This time, we get to know TJ 4Play, a hip-hop emcee from Baltimore with influences such as Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and Kanye West.
The track "Old School" is featured in the New Artist Spotlight Family of Playlists.
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1. Tell us a little about where you are from and what you are currently doing.
Peace! I go by TJ4Play, my name’s a joke I’m not! I grew up in Eldersburg, Maryland which is a small suburb of Baltimore. I’m an emcee, not a rapper, there’s a difference!
2. What inspired you to start playing and making music?
I’ll preface the back story by saying never in a million years did I ever think I’d be making music. However, I’ve always been surrounded by music as I came up in a Baptist church. At 9 years old I was in the choir and also was the church DJ. Fast forward to the day before my 25th birthday and I was visiting a couple of friends. This was May of 2021 so COVID was coming to an end. We were on YouTube and a TedTalk popped up. It was Kid Cudi’s TedTalk titled “Hi, I’m Scott”. I can’t point to a specific thing he said but the video as a whole inspired me to write my first song. I drove home and wrote that same day. I still remember that feeling of creating something and how cathartic it was for me. Then I recorded the song using an IPhone and a very poor quality speaker playing a beat. I sent the track to my friends and they were the ones who gave me to confidence to continue. “Yo this is okay TJ, we thought it was gonna be trash!” was all I needed to hear to know I could do this.
𝟯. Who are your biggest influences?
Native Tongues are my biggest influence musically. I listen to a ton of late 80s and 90s hip-hop along with jazz, blues, alternative, and rock n roll, anything with a message that makes you move. But specifically, A Tribe Called Quest (Q-Tip and Phife Dawg) are who I look up to the most. I resonate with their style but more so how they maintained their unique sound regardless of all the fads in hip-hop of the time. In the modern era, Kanye West Chance The Rapper and Childish Gambino are influential to me because they also proved that you don’t have to fit into a mold to be dope.
4. What are your goals in the music industry?
I feel like most artists are chasing fame or money, but my goal is to build a consistent fan base. I’m the type of artist who wants to inspire others to just be themselves as music allowed me to build confidence in who I am and to be unapologetic about it. Music for me is an opportunity to open more doors and get involved in other ventures.
5. Tell us about your creative process when you make new music.
Everything I create stems from the simplest question: “How do I feel?” That’s the key for me, I write what I feel so that I can release that feeling. I live with my producer/engineer so my process is almost habitual at this point. A lot of my songs start with a single bar or even a phrase. I like to write my songs like how people read a book, from start to finish. As for recording, 99.9% of the time it’s done at my apartment (shoutout Khaotica eyeball).
6. What is your all-time favorite song?
Man this is a tough one! I think I’d say “What’s Goin’ On” by Marvin Gaye. That track is the perfect synopsis of being African American in the 70s. A lot of the topics discussed are still relevant to this day. For a consciously conducted track to come from Gaye was not only a masterful display of his versatility, but proof that as artists we have an obligation to be a mirror to society.
7. What is the best advice you have either given or received in terms of music?
“Be persistently consistent” was the best advice I’ve received. My grandfather told me that when I turned 18 and those words are glued to my brain. Anything in life requires hard work and consistency. The persistence comes when times are tough, as an artist we deal with a plethora of tough times!
8. Proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is that I’ve been an artist for 2+ years with no signs of quitting. Prior to being an artist, I’ve given up on virtually everything else I’ve tried. I made a pact when I began writing that I’d put at least 5 years into mastering my craft. Now that I’m approaching year 3 it’s looking more like 10 years at minimum!
9. Just for fun! What's been your most embarrassing moment so far?
Falling for a scam on Instagram. I had someone contact me saying they were an influencer and could help me set up a website, Wikipedia page, etc. Said it would cost $400, but as the conversation continues it turned into $600. The moment I sent the money the account went ghost and I was left holding the bill. Lesson learned type of moment there.
𝟭0. Tell us about your lowest and highest points in music so far.
Low point has to be the financial burden being a creative puts on you. Music Videos, Cover Art, studio time, photo shoots, etc. It’s quite frustrating at times to get my friends to come out to shows but I care much more about finding new fans over convincing people who knew me since before I became TJ4Play to take me seriously. Highest point is performing my music live, there’s NOTHING like it! I shock the hell outta people every time to touch a mic so it’s always exciting to pick someone in the crowd to wow.
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