Since inking a joint deal with Epic Records and London Entertainment – Tyler Jamal Brown, better known as Tyla Yaweh, has been enjoying the highs of touring and stardom. The 24 year old Florida native debuted his breakout single ‘Drugs and Pain’ in 2017 and from there the budding rockstar has come into his own and continues to push his creative interests in music, fashion and skateboarding.
Tyla has a knack for vocalising his experiences and fleeting emotions over electric guitar riffs and spaced out instrumentals, this led to the release of ‘Heart Full of Rage’ in February. Upon finishing his tour dates in Oceania, I caught up with the “breath of life” as we spoke on tour life, his sense of style, his relationship with Post Malone and more.
If I said I really cared about Astrology and star signs, I’d be selling you guys a dream. It doesn’t interest me at all, yet on the eve of ‘Gemini season’ there is a case to be made about talented artists born under that star sign. Without asking Google I can name several artists that fit the bill; Prince, Tupac, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, André 3000, Biggie Smalls. Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd, Lenny Kravitz, Steve Lacy, Paul McCartney… you can see where this is going! Today though, I was waiting on a phone call from another Gemini who is eager to leave his mark in the stratosphere that is the music industry.
Upon reading into his experiences, you won’t find a load of information out there but one story of his that stands out to me is the one of him selling drugs when he wasn’t working the morning shift at Dunkin’ Donuts – which led to him being kicked out and moving from Orlando all the way to Los Angeles. To some readers, this would look like a typical delinquent’s tale but as a fellow Gemini I can recognise the impulsive choices borne from curiosity and the need to create and explore. The ‘F*** The Rules’ tattoo on his neck is symbolic of both his impulsive nature and his life mantra. I answer my phone and hear a warm greeting and laugh that is eerily similar to Wiz Khalifa’s (there is some likeness between him and Wiz, some visible tattoos and similar looking dreadlocks too). I ask if he gets the Wiz comparisons a lot; his response? “Yeah I get it sometimes, but it’s cool though. It is what it is!”
My style in my own words? Just call me a mother****ing rockstar!!
Looks aside, it would be harsh to write Tyla off as a clone of any kind as his music shows a different direction – with fans and early adopters calling his sound a blend between modern American pop music and moody, occasionally melancholy rap. He sounds relaxed and cheery as we begin to converse during his car journey. Tyla’s just got back from touring with Post Malone in Australia and New Zealand, and in an attempt to move away from doppelgangers, we speak on his experience Down Under. “The tour was wild! I got to see some more of the world and connect with a bunch of new fans. Blessings on blessings.” I ask him to divulge a little on his relationship with Post and if he’s learned from being around him on tour. “Post is my brother so we’re always working as a team. Touring with him was obviously a blessing for me and a good learning experience. Watching him on stage helps me to step my game up and continue working and building.”
I felt our rapport almost immediately; Tyla’s aura is warm and accommodating when he’s not occupied by the grind. ‘Heart Full of Rage’, his first official project under London Entertainment/Epic, plays in the background as I figure what better soundtrack for this interview than his own music. When I found out I would be doing this interview, ‘Yaweh’ stood out to me instantly. As a British Nigerian I always understood Yaweh to be a form of God’s name in Hebrew, so naturally I was curious about how Tyla’s rap name stuck. “I was doing a lot of reading when I was young and what I got out of it was I am what I am and I’m always gonna be what I am. I didn’t wanna call myself a God because I feel that we’re all godlike.” His style is anything but Godlike though, you’re more likely to see Tyla in leather jackets and Chanel frames instead of sandals and long robes. “My style in my own words? Just call me a mother****ing rockstar!! Haha!”
This past February, Tyla released ‘Heart Full of Rage’ to the world. Listening to the 10 track effort over its 29 minute runtime, he takes us on a ride that introduces him to the world and defines his sound. Upon sharing my opinions on his music, his response is warm and genuine “I really appreciate you bro, thank you for that. I put it down to hard work and going hard for your dream.” I ask what inspired this project, his answer smacks of tunnel vision. “Umm… just the hunger and wanting to do everything that I’m doing today. Waking up, getting straight to work and just doing it. Inspiration came from just being out here and living every moment. When I moved out to L.A. and spent nights couch surfing, I said I had to make this dream work. This is what made ‘Heart Full of Rage’.”
I can do a bunch of songs with a lot of people but if it’s not organic then I’m not gonna fall in love with it
With two notable features in French Montana (‘Salute’) and PnB Rock (‘Wraith Skating’), he fuses his foundation of melodic vocals and slick raps with elements of rock and pop on a project that has been well received as evidenced during performances at festivals including Firefly and Lollapalooza. Normally with newcomers, they will build hype for their work by having a gang of features. He could’ve put Post Malone on there too, but Tyla quickly explains why he didn’t take that route “I wanted people to hear me, I didn’t want a whole bunch of features on the project. I love collaborating with people but I always want the best collabs, something organic. I can do a bunch of songs with a lot of people but if it’s not organic then I’m not gonna fall in love with it.” One artist he’s said he would love to collaborate with is Atlanta’s own Young Thug. “We’ve definitely talked, I haven’t met him yet. It would be dope as hell to get in the studio with him just to hear what we would create.”
‘Heart Full of Rage’ is a project that is as rich in duality as its creator is; a perfect example of Yin and Yang. His lyrics allow us to learn more about the precocious talent while keeping us at arm’s length, displaying conflicting emotions at every twist and turn on the album. Nas once said that there’s nothing new under the sun, adding that it’s never what you do but how it’s done. With this in mind, you can hear why his music has been compared to acts such as JUICE WRLD, Swae Lee and even Post Malone. Tyla acknowledges this as we briefly revisit the “clone” topic “you could say a lot of other guys are doing the same thing, like JUICE WRLD.” He pauses to tell me that they’ve been compared before.. “But when you have your own sound and can cater to your own [fans] that’s the best. I try to focus on making more music.”
I ask if he has more music in store for us in 2019, his tone suggests a wry smile on his face “I’m definitely working on the next album, I’ve got a few special guests that’ll be dope. I don’t wanna give away too much just yet; I wanna surprise the fans. Hopefully I can bring this energy on ‘Heart Full of Rage 2’.” At this point of the conversation, I wonder if he has a song from the album that describes him best. “Sometimes I feel like [it’s] ‘High Right Now’ sometimes [it’s] ‘Novacane’, that one is a daily mood for me. It’s hard to say because I feel that each song conveys a different emotion, so my answer changes depending on my mood I think.” We share a laugh as I tell him he answered that with the indecisiveness of a Gemini.
Bringing it back to Astrology, Tyla sounds chuffed about the fact that our birthdays are only three days apart. “It’s dope that you’re a Gemini too!” I reveal to him that I don’t’ usually tell people my birthday and he understands why as if I wear the explanation on my forehead. “There’s so many Gemini’s in the world but it seems like everytime we link up, people don’t wanna play that.” I suggest that people are weary of the negative stigma surrounding Geminis and our bright auras and his take on that is simple yet refreshing. “I feel like nothing really gets us down”. We talk about our birthdays and what his Kobe year (he’ll be 24 when this interview is released) will entail on day one. “I’m gonna perform at Govenors Ball on my actual birthday, in New York. That should be fun.”
With all the tour dates he is being booked for, I wonder how he finds time to unwind given the gravity of his ever-growing schedule. Tyla likes playing beer pong, playing guitar and has an allure for magic tricks, one of his favourite past-times is skateboarding, which isn’t surprising given that he grew up listening to another avid skater in Lil Wayne. Does Tyla skate often? “Honestly when I really can, on tour especially when I’m not high as hell!”
Tyla’s enthusiasm shines throughout our conversation, even though he’s been battling jet lag built up from flying so much, with this in mind, I ask him what crowd he’s enjoyed the most. “I can’t really say I have a favourite place! Since I’ve been touring heavy, I’ve been around the world and found every crowd and place to be different. It’s just a blessing for me to be able to do this and see the world in the process.” New Zealand is the furthest he’s been so far and I when I tell him it would take me at least a day to fly there, he responds; “You’re from London? Peckham? That’s crazy. My girl is from Brixton.” He is coy at this revelation but it turns out that he and singer-songwriter Raye have been dating for a minute now.
As his car pulls up on location for his latest photoshoot, he tells me that he wants to do this again in person when he’s in London. With his dates at the Reading and Leeds Festivals in late August in mind, I ask if he will surprise his London fans with a show. “I want to! I’m gonna keep building my sound and growing so that I can come out to London one day. Very soon!”
Tyla’s ‘Heart Full of Rage’ can be streamed on all good streaming services. Catch him live performing at Reading and Leeds Festivals from 23-25th August 2019.