College Dropout Finds a ‘New School’ in Christian Hip-Hop
Young Christian hip-hop artist Ty Brasel has been making waves with his new record 1994 Until. He spoke to Rapzilla about its creation, where he’s at now, and how dropping out of college was the best decision he ever made.
Brasel said after working on the EP for over a year the response has been “overwhelming” so far. He admits the positive feedback is nice but even more than that he just wants people to “listen” to it.
Many have expressed to Brasel that they hear his growth as an artist and a person. They also praise the “young scholar” for looking to create an impact with his message.
“People are telling me it has made them cry,” he shared. “It has motivated people to chase their dreams. It’s really been inspiring that God has used the music to impact people.”
With that, of course, there are always detractors. He joked that he sometimes sees the “signature” white rapper “trying to be like Eminem” comments, but it doesn’t bother him at all.
Any negativity is just fuel for Brasel to push harder at his craft. He just completed a tour with Aaron Cole and will now be heading out again for about a month and a half. When he returns, it’s time to work on the next project – a full length.
With that being said, he understands the importance of letting a project breathe. He wants to maximize the playability and reach of 1994 Until.
“If you have good music out, you need to push it, promote it, and let it circulate,” Brasel said. “I don’t plan on coming right behind this with an album. I’m really confident in this music on the EP, so I want people to hear it. I want to drop more music videos, do advertisements, and hopefully, gain new fans in different cities.”
He continued, “The more people care about your music, the more they’ll care about your next project.”
The emcee admitted that when he released Cloud 9 Raps, he didn’t quite know what he was doing. Without a plan, all he had was God and music. Now a bit older and a bit wiser, his perspective on what to do is different.
“The ideas are circulating…I have more people who care that I’m putting out music.”
One of his perspective shifts comes in his philosophy of “word of mouth over marketing dollars.” Brasel believes the music should be good enough to make a person share without a prompt.
The “New School” rapper is also a producer and loves listening to beats. He stated that the process of finding beats takes days because he won’t just “settle for anything.”
Brasel approaches beats as 50% of the song. He finds 50% and then provides the other half of the song with his lyrics. If he can’t create a whole, he moves on.
Sometimes he’s fortunate enough to have multiple puzzle pieces that fit. The opening track, “Live a Lie,” is a “collection of lyrics I pieced together.”
“I wanted it to mean something. It talks about the lifestyle, emptiness and confusion of life, like, ‘Is this really what I should be doing’? It’s my favorite song, that’s a collection of time that’s on that verse because it was written during so many different periods.”
Brasel’s intro song strikes hard, and that’s the point. He views opening songs as “one big chorus.”
“The purpose of a chorus is to bring the listener back. They aren’t going to remember the verse the first five or six times, but they’ll remember the chorus if it catches them,” he said. “The intro is in order to draw them into number two, and if they get there, they’ll keep going. If they don’t get there, then they won’t listen to the rest of the project probably. You gotta give your all for number one even if two and three sucks.”
1994 Until has been a perfect work to test this theory out on. It’s thumping beats, catchy and friendly sung chorus melodies and his rhyming ability have helped make this EP a sought after commodity inside and outside his fanbase.
The success of this new EP is something that was never guaranteed. In fact, Brasel’s choice of becoming a rapper was a life changing gamble. Against all odds, this uncertain path appears to have been a part of God’s winning hand for Brasel.
Just a few years ago Brasel was sitting in a college class “wasting time and money” working on a degree in Liberal Arts, or as he said, “a major for people who don’t know what they want to do.”
Instead of paying attention, he would fill his class time writing rhymes and was rapping with another emcee in a secular group.
“[Then] God convicted me and told me he wanted me to do it [rap] for Him,” Brasel revealed. “I was getting into the Christian hip-hop culture.”
He continued, “I didn’t have a plan. I was slacking off and wasting money…I had a conversation with my friend on Christmas break who shared with me a verse, Matthew 6:33.”
“It changed my whole life.”
The verse reads, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
It was then that he knew Christian rap was his route. “I didn’t know if it was possible, but I had faith. So I dropped out. Everyone said I was crazy.”
Hip-Hop and ministry are currently Brasel’s job. He said he hasn’t had a job in over a year plus. However, this time away from work and school has managed to mature and prepare him for the road ahead.
“God has me reading the Bible, watching lectures and constantly studying,” said Brasel. “I’m wiser as a person because of the things that I’ve learned. I was able to infuse that in my music. If we are growing as a person, it’s going to affect our work as an artist.”
Check him out on the Rapzilla Podcast below: