“I’m saying Rick Ross, Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, & Jay-Z aren’t quite the lookers but their music is received. If there is a female that looks like a Rick Ross it will be a hard sell.”
We had the pleasure of catching up with the one and only TT The Artist this past week and needless to say she’s one of the dopest artist, I’ve ever encountered. Her music speaks for itself with its creative melodies, energetic lyricism, and heavy beats which are mostly produced by the Heavyweight Champion producer, Mighty Mark. As we meet up with TT in the early in the a.m., she welcomes us into her world, snacks on some day old chicken, and shares a little insight on some of the things she’s been up to for the past few weeks. She quickly checks her phone, send out a few text-messages, then tells us that she has been nominated for City Paper’s, “2014 Baltimore’s Best Hip-Hop Artist” award with two of her homies and smiles proudly in disbelief.
Shortly after watching her prep herself for the shoot, my eyes gazed across the many art pieces that graced the walls in her apartment, mostly, art produced by TT who is a graduate of Maryland Institute College of Arts (MICA) in Baltimore, MD. It showed as most of her art were clearly put together with a true artist perspective ie. bold lines, carefully selected materials, and beautiful colors. Once TT gave the word we head out to explore the Station North area of Baltimore in which she explains is a a budding arts district full of hipsters, artists, and musicians alike.
As we walk, she notices a flyer for an upcoming event at The Metro Gallery and highlights many of the performers that will be there in attendance including Mighty Mark, DDM, Histo, Matic808, Tripletrain and herself. She then goes back into her story as to how she’s originally from Fort Lauderdale, FL, spent some time interning at MTV in NYC, and why she decided to come back to Baltimore and make it home for the time being. Among all things, what I noticed was she was respectful of all of the people of the city and also edgy enough to make for a fresh photo-shoot subject. During the shoot, TT gave props to the great mural artists of the city, including Alex Fine.
Along the way to the shoot TT notice two really cool billboards featuring the MLB 2014 AL East Division Champs Baltimore Orioles slugger, Adam Jones and the second reppin’ Maryland’s own Honest Tea. Although these billboards were about 24ft in he air, TT says, “Man it’ll be dope to take a picture on one of those”. Quickly we regroup with my Producer, John Curl and we give her an old school playground boost up onto the ladder of the billboard to capture the fun character of TT. Clearly, she was all about Baltimore as she really wanted to be sure to be immortalized next to Adam Jones.
After capturing some shots we then move on to capture a few with one of the coolest murals in the city, depicting a building completely covered in yellow with a smiley face wearing the phrase “life is getting better” at the very top of the building. TT then goes on to shares her inspirations, her goals, and how she feels about being a female artist in the music game. She also gave mad love to DDM, to who you can find featured on her latest uptempo single, “Elevator“.
As we continue to walk, we pass a place where she performs often called The Crown, which is next door to Papi’s Deli-Grocery, a cool bodega frequented by local’s on their way to work and school. While grabbing some coffee from the grocery store we capture TT behind the register running the show and surprising customers as they come into the store. She poses with a few phillies, play around with ringing up items, and even captures a quick photo op with the owner of the store (S/O to Cesar). As we begin to wrap up, we head out and walk towards Canteen, a local cafe, where she states, “Nobody is too big or too small to work with and it’s important to inspire the children within the local community of Baltimore City”.
While at the Canteen, TT express thoughts on her day, texts back and forth with her manager, smiles and laughs hysterically all while still being focused on communicating her next project. She reveals quickly details on Art Royalty, the album she’s currently working on. She mentions the single Fly Girl and how it’s a less raunchier track than she’s normally known for putting out. She also goes into details about how it’s hard for a female MC to get into the game without being overly sexual, fitting a particular mold, or having a crew that’s behind her. “I’m saying Rick Ross, Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, and Jay-Z aren’t quite the lookers but their music is received. If there is a female that looks like a Rick Ross it will be a hard sell.”
She continues to tell her story about how attending MICA contributes to her pushing the boundaries with the visuals for her music. “If everyone is doing one scene video shoots I’m doing animation”, she says with a familiar smile. She also goes into detail on how she’s excited about working with Grammy nominated producer, Diplo on a song titled “Dat A Freak” She expresses gratitude for having the opportunity to work with such a legend in the making.
As we head back to TT’s house, we continue the conversation discussing future shows. When asked where she would like to perform at in the future she asks, “Locally or Globally,” and we respond “Anywhere.” She looks up at the sky and says, “I’d like to perform at Coachella, SXSW, Bonnaroo, I feel like I can rock those crowds.” After spending much time with her, I realized we confidently believed she was right and most importantly we believed in the complete package of TT The Artist.
Towards the end of the day, I made sure to support her artistry especially after knowing she’s heavily inspired and influenced by some of the greatest artists of american art history; Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring. I purchase a piece from her Shade Collection, then promise to get it framed within 24hrs. After all how could you not support an artist that’s truly a fine artist at heart.
Overall I have to say for this to be the first artist interview we’ve done on Stereo, this one blew my mind. TT The Artist was just that, an artist with several creative outlets that she gave no limits to. To sum it all up she’s a great stand-up lady, that wants to share her music and art with the world. With her rocking the Baltimore club scene and now doing bigger collaborations with brands like Diplo’s Mad Decent Block Party, Supra, and more she’s on her way to being the next big star to rise up out of Baltimore City.