Tic Gunna is a rapper based in Miami who comes from an adverse background. Having grown up in East Harlem, NY, the rapper is no stranger to crime, as he was in and out of jail throughout his youth due to drug-related offenses. His life experiences heavily influence his music, and his excellent storytelling skills offer a great narration of those experiences. His music also heavily references the Santería faith, a polytheistic religion from Cuba that the rapper converted to after being released from jail. Additionally, he also launched his own label called 848.

Tell us about the genesis of your project. How did you get to where you are now?

My most recent album Santero was basically a movie in music form of the things I was going through in my life at the time. All of the songs are based on a true story. 

Right now, I’m in Miami producing my music. I moved from East Harlem, New York because I was getting into some trouble. I don’t really talk about that but I left because I didn’t want to be in the situation I was in. If I stayed, I might have ended up in jail. I do talk about it more in Santero, which was produced back when I was in New York.  

How would you describe the highs and lows of being an artist? 

The high is when you get recognized but the low is when people start acting too-faced to you. Especially in the music business, people will have one face in front of you, and then turn around and have a whole different mindset. 

Who are your all-time musical icons?

Only one – Future. I think that when he came out, he was very underrated. I don’t think people gave him the credit that he deserved when he first came out. Now, he’s 10 to 15 years in the game, and he’s at his peak. A lot of people who have been in the game for that long would retire and their career is over. No one wants to hear their music anymore. Future could drop something right now, and it would be a number one hit. For him to be in this industry for that long and do that, I think that’s amazing. An artist like Jay-Z could drop something right now and it would be a hit, but it would not have the same effect as Future. It would just be a hit because it was Jay-Z. Future could actually drop a hit and it would play in the club for 8 to 9 months straight.

What are some things to do to keep your inspiration alive?

I try to stay active as far as my regular life. That’s where my music comes from, everything I go through. If I have nothing going on, I have no music to make. So I try to stay active, as far as the things I speak about in my music. 

Favorite movie or TV show?

My favorite movies are Paid in Full and Face/Off

What are some things you do to deal with anxiety and creative blocks?

I smoke weed and pray. You have to roll with the punches. I have a side cannabis line that’s under construction at the moment. I’m hoping that the music will take off and promote the side business. 

What’s the future looking like for you?

To keep making music and to open up a couple more businesses. I already have my own record label 848. I also finished my next project but I have to release it. It’s called The Purple Tape. I also have a project I’m working on called The Last Shall Be First. Usually, I make music that tells my story and I make people feel it with my beat selection. I make my story listenable with my beat selection. The Purple Tape is more of an East Harlem story, and I’m in it, but it focuses on everyone else. The Last Shall Be First is to exploit my talent and that’s where I have different types of music. It’s not just the hardcore songs I usually put out.

Who inspires your style and aesthetics?

My style comes from watching the older drug dealers when I was younger. I think I’m a little bit of every one of them. I grew up around that stuff.

What is the achievement or moment in your career you are the most proud of and why?

I would say opening up my own record label and making it an LLC. It was something I could call my own and it made me feel like a businessman. 

What do you think is the best way to make it as an artist nowadays?

The best way to make it nowadays is to have a lot of money to throw away. At the end of the day, you could have the best song in the world and never get it heard. No one may know you have the best song in the world unless you pay a bunch of people to put your song here, put your song there. It’s become more about not what you know, but who you know. Even with who you know, at the end of the day, it balls down to the money thing. If you want to be successful, you need to have a lot of money to throw away because it’s going to take a while. They put your songs out on so many different platforms that people have to listen to it, and that’s not cheap. 

What would you change in the music and entertainment industry especially after this past year?

I would make it more about the music and bring everyone down their pedestals. I think that there’s a lot of people out there who are missing out on opportunities because of their financial situation. I also think that there are a lot of people out there who are missing out on having a great situation because they don’t have the right connections. It should be more about the music and there should be more open door policies. Everyone deserves their shot and to prove their worth. A lot of people don’t even get the chance to do that.