There is no single way to define or characterize Thank You Don Mo’Retti, also known as TYDM. The South Carolina native is an artist at work in his own creative lane, dabbling in film, photography, production, and — most prominently — rap. This summer, TYDM is bringing those channels of creation together, led by his musical efforts.
This Thursday, the rapper is dropping his debut EP “Moon Roof Condo.” The project will serve as an introduction to TYDM, initiating listeners with the rapper’s distinctive sound and artistic vision.
In conjunction with Thursday’s EP release, TYDM has also created moving art pieces for every song off of the project. He will exclusively debut the visuals right here on HYPEFRESH every Tuesday for 6 weeks in a series called #ThankYouTuesdays. Check out the YouTube video below for today’s series premier song, “1000 Island”!
Additionally, TYDM is holding art experience exhibits to showcase the EP in “Wavin’ Motion Picture” form, as well as bring together other art acts. After an impressive turnout in Charlotte back in January, TYDM will be in New York City later tonight (Tuesday) for an exhibit, with more cities coming soon.
Clearly, I had a lot to talk about in my conversation with TYDM last week. We touched on a variety of topics, from his summer projects to his future visions and everything in between. TYDM’s multi-dimensional vision on art, in addition to his generous and motivated personality, should have listeners excited for his upcoming work. Or, in his own words: “Be ready for the ride.”
Today you premiered the first “Wavin Motion Picture” through the song “1000 Island.” What is this song about?
It's a love story about stepping outside of your comfort zone in terms of meeting somebody new. It’s about throwing away social, religious, and racial boundaries with dating.
Let’s start by looking at your project as a whole. What message do you want to send with Moon Roof Condo?
Moon Roof Condo is going to be the blueprint of me and what people can expect going forward. It’s a lot of random sounds and good vibes. I recorded it a year and a half ago in a condo I had in Myrtle Beach, so the project covers where I was in life at that point. It’s the sounds and vibes of triumph and failure as well as emotional-type stuff. There's a lot of different stories I tell on the EP.
Where were you in life at that point?
I was in college, living it up in Myrtle Beach. Running the streets, doing hoodrat sh— with friends, living the club life out there.
In general, what do you make your music and art content about?
I try not to make my music so personal, man. Anybody can get in and talk about exactly what they’re doing, but I like to talk about things other people are going through. I try to think about what’s going on and what people can relate to, rather than just rapping or singing about me.
What about you and your art do you want listeners to understand through your coming EP?
I want people to respect the art in Moon Roof Condo. Not the rap or the singing or the instruments. My main thing is people separating this from just rap and realizing that this is art. Everything’s different about this release.
I want people to put this in its own lane. I want to get across my commitment. I hope, in general, it lays down the foundation where people can really hear what I’m about and see what I’m trying to bring to the sound, and they know to check back for the future and become a fan.
What about your art are you looking forward to most for the coming months?
Really just getting people more material. I went a while without having any material out, so over the next couple of months I want people to see the wave that I’m on now. The level I’m creating at is way higher than ever before and I’m ready to get things out that I’ve been working on lately. On top of that I’m just looking forward to elevating everything that I stand for and do, whether it’s giving back to communities or music or film.
What did the Moon Roof Condo creation process look like?
It took a lot of nights of not going out to get this done. In order to record this I had to get to know myself. So I spent a lot of time staying inside and then I spent like three months straight of just going out and partying in Myrtle Beach. Then, I got to a point where I knew exactly what sound I had to go with and knew exactly what I had to do. And then, I spent another couple of months just recording and really getting it right.
Is your process perfectionist?
I would say perfectionist. ’Cause I do try to go out and find some raw and gritty stuff, but then I’ll get an idea and just can’t stop working on it until I get to the point where it’s like ‘alright, let’s get this out to somebody.’
Is the release point the the best part of the whole creative timeline?
Yeah. The best part of the entire process is seeing the outcome. I’m proud of my music and I’m really confident about what I’m putting out, and I think people are going to gravitate to it. If that happens then it’s only going to be more and better.
People have been waiting to hear music from me for a minute now, so I know this is something that’s going to satisfy them. I’m happy to give my fans this.
Speaking of the fans, what has it been like to see their reactions to your art?
It’s been cool to see people gravitate to my stuff and appreciate it. It’s not overwhelming but I appreciate everybody that takes time to listen to my stuff. I’m very appreciative and motivated by it.
And, in general, how have fans reacted to your music?
Well, a lot of people want to work with me, man. A lot of people really like what I’m doing and see the imagery with my music.
How long have you been interested in music and art?
When I was in high school I used to fool around at some studios. I would mess around on the microphones and stuff but never took it serious. But, I always knew that I could do music.
I was more into sports at the time, but in November of 2010 I got in a bad car accident and got really banged up. In the blink of an eye, I realized that anything could happen. That event made me value life differently since then. Now, I just want to chase my goals. Like, I realize I’m good at [music] and I just dedicate everyday to perfecting this.
So yeah, since 2010, I’ve been doing it avidly.
Where did you go to school?
I went to Blythewood High School in Columbia, South Carolina, and I went to Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach.
Has your sound been refined and edited over the years? Or has it always been consistent since those high school days?
My sound moves with culture. I try to feel what’s going on and then try to have my sound a couple years ahead. but my sound varies. I grew up listening to all types of music so I’m influenced by a lot of different people and a lot of different artists, like Hootie and the Blowfish. I grew up listening to alternative music like that and it has a big effect on what I make today. On this project, you’ll hear something and then expect to hear the same thing over again, but you’ll notice it contains different vibes.
In addition to Hootie and the Blowfish, who else did you grow up listening to?
I’m from the south so I listened to TI a lot. I listened to 50. Jay Z. Kanye and Pharrell. Kanye and Pharell have probably been two of the most of the influential people for me.
What’s your favorite Kanye project?
Either “808 and Heartbreaks” or “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”
Who are some of your other creative and artistic inspirations?
I do photography, engineering, production, graphic design, so I have people I look up to in every single lane. Kanye’s a huge inspiration to me with just everything he does. He’s the Bo Jackson of music and that’s what I want to be. I want to be in different areas and branch out and do different things like he’s done.
Other than that, I like underground people. I listen to a lot of stuff nobody’s heard of, like hometown heroes.
Can you compare yourself to another artist?
Nobody is similar, not at all, so I couldn't compare myself to anybody. I have certain qualities of a lot of different people I’ve been inspired by, but I feel like I’m so much different. And that's what Moon Roof Condo and the visuals show.
Who would you like to work or collaborate with artistically?
There’s a lot of producers I’d want to collab with. Skrillex. I think me and Metro Boomin can make some craziness. Same thing with Sony Digital.
What inspires you to create and get in the studio?
I like going out and peeping culture; peeping what different things are and how people react to certain things so I can go back and add those elements to my sound. So, just having fun and experiencing life, I guess.
Also, the people around me inspire me. I keep great, hard-working people around me, so they are always motivation to take my stuff to the next level.
Are the people around included in your artistic process?
Definitely. I take opinions from people I trust so I can get a different perspective on my art. I don’t trust a lot of people’s opinions, but I trust but the people in my circle. They’re on the same wave I’m on.
Do you have any specific, long-term vision for your music?
As I grow as an artist my music is going to grow and I’ll get better with every project. This sound is cool right now, but we do switch it up a lot so we’ll see what the future brings.
Do you have any personal goals for your near future?
I just want to display my art in front of millions. If I can do that then everything will be alright.
So, is the exhibit concept a part of the big picture vision for your art?
Yeah. We threw an art exhibit in Charlotte and there we had a bunch of vendors, a bunch of clothing lines, photographers, body painters, live painters, me — as an artist — performing, and I showed my entire project and Wavin' Motion Picture from front to back. And so a couple years from now, I want that elevated. I want to have the Garden and just have everybody viewing my art, listening to my art, catching the right vibes, and having a lot of people come together. So, the exhibits are giving back to the culture and opening doors for people, while I still try to climb the ladder myself.
My galleries are not like regular concerts. People come there and they can really catch a different type of scene, observe things, and converse. And I want to elevate that and make it bigger and better, so people can gravitate to my art and so I can help change the culture of music. That's what the art exhibits are about.
Speaking of the exhibit series, you picked Charlotte, Atlanta, and New York as the three locations. What’s the significance of the three locations?
My sound is really influenced by all 3 locations. Charlotte represents my home town and a big market. I recorded a lot of music in New York and Jersey, and I catch real vibes of the scene and of the culture there. When I’m in New York I feel really inspired.
When in your life did the other aspects of creation come into play?
My photography and visual creations started to kick in at the time I started to realize I made good music. For a while, I made not-so-good music, but once I realized it got to a certain level, I told myself I had to get the visuals for it. I had to be different and grow comfortable in those other lanes.
How do the other aspects of your art interact with the musical elements?
All of my different outlets are complimentary. They all work together so they're all on the same level. Music is always first though.
And when did you realize you started making good music?
I realized my music was good when my friends started asking to hear it again. That happened late in college. I mean, it was happening earlier, but I didn’t feel comfortable putting stuff out. But when college was coming to an end and I had to make that commitment of going fully into music, my stuff started getting a lot better.
Let’s look at your hometown. Does South Carolina have a vibrant music community?
Not at all. It’s slowly becoming one because the world’s starting to become that way, but it really wasn’t. [In South Carolina], everybody tries to be the same, so standing out and making music was always my thing.
So were you able to create with other musicians and artists from your community?
I always outsourced. I never worked with anybody in my city. And it’s not that I don’t like them or anything, but I looked at it as they’ll do their thing to elevate and I’ll do mine. Because it’s my hometown, I wanted to get connections outside of the city. I know a lot of people there and it’s all love, but I really wanted to get my stuff out of SC.
Speaking of your hometown, what are your community service efforts like?
I’ve participated in a lot of events for kids at a children’s home in Columbia, as well as in charity volleyball and softball games. And every thanksgiving, I do a lot of charity work. So I’m always staying busy and active where I’m from.
How important is community service to you?
I think community service is really important. I knew what I wanted to do as a kid, but I didn’t really have that many resources for music. So, currently I record and mix a couple of kids in Columbia now for free, because I really want to give them a resource since I know there aren’t many in that lane. And for kids trying to do something in their life, I think it’s cool to have a positive role model in their life. So I really try to be hands on.
Where does the name “Thank You Don Mo’Retti” come from?
It comes because I give good vibes and I do good for people — and people seem to realize that. I feel like being genuine is lost in culture and I’m trying to promote that. That genuine side has always been in me. Also, I feel like I drip sauce on a lot of people. I was always the trendy one in my group and I’m influential in a lot of sound and style, so that’s one aspect of the name’s origin.
Was that genuine side always in you or did you develop that?
It’s always been in me. Everybody during their teenage years do a couple of bad things, but I’ve always known who I was. So, when I hit that teenage phase I knew what I had to do and how to keep straight.
And also I had influences in both my parents. I have good parents that stayed with me. They would always keep me focused on whatever I was doing at the time, and I was an art kid so they’ve always saw a creative side in me. They’re glad to see me pursuing something that i really love.
I notice on your Twitter you very in-tune with our country’s current political and social situation. How important is remaining socially active and socially aware to you?
Being socially aware is really important to me. The state of our country could change at any minute. I always voice my opinions on things like that because I just want my people to find a sensible way to cure this problem and get on top of it. And so I’m all about saying the right things and saying a lot.
Do you ever mix your social awareness with your creative side?
I definitely plan on using my creativity to speak on social issues. I tend to see people focus on a lot of the same things [in conversation], so I want to bring a different perspective or side to everything. I want to show people that there’s more to it than what you know and that it’s cool to really be factual about things. The issues we’re going through right now can be resolved, but it has to be a certain way.
And lastly, do you have any words of advice or encouragement for young artists looking to get where you are?
I have a simple phrase. Get your tools, get your plugs. As long as you have your tools and your plugs, then you're good. You gotta want more tools or want more plugs. That’s what it’s all about.
Thank you to TYDM and his camp for taking some time out to talk with me. Look out for the drop of his debut EP, "Moon Roof Condo," this Thursday.