TT the Artist: Breaking the Gender Barriers of the Music Industry

TT the Artist is changing the hip-hop game. The Florida native is a multitalented innovator who is bringing the focus of the music industry back to empowering women, particularly women of colour. Creating representation through her label Club Queen Records, TT has presented a platform that allows women to bypass the restrictions that are typically imposed by the male ‘gatekeepers’ of the music industry. We sat down with TT right before her set for Heaps Gay x Beats by Dre, her first Australian performance, and we asked her some questions about her views on art (largely the music industry), how she navigates this landscape + what she hopes to see come from this industry in the future.

Kicking things off New Age, what sign are you?

Virgo … I’m Beyoncé.

Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to.

I launched my label Club Queen Records last year and it’s a very rare platform in that it’s owned by black women, independent and is women focused. This means that our whole initiative is to push the female voices to the forefront.

Trans women as well?

We’re open to all those things. We’re here to give a chance to artists who are underrepresented.

On the industry:

For me, I identify as a black woman. Being a female hip hop artist in a male dominated arena, not just hip hop but dance [and most genres], we haven’t been afforded the same opportunities. 

For example, if we were to collaborate with a mainstream hip hop artist, they would be the feature to our female lead. Just to put the value back into the feminine voice.

I’m leading this change with my record label, with a support network of friends – building from the ground up!

tt the artist

Obviously your message is a strong message, how can someone who agrees with this help you succeed?

The biggest thing we need is awareness and exposure, but we’re moving with or without it. We’ve been dropping music since last year.

Who are some of the artists involved?

Right now we’re not signing artists, my focus actually has been distribution. We’re here to help newcomers and established artists – help them produce quality work and get it out on the market and teach them the business – teach them how to release their own music. It’s really about encouraging independence, but also understanding partnership and collaboration.

We’re here to be a mentor and help people navigate the [music] business. I took it upon myself to get involved and research and understand the process and now I’m able to share those resources with people who may just want to know simple things like “how do I get my songs on digital retailers”.

Is this something that is international or exclusively American – if someone is looking to reach out to you?

Oh we worldwide. The beautiful thing about the internet is that collaborations can take place anywhere. Our goal again primarily is just to create representation of the female voice – because there are so many artists that go across definitions, we’re trying to be the resource for that, and that’s everywhere.

I saw you met Erykah Badu, what influence does someone like her have on you and what influence would you like your artistry to have on others?

Ever since I met Erykah Badu I feel like my life has been transformed – my energy – I sat with her for two hours backstage – I never felt like a stranger. She has every right to be a diva but she wasn’t like that. It’s amazing because there’s so many new artists who feel you need to be that way in order for people to look at you. This woman is adorned with gifts because of her energy and her spirit and that’s the type of artist I want to be.

I want people to feel like they can connect with me and receive inspiration from me, like I feel from Erykah.

Your stage name is TT artist, what does the word artist mean to you?

An artist to me means a risk taker, a trend setter.

They are willing to go places the average person won’t go. Art is something that is a universal language. You can paint something and not have to speak – feel the message through the colors and the strokes, and I feel the same way about music. Doesn’t matter what side of the world I’m on, what country, what nationality, what gender [I’m performing to] when my music comes on it’s felt. It’s beats, it’s rhythms…

tt the artist

It transcends.

Exactly. Art in a way is undefinable, even though we have categories and genres, the mood and the emotion from it is undefinable because everybody can react to something different. I think art is something groundbreaking that carries a message.

You can follow TT the artist online at @tttheartist and her label @clubqueenrecords for more.

Interview by Seymour Tancred

Photography by Lexi Laphor @femmeasfuck

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