TOPEKA, Kan. —
Topeka, Kansas may have found their voice of the future in singer T-Rell. He emerged on the scene in 2014 after releasing his song, “My Dawg,” which was a dedication to his manager and brother who tragically lost their lives in a car accident. The news reached Baton Rouge’s Lil Boosie, he connected with T-Rell to jump on the remix for, “My Dawg,” invited Rell to tour with him, and the rest, as they say, is history. Drawing from personal experiences, T-Rell music has a certain flare of sorrow and inspiration mixed in. Keep going is the motto. His new single, “Letter To Jordan” symbolizes his motto to the fullest. His son Jordan was born with Down Syndrome, has battled through cancer, and has a mass tumor that he’s dealing with, but T-Rell continues to be inspired by the fact that his son handles it all with a smile on his face.
T-Rell talks with Zenger News about his upcoming album, “Big Rell,” a show with his son, “Best Buddies,” and much more.
Zenger: “Letter to Jordan,” very powerful record you wrote to your son, who has been through hell and back at a very young age. Was that a difficult song for you to pen?
T-Rell: It started flowing. I get in the booth, and I sing from my heart. I don’t really write. It was an emotional record. It’s something that I’m really going through and felt, so it made it easy to put down.
Zenger: when I listen to, “Letter to Jordan,” “My Dawg,” it seems you draw from personal experiences to create your music.
T-Rell: Yes sir! I’m more of a moment artist. I make my best music when something happens to me. When I made “My Dawg,” my brother passed away. When I made “LL3” MO3 passed away. When I made, “Letter to Jordan,” my son had cancer and was dealing with Down Syndrome. I’m an emotional guy, so you get the best records out of me when I’m going through something.
Zenger: When can we expect the “Big Rell” project and what can we expect on that album?
T-Rell: A lot of moments, relationship problems, heartache, and things that I’ve been going through. There is another side of me that I feel like the fans really love. I recently dropped a song called, “Fake Smiles,” and they really were feeling it. It gave me the opportunity to let my real emotions show on this project. It will be coming out shortly. Very soon.
Zenger: Any features we can look forward to, or did you center this album around you and your sound only?
T-Rell: I got SleazyWorld Go on this album, Bankroll Freddie is on the album. I have other features, but I want to keep it a surprise. I’ll give you one, I got Sada Baby. I worked with him as well.
Zenger: You have a connection with Lil Boosie, You’ve worked with Fredo Bang, Kevin Gates… being from Louisiana myself, what is it about the state that makes you gravitate to the sound and it’s artists?
T-Rell: I made my biggest records with nothing but Louisiana people. Fredo is my guy. Boosie trained me, bro. Me and my manager get into it all the time about Boosie. Boosie is my mentor, I don’t care. I toured with Boosie for so long. I learned my hustle from him. The Louisiana sound is amazing. I like how ya’ll talk. [Kevin] Gates is raw with it. I’ve worked with a lot of Louisiana people. Ya’ll thorough down there. I just did a record with Juve [Juvenile]. I know if you want a hit, go on down to Louisiana, you’re going to find you one.
Zenger: You are very involved with your community. Mayor Padilla recently rewarded your charitable work. How important is it for you to remove the artists at times and show the humane side?
T-Rell: That’s the biggest part about me. The music comes easy. That’s my love and passion, but what means the most to me is taking care of these children. I was once one of them, daddy in prison, momma on drugs. I really didn’t get much. My grandma raised me to where I got one to two pairs of shoes a year. It’s a part of me to take care of these children, help them out, and feed communities. Last year there were at least 3 to 4,000 people out there. I fed them all. I put a couple thousand pairs of shoes on kid’s feet. I provided everybody there with water guns and we had a big water fight. Some people don’t get summer camp.
They look forward to May 22nd [T-Rell Day] every year. They know that T-Rell going to provide that event and it gets bigger and bigger every year. This year I have something special for them, more celebrities coming out. “T-Rell Day” is starting to get more known. I was surprised when they mayor gave me my proclamation. I wasn’t doing it for that. I started off at Walmart just giving shoes to kids. I’d buy about 300 pairs and I would just give it to them. It turned into this and I’m going to keep it going every year. I’m trying to do it twice a year.
Zenger: You do “Smart Shopping Tips,” you have “Best Buddies” coming out with your son Jordan. You have a lot going on. How do you balance everything along with the music you’re working on?
T-Rell: I just take it one day at a time. You gotta prioritize your day. I’m a determined type. Ain’t no telling me, no. I’ll shorten my sleep schedule just so I can get more done during the day. I remember when I started doing the “Smart Shopping Tips,” on TikTok, I was in Walmart every day. I would call my homie and wake him up like, “Bro, we gotta go to Walmart and get another outfit.” It became a trend. When you’re determined to do something, you gotta get it done. You make time for what’s important to you. To show my son and his abilities and how great of a kid he is, I really am an advocate for kids with disabilities. I believe they are the best people in the world. My son was born with Down Syndrome. This summer I kicked it with my manager’s son. He has autism. There’s nothing like them. They’re happy and they’re fun. Right now, my son is dealing with a mass tumor, he just beat cancer, he’s doing it with a smile. He’s happy. He doesn’t care about being sick, he cares about missing a school play. That goes to show that having a disability makes them more human than people who don’t have a disability. I have no excuses. So, when I fall, what’s the term… you get back up. Don’t cry. If my son can get through that and not cry, I can go through any situation that I have going on in life.
Zenger: You have received many cosigns, Tank, MO3 comparisons, but on social media and in life, you remain so humble. Where does that come from?
T-Rell: I’m old school, man. My grandma raised me that way. You have to be thankful for things that are happening. I’m not here to boast or brag because God will take it from you faster than he gave it to you. I have a hit record and yeah, they recognize me, but that just shows me that I have more to do. I’m just getting started. I want more. I appreciate everything they say, I want to do it for the next person. I want to be that person that brings somebody else up. You gotta keep the chain going. I highly appreciate all the love I get from my peers and those that came before me.
Zenger: Your remake of Tank’s “I Deserve,” is unbelievable. To have someone like Tank in your ear helping you navigate this industry, what does that mean to you?
T-Rell: A lot of artists stray away from older artists because they’re not super relevant, right. I gravitate to older artists because I’ve always learned from older people. They have already been through it. You need those older artists that came before you. They already fell down 15 times. They can prevent me from falling down. He is like, “Don’t do that. I wouldn’t do that. Try this.” You need those people. I was dealing with my homeboy. I called him one day and I was excited because I got a Facetime call from Anthony Hamilton. He was like, “What do you want to talk to him for?” I’m like, “Bro, do you not know who this is?” He can tell me anything and I can learn everything from him. Working with Tank was beautiful.
I was at a SleazyWorld Go video shoot with Offset, and they had hella pistols out there, and Tank was like, “What are you doing? Why were you there? You’re an R&B singer, you don’t need to be there. You look awkward.” And I felt awkward. It was not for me. But I was trying to support. It takes some people in your ear that’s really trying to help you. The OG artists got more respect. They’re not clout chasing. They already got their accolades. They’re not against you. They want to see you go further. Some people want to see you do good, but not better than them. The OG’s are like, “Go ahead young fella, it’s your turn.” So, 2023 is going to be a great year. I want everyone to do well.
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