Reflecting on Brooklyn MC Tai Free’s journal

Brooklyn-based artist Tai Free recently dropped his debut EP ‘Journals.’ The EP promises soulful beats and flawless driving flow. It reads exactly like a journal with every page releasing emotions and feelings into each and every one of his tracks. 

Tai Free's brand of hip-hop is a modern take on the frustrations of inner city youth over eclectic, yet soulful beats. He explains love, his dreams, the crushing bitterness of poverty, and everything in between. 

We chat to Tai Free about how music is his journal, spreading positivity and how 50 Cent’s ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’ got him into the game. Margaret Tra writes.  

You just dropped Journals EP tell us about it.

It feels good. I was transitioning in a number of ways and I wanted people to hear where I was at on my terms. The response has been great.

Do you have a journal yourself?

Moleskin gang. It's more just rough drafts of writing, verses, designs. The music is my journal, it's where I'm most transparent. 

Who are your influences?

I have to say James Baldwin, just in the way he lived his life as an artist. Tupac, in how he lived as a revolutionary. Nas - It Was Written is probably the most important album to me, lyrically. Yasiin Bey, Biggie Smalls and Kanye's first three albums. There's a lot.

Your style is quite emotive and spreading positivity amongst reality. Is that important to you to share your story this way?

It's very important. Where I'm from, what I've been through, may have been ugly but it's the most important part of the story. It's hard to recognise beauty, or truly appreciate hope, without the bad. I have to be positive and bring that light.

You have a really great flow, how did you start getting into rapping?

That's love, fam. I heard ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin' by 50 Cent when it first dropped. I had to be 12 years old listening to this album that was insanely violent. But it was so vivid. And it's weird because I was already a hip hop head at the time. 

My brother wanted to be a DJ so he had a bunch of classics on vinyl. ‘Ready to Die’ by Muddy Waters, Supreme Clientele, everything. I was just surrounded by music all the time. But when 50 dropped, it made me want to rap. It made me want to tell stories. The movement, the feeling in New York City at the time, in the streets was once in a lifetime. 

What stimulates your soul? 

A few things: Jazz, books by Takashi Murakami, visual poems and Washington Square park. 

Soundcloud EP: