists out of Memphis as well.
I can’t lie.  I didn’t come up during that time but I knew about him because he had a song that had popped off when I was younger.  I didn’t get to hear his catalog from when he was in his prime.

Yea, I have a lot of ties down there and that’s another thing that attracted me to you in regard to Memphis and your label being based in Nashville.  I’m always looking for talent down that way, trying to figure out how I can support them.  Tell us about your album, “Destined For Greatness”.  It started off as an EP, correct?
Yep.  Well, there was always a plan for it to be a full-length project but I’m always trying to be innovative when it comes to creative rollouts for a single, project, etc.  I sit and come up with ideas a lot.  The music business is over saturated so I was trying to figure out how to get the most attention and visibility for my songs and not allow them to be drowned out in the system.  I realized people were doing EPs to minimize the amount of tracks being released at once but I’m a Hip Hop head and I love the art of MC’ing and storytelling so I didn’t want to cheat myself.  I broke the project up into two parts, which ended up being “Side A” and “Side B”.  So, I released “Side A” and put out a bunch of videos to it and spread them out over a few months, then I released “Side B” and did the same thing.  I wanted to give every song the most visibility possible.

How would you categorize your music?  Listening to “Praying Hands” and then going to listen to some of your other records, I didn’t want to put you in the “Gospel Rap” category but that’s what I was thinking.  Is that correct?
Yea, you’re right.  I actually started out doing what people would call “secular” music when I was 18.  I was selling drugs in college, I was a drug addict and I was on this really bad path.  During my Freshman year, I had gotten arrested like 4 times and I had already been through some stuff in high school where I had this encounter that I felt was with God where he wanted me to change my life and my ways.  When I got to college, I was faced with these ultimatums because I was probably going to have to spend some real time in jail if I kept getting charges added up.

I didn’t want to spend my life in a box.  I wanted to do something great because I knew I had a gift.  So, I decided to walk with God and I dropped out of school in 2012 to move home.  I started doing Christian Rap and over the last 6 years, I came up through the Christian Rap industry.  My music kept getting better and people who weren’t necessarily a part of that industry rocked with it too.  I was trying to make the best music possible that everyone could relate to so whatever you want to call it is cool.  I just hope to make an impact with it, for sure.

What makes the music dope is that is sounds like it could be played anywhere and it’s not “preachy” as a lot of people would normally believe about that kind of music.  Also, you put a lot of attention into creating your visuals.  What is your thought process behind putting videos together?
I appreciate that, man.  I think it depends on where you are in your career.  When I first got started, I was trying to find people who were local and could do videos good enough for me to put out, but also at an affordable price just so I could get some kind of visual done.  $250-$350 was my budget early on and as I started to grow, I’d try to do certain things with my visuals by looking for people in my current price range.  But, I’m a firm believer in creativity and exhausting what you have in your immediate vicinity.  You can do great things with little.

So, how did you reach the point where you got signed? 
I put together my first mixtape and dropped it on Spinrilla and Rapzilla, which is the biggest Christian Rap media outlet and I just started gaining fans.  I was constantly putting out music videos, I was working a real tough warehouse job and I was taking all of my money and pouring it into marketing myself.  I was paying to get on websites, paying to get music videos done and promoted, graphics, shows, etc.  I did anything to get visibility.  I was hungry.

I’m on my 5th project now and as I continue releasing music, more and more people continue to gravitate to it.  I’ve gone on a couple of tours where artists have allowed me to open up for them and I’ve come up through the ranks like that and a couple of months ago, I did my first headlining tour that was 7 dates.  It was just about that consistent and steady grind, you know?  Just growing.  A lot of people talk about what success means to them and for me, it’s constant growth.  If I’m continuously growing (mentally, physically, spiritually), that’s a successful lifestyle.

Follow Ty Brasel on Instagram and Twitter @Ty_Brasel, Facebook @Tybrasel and via his website www.tybrasel.com.

Photo Courtesy of Four Against Five, A division of Curb | Word Entertainment

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