Tyrone “Tyke T” Stroble is determined to awe and inspire with his Driven By Music movement. And he does a good job of doing both on his debut EP, The OverLooked. Originally from Smyrna, Tennessee, Tyke T moved to Memphis in 2011 and has been making his name known among the Bluff City’s underground hip-hop movement ever since. He was recently featured on ABC 24 Local Memphis’ Local Sessions, which allows Memphis artists to showcase their talent. He was the first rapper to appear on the segment.
The brother of Core DJ Ron C, he's been surrounded by music since he was a youngster and began writing his own rhymes as a teen. Aside from hip-hop, Tyke T holds a strong passion for the business realm. He received both his bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) shortly before his transition to Memphis.
Balancing a nine-to-five job with a dream of making great music is no easy task, but that doesn't worry Tyke T. He released his EP, The OverLooked today. The eight-song collective offers listeners an earful of his punchline-heavy and relatively melodic flow, which tends to mesh perfectly over quality production. The EP is available for download on iTunes.
Tyke T talked about what listeners can expect from The OverLooked EP, how his master’s degree has helped in his career as a rapper, and where he draws inspiration to create his music.
What made you title the EP The OverLooked?
The reason I went with The OverLooked, if you look at everything in this nation from sports to business to politics, a lot of the people who are moguls in these industries had really humble beginnings because they were overlooked. All of the people on the EP’s artwork, they used it as motivation. If you listen to Oprah, she’ll tell you she used those painful memories of people saying a black woman would never be able to be on TV as motivation to keep going. If you listen to Jamie Fox’s story, he talks about how long it took him to get on as well but he used it as motivation, and it goes on and on. It’s kind of blasphemous to put myself on that cover with all those moguls. I have to get there no matter what it takes.
At what point did you decide to pursue rapping seriously, because I understand you also have a masters degree?
I’ve been doing this since I was, like, 15, but I always wanted to make sure that I could be good regardless, because there are no guarantees in life. Just because you get a MBA, that doesn’t guarantee you a job and there are no guarantees with music. So I always wanted to make sure that I would be good if something doesn’t go right with music. I made sure I got my MBA. I’ve been pursuing music seriously with a plan since I received my MBA. I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve got that educational goal out of the way. Now there’s nothing that can stop me.’ It’s so advantageous that I do have my MBA, because what it allows me to do is have the business background. It allows me to understand, ‘Yes, music is an art form, but to succeed and push forward, you have to know the business side of it.’
What brought you to Memphis?
I came to Memphis because of a job, but it was a blessing because it’s put me in the best place ever. If you’re in Tennessee and you’re trying to do hip-hop, you have to be in Memphis. I love Murfreesboro. I love Smyrna where I’m from, but it’s not like the connections are there. To come out here to Memphis where the indie scene is vibrant is a blessing. Originally, it started for work but now it’s music, and we’re going to keep working it through to get where we need to be.
What made you come up with the brand Driven By Music?
The biggest thing that I think separates a lot of artists who are going somewhere and the ones who aren’t are the ones that attach a brand to themselves. [For example], when you go to Burger King, you’re going to see the Croissan'Wich or the Whopper. You know that’s the product. There’s so many sounds right now, and what I didn’t want to do is get caught up in, ‘I don’t know who that guy is.’ When you hear ‘driven by music’ you think about Tyke T because I created it. Number two: I wanted to have something that everybody could relate to. Music is an art. Music is something that all markets, all types of demographics can understand. All ethic backgrounds are driven by music. That’s why I’m happy I created that brand, because it allows everybody to be a part of it.
Who influenced your style?
There are so many people. I think the thing that influenced me the most to rap was all of the old rappers. Like UGK, 8ball & MJG, Three 6 Mafia, the Hot Boyz, all the No Limit soldiers and all that, but I think what makes my music the best is because I grew up listening to a lot of R&B. Like Jodeci, Bobby Brown, and all of them. That helps me when I’m in the studio trying to create a record. I’m not just on the same key. I’m not just on the same cadence. It helps me to switch a lot of things up.
What do you hope your listeners get from this project?
I think what they’re going to get from The OverLooked EP is an introduction to Tyke T. It’s my story coupled in with some songs that I feel like a lot of people can relate to. We all go through struggles, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have a good time. Even if you in that struggle though, you’ve got to just say, ‘Forget that man. We’re about to go out here and get it, and everything's on me.’ Or sometimes you wake up in the morning and you've got to go to work, and you're like, 'Dang, there are so many haters waiting on me,' but you can't stop us now. Or you wake up and you're like, 'Goodness gracious, I feel like the hand has just been dealt against me, but I'm going to still keep grinding. I'm going to still keep going for it.' There is just so much you can relate to on the EP. On some days we're going through the struggle and we're like, 'Man, I hate this,' and on other days you're celebrating and you're feeling good. We're always going through these peaks and valleys, and I think that's what the EP gets you through, and I like that about it.
[Saturday, Sept. 7th Tyke T is having his #OverLookedShow show at the Social Bar in Murfreesboro. The show will also feature hip-hop artist Professa C and singer/songwriter Montez Terrell of Black Umbrella.