Tom P Interview with Rapgeekz

January 23, 2015

Stage Name: Tom P

Gov't Name: Tom Peters

Reppin’: Decatur / Atlanta

Notable Releases: Albums: Root for the Underdog, The Preachers Kid. Singles: ‘Root for the Underdog’, ‘Wicked’, ‘ATL Nightmare ft. Jarren Benton’, ‘Sloppy Seconds ft. RITTZ’, ‘Ode to the PK ft. Trinidad James, Gripplyaz.’ ‘Time Flies ft. Playboy Tre and Aleon Craft’. ‘Drunk Girls ft. Nappy Roots.’

Currently Working on: A New Mixtape, details TBA. I also, recently, wrapped four music videos that I directed and star in that I plan to release over the next couple of months. One is already out, ’ATL Nightmare’ featuring Jarren Benton. The next will be ‘Sloppy Seconds’ featuring RITTZ. After that, I have two videos for unreleased songs off my upcoming project.

 

Influenced By: That’s a long list. Basically, all the Atlanta rappers who paved a way during the 90’s and made a name for the South; Outkast, Goodie Mob, Ludachris, Slimm Calhoun, etc. I’m also a fan of many Texas rappers from a similar era like; Scarface and UGK. Then, of course, Eminem, Jay Z, Nas, Masta Ace, Snoop Dog, Talib Kwelli.. a whole bunch of others. 

Education: I finished High School.. after that I’ve been in and out of college but still haven’t graduated.

WHO AM I? I’m the opposite of what everyone’s first impression is when they see me. The ‘white-thing’ certainly plays a part in that, but I grew up in inner-city Atlanta. I’ve lived in the same area as Gucci Mane and the same neck of the woods as Outkast.. I’ve seen it all. I started rapping way before most of the white rappers who are popular now, so I was never really part of the ‘jump on the band wagon’ thing, in that regard. Although, these days people tend to jump to that conclusion, for some reason. When I started, it was still really uncool to be white and rap but I stuck it out anyway, determined to prove people wrong. I consider myself to be a jack of all trades. I didn’t have access to much so I, basically, took it upon myself to learn the skills necessary to pursue a career in rap. I produced my own beats, threw my own events, promoted them, did my social media promotions and street promotions, learned website development, graphic design. Recently, I’ve been directed my own music videos and handling all the logistics of that like; casting, prop-design, costuming, etc. I’ve managed myself and been my own PR rep also. I think it’s funny, and kind of sucks but the thing I have done probably the least of in my rap career is actually rapping. Even still, I’ve recorded and distributed three full-length indie albums. My last, of which, ‘The Preachers Kid’ actually hit the iTunes top 100 and collectively I’ve sold several thousand albums. Not bad for being completely indie. I don’t mean an indie label. I mean ‘out the trunk, at shows, on-line indie-grind, indie.’ But that’s what it takes these days.

When did you first start rapping? I was probably about 11 when I wrote my first rap. It sucked really bad. I put out my first album in 2009 and started throwing my own warehouse parties I would perform at to promote it. So around then is probably when I really got started pursuing it heavily. Although, the first show I ever put on was in 2007. I was just a kid. 

What did your family do to encourage you? Not shit. My Dad’s a preacher and he didn’t get it at all. However, they have been coming around over the last few years once I started selling out shows, touring and hitting the iTunes charts and stuff. And I can say they have been encouraging in other ways, of me in general. I was lucky to have two really awesome parents. I just think that they didn’t see the ‘rap career’ as being viable for a long time, but they want to see me successful and happy at the end of the day.

How did your rap name come about? It’s a nick name. My real name is Tom Peters so Tom P was just what people coined in, like, middle school. 

Top 4 Favorite Rappers? Scarface, Outkast, Masta Ace, Eminem. Yes, I’m counting Outkast as one for this.

If you could compare yourself to an already established artist, who would that be and why? I really don’t think I’m like anyone out there. No one has had my story. There’s no established white rappers from Atlanta, for one. On top of that, none who grew up in the places I did and have had the amount of successes I have and, yet, are still unsigned, un-wavered and grinding. My crew and I have been through it all. We have done over 100 shows with no booking agent. Sold out most of the biggest venues in Atlanta. Toured with folks like Techn9ne, Bone Thugs, MGK, etc. Won awards for the music, all that… but Atlanta is really tough and, besides the ‘white thing’ which I don’t think matters as much. I have an alternative sound that isn’t exactly what is ‘hot’ right now down here. My sound is more of a 90’s throw-back to Outkast, then, lets say, Migos. Although, it does borrow a lot from Southern-Mainstream artists in it’s braggadocios nature. I have a lot of fans who have compared me to everything from TI to Twista. 

Who is your hero/role model? My pops.
 
What do you think your listeners will get out of your music? A new story that they probably didn’t realize existed. I’m not the ‘struggling underground rapper’ who worked his way through the freestyle-battle scene or performed in dive bars for years. We have actually done very well, in terms of a local following and caliber of shows I have been able to book for us. I also am not a mainstream guy or a ‘frat rapper,’ although I don’t really look like what most people usually think a rapper is supposed to look like. I do that on purpose. I feel as though if you are a rapper and you were born to be one, you don’t have to ‘try’ to ‘look’ like anything. Why try to look like something that you are? I have my own style of everything from the way I dress, to hair cut, to rapping technique and I strive to not be like anyone else. It actually comes naturally for me. For instance, I’ve always worn my hair shaggy, which throws some people off I think. But, most of the white dudes who started rapping since I started, I noticed, shave their heads, get tattoos on their necks, wear big gold chains, etc.. what have you.. then you find out they grew up in some all-white, privileged-ass neighborhood or some shit.. But they have this idea that they need to look a certain way to be a rapper. It makes no sense to me. If I wanted to dress like a ‘rapper,’ I could.. if I wanted a buzz-cut, I’d go to great clips.. I don’t want to be confused as someone who is ‘trying.’ However, I’ve noticed that concept is over some people’s heads. The simple-thinkers will actually often confuse me for that other white guy. They’ll see something dumb like, “you’re not a real rapper, you have shaggy hair” … and not realize how absolutely moronic, on so many levels, that statement is. 

What hip-hop albums did they grow up listening to? All of them. Literally. I have a CD Booklet with about 1,000 real albums and the covers stuck in the sleeves. I have a full 10-gig iPod. It’s not all rap either. I have a bit of everything, even pop and country. I’ve always just loved music.

What would be their dream collaboration with any rapper or producer? Probably Outkast or Eminem just because I would love the challenge to keep up with them and hold my own on a track of that caliber. It would probably take a lot of editing and re-working on my part, but I honestly think I would surprise everyone if I had a few days to prepare my verses. Those cats are amazing. I like to challenge myself. 

What made you want to get into the business? Probably some form of masochism. You have to really want to be a musician to put yourself through what it actually takes to be one. 

What is the most difficult thing you had to endure in life? That’s hard to say.. Every day/week/month has its ups and downs. I tend to stay positive about things though. I’ve been through enough that I could, and plan to, write a novel about it one day. 

Plans to do if you make it big? Keep working and make it bigger.

What can we do to help change the world? Stop judging books by their covers. Stop accepting fearful and/or racist ideologies. Use common sense. Stop blaming the poor for the countries problems. Take Fox News off the air and make public ridicule of it in our history books. While we’re at it, MSNBC as well. Honor good journalism. Stop religion from being considered a valid argument for anything. Accept each other. Build rocket ships. Plant trees. Promote discovery. Encourage independent thought. 

So, what are your thoughts on the current state of the game? I think it’s very well-rounded. You have everything from Kendrick Lamar to Young Thug right now. I think the ASAP crew is dope. Schoolboy Q and those cats are killing it. Obviously, being a homie, I’m happy to see Jarren Benton and Funk Volume making moves. However, on the independent front it has become way over-saturated. Every kid with Garage Band seems to want to be a rapper and don’t have any patience, or idea of what it takes to do this. With all the social media outlets, they jump the gun and release the first rap they ever record. Regardless of weather they can rap at all, or what the quality is. They spam people, they spam the blogs, they hate on each other.. and there are so many of them that actual real talent often gets lost in the fray or dismissed immediately because people fear it’s just more of the same crap-quality nonsense that the millions of other kids are pushing. I think the idea that ‘rap is easy’ has fucked up the industry. Kids are lazy so they decide to rap. When, in reality, making it as a rapper is harder than anything else you could possibly pursue. It may take a dozen years and you may never make it, you will be misunderstood, you will spend every penny you have on studio time, travel, flyers, posters, cd’s, music videos, etc. and you may never make any of it back. You take a lot of risk and even if you ‘make it,’ it doesn’t mean you can have any sort of lasting career. Some kids have a very skewed idea of what ‘making it’ means. I have watched it first-hand and know that a lot of these ‘rappers’ that some kids think are making mad money are actually working their ass off and making as much as a Starbucks manager. You should only rap if you are truly talented, have a serious love for the music and art form, want to put in the hard work, have something to offer the game and feel as though you were made to do it. Because if you don’t, there are other people that do, and you are just over-saturating shit and making it hard for real artists to get heard. And I think we can all agree that when good music isn’t heard, it hurts everyone and the entire industry.

Dreams & Goals: Make enough money to support a decent life off music for myself and my family. I want to travel. I want to perform.... 

 

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