Eze Jackson sits down with “Baltimore Club Queen” TT the Artist to discuss being women in a male dominated music industry, how money impacts artistic production, and her love for Baltimore Club music
EZE JACKSON: What’s up y’all. Welcome back for another episode of The Whole Bushel on The Real News Network. I’m your host, Eze Jackson. Today’s guest is actually one of my favorite artists, independent recording artist, a self proclaimed club queen, TT The Artist. TT THE ARTIST: What’s up. EZE JACKSON: Welcome. TT THE ARTIST: Thanks for having me. I’m so excited. EZE JACKSON: Yeah, no doubt. I know. It’s been awhile I’ve been trying to get you in here. TT THE ARTIST: I know. We worked it out, though. EZE JACKSON: We made it happen. You like the crabs? TT THE ARTIST: Oh, they’re so good. I’m enjoying myself right now. EZE JACKSON: Word, word, word. So, I wanted to talk to you about, right now, and there’s been talks about this for a while now, the misrepresentation or lack of representation, of women in Hip Hop. What do you see as that barrier? What is the reason for some of that? TT THE ARTIST: I believe the industry in driven by male, in particular the Hip Hop industry, which is the field that I’m in. Also, now getting into the dance world, I think it’s predominantly ran by males. I think there’s a lot of sexism that comes into play in gender, and roles and how we define that. I think, ultimately, in this business men can tend to be intimidated by a woman. Especially, a strong, independent woman who comes with a lot. Meaning, she’s educated, she’s seasoned, she’s a professional. A lot of people don’t know how to process that, you know? Because, in our society, women have a certain role they play. I think, for me, a big part of the game is really just trying to define my own lane. I think the lane I’m in is, I’m a Hip Hop artist, I rap. I’ve been rappin’ since high school and I understand the history of it. I understand how to create bars. I also understand that there’s such a big world out there for me and platform. So, for me, I’m trying to really get into a lane. A universal lane. I don’t want my music to be boxed into one specific thing because I’m not a boxed in person. I’m a artist. I paint. I’m a lover of culture. For me, I just wanna see myself on the highest platform that I can make it to. I definitely think there’s an issue with sexism in the industry. Now, women are starting to say, well forget you opening the door for me. I’m gonna create my own door. EZE JACKSON: That’s what I was gonna ask you. Do you see where, the fact that independent artists now can create their own lane. Do you see that as an empowering moment right now for a female artist, for women? TT THE ARTIST: Absolutely. It’s kinda like we’ve been given no choice but to do that. It’s almost like you keep asking people for favors and getting a lot of no’s. So at the end of the day, you cannot keep beating yourself up and making yourself feel like you’re not good enough. ‘Cause there’s nothing really wrong with you, right? You have to get into a place where you can take that as inspiration and just use it as fuel to create and define who you’re gonna be. So, that’s why I say, you’ve kinda put us in a corner where we’re in the box, and we can’t get out. No doors are being opened. So, you gotta start connecting with other female artists and building those bridges and saying, well if you do PR and I do music, how can we use each other? You’re a dancer and you’re a director. How can we use each other? Because, as we can see, even during the Woman’s March, do you know how women shut down social media? I never seen that many memes and posts on social media. They shut down streets, blocks, cities, all around the country. Women. So for me, it’s like to deny us of our place, our proper place and the platforms that we need to be just as great as our male counterparts, it’s a shame. Therefore, I know I stand for women coming together in any way we can. It doesn’t mean that we’re not gonna beef and fight. People fight. I don’t even think it’s like women are catty. It’s like if you grow up around somebody and you guys have different upbringings, y’all just might not like each other. But, can we find something that we can… EZE JACKSON: Some kind of common ground. TT THE ARTIST: Exactly. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. They call me a bitch, ’cause I call the shots. They say I ain’t workin’ but look at what I got. They call me a hoe, ’cause I’m on top. Just know that you gonna see me never in the same spot. Keep runnin’ they mouth like yada yada ya. Just closed another deal so what they talkin’ bout? Lately I’m like fuck it, I’m ’bout to start a ruckus. Fuck all that fake shit. All that nippin’ and tuckin’. I’m somewhere in the clouds and I ain’t comin’ down. I’m comin’ to your city and I’m runnin’ your town. I make this look easy. I do it with style. You need to bow down and give me my crown. Started at the bottom. Worked my way up. All about this paper now it’s time to pay up. This is for my sisters. Fuck all them dirty dishes. Rockin’ suit and ties we ain’t cookin’ in no kitchen. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. Now I’m gonna have to break this down like this. Let’s go. Hold up. I ain’t your gal or your mammy. Deep down I know you can’t stand me. Shout out to Viola Davis. We gon’ keep winnin’ these Emmies. This for my Halle Berry, Taraji’s, Oprah’s and rookies. Keep on breakin’ them molds. I’m lookin’ fly call me cookie. Yeah, I’m callin’ the shots. Whether you like it or not. Who gon’ check me, boo. I got a new attitude. I’m at my all time high. Feel like I’m Nikki and B. I think I’m feelin’ myself. It must be my new weave. I blame it on Amber Rose for why I’m shakin’ my ass. No need to slut shame me. Now, I can twerk it with class. I work to get what I got. I’m headed top of the charts. Suit and pump I’m a shark. I’m a mike Mona Scott. Check the ratings on top. Yes, that Love and Hip Hop. Ain’t no stoppin’ me now. I stood out of the crowd. Didn’t fuck with me then. Bet ya fuck with me now. Heavy the head with the crown so all you suckers bow down. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. Don’t call me a bitch. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. You can call me a queen. That’s dedicated to all my queens out there. Keep wearing your crown and keep your head up. Let’s go. TT the Artist. Woop. EZE JACKSON: I’ve enjoyed a career in politics, and now getting enjoy, entertainment and music a little bit and one of the parallels that I’ve noticed is the influence of money. TT THE ARTIST: Right. EZE JACKSON: Give me some of your thoughts on that in terms of how it relates to politics in music. Because as Indie artists there’s a false narrative that we can, In a lot of ways, we can do it on our own. It takes a lot of grind to do that. But then there’s a false narrative that if you get with a record label that has the money and the backing, then you can be successful. In all reality, a lot of those same corporations that we don’t like what they’re doing socially and economically, a lot of those same corporations are endorsing the mumble rappers and the artists that promote violence and all that kind of stuff. Give me your thoughts on that. We were talkin’ a little bit about it earlier. TT THE ARTIST: Well, I mean there’s so much to cover. I don’t even know what a mumble rapper is, to be honest. I think when it comes to music and genre, I get what people are saying about the new wave of artistry. In the same breath, I just think there’s no way around a lot of these things, in terms of the money. So, when I say there’s no way around it, so, you have consumer, you have artist, you have corporation and I think it’s this one big circle. On one hand you’re like, “Uh, I’m not getting my money. I’m not gonna take this record deal. I’m not gonna sell out. I’m not gonna do this.” But, on the other hand, you’re subscribed to Netflix. You’re subscribed to your internet service. You’re subscribed to a cell phone, Apple phone. You’re subscribed to buying Macbooks. You’re subscribing. Subscriptions, right? So, you can’t take the money but you can give them the money? I think that was just a genius moment to say that. But, I never really thought about that. In the same breath, we’re saying, don’t take their money. We’re giving them our money. So, do you not think I wanna take some of my money back from my years of subscribing to the stuff, the content that you’re feeding me? You get what I’m saying? I think that it’s like there’s no real way around it, so you gotta really find what works best for you. So to speak, to answer your question, there is a narrative also. There’s another false narrative. There’s a false narrative that if you do sign with the record label then you’re doomed. That is a false narrative because at the end of the day, record labels are still here. You know what I’m sayin? But, what they’re gonna have to start doin’ is changing the way they structure their deals. Or else, no, there will be no room for a record label. So, that is happening right now. That, I believe, is happening. These labels, artists are coming to the table with demands, but here’s the thing, now a days you can’t even get approached by a record label until you’ve experienced a certain amount of independent success. So therefore, you really ultimately do have the power in some way… EZE JACKSON: The days and talents are gone. TT THE ARTIST: Most labels aren’t offering deals unless you already made a certain amount of units, because no one wants to just waste their money. Put money on you and then go in the whole. Then you get shelved because you couldn’t recoup that advance money they gave you back. Or you got boxed in because they wanted you to make a certain type of record, and you didn’t want it. So, I really think it’s about finding what the best model works for you. EZE JACKSON: I wanna talk about this movie that you’re talking about making. Now, you’re moving over into film. TT THE ARTIST: Oh, yeah. EZE JACKSON: You’re making a movie about the Baltimore Club music genre. TT THE ARTIST: Well, I wouldn’t say I’m even moving over to film and things because I wouldn’t say I’m even moving over to film because what a lot of people don’t probably already know, is a majority of my music videos I produce are self directed. Self produced. I’ve edited them. Very much so involved in every process of my marketing, visuals. But, for the first time for me, I think that I’m moving in more of a serious direction to actually establish myself as a director. I don’t know where the road’s gonna lead me but the film that I’m working on is called Dark City Beneath the Beat. I’ve been really trying. I had a lot of false starts. Trying to really understand how to create a film. Be an independent filmmaker, budgeting and all those things that I wasn’t really familiar with, and working with the right people. So, I think what this film is about, is the culture of Baltimore Club. It’s not from a historical standpoint, necessarily. I wanted to offer some sort of entertainment and my main inspiration behind doing the film is to uplift the narrative of Baltimore and showcase this dynamic culture that we have here that the world should see. That it’s not just what the world knows with the wire and Baltimore being a city of violence. I wanna show people, this community is, this is something very special in this community. So, basically since we will be developing an all original soundtrack, we’re using all original content for the music that’s focused around Baltimore club culture. Certain genre of music and working with local artists because being an artist myself that has traveled, I like to offer the platform for other artists locally to get on these records, and get in this film, and have a spotlight to showcase the talent here. That’s what I wanna do with this film. I really wanna shed a light on the talent here in Baltimore. EZE JACKSON: Awesome. What made you submerge yourself in Baltimore Club music. What was it about Baltimore Club music? TT THE ARTIST: It was a natural thing. I grew up in Florida and I was very influenced by Miami Base music growing up. When I could, at a certain point when I was in high school, and I was able to go to School of Dance, I used to love to dance. Miami Base music like Uncle Luke, 69 boyz, 2live Crew, QuadCity DJ’s, I was really into that growing up. Also, 90’s dance music. So, for me, when I first experienced Baltimore club music, I really found that the break beating and the tempo was very familiar and nostalgic. What we about to do right now. You about to take it to Baltimore. You better take it to the club. TT the Artist. Let’s go. We came to party. Let me see ya. Let me see ya. Let me see ya. Let me see ya. Let me see ya. Let me see ya. Let me see yeah. One, two, three. Work it. Let me see you work it, work it. Let me see you work. Let me see you work it, work it. Let me see you work. Y’all ready? I don’t know about y’all but I came to party tonight. Let’s go. One, two, three. Work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it. Club queen. Let me see you work. Let me see you work. Let me introduce myself. I’ma kill it off the rip. I’m the new club queen. RIP J. Swift. Know you shining from above so I’ma represent. This that mighty angianni on that B-more tip. Got the gas I got the juice. Get off my back and let me loose. Run the club me and my crew runnin’ Terry TSU. I be puttin’ in that work ain’t no way that I can lose. Mike drop the cherry hills got you rockin’ out your shoes. Let me see you work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it. Hold up. Club queen. Let me see you work. Let me see you work. Let me see you work. Club queen. Let me see you work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it. Club queen. Let me see you work. Let me see you work. Let’s go. All my homies off the chain. Gonna make the ladies shake. Party girls, naughty girls they just want they pussy ate. BMore club show us love so you know we bout that take off. Party East to West, yeah you know we ’bout to rock on. Hottest on the block, y’all show y’all how we rock. Every time we go hard, she back it up. Hold on I got you back. Haters we ain’t got time for that. She working like that ass is fat. Now work it for me. Front to back. Rock, rock rock to the beat now. Rock, rock, rock. Rock, rock rock to the beat now. Club queen. Let me see you work. Let me see you work. Let me see you work. Club queen. Rock off rock off rock off. Rock off rock off rock off. Shake off shake off shake off. Club queen. Let me see you work it work it work it. Work it work it work it. Alright we ’bout to shout out some people we know. What up Black. What up Broad. What up Scotty. What up Shawn. What up Cement. Pork chop and grits ain’t your baby in the mix. Schwartz James and Pierre not to burden 808, BMore club DJ’s Mike Massey [inaudible 00:18:06] say what, King Tut, Johnny Blaze, Benny Sticks, DJ Klass, Stank Rock, Rob Rock, K-Swift, this that real club shit. You can screw yourself up independently and through the majors if you’re not doing your due diligence and researching things you need to know about how to survive, and how to sustain yourself as an artist. So, it’s just so many things that I could touch on with that but, in summary, like I said you gotta really find the route and model that is gonna work best for your career. You know what I mean? EZE JACKSON: Yeah. TT THE ARTIST: Some people wanna be Beyonce. EZE JACKSON: Right. TT THE ARTIST: And some people just wanna be touring artists. I always tell artist’s first, define what type of artist you wanna be. Do you wanna be a mega artist? Or do you wanna be just that guy that does his own independent tours and makes money off tours.? Do you wanna make hit records and work with these big, you know, because it’s different machines. You know what I’m saying? EZE JACKSON: Yeah, it took me a while to answer that question for myself, you know. After hitting the road a few times I was like “Oh, I like touring.” I’m not pressed to be on the radio. If I can go on the road and have my base there and live off that, it’s fine. But, that’s a great point. A lot of artists have to decide what they wanna do and who they wanna be. I think in Hip Hop there’s a lot of pressure, today, to, I guess for a while there’s been a pressure to follow a wave. Well, if everybody’s rappin’ like this, this is how I should rap. For everybody that’s dressing this way is how I’m gonna dress. I like the fact that you never had that, from my eyes. TT is TT. I can’t really say TT is somebody else. TT THE ARTIST: Right. Is my mic on? TT. Going in club queen in the bitch. Everybody get to talking when you runnin this shit. Been across the world par lait with the French. I was out in LA on some LA shit. Fuck a co-sign I’m a self made bitch. Let them blogs fill your head up. Now you think you legit. Wanna talk money, roll with the budgets. I been in rotation from Berlin to London. Friday to Sunday. I’m gone for the weekend getting this money. The only language I’m speaking. These labels wanna sign you when you already major. [inaudible 00:20:30] got you feeling like you need a full validation. I was spittin bars before Twitter and Facebook. Everybody got opinions when they ain’t what you made of. Never ask for no favors. Some of y’all too complacent. You scared of success I got the keys and they major. Shout out to Cali, I be out in Miami but I’m from Bragg county so shout out to my family. Hope my granny live long enough to see me with Grammy’s. Gave myself a crown now these niggas can’t stand me. Oh you think you know who the fuck I am. Go on and check the scoreboard see where the fuck I land. Started broke with a dream rolling with the same clique. New edition to the team, you right, I ain’t the same bitch. Funny how the same niggas that be hatin’ on the low. All in my inbox blowin’ up my phone. These days don’t talk. I just show them bank rolls. Slow and steady wins the race so I guess I’m on a roll. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they want. Hold up. Lock and load. I’m in my zone. Another phone conference. Shout out to my sponsors. Know you hear my shit and be like that shit bumpin’. Know you on my timeline but leave no comments. Know you talk about me if you hate it or love it. When your name come up, ain’t no discussion. I know you thinkin’ damn, how she do that. I know you want the secret ’cause you wanna be where I’m at. I’m gone every weekend, I don’t hear the chit chat. Made it out the barrel I don’t fuck with your crabs. I know you want attention. I don’t give you know rap. Everybody’s so trapped but never been to the trap. Stacks in my pocket lookin’ like a game of Tetris. Kept the seat warm now I’m the up next bitch. I don’t wanna chill with you, bitch this ain’t Netflix. Kept it 100, now I don’t roll with yes miss. If I ain’t the illest then tell me who is. Sometimes you gotta boost yourself when nobody will. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they want. Hold up. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. We gonna show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Let’s go. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls. Show ’em bank rolls only talking business. Anything I want know I’m gonna get it. Anything I start, know I’m gonna finish. Rockin’ right now when I know ya feel me. Show ’em bank rolls only talking business. Anything I want know I’m gonna get it. Anything I start, know I’m gonna finish. Rockin’ right now when I know ya feel me. EZE JACKSON: Are there women in Hip Hop or in History in general that you look up to? Or that inspire you? TT THE ARTIST: Absolutely, and to even talk about what you were saying, it’s kinda like the way of things. I still feel like an underdog. I feel like because I’ve just been trying to stay true to who I am it’s taken me longer. I could of easily went a certain direction, but for me, defining who I wanted to be and when I do reach that certain level of success, that longevity that I want, knowing that I made this and that no one can take it away from me because I built this. There’s so many influential women and right now, I’m influenced by a lot of people. Women in different arenas like Maxine Waters in politics. My every day friends. From a musical standpoint of course classics like the Lauryn Hills and the Queen Latifahs. Queen Latifah just on a level of being a female mogul. Oprah. I look up to these type of women. You know, even Mona Scott, the creator of the Love and Hip Hop series. A lot of people don’t get into the reality show but, it’s no different from Jerry Springer. My grandmother loves Jerry Springer, by the way. I like the fact of a Black woman even being able to compete on that level. These are the type of people that inspire me. Actresses and every day women that’s out there fighting for things that they believe in. I can find joy in all those different types of women, you know what I’m sayin? So, I just wanna be one of those people that people can also look at that way. EZE JACKSON: Yeah, definitely. I feel that’s where it is from where I’m looking at. I wish you continued success. Keep on rockin’. Yeah. I think that’s it as far as the interview. I’m ready to go in with these crabs so we’re gonna wrap this thing up. Thanks for rockin’ with us again for another episode of The Whole Bushel on the Real News Network. Follow us online on Facebook, on Twitter and YouTube. You can find more about TT’s music if you look below this video. I will see you next time.