In a gimmick-driven game, T.Shirt’s as straightforward as an artist can get. When he says he’s lived all his album titles, he’s sincere as all get-out and the persona seen and heard in his music isn’t a stage prop to push singles. With a new album two weeks away and previous song titles like “Learning To Fly” and “Coming Up,” we’ve been watching Shirt grow as he writes his living will and legacy. So instead of trying to round up words about his latest video “Success To Me,” we went to the source knowing he would tell the truth as he saw it.
1. Jeff Staple rapping your verses in video? That’s a pretty huge look. How did a guy lauded as a visionary get so heavily involved with your music?
It happened naturally. To know me is to know what I’m pushing for. It was never my intent to bring Jeff my music. Like you said, this guy is a visionary. All I’ve wanted to do was soak that up, and learn from him. It just so happens the man is New York to the core and loves hip-hop. Everyone knows that. I might’ve called myself the “Jeff Staple of rap” over a year and a half ago on Twitter just because of my design background and our similar ethos. The idea grew from there until we were ready to approach him.
2. Your music and personality are very unabashed, almost a “heart on my sleeve” approach. Has your confidence ever been shaken to the point where you said, “Man, fuck rap?”
Everyday that passes my confidence is shaken. Just yesterday a big blog made a “top ten new NY rappers to watch” and I wasn’t on it. I’m not here to front and tell you that didn’t hurt. It did. I’m just lucky enough to have strong enough values and opinions about what I’m bringing to the table to say, okay we’re gonna keep going and doing what we think is dope. As an artist, you’re only as good as your taste. I believe I have great taste. Everything I do is immersed in this culture that continues to raise me.
3. “To me success is doing shit with your best friends.” Is there anybody in your circle who’s been there from the jump?
Ronin of HotMop has been my best friend for 12+ years. Dred of HotMop and I have ran together for about the same. These are some of the hardest working, most overlooked guys in the biz. I’ve known Ayesroc, who produced the “Success To Me,” since 2003. That’s my big brother. “Success to me is getting rich with your best friends” is the truest sentence I can tell you. It’s not even about the money, the money will come. It’s the hours spent, it’s the heart and the tears and the talent I’m blessed to be around. Succeeding with these guys is everything to me.
Follow T.Shirt on Twitter at @sweatshirt.