Smile Politely

Dropping the T.R.U.T.H. on you

Luxocracy is the debut mixtape from local Champaign rapper T.R.U.T.H. It has all the elements that make for a great first mixtape — the passion you hear in the flow, old school type skits and cool production. I was very lucky to talk to the U of I grad about the concepts of the mixtape, and how she hopes it’ll impact people to lead a more loving lifestyle.

Smile Politely: So what is the meaning behind Luxocracy?

T.R.U.T.H.: I got the term actually from my teacher, Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown, and one of the classes I had with her — I was the only undergraduate in the class. There were grad and doctorate students and it was a little intimidating, but I still decided to go first and the topic that we had was talking about luxocracy and it talked about looking at people through an inner light which is basically just saying that your greatness isn’t any better than mine and mine isn’t any better than yours. So pretty much, I just wanted to get that out there, and it’s an ideology so for me to break it down in song form, I feel like people will be able to grasp it in song form even if they can’t pronounce the word [laughs].

SP: So, listening to your tape, I could feel a lot of the feelings and emotions that were put into it and I immediately felt that in your first song, “The Shield” — so what were the feelings behind that song?

T.R.U.T.H.: “The Shield” is actually just one part of the original poem I wrote. That came from a crush I had back in the day and me finally letting it out and talking to them about it and at the end of the day, just seeing that that person had a shield up. So it’s like, I see your greatness, I see you shining, but if you keep having your guard up, you won’t let the good in. So, pretty much I just wrote that, and I just felt like that was the intro to catch someone at the first listen. I talked to my people from P.S. (which is Paradigm Shift — the group that I’m in), and when I spit that for them, they were just like, “Wow. That needs to be the intro.” And when I heard that from them, I knew that it was good to go.

SP: What a great concept and a great one to live by as well. I really enjoyed the song, “Book 1”, and in it, you mentioned a line about your father. What was that about?

T.R.U.T.H.: “Book 1” was pretty much an ode to the very first book I’ve ever written in. All of my poetry, my music, anything, and it got lost. And the line, you’re talking about with my pops and whatever, I was like, “I lost my notepad and my fucking dad / Ask me which one made me sad,” and it was just like, it’s not the obvious ’cause what I picked was the notebook. That was a bigger impact on my life — me losing it in comparison to my father. But, you know, either way, I always wish people the best even though they mess up sometimes.

T.R.U.T.H. — “Book 1”

[[mp3 book_1_truth]]

SP: That’s a very positive and thoughtful outlook. So, tell me about the song “Luxocracy”?

T.R.U.T.H.: Alright — so it’s pretty much just me putting it in the most basic breakdown of what the word itself means, kind of like what we talked about earlier. You know it goes like, “You need love and I got that, so I got that…” you know and it’s just simple way to understand what I’m talking about even if you don’t know the full details of what luxocracy entails. So with that, it was me explaining what this whole mixtape was about.

SP: I know you have your song that’s “not ratchet but it just has a ratchet beat” [laughs] — tell me more about that.

T.R.U.T.H.: That was “Blessed” — and let me say that this tape is an actual mixtape, all the beats on here are industry beats, and there is no original material on it besides my raps on top of them. I just wanted to put out a first initial project out there before I drop my other tape that’ll be dropping later on in the year, which is all original production. So “Blessed” is an industry beat that I just found and the song that I found was just completely ratchet, so it was just like, “Hmm, but I like the beat. I can’t talk about this kind of stuff, that’s not me.” But the people that are on it, you first hear O.G. (aka Onyema Grace) on the hook. And then we got Klevah, Shasta and the last one is Murr. So actually, I was at O.G.’s house last summer and I played the song for her and I told her to write a hook and she didn’t want to at first. I call her “The Hook Master” because she’ll listen to a song and will make a hook to it instantly. Then she came with, “Baby you the best, you ain’t even know you blessed” and I was just like, “Yeah, we putting that on the tape,” so she did that. I had already had Klevah in mind, sent the beat to her, she did her thing and Murr happened to just be in the room at the same time and he hopped on. And the rest is history.

T.R.U.T.H. — “Blessed”

[[mp3 blessed_truth]]

SP: I noticed there were two skit type tracks called, “Kitchen Counter Conversations,” so what were those conversations coming from?

T.R.U.T.H.: We record pretty much everything we do, whether it’s video or audio or whatever the case may be. And I just wanted to have that old mixtape feel when they used to have skits on their tapes and I didn’t want to actually do one. So I was looking through the recordings and I was looking to see if anything fits and I found those too. I was, you know, trying to be as original as I can. So what he was talking about was that people could be equal with each other, you know. Everyone can have their own, like why would you want to be the richest man on earth when everyone around you is starving. SO the song I have after that is talking more in depth with that… and I don’t know, it just made the feel of the tape complete.

SP: So tell me about “What’s Real”?

T.R.U.T.H.: That song is just a good hyper kind of song and it actually came from a really sad place. Actually, around that time, my younger brother was incarcerated, I was graduating at the time and I didn’t even want to go to graduation, all of that different type stuff. I couldn’t mentally deal with it but for me, this is really like therapy for me. When I was going through that, I was able to write it out and have it out on paper and it helped. I wasn’t up late thinking about it or crying over it anymore and stuff like that. I really do try to put a positive spin on it, even though it can definitely be a negative thing, but by doing this I feel like it’ll touch people more. And people were rocking with it.

SP: As far as local artists go, is there any upcoming collaboration with TheGr8Thinkaz for P.S.?

T.R.U.T.H.: We’re working on it, we’re getting there because I do feel like we’re the next upcoming after them and they’ve been getting their grind on, doing shows and stuff. I feel like we’re coming up right after them, so I feel like those connections will come together soon.

SP: So what’s your goal? Would you still want to remain lowkey and underground or would you want to be a little more mainstream?

T.R.U.T.H.: Well, for me, mainstream or not, that wouldn’t be my goal. If I could stay on a kinda lowkey underground type thing and I can make money off of getting on stage doing something I feel that I was born to do, you know, as long as I can support myself and pay the bills, then that’d be cool for me.

SP: So would you say you’re a rapper or a poet?

T.R.U.T.H.: Sometimes I can’t decipher between them because it’s more about the words more than anything.

SP: How long have you been writing and rapping?

T.R.U.T.H.: I’ve been writing since I was about seven. I have notebooks I’ve written in and have collected over the years, but I’ve been rapping for the last two or three years. but this is my very first project and I was pushed to do it and I think it went really well.

SP: Who pushed you?

T.R.U.T.H.: Well, I call her like my sister, but uh, Klevah. Along with everyone in W.O.R.D. and all of my close friends.

SP: What do you want listeners to get from Luxocracy?

T.R.U.T.H.: Well, I want people to experience a shift in the mind. You know, not to judge people off of first appearance, first whatever they said to you. Open your empathy and passion to everyone. Just love people, that’s the main thing.

Check out T.R.U.T.H. tomorrow night with Curb Service and Affinity for her mixtape release show at Mike ‘N Molly’s.

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