T̷R̷O̷N̷ is an anomaly in the music industry, someone who loves music down to the core and was destined for greatness since birth. As the son of TLC’s Chilli and super-producer Dallas Austin, the artist, drummer, and songwriter produces all his own music, with dreams of becoming a rockstar at the young age of 10.
A true musician if there ever was one, T̷R̷O̷N̷ prides himself in his diversity, straddling the genres of hip-hop and R&B and incorporating real instruments into his music any chance he can.
He explains, “Long-term wise, I want to be able to be an impactful performer. To do that, you want to incorporate as many real elements of music, as many real things that are already there as possible. Because when it’s show time, you have a live band, you can do all that. I say bring two worlds into one where you make a hip hop concert and a rock concert fused together.”
Most recently, the Atlanta native unleashed his new visual for “Take You There,” a standout single from his most recent project INSOMNIA. The 4-track project speaks volumes to his artistic mind and creativity, taking fans on a journey into his alternate reality.
AllHipHop: What do you feel when you play the drums?
T̷R̷O̷N̷: Honestly for me, back when I started, I was also on the guitar for a year and a half. I wasn’t really feeling it that much, as much as I like drums. When I got on drums, I taught myself how to play. I went to percussion class in middle school. From there I went to marching band, kept it in the drum family. Initially, when I play, it’s more a feeling of stress relief meets rhythm. Because you get to bang it out, but you can’t just hit it. You have to have emotion with it. For me, I looked at it as another way to express yourself, still be able to have physical relief. By the time you’re done, you have a little soreness. You’re sweating a little bit because okay, I was doing a lot of things. It gets me into that cyclical motion.
AllHipHop: Being from Atlanta, what was that like growing up?
T̷R̷O̷N̷: Honestly, Atlanta is home. That’s why I live here now. I really grew to appreciate it in the most recent years because when you grow up somewhere, you look at it like home no matter where you come from. By the time you’re 18, time to go to college, there’s two different people. Some people want to stay around home, other people want to venture out. I ended up going to college in Florida.
After I got done, me and now fiance — I just proposed to her yesterday. It was honestly the best day of my life, we have been together for 4 years and living together 3 out of those 4 years. With us being from different countries and cultures, it gave me so much confidence to know with all those stipulations mentioned we still are best friends/soulmates.
AllHipHop: Oh my gosh, congratulations! Valentine’s Day, that’s beautiful.
T̷R̷O̷N̷: That was amazing! We’ve been together for 4 years, and I had them set it up. [shows video of proposal]
AllHipHop: Did she know?
T̷R̷O̷N̷: Oh no. She had an idea because of course, we’ve been together for 4 years, but she didn’t know exactly when or anything. [laughs] I was really happy at the restaurant, I’m like “say yes!” It went perfect. I was planning it out for a good month in total, so I’m glad everything worked out.
AllHipHop: Does she inspire a lot of your music?
T̷R̷O̷N̷: Oh yeah, definitely. The thing about me is I’ve always been the guy to really like organic, very to the point thought processes. She’s exactly that. She comes from Korea where they put it pretty straightforward most of the time. Anytime you hear a project or anything, she’d be like, “yeah, that’s good.” Or “ehh, not feeling that.” For me, it’s the honesty. It doesn’t matter who you are.
Drake’s my guy, right? But I didn’t feel like even a Drake would have a “okay, maybe this song’s not it.” Most artists have a lot of songs, and the only ones that get chosen are the ones that they think are the best, or the label does.
You need a little bit of a direction as far as alright, is this sounding good? My fiance and even people I work with at the studio — at this point, everyone knows that people who I care about their opinions keep it really straightforward. Because if it’s not them that’s going to give me honesty, the world will go ahead and give me some good humble pie. [laughs] Definitely a lot of inspiration for my music though. If it’s not about us or something that we’ve been through or done, I just relate to somebody else’s experience.
AllHipHop: “Take You There” video out now, bring us back to when you need this record.
T̷R̷O̷N̷: I ended up making “Take You There,” that was one of the last songs on the INSOMNIA project. After I had the viral “Captions” buzz going, the dance challenge and everything going on with that. That second single, I really wanted to make an EP because it solidified a sound and keeps the consistency. A single’s cool, but you don’t really know. A single is a single, you want to have a good follow-up.
I was in this particular room, it was early morning. I couldn’t really go back to sleep. One of my producers sent me a bundle of beats as always, shout out to Rope God. I was in here, started flowing through the lyrics. I like to get an idea of the song before I go to the studio, because time is money. You’re paying by the hour so you want to at least come prepared, at least have a couple records ready. I had a sketch of that song done.
It’s funny, most times it doesn’t really go always exactly the way it went in my head. Sometimes you might have an idea, you go in the studio like “okay, I don’t know how I was thinking that.” But that was one of the ones that worked out. After that, it was history. I kept playing with it, I had a brief section of it done. Once I got some good feedback from peers and people around me, alright let me see more about this. After I released the EP itself, “Take You There” specifically had more of the streams. Top of the list for the streams between there and “Dreams,” which I was surprised. I always thought the “Sunkissed” song was going to be the one doing that because it brings that reggaeton. But hey, it’s all good. [laughs]
AllHipHop: What do you do when you can’t sleep?
T̷R̷O̷N̷: Oh man, games. If I’m not gaming, sometimes try and do music, but I always think your mind’s not really fresh. I listen to podcasts, a lot of Joe Rogan. Love learning new stuff. The more words that you know, the more you can utilize in your lyrics, whether they’re used for situational stuff or just trying to say something else. Instead of every average thing. Maybe instead of saying this purpose word here, we can say this purpose word there. Put in a different word that you don’t usually hear, maybe that isn’t so generic. You only get that knowledge if you’re not majoring in that stuff in college. Looking further upon psychology and literature, podcasts are the best way to have background noise and get more knowledge. I call it brainfood, depending how much you listen to. [laughs]
AllHipHop: What does 777 mean?
T̷R̷O̷N̷: I got it tattooed on me back in 2015, late summer. This is my second sleeve. For me honestly, it always meant spiritual divinity, in whatever religion specifically you are. It was more standing for God himself because wherever you come from, God brings us all together. I use God through my music. Regardless if it’s a direct message or not, it’s what you’re representing. I always like to represent something that’s at least positive enough.
There’s a lot of things out there in the world, something like a 777 always has positive energy around it. People look it up, it’s an angelic number. It’s always positive stuff. I always thought okay if I’m going to rep something, I’ll rep something that people are going to wear on a t-shirt when they want to come to my concert. They want to do this. I don’t want their parents to say, “oh, what’s that? What kind of guy is that?” On top of that, you’re already going to get a lot of negative stuff regardless. The world’s the world, it sucks. If I gave you a little positivity without being this cringey advocate for super positivity, just put it there so it’s always in the centerpiece, I wanted to make it more like that. Not so in your face, but 777 in the background. You look it up, it’s positive stuff. Okay, that guy’s reppin’ positive energy. That’s how I look at it.
AllHipHop: Being son of Dallas Austin, who’s a legend, how does it feel to be stepping into your own limelight?
T̷R̷O̷N̷: He recommended me switch my major to music theory while I was 6 months in my engineering degree, but I took his advice and changed it. It was a pain to switch it. At the same time, I knew that I’d never want to go to college again so this is probably my biggest opportunity to learn. As far as working goes, I’m very independent, when I got out college he showed me a few studio strategies and writing techniques that I still use today and The thing about creation is it’s very particular to the person, and when you are stepping into your own zone and people wanna see what you have to offer you must find your way of working and whatever works best for you continue that strategy finding that is a process within itself .You find yourself as an artist through going through your own stuff and developing your own sound, and that’s the best way to do it.
As far as the lineage, it’s always been in your face but I don’t know. At the end of the day, everyone will be forgotten at some point. You have to make your own mark so I always thought of it that way. You can’t really go based off that if people don’t know who your folks are youre just gonna look like an entitled jackass and I could tell that from a far that wether you are continuing a legacy or starting one YOU have to take the bull by the horns and captain your won ship.Regardless For me, it’s cool. It’s definitely dope knowing you have access to experience and people think you are already the grand wizard like when I went to college, it was all attention on me because everyone knew where i was from before I even moved into my crib down there but it gave me extra motivation to really show what I’m capable of and try things I was not used to.
It’s funny because the guy who ended up graduating from Full Sail, ended up interning at Darp for a long time. He was my final exam proctor. It’s crazy, full circle. I was 18 at the time. I soak it all in. I definitely try to approach it as organic as possible because that ensures the best results. For me, I was always told by both of them: it’s a double-edged sword. You can totally get in there faster, but people’s expectations are higher. Especially if you know both sides, alright bet. You’re definitely thinking you should come in with something hard.
Once I got that mindset to know it’s going to be hard before it’s easy, it is what it is. That’s the situation for everybody personally. Coming from lineage or not, it’ll make it harder. But if you get there, when you get there, oh man. You get the bigger respect factor. Once people realize your journey, however you did it, they respect that. They came from this lineage and still said “okay, I’m still going to take it into my own hands.” Because in the long run, that’s all that really matters. All that matters is what you did. They look your name up, you don’t want to be just somebody else’s something.
AllHipHop: Talk about your love for MMA and staying fit.
T̷R̷O̷N̷: I did some sports in middle school, early high school. But once I was in percussion, I only stuck to drums and music. This is an opportunity to really get something like that in and try it out. Once I started getting good and really improving, my coaches always wanted me to take fights. My parents would kill me, but maybe one day. I did a little amateur thing where I got a stoppage in a couple minutes but it as a little sparring tournament, one day I would like to compete in a muay thai bout before i die.
Till this day, that’s why I do MMA. Unfortunately after New York, me and my girl got Covid. It wasn’t too bad, there’s been worse cases. We came back strong. After college, it super stuck. Now, I’ve been doing it for a couple of years. It helped me get through mental things that were battling me in college. You go home, you’re drained. Got some bruises, out of breath. You can’t really get anxious, can’t get frustrated. You can do your stuff with a lot more ease. You feel like you accomplished something today! Besides going to school, then studying. I didn’t like that feel of repetition, let’s shake it up. It definitely keeps me disciplined and level-headed. I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
AllHipHop: What can we expect next from you, music-wise?
T̷R̷O̷N̷: I want to do a couple more singles. Honestly, I want to do some features. That’s what I was planning to do before all this pandemic stuff. It made it a little hard to physically — if I could, I like to physically be in the studio with the artist and we can create together. If you can, obviously do it virtually. I just did a virtual concert days ago, it’s cool. Nothing like a live show, but I like the fact we’re working around this stuff. Working around whatever’s going on. For me, performing is the biggest thing I want to do. Put on a show for folks because back when “Captions” was getting big and I was getting opportunities, unfortunately 4 shows I was booked on got canceled because of Covid. I was saddened, but I wasn’t really too beat up because I knew the whole world was taking an L at once. It’s not like anyone was really in a positive position, everyone was feeling crazy.
Even right now, it’s still a little weird. It’s slowly getting it back together. I’m definitely planning to do shows, releasing more. A couple singles. I want to do a whole album with features, make it 10 songs or something. I’ve been in this for a couple of years. Because it’s a lightning can strike through any time situation, you want to always be working on your sound. Always keep the consistency of putting out. Because of negotiations and contract issues, I really couldn’t put out music for a good minute. A lot of stuff going on.
I couldn’t release my video for “Captions” until March, when I released the song in September because of the same situation. That taught me a valuable lessons, taking head and taking charge and making sure you’re doing a lot of other things because it’s really unpredictable. You don’t want to get into a situation where you’re waiting there. You want to keep the consistency of releasing music and letting people see you grow as an artist.
That was another thing I had to get over the factor of. Even when I was shooting “Captions,” I held democracy. I made 70 people get in a room that I didn’t know, go through 5 songs that I had made that I thought was the best out of 20 I did at the time. The one with the most show the hands is the one I was going to go with, it happened to be that song. That’s how critical I wanted to be. Nowadays, I’m more willing to put it out there and experiment with sounds.
Once again, you’ll always have people like it. You always have people who hate it, dislike it, think it’s cool, think it’s trash. It’s up to you. As long as you know you’re growing and it’s a development, even if the numbers aren’t as good as this, it’s more about you developing as an artist. My thing I took away: if you as an independent artist can get as much control of your situation as possible — you can’t always be in the driver’s seat. You can’t always be the Floyd Mayweather, the A-side.
But if you can get as close to your ball field as possible — because once you sign, once you do everything, you’re still locked in. That’s a good idea. You want people to fall in love with your sound and what you’re trying to push, not necessarily what you’re trying to create.
It’s a hard world, a hard way to make a living even as an artist from a consistent standpoint. A lot of people I know have a lot of talent, but key things are missing. A lot of them have to do with connections and elements that might not go over their head.
I’m still learning. Every day’s a new learning experience. Every day’s a process. Once again if you can manipulate a situation as much as you could, even though that’s going to be a hard thing to do and that’s a very small percentage, it makes the biggest difference in the long run. In my opinion, just growing up and seeing it. That’s my biggest takeaway to be honest.