t.y.e harris

Oak Cliff is still the hood. T.Y.E is the loud, abrasive & engaging product of it.

There are two distinguishable paths an artist like Dallas’ T.Y.E can walk down. The first is rather obvious. He can maneuver around Oak Cliff as a man who speaks to the youth. The boys that had their fist fights and proving ground rituals at Carter High. He could provide their soundtrack, which borders on beautiful, animalistic anarchy when tuned right. The bounce and sneer behind “Kokaine” with T.Y.E showing off that operatic voice of his fits right in. Paired next to loosies like the dark and eye-catching “Unusual” and it’s day and night.

That second path, the one displayed from “La La Land,” the best solo rap track from Dallas in 2015 pushes up against a growing piece of identity in rap: escapism. How T.Y.E chooses to find his means of escape, from the mental horrors of college and accepting the biopolar disorder he was diagnosed with is key. Dallas doesn’t need a savior within it’s rap field, it’s doing quite fine without a messiah. But the pains of Dallas, the beautiful and decaying parts of being young and fighting hopelessness in Dallas, that is what need be addressed.

On TR:32 (Empty The Clip), T.Y.E is parts unbridled energy and furious eater of worlds. There is nothing about him, Yak The Mack or Yg Baby that feels redeemable here outside of the fact that a) they’re all relatively young; and b) take the joy of conquest about as serious as one can while growing up. T.Y.E is supposed to be the one who is above of all of this; a young kid who left Oak Cliff on an opera scholarship. But as often as he brays about fucking on something and witty metaphors about Dallas’ almost dispatched leader in Tony Romo, there’s a small glimpse that he wants more.

There are definite cracks within the shell. As often as TR:32 parades around as the anti-thesis to Dallas’ boogie movement of a decade ago by embracing the rambunctious fight music that preceded it, T.Y.E’s voice drifts beyond it. He stacks his raps at times with prolific alliteration, ratcheting up his voice to buck back as a means of defense. 

“Fuck a job / Fuck a 9-to-5 that deprive lives for the rich / Empathize for the bitch / That’s in disguise that’ll snitch…” – “Likk”

As a more than capable rapper, T.Y.E gets this. For every clumsy line on TR:32, there are 10-15 of them that speak of full-blown nihilism and a mental operated purely by joy. Rambunctious, drum happy productions lay throughout the tape, its 33-minute runtime feeling like a super cut of a drunken and free-wheeling night at Gators on a Wednesday night. Sex, threats, guns and the scope of death. And a copious amount of chest-thumping bravado.

After nearly seventy-seven minutes of id driven material right out of Flockaveli, the album shifts dramatically. Instead of the bells, whistles and usual chaos T.Y.E employs and manages far better than Mark Cuban does the Mavericks, “Gunshots” takes throat chopping snares and kick door ready drums and pair them with the former opera singer’s voice. Repeated pianos fresh off The Exorcist soundtrack lead us down arguably the most toned down moment of the album.

“I hear gunshots, right outside my house,” he sings with nary a tremble of fear in his octave. “Won’t believe what I’ve seen, it’s a nightmare, not a dream.” There’s a pause for confession, of watching bullet play turn into cold bodies and awkward thought processes but it’s the most evocative piece of music here. None of this bothers T.Y.E.

In between numerous references to Dallas Cowboys of lore, Pete Maravich & Rajon Rondo is a kid not even close to 23. Trying to numb himself off to the world as a form of coping.

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