Source: Rose DiFerdinando / Courtesy of TT the Artist
True to her name, TT the Artist uses her love for artistic expression to inspire the masses through dance, music, art, and film. Although she has a long history in the music and entertainment industries, her firm dedication to authenticity has labeled her an underdog. Her humble spirit and love for her community has contributed to her numerous accolades, including her most recent project Dark City Beneath the Beat, a Netflix documentary that dissects TT’s relationship with the culture of Baltimore Club music.
With Red Bull’s Dance Your Style National Finals being hosted in Washington, DC, it was only right to have the multifaceted artist bless the stage with some authentic B-More footwork. During the first night of the competition, TT hyped the crowd up alongside some of the dancers from her documentary. If you’ve never experienced Baltimore Club Music, then consider yourself deprived of a genre that accurately captures the essence, community, and heartbeat of Baltimore.
Source: Flo Ngala / Flo Ngala
When it comes to Baltimore, TT carries a lot of love and pride for the city. “The most beautiful thing about Baltimore Club Music is that this is something that comes from the community. It’s a community thang. That’s where I found family – in the city. That’s where I found my voice,” she said in an exclusive interview with HelloBeautiful.
TT might have found her voice through Baltimore Club Music, but her authenticity and rock solid armor came from navigating the music industry as a queer woman of color. When TT found herself beating on doors that wouldn’t let her in, she created her own opportunities that would afford Black women entrance to the building, a key to the door, and a seat at the table.
“To navigate through these spaces that women are not really awarded the same opportunities (as men), it kind of pushed me to just create my own doors because you’ll be waiting forever for somebody to open the door for you,” TT explained.
In today’s music, sex sells. Most of the female rappers have a very niche image. The more provocative the artist, the more successful their career. Most times musicians with a less provocative approach to fashion, are encourage to change their image to build their fan base. Sadly in this day and age, gimmicks overshadow authenticity.
“Definitely the hyper-sexualized image is what’s current and what’s trending now,” she confirms.
“I had been an independent artist for a decade and I hadn’t really reached the level of mainstream success or notoriety, but I felt that my music was getting traction on television and films and stuff like that. I had several songs that had been licensed by mainstream artists or sampled, so once I started seeing that, it was like well, there must be something good about my music, but maybe it’s my presentation,” she said.
“Maybe I’m not fitting into a certain body image type or look or aesthetic that is status quo for the industry that is sellable or marketable. A lot of times I think even within the major record labels, they’re looking for a certain type of product to sell because they know what consumers on a worldwide spectrum might be looking for, but that to me is why I started Club Queen Records. Women should be able to come authentically as themselves and you’re able to help curate the best body work, curate the best cover art and images that still helps them feel true to themselves, who they are, and their voice,” she continued.
“In 2018 I created Club Queen Records, a women-focused record label, specifically focused on helping women of color that are navigating the Hip Hop, Pop, Dance, and R&B music spaces,” she said.
TT created a safe space for female artists to get the representation they deserved without bias. It looks like she is being the change she needed when she first entered the industry. Now with years of experience under her belt, she’s shattering her own glass ceilings and building her own empire.
“Being authentic to yourself gives you the long race. You’re not just here today and gone tomorrow. You really have carved out your own space and it’s almost coming down to you just accepting yourself. You saying, ‘I’m happy with what I’m doing’ and in the long run I feel that that’s going to give you longevity because success can be so superficial to the world,” she said. “If we constantly wait for people to get it and for people to see our worth and value, that’s when we do ourselves a disservice.”
Powerful and inspirational words to live by.