Tyrese Interview: Hip-Hop Alter Ego

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by Alex Shtaerman

One of the most versatile and omnipresent entertainers of his generation, Tyrese Gibson is many things to many people. Singer, actor, writer, producer and sex symbol, the star of Annapolis, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Waist Deep and Baby Boy can now add “MC” to an ever growing list of professional endeavors. Recently unveiling his Hip-Hop alter ego of Black Ty and dropping a pair of high profile mixtapes, Tyrese is about to be a serious threat in the rap game, and not in the way some may think. “People expected me to be rap-singing”, explains the platinum selling R&B singer. “No, I’m an ‘MC’ MC on the mic and I’m an R&B singer on the mic; it’s two different people”.

While some rap fans may be skeptical of the kid from Watts with the million dollar smile, the greater portion of Hip-Hop’s elite have already endorsed Black Ty’s skills and many, including Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Method Man and Ice Cube, have traded verses with the recent Hip-Hop convert. And as for the haters, Tyrese wants to make one thing perfectly clear, “this rap thing is not a gimmick; I don’t need the publicity, I don’t need the press, I don’t need no girls and I don’t need no materialistic things. I’m doing this out of pure passion”. With his highly anticipated double album, Alter Ego, set to hits stores December 12th, we catch up with Tyrese to talk some Hip-Hop and see what’s up with that certain cat they call Black Ty.

RIOTSOUND.COM: Who do you look up to?

TYRESE: I look up to a lot of different people in a lot of different worlds. I can go anywhere from Nelson Mandela to Oprah Winfrey to Jay-Z to Puffy to Denzel Washington. I don’t know, I kinda get bits and pieces from everybody. You got the business people, you got the people that come in and they’re introduced to the world as one thing and then they become five or six [different] things in front of your eyes. I believe in taking advantage of every possible aspect – even Magic Johnson, the sky’s the limit. I’m inspired by various people.

RIOTSOUND.COM: Was rapping a risk for you? At the point you started delving into rap you were already a well established singer and actor, did you feel like you were in any way going out on a limb as far as going in that direction or were you 100% comfortable with it?

TYRESE: Well, I’ve been rhyming longer than I’ve been singing and for me, I’ve never been the one to question the order of God’s blessings. As the singing thing came up first, I just wanted to see the world and travel the world and go do things. So I went out there and three R&B albums later, this is my forth, and it’s gonna have a little friend on it’s back called Black Ty.

For me, when I went from singing to acting, people told me not to act; they told me to leave it alone, stick to singing, just be an R&B singer, limit yourself please. I get inspired by hate. I get inspired by people telling me what not to do. I’m also a passionate person, when I believe in something and you don’t believe in me, then I’m going to make you believe. So this rap thing is not a gimmick; I don’t need the publicity, I don’t need the press, I don’t need no girls and I don’t need no materialistic things. I’m doing this out of pure passion.

RIOTSOUND.COM: How would you describe the style and substance of your music and what you’re bringing to the rap game as Black Ty?

TYRESE: I can say to you this, people just gotta hear it. As far as me putting my finger on who I am as an MC, all I can say it that Black Ty is gonna say and do shit that Tyrese would never be able to get away with. I can also say to you that as an MC I’ve worked with more rappers than most rappers I know, as far as collaborations. I’ve worked with over 35 of the realest MCs that’s in the game right now on this double album. On the Black Ty side I got Snoop, Game, Mannie Fresh, David Banner, Lil Scrappy, Kurupt, just to name a few. It amazes me that my first Hip-Hop album I got this many [quality] collaborations. So for me, if I were to die and go to Hip-Hop heaven tomorrow, [I know] I’ve been able to pull something off that most people probably couldn’t pull off in a lifetime.

RIOTSOUND.COM: Were you at all surprised by the multitude of positive reviews your debut mixtape Best of Both Hoodz received? In your mind, were expecting to make an impact so quickly as an MC?

TYRESE: For me, I’m at a place now – when I used to be on both sides of the fence and used to have my doubts about this and that – I’m coming with pure confidence now, as me and as an MC. I feel I really put my finger on me as an MC. I know what happens in that vocal booth. I live it. I put my heart on the mic. That’s kinda where it’s at, I really can’t explain it no other way but [Black Ty] is a whole other person. My new album is called Alter Ego but that word “alter ego” is me. For real, you would not say that Tyrese sounds like Black Ty. People expected me to be rap-singing. No, I’m an “MC” MC on the mic and I’m an R&B singer on the mic; it’s two different people.

RIOTSOUND.COM: What can fans expect when they pick up your latest mixtape Ghetto Royalty?

TYRESE: I’ma throw some numbers at you right now. My website was available for a free download [of Ghetto Royalty] for a limited time, for two weeks, and it’s still free as of right now ‘cause I pushed it back another week. In two weeks we got over 450,000 downloads and I got the numbers to prove it right here in front of me. So for me, I’m almost gold in free downloads, and that’s in two weeks. Everybody is curious; everybody wants to know why is everybody talking about Black Ty? Why is all these rappers going public talking about Black Ty as an MC? On [Ghetto Royalty] you’ll get a taste of what’s to come on this double album.

For all your readers, go to www.HeadquarterEntertainment.com and download the mixtape. It features Cassidy, Memphis Bleak, David Banner, Kurupt and Stevie Wonder, just to name a few. Also, you’ll be able to download my first single on the R&B side of [Alter Ego] which is called “One” and my first single on the Hip-Hop side which is called “Get It In”. It’s produced by Scott Storch and it’s featuring Method Man. You’ll also be able to download this joint on there called “1-900-Black-Ty”, which is Black Ty featuring Jay-Z and 2Pac.

RIOTSOUND.COM: Instead of doing a double album with one side being rap and the other being R&B, did you ever consider recording a straight up rap record with no R&B side?

TYRESE: I always was gonna do it as a double album because I would never disrespect my R&B fans and have them wait for three more years on another R&B album. Nope, I wouldn’t do it.

RIOTSOUND.COM: Do you think having Hip-Hop and R&B together on one album will prevent some Hip-Hop fans from picking up the record?

TYRESE: I’m not worried about that at all. I could die [right now] and go to Hip-Hop heaven. There’s two critical people in this industry of Hip-Hop; there’s the actual MCs and then there’s the DJs who has to play your shit. I just came from the Dominican Republic with the Hip-Hop mixshow [Power Summit] and there was over 300 DJs there – the most important mixtape cats as well as DJs that fuck with the rap game, every day that’s all they do, live, breathe, eat and sleep Hip-Hop – all of them are on board. All of the rap niggas who run this rap shit is on board and the fans are up next. Hopefully. But, for me, I could die in Hip-Hop heaven right now. I don’t have to sell one record ‘cause I feel like I’ve made it in my heart. I’ve gotten past rappers believing in me and I’ve gotten past DJs believing in me and mixtape kings believing in me, so I’m good.

RIOTSOUND.COM: For any kids that want to follow their dreams, whether it be in rapping, acting, singing or anything else; what advice would you give them?

TYRESE: What I would say to them is very easy. Know that your friends and your own family will be the biggest haters when you try and branch out and do something new. People got these ten or fifteen year plans, tomorrow ain’t no guarantee. We got Hurricane Katrinas, September 11th all these world disasters happening every day now around the world. Live now. Get it done now because tomorrow is no guarantee. Live now. If somebody were to tell you “you got one week to live”, what would you do? You would try to get as much shit as been in you out now. So if you have access to people, if you have passions other than what you’re making money at, go out there and get it.

For more news and info on Tyrese aka Black Ty stay tuned to www.HeadquarterEntertainment.com and www.MySpace.com/Tyrese