Rapzilla freshman, Tommy Royale has a sound that demands attention: upbeat, sharp, and captivating. However, that didn’t just happen overnight. Let’s take a deep dive…
Tommy attributes his success to a “symbiotic” relationship between him and producer, Cardec Drums. He teamed up with Cardec less than two years ago – then signed to No Apologies in 2019, and together they are creating a rising force within Latin music, specifically Reggaeton.
How did you find your sound?
When Cardec asked me to do Spanish music at first I said, ‘no’. Because I was doing Spanish music and nobody was listening. So when I switched over and started doing English music I got a little bit of buzz. And people are like ‘oh cool’. It was then Cardec was like ‘you’re dope, you’re cool I want you to do Spanish music’. I was like ‘no’ – ahh, I don’t know’ and all that because no one was listening to me. He was like ‘bro we should try it’.
So we spent a whole year of just like recording and going back and forth and trying to find the sound and my vocal tone. To this day I’m still trying, if you hear my music you’ll notice small details like my voice is changing. My delivery is changing. I’m still in the process of it. But I spent the whole year trying to find my delivery and my tone, and it took Cardec the whole year to find out what the music is supposed to sound like. So it was basically a lot of trial and error.
I would say that mixed with the multicultural aspect as well, my music is a direct image of what Puerto Rico sounds like – like the culture here. But I mix a lot of the Hip Hop culture that I was raised with over there in Florida. That’s a big thing, too of why I sound so distinct.
What is your songwriting process?
So it’s weird because it’s all types of things…
The most recent one I’ve been able to use, I was able to pull out my notes and go over a lot of phrases that I’ve heard just living life. I’m like, ‘oh, that’s a cool phrase I’m gonna write this down’.
I was in the barbershop and then these older guys were talking back to me. They were just talking – talking nonsense, talking about basketball. But one guy, he just said this phrase that I love. So I wrote it down. I’m like, ‘I haven’t heard that phrase before’. Then fast forward to two weeks – we’re in the studio. I’m like ‘yeah let’s figure out some concepts of ideas’. I look over my notes, and we just build from that. I write a lot of things down. Like actually, my girlfriend says one of the things that she really likes is that I get inspired by anything and everything.
What do you hope your music does for your listeners? How do you want them to receive it?
I just want people to be inspired and kind of break the mold. I’m really excited, for example for this GAWVI album because I’m on it, I was honored to be asked to be on it. I’m excited after reading into the interview that he just had about his vision. His vision is very similar to what my vision is for my music – to break certain Christian norms.
I want people to listen to my music and go, ‘Dang bro, this guy is a full artist and with that identity, he doesn’t really care in a sense to what his Pentecostal roots tell him or the Church tells him’. It’s like I know who I am in Christ, I know where my identity lies. I know who my Father is. I know where my heart is at – this is who I am. This is how I judge, this is how I speak, this is what I listen to. And that’s okay – God made me this way.
I want my listeners to feel like that and want my listeners to be like ‘Dang, bro I feel encouraged’. I want people to feel inspired, and I want people to feel empowered. And to know I fight a lot of insecurities with my confidence. I could come across as over-confident in the things I do, and how I speak and the things I say – a lot of that comes from insecurities I’m battling. So like, you’re not alone in this. I’m here, and I’m going through this stuff. I need to speak this way because I believe there is power in words. I want people to relate to me and feel empowered, I think that’s the main thing.
How has God stretched you in the last year?
Through my faith in Him. I have what I like to call reckless faith. I would jump into a situation and be like, We’re good, God’s got this. God’s got it’. As a kid it was cool. Then I went homeless for about three weeks, and I was living from couch to couch with some church friends. There was this moment where I was like, ‘Okay God, I don’t know why the heck this is happening in my life. But I know my only constant I’ve got is You, and my relationship with You’.
The church I was raised in, I watched it close down. That was my only real home because I moved around a lot. After 21 years, it closed down. It was just like overnight, literally. Just shut off. The pastor stepped down and it was like, ‘Hey guys, we don’t have a church anymore’. That was a situation that created this turmoil in me. It was like if you’re ever gonna be real, you have to be real now because now I don’t have a church. Now it’s not my religion – it’s my direct faith through you. So that’s my past and fast-forward to now it’s like, ‘Hey God’s calling me to quit my job and pursue this’. I prayed about it and fasted for it. I’m not doing this recklessly. God has a purpose, and God’s gonna provide.
In Spanish, there’s a phrase, ‘El que invita paga’. It basically means, ‘He who invites, pays’. So I’m like, ‘Yo, God if you really are calling me to do this, I trust you’re gonna cover it’. That’s what my life is right now and this last year and a half. I don’t know how I’m paying my car or my rent, but God shows up last minute.
After talking with Tommy, one-word sticks out: expectant.
I was struck by his trust that can say, ‘if God tells me to go a way, God provides along that way’. This underlying conviction that God will deliver and His word is His action – this expectancy to see God at work makes me want to do the same.
Be on the lookout for a remix of “Santos” and check out Tommy’s latest music video for “Pelo Corto.”