Recording artist and executive operator for Super Bowl Champion Tyrann Mathieu’s label, Tyler Gill has a new EP to close out 2021. Free is a 5-song project that features soulful production and uplifting lyrics to remind listeners to live life freely, unapologetically, and authentically. I had the opportunity to discuss the rapper’s career and how working in the entertainment industry has gotten him where he is today. You can check out the project and read about it below!
Hi Tyler! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story! Why don’t we start at the beginning? How did you get your start in music?
Tyler: “Middle school I watched a Dr. Dre interview and fell in love with the idea of music production. I wrote a rap for my boy but he couldn’t spit it and I could so then I started rapping. Recorded on limewire beats and a cassette player. After High School I fell into the business side of music. Working on endorsements , bookings and management for other established artists. I always stayed friendly with the studio. During the pandemic music became therapy for me again and so many close to me encouraged me to put it back out for the public. So I did that in 2021. I fell back in love with music again.”
That’s beautiful that you had such a strong connection to the industry! As an executive for Kansas City Chiefs Safety, Tyrann Mathieu’s label, was it difficult to make the transition from the business side of the entertainment industry to the creative side? I was always a bit terrified to share art with the world because I know from working the business just how critical it can be.
Tyler: “Publicly no, it’s who I am. Internally? Yeah for sure. I was hired to handle everyone’s business. When I started putting music out it wasn’t received well by the artists on the roster. I understood though. We all knew it was a possibility when I decided I wanted to drop music again. Tyrann always encouraged me and supported me so did the other people calling plays in the situation. I always have my loved ones best interest in mind but you can’t expect everyone to just know that until they spend a lot of time with you. I have and continue to learn a lot through my time building above the top.”
Having that support is essential, and it definitely helps to already have those connections as well! In what other ways do you find that it helps your own career as an artist to have that background knowledge of the industry?
Tyler: “It’s kinda fun how I see it. I have an advantage. I don’t really care what anybody thinks of me. I read situations really well and capitalize quicker than most. I make plays before most see them. Everybody around me knows that. For the first time in my life I’ll be shopping myself and thinking about me and my closest ties only when I’m moving. I’ve always had passion for the people I work with but I know the passion doing it for me will be different. So yeah it’s an advantage. I’m the artist , the manager , and my own executive. What a dream.”
A triple threat! Speaking of your music, your new EP, Free, was just released in late November. Was there an overarching theme among the five songs?
Tyler: “To be free, live your life to the fullest and leave nothing on the table. People remember us by our work and our actions not our wallets or our Instagram likes. I want everyone who consumes my message to feel like and know that they too can make history and be free from any stereotype they have put on themselves or consumed. Be who you want to be always.”
That’s a super important message, especially in this industry. We get so caught up in the numbers that we forget that their value is subjective. With such a personal tie to it, are there any songs or projects that you drew inspiration from to make Free what it is?
Tyler: “Honestly not this project directly no. I’ve had to learn to embrace the fact I don’t sound like anyone and my movement isn’t very similar to most. Inspiration in general though? Always.. My hussle is always inspired by people like Nipsey. My conscious efforts come from my love of J Cole. My moves to keep it player and smooth come from Dom Kennedy. I’ll never wish I wasn’t more like Mac Miller or Drake. I appreciate how funny and real Big Sean is but I have had to accept I’m different. Which is encouraging. I’m hoping to bring some real messages back to rap with a good vibe and solid sounds.”
It’s important to have people to look up to but even more valuable to remain authentic and genuine to yourself. It sounds like you have that figured out. Do you have a favorite track that you find reflects you the most?
Tyler: “Definitely . We Got Hope. I’m still getting back into music. Still learning my craft and reaching new potentials. I went from punching to writing with this track and it felt good to write a song instead of just get in the booth and say the first thing that comes to mind. It is the best flow I have out too personally in my opinion. The fan favorite has been Frequency for sure though.”
Both are incredible tracks and showcase your versatility beautifully. I actually recognize a familiar face on “Frequency”. You and the featured artist, Sincerely Collins, are from Arizona, which isn’t one of the first places that come to mind when I think of Hip-Hop. How is the music scene there?
Tyler: “Growing and Thriving. Proud to be here. So much undiscovered talent to come up still and so many established people are setting roots here. It’s underrated as hell for any entertainer . Come pull up for a weekend I promise you’ll love it.”
That sounds amazing! Booking a flight as we speak! I could use some warm weather. Are any of the other featured artists from there as well?
Tyler: “No. I don’t know where they are all from but between producers and artists I know 1/2 are from AZ and 1/2 aren’t.”
Going back to Sincerely Collins, the artist I mentioned that is featured on the third track, “Frequency,” I actually covered him earlier in the year. I’m a huge fan of his music, and you two sounded incredible together. What inspired you to reach out to him for that song?
Tyler: “I grew up with Sincerely. He showed me rap how I know it. He’s my biggest critic and supporter on the music front to this day. I still handle business for and with him. I’d say we are business partners. That’s my brother for life though regardless.”
Having a bond like that in this industry is so important. Similar to a few of his tracks, I’ve noticed a lot of jazz influences in the production you chose for the project. It was honestly what captivated me the most! Your beat selection was fantastic. Was there a particular element you were trying to capture with that?
Tyler: “I can’t sing and wish I was Frank Sinatra. Maybe I am reincarnated who knows! I love that mob style Vegas feel. Beautiful women, nice things , money and good times. With a little romance. That’s what I want to feel and give out.”
We need fusions like that to keep this music alive. So much of Hip-Hop is rooted in jazz, but we don’t see it quite as often. I could hear those smooth elements and I know how it made me feel, but how do you want listeners to feel when they listen to this project?
Tyler: “Kinda touched on that in the last question but I want them to feel hopeful about what’s to come and good about where they are. I just want to help people with my music. Help them enjoy the moment and vibe, overcome obstacles , beat mental health crisis moments all of that.”
We need music like that, especially in such an unpredictable time. Do you have any exciting releases that fans can look forward to to keep the good vibes? How can listeners interact with you and stay up to date?
Tyler: “It’s gonna get crazy quick! A lot of stuff is in the hopper and takes time to fully rise. In 2022 I plan to become one of the biggest independent artists in rap. Follow my IG @tylerdrewgill and you can access my YouTube and all other socials and projects through the link in my bio.”
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