“My introduction to rap (Rakim) was the same person I was able to introduce to my mom… I think that’s when she knew.” -Messy Tye
For aspiring rappers to garner legitimate, industry-level buzz in a city as jaded as Providence, RI, is difficult at best. But Messy Tye’s uncompromising dedication to his craft and his lyrical precision is setting him apart from the crowd. He was 8 years old the first time he wrote a verse and that paved the way for what he lovingly credits as ‘the Universe,’ bringing him success.
Make no mistake that there is no musical flow too bold for Messy Tye to tackle. At once, his smooth lyrical delivery is like a comfortable audio pillow on which listeners can rest their heads, while his heavy trap smacks listeners like when an alarms clocks makes your feet hit a cold hardwood floor in the morning. Messy Tye has been demonstrating for years now that he is ready to overcome the obstacles facing him at this point in his career. Among other accomplishments, he has a mixtape, (“Free Spirit”, as seen above,) countless singles released, and has shared the stage with acts such as Juicy J, Rakim, and French Montana.
In a nutshell, yes: This is the story of a young man who came from almost nothing and suffered setbacks that would have buckled a weaker person.. Messy Tye is not shy about the fact that he overcame his obstacles by putting his faith in the universe and “speaking his reality into existence”. In 2016 he wrote lyrics in a song about relocating to a new city and stating exactly how he would do it, the amount of time it would take to get there, and what people would say to him when he arrived. The song now seems prophetic.
Messy Tye’s journey has been a selfless one. Now, seemingly without any major concerns, he lives his life in a blaze of peace, fun, and caring. With definite plans of giving back to the world, he has plans in motion for projects such as ‘Messy Ministries’, which is a project to aide inner-city communities across America.
My interview with Messy Tye happened over FaceTime one November 2016 night. I sat at my dining room table with a pen and pad ready but quickly realized I wouldn’t need either because my voice recorder helped me keep the natural flow of conversation (however, eventually, my OCD took over, and I needed to write down some key facts throughout the interview.) Tye does not waste or mince words. He thoroughly explains his perspective but always makes sure his listener understands it from theirs as well. Our conversation took a natural, close-to-home feel. He appeared on-screen with no visible background, very vibrant, and with an all-teeth smile, “Beloved, how are you!?” he asked genuinely and our talk started.
When did you fall in love with rap / hiphop?: I would say that rap has always been close to me. My mother would play Eric B and Rakim. I remember tapes. There was a vibe you’d get from having a tape in your hand. CD’s too. If you had the tape AND the CD it meant you were an avid supporter. My dad would always drive around in new cars with sound systems playing their songs. Certain songs remind me of this time. Certain rhythms, flows and melodies would stick with me and a lot of that music was rap. That feeling I would get listening to this music always stuck with me.
When did you begin to take rapping seriously?: My Dad got married when I was 8. It was the first time I had been to a wedding that I can remember. it was very lavish with an expensive cake, birds in a cage… The whole nine. I was dancing on the dance floor and set the party off. It was around that time I realized that I really liked music. The feeling of making everyone there happy (mind you I had money thrown at me at that party!) turned into me doing poetry and writing rhymes like the music I heard growing up. It was in my 3rd grade class I began writing without curse words. That shaped how I rhyme today. I began performing my 8th grade year. I got involved in Music One in Providence, RI. I attended their after school program in which we learned about recording and music as an art. We could only record positive tracks and I remember performing in a gymnasium full of people and I had to perform with a singer about being drug free.
Did you have someone who pushed you through different things? I had to learn a lot of things on my own. This helped me get a better understanding of myself. It brings me back to a time where I lived in Connecticut with my dad. Spruce is someone I met from Springfield MA. while staying with my dad. Spruce and I did a fashion / talent show. Nobody really talked to me at this school, then i started getting in with the after school program, teamed up with Spruce and actually won the talent show. I’m reminded of this every time I perform because it was something that really pushed me to be comfortable on stage and with myself. My mom raised 6 children on her own. I felt pushed aside for certain things but never lacked understanding. I had to go through a lot to realize my potential in music
What is a positive vibe to you? A non-judgmental environment. It’s all about the vibe. I’m reminded of Free Spirit (Messy Tye’s first project release, dropped in 2014, which he credits for helping him find his vibe.) I truly feel that project is a gem and will withstand the test of time but It helped a lot in many creative and professional ways. I was going through an issue which was not normal for a typical 18/19 year old so I had a lot to get out and write about. I wanted to spread my message to people and the timing was perfect. It’s always been about the vibes.
“I felt ashamed about it, finding out the way I found out. But at the same time I never forgot what my goal was since 8 years old. I still remembered my place as far as where I stood and where I wanted to go”
An example of a positive vibe is when I performed with Rakim and was able to have my mom meet him.
“My introduction to rap was the same person I was able to introduce to my mom.
That moment was my way of letting her know that I know what I’m doing. I think that’s when she knew.”
How Did You Get Your Name? Messy Mya is who inspired my name. He was a YouTube rapper / comedian at the time and I saw Nicki Minaj and Chad Ochocinco sending condolences on Twtitter for his death. I researched him and learned all about him. I was about to have a kid at the same time as him, mine being born only a month later than his so I had a connection to him. He was an organic individual. This resonated with me because again, I only learned about this man after his death. His life helped me learn how to be the most inspirational person I could be.
“The representation Messy Tye meant to me at the time still feels the same today.”
Messy means to be yourself. There’s art that looks Messy but when you really concentrate on it, it’s art. You can’t put a label on it. I promised myself that as long as I have the Messy name, I will represent self love and confidence and not forget where I got it from… I really feel like I owe a lot to Messy Mya. The Messy brand allows me to be who I am naturally.
What are your plans for the near future? Just keep working out here in California. I always knew LA would be perfect for me. There is so much room for someone like myself. Things back home would always pop up and give me reminders of California. I would listen to The Fresh Prince theme and Weezer “Beverly Hills” just to catch the vibe. There’s a lot of things we don’t have access to on the East Coast that they do on the West Coast in terms of music. The opportunities are endless.
“I got to get out here and be where I wanted to be. I never knew when I’d get out here but I wrote it in my songs and started saying things that would make it a reality for me.”
You have to part ways with where you may be at currently, so you can come back and make positive changes in what you can. Certain people who have unfortunately passed away have motivated me to know enough to get out while I can and come back and make a positive influence for people going through their daily lives. Empathizing connects me to the universe. Give people positive energy and not expecting it back works for me.
Anything to wrap up with? “Where I come from is a true representation of my roots. I have to do everything in my power to keep everything that’s growing from where I came from watered and flowering through every season. Because even though the seasons change the ground we walk on is still the state we come from.”
“Stay loyal to the soil”.
“I’m devoted to the craft. Word to Jimi Hendrix”
Catch Messy Tye at AC3 and SXSW this year and check some of his his latest music drops here: