It was a star-studded event in Los Angeles’s premiere venue, The Music Box, where the sold-out crowd gathered to watch their beloved hometown hero, Kendrick Lamar. Big names like A$AP Rocky, Krondon, and Busta Rhymes were in the house as either entourage or performers and even the mythical Dr. Dre had a section of the balcony for himself to enjoy the festivities without being hounded by the peons. Featured on the bill, Left-Coast duo TiRon & Ayomari caught everyone by surprise as they preached about relationships and love’s many complexities, while eloquently doing live renditions of their highly acclaimed project, A Sucker for Pumps.
After the show, the two rappers sat down with The Crew’s own Raj to enlighten their audience as to how they were brave enough to dedicate an album to love, where they want the project to take them, and of course to serve as alarm clocks to wake up everyone else who’s been comfortably snoozing on them.
Graphics By Talia
TSS: What would say inspired you guys to make A Sucker for Pumps?
TiRon: Really, we had done all these relationship songs like “Ms. Right” and “Sidney” and so many relationship-esque records that were kind of different anyways, so we thought “what if we did like a whole album on it?” Because there’s been a trend in Hip-Hop. There’s been a lot of bullshit like ‘I’ll buy you the moon and the stars and all this other stuff’ and then there was ‘fuck bitches, get money.’” Anger isn’t necessarily that cut and dry and love ain’t that cut and dry. Basically we wanted to make an album with all of that gray in between.
TSS: How much of the album was inspired by real-life events that you guys experienced?
TiRon: For me personally, all of it.
Ayomari: Some of mine, not necessarily personal, but from friends too.
TSS: Got it. What artists would you say influenced this project specifically?
Ayomari: A lot of things really. Obviously we’re two different artists so we have different things that we brought to the table, but as far as musically, one thing that TiRon was definitely inspired by was Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions album.
TiRon: Nah, that was more for MSTRD.
Ayomari: Was it?
TiRon: Yeah, for this it was more Steely Dan’s Aja. That album just made me kind of look at things different.
Ayomari: For this album, I was just kind of experimenting with different styles.
TiRon: [The] Smashing Pumpkins too, “1979,” for that nostalgic vibe. We wanted some of those songs to be old and new at the same time. You know, to have that old era kind of feel, but it also has some new stuff in it. Our aim is to create timeless music. And the way you create timeless music is to have it sound old and new at the same time.
TSS: Were you surprised by the reaction to the album when it dropped?
TSS: [Laughs] Not at all?
TiRon: No, no, no, I was surprised that people got it. I really thought nobody would listen to it for what it was. I thought they’d take it as “aw this shit is all about love, this is for girls, so we ain’t gonna really critically listen to it and actually try and take it in.” I thought people was just gonna pass it over like that. We just wanted to make people think.
Ayomari: We had songs on there that we definitely think people would get.
TSS: Like which ones?
Ayomari: “Jack Keruoac,” for one. I thought it was gonna be dope, but I didn’t think people were gonna like it that much. It was some debate on whether the intro was too long.
TiRon: I really didn’t think “Fin” would hit as hard as it did.
Ayomari: “Fin” is probably my own favorite song too. We made some girls cry to it. “Thing Go Right,” and “Lot on Your Mind,” “If I Had You.” Those were all songs we didn’t think people were gonna get.
TSS: For “Jack Kerouac,” did you guys use live instrumentation or was it all digital?
Ayomari: I think that was all sampling. Tonight was the first time we rapped over live instruments.
TiRon: Shouts out to DJ Dahi who did “Quitter” and “No Wonder.” “Quitter” was on Ketchup and “No Wonder” was on this album. What else has Dahi done? Hmmm…Dahi’s done “For Your Smile.”
Ayomari: And “Happy Thoughts” on my shit. And shouts out to DJ Drewbyrd who co-produced that record.
TiRon: That’s Dom Kennedy’s DJ.
TSS: Where do you guys see yourselves going in the future now?
TiRon: I want everybody to hear this. It’s weird but I don’t really think about the future because this album still got legs. There’s still millions of people who ain’t heard it yet. ‘Til I get to that point, then I’ll be able to tell you, but I definitely know that if I’m still alive and God-willing I’m still making music and still trying to push my envelope, hopefully it pushes Hip-Hop’s envelope too.
Ayomari: We definitely want as many people to hear this as possible. Hip-Hop in general has a tendency to mass-produce at a rate where it brings the quality of music down.
TiRon: Shit, my fly came down on stage.
Ayomari: Well, shit, it was about love [Laughs].
TiRon: Broke through my zippa!
Ayomari: Through my zippa! Yeah but, we just want to keep on making great music.
TSS: Are we going to see you guys at SXSW next year?
TiRon: Yup. And you’ll hopefully see us at Coachella.
Ayomari: Yeah. And we’ll probably be at Fader too.
TiRon: Yeah, yeah. Let’s go to Fader Fort. Fader, quit fucking hating on us.
Ayomari: Straight up.
TiRon: Quit acting like we didn’t have a great album! Quit fucking looking us over and acting like we dropped a fucking regular ass Hip-Hop album! If y’all motherfucking hipsters over there don’t listen to our fucking shit, nah I’m playing. Shouts out y’all. I love your guys shit.
Ayomari: Don’t make us say “we told you so.” Nah but fuck it [Laughs]. Raj, you can just put: parentheses jokingly [Laughs]. Asterisk. Smiley face. Whatever.
TSS: How long were you guys working on the album?
TiRon: To be honest, we were working on and off on it. Because we still trying to push the projects that we were already sitting on. We were also trying to find which sound we wanted the album to have. We were tinkering around with stuff, like we went out to Sweden to have a moment of clarity.
TSS: Sweden? Damn!
TiRon: Yeah, we did a show out there as well.
Ayomari: We did a whole EP out there.
TiRon: Yeah, we did a seven track EP with some producers out there, we leaked that earlier this year. We went out there and got a little bit of their vibe and then when we came back, we came back running. We finally got the inspiration we were looking for. After that it took us a solid five months. So not too long.
TSS: How many tracks did you guys make for the project?
Ayomari: Fourteen. No wait, we actually made sixteen.
TiRon: Did we? Did we make sixteen or finish sixteen?
Ayomari: Nah, we didn’t finish them.
TiRon: We only finished fourteen, and the fourteen that we finished are the fourteen that you hear.
TSS: [Laughs] First come, first served.
Ayomari: Yeah, basically. That’s how we work now. No extras.
TSS: You guys have been on each other’s albums before, long time collaborators, why’d you decide to do an official album together?
TiRon: Can I answer this one? Look, Ayomari is stupid incredible. But a lot of people were sleeping on him. I felt like they were sleeping on how crazy he was. So I was like “Man, instead of me doing a solo joint, man let’s just go in one a project. Let’s show these motherfuckers where we can take it.” So that’s why we did this album. It was more like a “Don’t sleep” message because we’re both crazy. So like, he got to do a lot of the things linguistically that he had been saving, like what he did on “I’d Rather.” He said “No ZZ,” like no sleeping. “No ZZ, nosey she be, she be dB’s beyond Bee Gee’s.” I felt like he flipped a lot on this, and I wanted a lot of people to hear a lot of that crazy shit.
TSS: TSS gave A Sucker for Pumps a 4.5 out of 5. That’s tied for the highest rating we’ve ever given out. Nobody’s gotten a 5.
TiRon: We were almost there! Thank you man.
Ayomari: Definitely. Shouts out everybody at The Smoking Section. Motherfucking Gotty™, Trent, and everybody. I saw Gotty™’s eight years sober now, congratulations for that man. Keep it up.
TiRon: I’ma try and join you one day. That was an honor man. And y’all wrote a fucking write-up. The fact that y’all wrote a write-up on our shit was crazy because there was a lot of people who was saying “Yo, this album’s crazy. Get it,” but nobody went into detail way. And y’all went there, and we really appreciate that.
TSS: What artists do you guys want to work with in the future?
Ayomari: Man, I wanna work with Thom Yorke [of Radiohead]. I’m gonna start at the top and work my way down. I wanna work with Sufjan Stevens. I wanna work with Homeboy Sandman. I wanna work with Kendrick Lamar.
TiRon: I definitely wanna work with will.i.am. I wanna see what Pharrell got. I wanna go through all of his banks and libraries and listen to every beat that he’s ever done because one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and I don’t want him to sleep on himself, which in turn, sleeps on me. I wanna work with anybody who still has fun doing this shit.
TSS: Any last things you guys want to say?
TiRon: Shouts out The Cafeteria Line.
Ayomari: Shouts out The Smoking Section.
TiRon: For real. Get the album.
TiRon: Show it to everybody. Show it to your moms, your baby moms, your second cousins, man everybody. Just push it!