Interview by: Colton Beausoleil
A movement based on pure Love for the culture and the people is something hard to find with music nowadays and it’s only a matter of time before Hamilton’s own T.Y (Trae Yunge) brands that movement on a much broader scale – just take in the music for proof. Making moves isn’t something he is new to either as he has been building his name and spreading the Love movement throughout his city and surrounding areas for some time now and I only expect to see it hit a nation wide level in the near future because he is always working, whether it be promotional, putting time in the studio or just building a relationship with fans he meets along the way. Overall just being a real humble person, his soulful music with intricate concepts and deeper meaning makes T.Y a favourite choice for anyone who enjoys feel good music. The Come Up Show sat down with T.Y to discuss this movement, what K.I.N.G.S is all about and his most notable set of releases; the 500 Autumn Nights series and much more. Read the full interview below.
TCUS: To kick things off, what was the first defining moment that made you know that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
T.Y: I’m not even sure if there was one specific moment because I’ve been writing music for a long time, so it was always just kind of there and I realized that there wasn’t anything else that I wanted to do. The music just ended up being the only thing I could do, the only thing I was good at, the only thing I really wanted to do, and the only thing I enjoyed. I was still young enough to think like yeah, this isn’t unrealistic but then you get a bit older and you’re like ahh sh-t, it’s kind of a long shot, but you still keep going, we’ve already come this far you know what I mean? So I guess that’s just kind of how it happened.
TCUS: At The Cookout I remember we talked about the whole K.I.N.G.S movement (Knowledge Is Needed For Great Success) and everything, so maybe explain a little bit about that for the people who might not know about that as much.
T.Y: I had a crew before when I started rapping in highschool with an old friend of mine and it was called “nine-o-fifth”, just simple 905 basically, but he didn’t really keep up much, like I would do a lot of music-making and he would just do a song every couple of months or whatever. Then we kind of grew apart as friends, so I needed my own kind of thing aside from “nine-o-fifth”, and my whole group of friends were different you know? He was kind of a new friend at the time and I still had my core group of friends. So then with all of them – and they’re not even rappers, they’re just people I just chill and hangout with – and me and my roommate, we just came up with K.I.N.G.S. I didn’t like how it sounded so arrogant, the word kings it sounds like we think we’re better than everybody right? But then we put the acronym behind it which I think made it make more sense. It became more of like a mind-set, if you want to succeed in something you have to understand, you have to know what you’re doing, or maybe not know what your doing per se but know that you might not know as much as you think you do. Know what I mean? So in other words, trying to use knowledge as a tool and don’t be afraid to be smart.
TCUS: Now, I remember you saying you wanted to start working with a live band and incorporate that in your set. I’ve seen you tweet that you were practicing, so how did that end up going?
Hearing your music come to life with a live band is liberating.
— tdotydot (@YOURSTRULY_TY) July 13, 2013
T.Y: Canadian Winter had a sold out show downtown Hamilton and I had done a song with them for their album, so they told me come down and I performed the song, so I was doing the rehearsals with the live band and all that. The show went over great, like having that whole band thing [is] so tightly knit. It was a great experience. A couple weeks before that I opened for Mos Def for that In Tha Kut show and that also had a live band my whole set, so that was my first solid experience with that. It’s definitely something I want to get into more though, it’s just crazy.
TCUS: So tell me about 500 Autumn Nights, what’s the meaning behind that? I’ve seen you say you like Autumn more than Summer, so what made you come up with the title?
T.Y: It’s actually a play on one of my favorite movies 500 Days of Summer, so I just kind of flipped that and then with 500 Autumn Nights. I wanted to give it a new mood kind of thing and I feel like summer as far as music is so over-crowded, there’s so much going on and then it all kind of dies out. Fall comes around and sh-t starts dying, trees turning different colours and sh-t, kids are going back to school so it’s like lets give them something fresh, something new and something that’s going to sound different because it looks different outside know what I mean?
TCUS: Definitely, so lets talk about “S.O.L.E (Someone Love Effects)” off that mixtape 500 Autumn Nights: Side B. In your music you’re always pretty open and real, but I find that one stands out more than others because you talk about a lot more personal things. So in other words what was the inspiration to make you write that track?
T.Y: It was just kind of time similarities between things that have happened and how I’ve turned out thus far. It’s weird, because I wanted it to be a party song; it was supposed to be fun but then when I was writing it kind of took a different turn. I ended up liking it anyways, so I was just like alright [it is what it is]. I wrote it to a couple different beats. Two of the verses on that song actually go together and then one verse was a totally different verse, but they just all kind of happened to fit so when I got the beat I tested out the verses on it and it came out perfect and then we just put a chorus on it and then that was that. It ended being really a… personal party song. It’s weird, but it sounds good.
TCUS: Now what about “You Don’t Hear Me”? You’re kind of talking about how people aren’t paying attention to the music right? And how you want them to basically pay attention to what you’re saying as opposed to just the beat.
T.Y: Which is ironic because the beat I had for so long. I got it about a year before I used it from [producer] 1988. When I first heard it, it was really hard to write to; I didn’t know what to say on it. It was so different because the drums are so left field that I wasn’t sure. Then when it finally came out, that chorus came then that’s kind of what was able to write the rest of the song and it just happened. I actually think I wrote it walking home, like the first verse or some sh-t. It’s crazy.
TCUS: Yeah you can definitely get inspired in totally random spots. So what about influential artists, who did you listen to growing up that influenced you?
T.Y: As far as rap the biggest one is probably Eminem. My brother is a bit older than me; he put me on. If I did chores for him and sh-t he would give me a CD or give me this or give me that like a treat or whatever and at one point he gave me The Eminem Show and that one just blew my mind. So it was cool; it taught me how to put a song together, all the structure but he also made it easier for me to be personal because he was so personal, that it didn’t come off as crying or whining, being preachy or whatever. He’s always straight off of the top about it: that’s the song, take it for what it is. Jay Z was big, The Black Album was crazy for me. Marvin Gaye was big. My mom had a lot of soul music playing so that was always an influence but I loved pop music when I was little too so there was a lot of different influences I guess.
TCUS: Which would explain the mixtapes, because they’re so versatile; there’s not just one sound it’s all different.
T.Y: Yeah, it’s supposed be like you kind of ride a wave right? You hear a lot of albums and there’s no turns, there’s no surprises. It’s all kind of like this is how I rap and I’m just going to do the same thing on a bunch of different beats. Like yo man, if somebody’s going to pay for it, you have to give them their money’s worth, and this sh-t was free [500 Autumn Nights].
TCUS: Now what about the whole Love movement? There are so many different styles of hip hop but you don’t see too many promoting Love within the culture.
T.Y: That’s the biggest reason. That’s why I wanted to run with it so hard. I like positive music; I like my ignorant rap too, but for the most part I like really positive music. It makes you feel great. I think the problem with a lot of it, especially in hip hop, positive hip hop just sounds corny. I don’t think a lot of people know how to do it with it sounding like… f-cking ring around the rosey or something like that. Some of it just sounds so put together. You got to have some fun with it. It’s still gotta be hip hop right? We’ve still gotta make this music right? So I guess the moral of the story is positivity. Keep going and just don’t be wack. For a lot of people it’s just too easy for them to just not really say anything. If we’re going to be musicians, then we might as well say something while we have the time.
TCUS: Now what about “Addicted”?
T.Y: That was a big song for me, I really liked that one. It pretty much wrote itself, the chorus and the sample how that all worked out it was dope. I don’t have much to say because it was so quick. It took me such a long time to record it because I didn’t know how to approach it, but as far as the words for the song I had that months before the song came together. Actually that was one of the last songs I think I recorded at my house too; I used to have my own set up in my room and that was one of the last songs that we kept from all the recording that we did there. It was cool though; I do like that song a lot.
TCUS: Now you use to do your own production work, are you still doing that?
T.Y: Im getting back into it; I used to produce more than I rapped. I starting rapping, then I got into producing a lot, then I stopped writing altogether and just focused on making beats but then I got kind of bored, computers crashed and all that bullsh-t. Then I just went back to writing. I’m slowly getting back into producing but I don’t want to force it and just let it happen or whatever.
TCUS: Do you feel like artists nowadays have to be able to do both? Produce and rap? Or stick to one lane?
T.Y: I don’t think it hurts to do both, but I don’t think it’s a necessity. The more you can do the better you’ll be or the better you’ll potentially be I guess but I don’t think you have to make your own beats. It helps but it’s not a major thing.
TCUS: So what’s your relationship with The Antiheroes?
T.Y: I think the first time I saw them was at the Joey Bada$$ show. A couple days later somebody posted something about the show and Sha Prince was like “yo I was feeling what T.Y was doing,” and this and that. Since then, we’ve just been building. We did a track for Sha’s solo project. They’re just cool dudes though. The track will be out I guess whenever it’s ready to go. I sent him the verse and hopefully it was good enough. I don’t know if he’s finished the album, but whenever Sha’s done, the world will be able to hear it.
TCUS: What would you say is the most defining moment of your career so far?
T.Y: The thing that I’m most proud of is 500 Autumn Nights: Side A and 500 Autumn Nights: Side B coming together and sounding the way that they did. I like performing and all that; that’s cool but I’m more of a studio person. I like actually creating these things just posted all by myself working on something new. With Side A that was pretty much all recorded at my house – like, I did that all by myself – and then Side B was recorded somewhere else and had more outside influence but I like how they both came together and still sounded like they’re so in sync and equal. I really like how that worked out. As far as shows I like how they’re getting bigger and sh-t like that but the thing I’m most proud of is that I have at least two solid bodies of work that I’m proud of and happy with, yeah that’s pretty much it for right now. I just want to make something better. It takes a while but it works out.
TCUS: Are you working on any current projects?
T.Y: Yeah, I just started a couple weeks ago working with Chef Byer, we got in the studio so we’ve been chopping it up, making beats working on some new sh-t. I still record with Chris Octane. We’re trying to keep it really tight because on Side B a lot of the beats were ones I would just find and lease but as far as this, we want to be able to own something so we can sell something and really be able to call it our own. They’re putting a lot of time in for these beats and it’s my job to put in just as much with the lyrics and rap but we all have input on what everybody’s doing so if I don’t like something about a beat I can say change this or change that. Then when I bring the lyrics to them and he’s not feeling something he has just as much of rights to say to me, like, “yo change this or change that,” because it’s gotta be a collab. It’s the first time I’ve done something like that. So far it’s sounding great.
TCUS: You’ve been promoting the “Slide Out” video lately so when do you think that will be available?
T.Y: In a couple weeks. It’s finished, we got the cut. It took a bit longer than we would have expected but we got it back and it looks good, it looks hot so yeah we’re just waiting. We want to make everything make sense before we do it. Instead of just getting the video and dropping it, we want to hold it for a minute and have something ready to come out after that and be always a step ahead, so we’re pretty much just getting all things together now and then we can start rolling. I’m looking at putting out like one project a year for now so it’s about that time.
TCUS: Any last words you wanted to say to any new fans and current ones?
T.Y: To any new fans, whats up? Hit me up online, my phone’s always on me, I’m pretty easy to talk to. Even the word fan though is still weird to me, I still see all of these people I see at shows around the city so to me it’s like that’s not a fan, that’s John. I like to get to know people. I just try and talk, it’s never hard to chop it up for five minutes or whatever. For the people just getting to hear the music now, just enjoy it. Show it to whoever you want, if you don’t want to show it don’t, if you do then do it. Just appreciate it regardless, man it’s just music right? In the end that’s all it’s there for.
Download all of T.Y.’s mixtapes here.