Most know Tyrese as a movie star. And many remember him as the backpack dude singing on a bus in old-school Coca Cola commercials. Before the glitzy dollars of Tinsletown called, Tyrese was, and still is to many, a mega R&B star. Having released six albums over his assorted career as a model, singer, actor, and producer; the 35-years-old has dropped Tyrese (1998), 2000 Watts (2001), I Wanna Go There (2002), Alter Ego (2006), Open Invitation (2011), and 2013’s Three Kings, a collaboration with Ginuwine and Tank under their group TGT. The album is nominated for a Grammy this year in the best R&B Album category. No stranger to nominations, he’s narrowly missed winning three Grammys in the past. And his eyes are still on the prize saying, “Honestly, I would rather get a Grammy than an Oscar.”
In this exclusive interview with The Shadow League, Tyrese talks nothing but music. He answers three questions that inspire him to sound off on the lazy, uncreative state of the business, while breaking down the addiction that makes him keep coming back like crack.
RAQIYAH: What are your thoughts on today’s state of music?
TYRESE: I think what’s missing in music right now is, I just don’t believe a lot of what’s being said. There is a missing conviction. ‘I love you,’ ‘I miss you,’ ‘I want you,’ ‘I messed up.’ You’re not singing it from a real place, I don’t believe you, and that’s why a lot of the songs come and they go away. You singing about sex, but you don’t know what good sex is because I don’t believe it when you sing it. ‘Girl, I’ma put you in the bed and I’m gonna…’ Like yo, shut up. You’re 17, go sit your ass down somewhere and quit trying to sing about some grown folk shit. Shut up. Just get out of here. And I think that’s why Kendrick Lamar in Hip Hop is as big of a deal as he is right now, because people are frustrated with cats that ain’t coming from a real place. And so as soon as somebody show up that’s not bling blinging and singing about girls and glam and all of this superficial shit that everybody seems to be caught up in, all of the sudden he’s reigniting people to get back to like real lyrics. Like, when is the last time you sat down and actually wrote a real line? Like you listen to these sounds, ‘Open up tha do,’ ‘Open up tha do,’ ‘Open up tha do,’ ‘Open up tha do,’ ‘Open up tha do,’ It’s like, what the hell does that lyric pad even look like? What is that? ‘Open up tha do’ times eleven. Like, what the fuck is that?
So I think when the real show is up, everybody know the real show’s up and they react and they fall in line. And they say, ‘Well, if I want that kind of buzz, I want that kind of hype and energy, I gotta come with it because this is what everybody wants right now. They want people to get back to real lyrics.
RAQIYAH: Some of the younger folks might hear you and say, ‘Tyrese getting old. What’s he talking about?’ What do you say to that?
TYRESE: Well, if 35 is old then, they gotta really think about that. But two, uh, I know what I’m talking about, so shut up.
RAQIYAH: So last question. You don’t have to make music, but I know it’s your heart, you keeping coming back when Hollywood money is so much longer. Why do you keep coming back to the music business when things have changed so much in ways you don’t like?
TYRESE: Yeah, I love it. I’m a crack addict. When you smoking, you don’t know how to stop. I’m a crack head for music. You know, it’s not about the numbers, it’s not about the sales, it’s about just getting that feeling out. Just getting on that stage and feeling that energy that only the fans can give you. It’s a high that you can’t really explain. You know when I come walking out on that stage, and them girls turn up on that level, it’s…. Can’t really be compared to action and cut on a movie. There’s nothing like it. There’s nothing in the world that affects people more than music. Period.