With a melancholy undertone hidden behind the joy of the streets, Trenton, NJ lyricist Tuck merges reality and imagination into one realm. A natural hustler and product of his environment, his passion for life, phenomenal wordplay and vast understanding of hardship and pain makes him a different breed; the intensity of his breathtaking flow boiling over on his 2017 mixtape Da Prelude.
Experienced in loss and imprisonment, Tuck rises above. His testimony is a challenge to the status quo of 21st-century rap; questioning what’s possible after one’s demise and which path to take when the perky’s and fame call.
Jasmine: You’re from Trenton, New Jersey, right?
Tuck: Yes, absolutely.
J: How would you say being from Trenton, influenced your musical style and flow? How did that mold you into the artist that you are today?
T: I think I have like a deep, raw tone- and that’s kind of like how Trenton is. It’s small but it’s raw, rough and rugged. You know the image of Trenton is like the spitting image of my music- It’s fly, it’s rough, it’s a little mixture of everything. But for the most part, it represents that element that’s missing in Hip-Hop; which is the streets, where it derived from.
T: The thing that makes it different is the mentality of Trenton. The mentality in Trenton is like, “Yo, I’m Him!”. . . so you have to be really on top of your game. For people to fall in line in Trenton, they got to actually see you with the results. They ain’t really respecting you unless you talking about it. A lot of other places, no disrespect, you can talk yourself up on something, Trenton not one of those places. We give you credit. Not to mention people from Trento, we want all music. We listen to people from the west coast, down south, the east coast like New York, Harlem…everywhere. It’s just a melting pot. We listen to everything so I believe we haven’t gotten our chance to shine. But I’m going to change all of that.
J: Where did you get the name Tuck from?
T: That’s my real name…but the breakdown of it is ‘Trenton United Creates Kings’. That acronym came to me one day and I was like, “Yo, this dope and sounds a lot doper than just telling somebody, “Hey my name is…” It gave a meaning to why it was supposed to be my name. But I ain’t understand that until I came up with that acronym, thus Trenton United Creates Kings.
J: What led you to music? What made you fall in love with hip-hop?
T: My old head Screw was rapping so that was really my first time falling in love [with Hip Hop]. I knew then what I wanted to do in life. But aside from that, I just love the feeling of the music. You can be in the worst mood possible, and turn on your favorite song or you turn on some music and it totally alters you and your mood. So music, it speaks to your life and music is mood altering. You can be in the happiest mood and hear the saddest song and it’ll break you down. You can be in the saddest mood and hear the happiest song and it’s going to make you feel better. So that’s why I love music. It touches the people and it’s a way to touch the people, a lot of people, at one time.
J: Let’s get into some of your music, the Perky’s Calling Jackin for Beats record you did is probably one of my favorite tracks that I heard from you thus far. It’s very reality-based, like very real life, you talk a lot about the struggle and not so much the beauty but a lot of the ugly inside the struggle but still rising above. Can you tell me a little about where that track, where the content of that record came from?
T: My music comes from me. So one of the main things, in that song is when I said ‘This for anybody going through some tough times.’ Like I just wanted them to understand this was dedicated to anyone that’s going through a struggle because I’ve been through them. And then I started explaining my story. I lost my sister a week after I came home, so you know that touched me. I had to deal with seeing how that affected not only me but seeing how that affected my mom. So that’s why I said ‘My mother’s fifty plus. Her times getting shorter but she doesn’t smile as much though since she lost her daughter.’ I don’t see my mom as such, and you know she tries, but these are all things that I’m going through. This my life. Recently, my little brother lost his mom to cancer. These are all things affecting my life. These are the people who are closest to me; the people I’m around every day, who watched me grow. Even though music nowadays is kind of watered down, I guarantee you any amount of money you can turn “Perky’s Calling” on years from now and it’s still gone have the same feeling for you.
J: Who would you say are some emcees that influenced you when you were still developing in your style?
T: I would probably say like Hov, Jadakiss, Nas… the G.O.A.T.S and the greats. People like Jeezy., I like Jeezy because he comes from that world I come from. The artists I relate to and I like are the same ones I grew up listening to…lyricists. And of course, the people that might have come through the trap and was getting money. That’s why I throw Jeezy in there, because he may not be the most lyrical, but I was in the trap so I understand that.
J: What would you say is your biggest inspiration currently?
T: I mean, my love for music and just wanting something more. Like I said, I’m still out here with my people; still out here pounding the pavement. So it’s just wanting something more, wanting something better and not giving up. Because at the end of the day if I give up, it like where do I go? I can’t be here forever. My daughter, my family…I’ve got something to fight for.
J: What can we expect next from Tuck?
T: Yeah, I just put out Da Prelude, the Jackin ‘ For Beats tape that has Perky’s Calling on it and ‘Steph Curry’. Respect the Shield is coming this summer as well and I’m going to just be moving around doing shows and promoting the project. I don’t just want to be the guy on the computer that’s loading up the music. I want to go out there and actually touch the people; let them get to know me and let them get to see me and assess me for me.
J: What have you been listening to? Aside from yourself, what else are you listening to right now? What’s in your stereo?
T: What I got? What I got in my car? I mess with that Moneybagg Yo…because it’s raw and it’s real…I like the Migos. I like what they’re doing and I like their music because of its energy. I got the ‘Best of Hov’ in there. Oh, Ross album was dope. Yeah, Ross album was dope, I still listen to that. So yeah, pretty much that’s it.
J: What is it about you that kind of sets you apart from other emcees coming up in the game? What makes the Tuck brand different?
T: I believe it’s a combination of a few different things, I think honestly, everybody doesn’t have the total package and what I mean by the total package is that some artists have great music but they don’t know how to do interviews; they don’t know how to speak. I don’t have a media coach or anyone giving me a list of the questions you were going to ask me before so I could’ve prepared. Everything’s on the fly. Remind you, I just woke up like 20 minutes ago. So that’s what I’m saying. I was in the studio all night; I haven’t even jumped in the shower yet. I just brush my teeth and got myself ready. I have a frog in the back of my throat (laughs). But I like to joke and with my personality, I can go anywhere. Not only can I make party music but I can make you think or I can make you feel some type of way. I’ve got the total package from just my hustle, my drive, my work ethic and the way people perceive me.