Gay Atlanta rapper J. Tyler has been working stages across the city for a few years. But it wasn’t until recently that the musician dropped his first single – and video – that show he’s not afraid to “Live out Loud.”
Tyler first caught our attention back in 2013 when he got a little “Wild N’ Naughty” with some drag queens at Jungle. Since then, he’s been snagging awards, booking gigs and honing his craft.
So we caught up with Tyler to dish about the debut single, how he made the Krog Street Tunnel more gay fabulous and what’s next for the 23-year-old performer.
“Live out Loud” and its video dropped recently. What's the story and inspiration behind your debut single?
I was really affected by the tragedy in Orlando. After the attack, I felt it was my duty to help spread love and happiness back into the world. So “Live out Loud” was my way of doing that. I sat down, thought about the whole Orlando thing and began to think about my life and how I take it for granted each and every day. That’s when I decided that I needed to write a song about just living life in your truth and being your authentic self. Basically, I wanted to write a song telling others to live out loud.
I feel like “Live out Loud” is an anthem that not only the LGBTQ community can use, but anybody going through life’s constant struggles. This song is a ‘breather’ in life’s journey, and I’m so happy that I get to share it with the world.
The video is fun and unabashedly gay, which is refreshing for rap. Talk about why you're out in your music. Has that made it easier and added hurdles or difficulties?
I actually wanted it to kind of focus around who I am. I am unabashedly gay, haha, so I wanted the video to just be me being who I am. I also wanted to lighten up the video with those prop shots of me in all those feathered boas and crazy glasses. I think doing that in front of everybody that was around Krog Street Tunnel was really the point of living out loud, but it all made for a great video!
I don’t think me being out and my music have anything to do with each other. I think that music is something that can have no gender, sexuality, skin color or limit. I think music is a very fluid thing that people can relate to. I think me being out as a person and me doing music aren’t related in a way. Sure, people call me a “gay rapper” because there’s not one of us that went mainstream yet, but I’d like to correct that by saying I’m not a gay rapper, I’m just a rapper who happens to be gay.
The video is shot in and near Krog Tunnel. What attracted you to that location?
I went down to Krog Street Tunnel for the first time when I did a cover shoot for Fenuxe Magazine. I fell in love with the place and always wanted to go back. So when I was deciding on a location to film the music video, I immediately chose Krog Street Tunnel, because it was fun and colorful, and it also pays homage to the old school hip-hop scene.
How was it working with Hugo Donis on the video? Was it the first time for a project like it?
Hugo (second photo) and I have an excellent connection when it comes to creativity. Hugo is very talented both as a filmmaker and an actor. So I definitely lucked out on having someone by my side who can help create this with me. It was so much fun. We talked about what we wanted the video to look like and I think we got it exactly what we pictured.
For four years, the readers of Georgia Voice have voted you Best Musician. What's your reaction to that?
I honestly cannot think of any words. The first time I won, I had only been performing for like two months. It’s amazing how supportive people can be. I never imagined winning the first time, let alone the past four times. I’m beyond honored to have such supportive people by my side. Thank you, thank you, thank you to those who voted every year!
What's next for you?
So I dropped this debut single. I am working on a couple of features that I’m excited about. I have a “Dope” track coming with the amazing Alissah Brooks. We are both under Big Snow Entertainment. Also, I’m working on a feature with local singer Marleigh, which is going to be great! She opened for Seth Harden at Sweetland Amphitheatre at Boyd Park on Aug. 27 and invited me to do our song together and a collaborative “Live out Loud”. I’m also working on a feature with rapper/singer, AudioWolfe. He’s insane, and I think the song is going to do really well.
I’m also in the process of writing for my debut album. (I’ve always wanted to say that!) I can’t wait to keep everybody updated on everything as soon as it starts rolling.
You can catch J. Tyler perform at the “Dope Shit” Single Release Party at Jungle on Thursday, Sept. 1 with Alissah Brooks, on Sept. 2 during Femme Fatale at Burkhart’s, and during Athens Pride on Sept. 4. He’s also scheduled to perform during the Atlanta Pride celebration at My Sister’s Room on Oct. 8.