IN CASE GOD DOESN'T SHOW
Budding music talent, TommyPAPI, is a 23-year old artist living in Detroit who has been songwriting since 2017. It was only in 2019, that he began trying his hand at recording music. He began with fellow music artist, Parisi, as they explored the complexities of mixing and mastering vocals.
"What was like for you back then, two artists in the basement with a dream?"
"Honestly to me, it was like my training grounds. I got my ___ kicked for about a year of trying to make music with Parisi, but in the good way. He really helped develop my understanding of what is a good track versus not and I would not be where I am without his influence...".
After a few months with Parisi, TommyPAPI finally released his first body of work in October 2020, "thinking about you" (featuring teeny maria), with Parisi engineering the vocals on the single.
"So your first single just dropped. What is going through the mind of TommyPAPI? What made you keep going after "thinking about you"?
"The reception is what inspired me to keep going, I was getting praise for the originality of the song. It's addicting, I swear I wouldn't be releasing music if it wasn't for the people who support me. They give me the confidence I need cause I give up in my head about 129304 times after every song *laughs* I remember all I could think about was 'holy ___, what took me so long to start doing this?' cause I couldn't think of a moment where I was so happy with myself."
He dropped another song in December 2020, with the vocals engineered by Parisi and TommyPAPI, called "GOING ROGUE FREESTYLE", which was what really started picking up momentum for Tommy. It would later be his first song to hit 1,000 plays on any platform.
"So 'GOING ROGUE FREESTYLE' drops and that is just a whole different dimension than 'thinking about you'. What inspired that, cause most people would see the fact that they had such reception to one style and keep trying to pump out similar sounds. Obviously, it worked really well for you, but why the bold moves?
"Well originally, I was songwriting as a rapper. My singing voice at this point hadn't really been established but I didn't want to be boxed into one genre. The hope was to have 'GOING ROGUE FREESTYLE' really proved my versatility as an artist to my supporters. I made it in one take after having a bad day, it really just got all my anger out and threw it on the song. I was actually really nervous about releasing it cause *nods*, like you said it was such a huge difference from 'thinking about you'. On one side, I'm very open and vulnerable about my emotions, but on the freestyle, I'm braggadocios and motivated. I just wasn't sure how people would react or if I would lose supporters for being so experimental. But I also felt like I couldn't let this other side of me just be hidden away."
"Well what do you want to more known for: rapping or singing?
"*takes a long pause* Well that's a damn good question. *laughs* I guess I don't want to be defined by either. It would be my dream to create a song with my idol, Kendrick Lamar, and add value to the song that matches such a legend of a rapper. But that's unfortunately not me, cause I have not lived through the life that Kendrick has had to endure. I refuse to become a cap rapper just so I can be seen as a 'hard rapper'. But at the same time, I don't want to just sing because my voice is not at the level I think can define me as a singer... that doesn't really the question does it?
No, it doesn't but that's okay *laughs*
"*chuckles* Let's just say I want to be a mix of both like Mac Miller was or what Kendrick Lamar has evolved to now."
It was after "GOING ROGUE FREESTYLE" that he decided to work on EP. It was ambitious because at the time he only had really made two songs. But he made was confident in the project and pushed forward. He freestyled over beats while driving anywhere and recorded himself on his phone.
After hearing about the success of 'GOING ROGUE FREESTYLE', I have to ask, have you been freestyling for a long time before that song was released? You showed a lot of confidence within your lyrics and cadence, especially it being your second song you've released. What got you to that point?
"*smiling* Like I told you before we started, I just listen to beats while I'm driving and start freestyling. This method was how I first started songwriting in 2017, actually. I was working in security and they had me drive around to be a security presence. It would be 6 hours of straight driving around and all I did in those 6 hours was freestyle. There were no words at first, just mumbling, but it defined my cadence. I soon started trying rhyming words around me to give me content within the freestyles."
Tommy shortly dropped "WHAT'S THE DEAL?", in January 2021, with a completely different direction from the previous freestyle, with a bouncy beat along with a catchy chorus. This single was to announce that he was finishing up the EP and got a lot of eyes on Tommy for what was next to come.
"WHAT'S THE DEAL?" is so catchy, Tommy! One of my favorites, for sure, but also another completely different direction from you. What was your reasoning for it?
"Well, I honestly it was a marketing move. I actually hated 'WHAT'S THE DEAL?' when I was about to drop it. It felt like it was too simple and too easy. But I wanted a song to get people excited for the EP being dropped, and 'WHAT'S THE DEAL?' seemed like it had the most potential to be the 'hit single', I guess. But I really thought it was gonna flop so hard cause I was trying to do something mainstream. I'm really grateful to the supporters for receiving it so well and building the momentum to the whole EP. Some people made a Tik Tok Dance to it too! That was super awesome, I was like 'what?!?!? to my song????'. Such a humbling experience."
Finally, Tommy dropped his EP, vocally engineered by Parisi, "In Case God Doesn't Show", on all platforms in February 2021. It was full of music that Tommy had written in 2020-2021 reflecting on his recent heartbreak with the exception of one written in 2017 while he was practicing his hand. The project has 5 songs on it along with the two singles that he had previously released.
Wait, so you're telling me that you already had a song for this EP in 2017? Did you have this project in mind, three or four years before you finished it?
"Yeah I honestly had the EP finished in 2020 but I was a nervous wreck about the whole project. Parisi was just waiting for me to send in the stems but I just kept putting it off. A old, nasty habit I have when the pressure is on. Oh the 'Need a Break (Interlude)'? Yeah, I did write that in 2017 with that same beat. Actually, Cordae used the beat on his project "The Lost Boy". I swear I found it beforehand in 2017 *laughs*, but it matched the theme of the EP so I decided to put it in there. But on the case of the EP in mind, I just knew I wanted to release a project called 'In Case God Doesn't Show'. There are about 15 songs I have written including the bar, 'in case God doesn't show' in different variations."
Since his debut EP, "In Case God Doesn't Show" release, it hit 2,600+ plays after the first week, an astonishing number for an artist who has only released 3 songs in the span of 4 months.
As an artist who had only 3 songs out before his debut EP release, how did you get such a response?"
"I think as a new artist, people wanted to see what I was capable of. I feel like the people didn't know what to expect, after all my songs so far have been completely different *chuckling* But also think it was the press run after the project dropped. They were all such blessings cause they lined up around the same time too. It was like BAM, TommyPAPI interview this week, okay, BAM, here comes another one next week! *multiple hand motions and sound effects* I know some of my peers must of been sick of me for a bit *grins* but honestly I am so proud of each of them. None of it would be possible without my mom, who is hugely supportive of my career. When I reached out to these media outlets, it was my mom who kept in contact and continued to reach out. Obviously, I had to be the first contact and do the research, but she took a huge load off my plate when it came to the networking and connections. I am extremely grateful for Liliana Ospina at 'Latinos en Michigan', Jose and Primavera Flores at 'La Voz Magazine' and Claudia Vargas at 'CVG Marketing' for pushing me upwards with their media outlets. I would not be where I am our without them or my mom."
"What do you think made the biggest impact on your EP's success or your career as an artist?"
"Honestly, I think it was the interview with 'La Voz Magazine'. I had a picture on the front pages and everything. I'm really proud of that cause that was like right after 'WHAT'S THE DEAL?' had its first week. It got pretty hard to wrangle my ego after that cause I was like 'who the ____ do you know that has a magazine front page interview with only three songs out?' *chuckling* But I think 'La Voz Magazine' was what really showed people like 'oh man this guy means business.' It really legitimized me as a professional artist and helped me stand out, giving my EP huge momentum for its release. I just gotta say again that I'm super grateful to Jose and Primavera Flores over at 'La Voz Magazine' for the opportunity they gave me."