T.Y.E’s “32” is out now on POW Recordings.
32 is a symphony of stress. It’s what spawns from 22 years of the psyche eroding the soul. It’s a declaration of internal and external war: man versus environment, addiction, and gruesome anxiety. It’s the debut that we’re dropping today on POW Recordings from Dallas artist, T.Y.E. It’s an alternately baleful and beautiful record, an Edvard Munch scream in rap form, a suicide note unsigned, a love letter to his neighborhood and a condemnation of what it forced him to do to survive.
It’s distinctly apart from everything that I’ve ever heard and that’s why I knew we needed to release it. I first discovered T.Y.E through his “La La Land” video, which vaguely reminded me of “Codeine Crazy” if Future had never made it out the mud, and was forced to grapple with his demons without the benefit of being able to fly to the Bahamas on a whim.
In the run up to this album, I’ve attempted to think of proper descriptions to explain it and offer context. In some ways, T.Y.E reminds me of Z-Ro if he’d been raised in the Dungeon Family instead of the Screwed Up Click. It recalls Organized Konfusion in its haunting fog of anxiety and depression. It’s stress rap in the way that Cannibal Ox meant it, where the art is the only salvation and even then, it’s unclear how successful it will be. But the truth is that T.Y.E doesn’t sound like any of these guys. Oh, and he made all the beats too. I’m telling you.
Oak Cliff is the hood—a section of Dallas that has produced many of the region’s most talented rappers and infamous gangsters–where T.Y.E attended Carter High and starred on a basketball team that went undefeated in one of Texas’ toughest leagues. It’s also where he discovered that he had a baritone that would make Pavarotti be like “damn son, where’d you find this.” It helped him win an opera scholarship to Abilene Christian, which he attended briefly before being diagnosed with bipolar depression.
After leaving school, he returned to the Cliff, got embroiled in a bunch of situations that I probably shouldn’t write about, and eventually started rapping. 32 is the first of what figures to be a very long and interesting career. In honor of its release, I spoke to T.Y.E about the backstory and conception of each song.
Should you feel so inclined, we’d appreciate if you share it with friends, purchase it on iTunes or Bandcamp, or stream it at Spotify or Apple Music. Cassettes and vinyl will be available shortly—the latter courtesy of our friends at Vinyl Me Please. In the meantime, this is 32 in T.Y.E’s words. — Jeff Weiss
“Everyone Loves Me”
That came about as a result of me trying to find love, regardless of what I was trying to find love in—whether it was friendship, a relationship, religion, or spirituality. I was trying to do anything I could to get and grasp love. I took plenty of wrong turns to find out that some of it wasn’t even love. It was more like a poisonous façade.
At first, it starts off without auto tune. It’s initially melodic with a major chord in the beginning, which relates to happiness. But when I put the minor chord on, it turns a little bit darker. Then I added auto-tune to enhance that darker feel and switch up the whole mood of the song. That was my way of grasping the anxiety and the sadness that I got from all this fake love.
Any story that you can really get behind is all about love. That’s true happiness for me and this song is about the pursuit of that—the attempt to find love and everything good that can come with it.
I was trying to dig deeper here—not necessarily into a relationship type of love, but more of a spiritual happiness. ‘Eternity’ is about all the choices I was making trying to find lthat – whether “in the back of the ‘Lac laughing with Yak” or trying to do business with Jaylen Dailey. Or even like how it is in the video –trying to go to school to be an opera singer, or going to church and trying not to let the devil misinterpret my soul. It’s about trying to make good choices so as not to ruin my soul for eternity.
The first part of the song is about the mixture of my surroundings. It’s about my own mental health, my vices, sex, moving bricks, getting locked up.
That’s the surroundings of the 75232, Oak Cliff. That’s my environment—one that’s not necessarily so love filled. The second part is about how that environment may distract me from my pursuit of love. It’s about trying to not have my heart broken by my only girl. It’s about trying to find female friends and not think of them as some sort of sexual tool.
It’s about seeing my family in jail. My big bousin Borry. It’s about being surrounded by Bloods because that’s my environment-mixed in with love, happiness, paranoia, anxiety, and depression.
My depression is a gift disguised as a horrible fucking curse. It’s who I am. This is about my universe, the one that I have dominion over. And that includes my bipolar disorder and this huge clusterfuck of emotion and decisions that I need to make. And, of course, my indecisiveness.
This one’s about misguided opinions. They call me an asshole but am I really an asshole because of how I perceive myself and how you perceive me? This is about the opinions that people give me that feeds into my anxiety.
Every time I switch up the beat and you hear ‘ram pa pump pum,” that’s me having an anxiety attack. When I switch it up and I start screaming, that’s how it feels when you have an anxiety attack in real life.
People like to say they don’t care what people think about them, but that’s bullshit. If you have friends, the ten closest people around you all the time are part of your subconscious. And since they’re a part of that, you feel some kind of way about how those people perceive you.
If they perceive you in a negative light, it might give you an anxiety attack. At least for me. And that shit sucks when your people, who you let in, perceive you as an asshole .
A lot of the time I don’t like to go out because I’m dealing with my diagnosis. When people tell me I’m an asshole for not going to their event, it’s really ultimately for the best because I didn’t end up spazzing out on anyone. I never want to be a burden on anyone.
Strictly my environment and my surroundings. It’s about the mindset you have to have to have to survive in Oak Cliff. It’s the most hip-hop record on the album. I didn’t switch it up on this. Didn’t sing on it. It’s strictly rap, strictly for my n**as.” Strictly what I gotta do and how I perceive people and my mentality.
This is the 75232, Oak Cliff, Red Bird and Hampton. There’s too many stories to tell, but one that stands out was the McDonalds that we used to go to got robbed and some of the people robbing it got killed. They went to the same school as me and the McDonalds ended up getting shut down for two or three years afterwards.
Or the Braum’s ice cream store nearby that got shut down for a similar incident. In high school, one of my guy who I played basketball with — who I looked up to — went to jail for burning two bodies in the back of a car. I played basketball with the two n**as who got murked too. It was over drug shit: pills and weed. I went to school with all them cats.
Even my kinfolk, my partner that I’m cool with now—damn near my brother, he had to protect himself and caught two bodies. It’s just my environment. My lifestyle, my mentality that I had to have in that surrounding.
Here I am trying to find love again, more so in women. I really can’t have a connection with any female that’s not from where I’m from, one that’s not a Ledbetter Lady.
Ledbetter is a street in the Cliff. It’s about really about trying to find love in this type of environment.
This is about how I feel that our environment shapes women. There’s no honesty. Some of the girls over there encompass any negative thing that you can say about a woman. If “Ledbetter Lady” shines a positive light on the women in neighborhood, this is the negative side. Because the thing is, I want to grasp the positive; I want to love a ‘Ledbetter Lady,’ an Oak Cliff female for who she is.
But I can’t get with the lies. It’s the lies that force me to see things in a negative light. I’m guilty too. Sometimes I feel like I’m even lying to myself about what I really want. I’m lying when I feel like I should wife up a ‘Ledbetter Lady.” I feel like I’m lying when I believe in religions that don’t make sense or when I try to find happiness or love when they might be impossible to find in this life.
“Aliens and UFOs”
Now we’re getting to the climax. This one is just a big ass anxiety attack after everything that’s happening, and it leads me into depression. Y’know, trying to pull up on my ex’s mother and fuck her and all that. It’s just raw anger.
I believe in Aliens and UFOs, but they’re mainly the metaphor I use for being alienated and feeling different from anyone else.
I try to relate that into the prophets of the bible—even Jesus and all them. They felt some kind of anxiety too. They got angry. Jesus got angry when he saw n**as was bullshitting in the Temple; he had to crack a whip on their ass. That’s basically ‘Aliens and UFOs,’ a n**a having to crack a whip on your anxiety.
It’s about misguided opinions from other people, mixed in with my own insecurities. My story is a really deep rooted problem within myself. There was a really deeply rooted thing that happened to me when I was a kid and I still blame myself for it. I don’t like to talk about it much because it’s a deep insecurity of mine
People have tried to call me this or that my whole life. But from my perspective, from the inside, it looks like I’m doing okay. I’m doing what I have to do to stay sane. But to some people, it looks unusual. That’s okay though; I just don’t feel the same as other people want me to be.
I really started feeling different from other people in middle school. That’s when people start putting other people into boxes and you start hanging out with the people who you think you’re like. Was I going to hang with the athletes? I was on the A Team, so it made sense to hang out with the basketball and football players.
But at the same time—me being the type of thinker that I am, I had things in common with the nerds, the choir kids. You wouldn’t expect a n**a like me to be the athletic guy hanging with thugs and athletes, and then go over here and win state championships in choir and opera competitions. Not feeling like I belonged to a certain group always made me feel alienated and unusual – like I wasn’t good enough to always hang with these cats but I could help them win competitions and games.
In college, it got to be overwhelming. The choir had a lot of racism that I couldn’t fuck with, while the athletes were black. The choir had a couple black kids, but they were on some holier than thou, self-righteous shit. The athletes were always out of town and I couldn’t smoke with the smokers because I’d fuck up my voice and couldn’t do the things in choir that I wanted to do. So I got the fuck up out of there.
“La La Land”
When I came up with ‘La La Land,’ I was going through severe depression. I wanted to commit suicide. I was starting to feel like it was the only way out, but then I started getting hope from the idea of the the eternity of nothingness. I started seeing things in a positive light. I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone anymore or to myself anymore. I didn’t want to suffer anymore.
This is the end. That’s why it starts off in a major chord and ends as a minor chord because a minor cord brings suffering. I was really going through it and seeing hope in suicide.. And then something happened where I realized that suicide ain’t the way to go and I got hope that maybe love and happiness is real. Maybe there is something there. And so I died and woke up and killed the game.
That’s the anxiety attack mid-song. It’s me coming back to life with so much intensity. ‘Yeah, bitch I’m back and I’m better.’
And then it ends. If you listen to it on repeat, you go back again to the beginning, “Everyone Loves Me.” It plays out like a loop of my ongoing mental battles.