On Friday December 7th, Pusha-T and 1800 Tequila linked up to shine a spotlight on ten emerging artists, giving each of the 10 artists roughly 180 seconds. Now, with the project available on all major streaming services, familiarize yourself with the ten selected artists:
Ant White from Philly, PA, Cartel Count Up from Hampton, VA, Don Zio P from Middletown, CT, Hass Irv from Harlem, NY, Monalyse from Detroit, MI, Nita Jonez from Houston, TX, Sam Austins from Detroit, MI, T Got Bank from Brooklyn, NY, Trevor Lanier from Wilmington, NC, and Tyler Thomas from Los Angeles, CA.
Cartel Count Up
From: Hampton, VA
“Where I’m from, there’s not a lot of opportunity,” begins Cartel Count Up. “I’m from Virginia. It’s been a long span between Pusha-T and me.” A young artist coming from the same hometown as King Push, Cartel’s path to artistry was somewhat unconventional. Originally attending a studio session alongside a friend, it soon became evident that Cartel had the talent to pursue a rap career.
“Cartel is the party man,” explains Pusha. “He knows how to find the melodies. He knows how to turn up.” Such energy is abound on “Made It Count,” Cartel’s contribution to the cause. “I was just cooling in front of Sal’s, I was up late creepin’ with the owls,” he raps, his voice blended with a hint of autotune. “I need straight paper, I got a child.”
From: Houston, TX
Nita Jonez was enamored with the rap game since she was five years old. Still, making her dream into reality never quite felt grounded in possibility. “I never thought I would be rapping to this day,” she reflects. Now, after moving from Houston to Long Beach, Nita can cross a studio session with Pusha-T off her bucket list.
“I’m using my 180 seconds to define myself musically,” she explains. “I want to put something hype. Wake somebody up.” Pusha clearly endorses the rapper’s vibe, dubbing her an empowering rap purist. “Man, she was giving me vibes of a female rapper that I haven’t seen in so long,” he explains, a co-sign to be sure.
Don Zio P
From: Middletown, CT
Upon entering the studio, Don Zio found himself faced with an epiphany. “I record in a basement, bro,” explains the Middleton native. “When you come in a studio like this, automatically your vibe changes. You feel like you made it, low key.” It didn’t long for the half-Jamaican, half-Italian rapper to acclimate himself to King Push, who took to his upbeat sound. In fact, Pusha proceeded to dub Don Zio a “rockstar rager wildman.”
Citing a near-fatal car accident as his main call to action, Don Zio P decided to buckle down and pursue music on a professional level. “My producers used to kick me out the studio,” he explains. “I used to sleep at their house. I wouldn’t leave.”
From: Los Angeles, CA
Tyler Thomas’ life might have turned out a little differently in a parallel universe. The Los Angeles native found himself securing a football scholarship, which sadly dissipated after he received an injury. Instead, he turned to music, taking to his garage and rapping about his car and his friends. Though his style reminiscent of golden-era hip-hop, Tyler’s musical identity is as versatile as the man himself.
“Tyler, he’s like expert at what we call the dial in. And the dial-in is how quick you approach a beat when you walk into a studio,” explains Pusha. “Like how quick can you harness the energy of that beat?” It didn’t take long before the rap legend was nodding his head to Thomas’ chosen vibe. “I finally got to play it for someone I truly truly care about their opinion,” explains Thomas. “I’m using my 180 seconds to get people moving.”
From: Philadelphia, PA
Ant White is no stranger to the craft. The man previously road-tripped to Atlanta to craft seven tracks with 808 Mafia, a bright spot on any potential resume. Deadly with both bars and melodies, Ant White has been finessing his skill set for a minute, and anticipated trading thoughts with a hip-hop legend like Pusha-T. “ Lyricism, stencils, flows, he’s an old soul, lyrically,” explains King Push. “With all of the new nuances in music. Like he meshes and fuses all of those things.”
“When I was out of college, I started writing,” says Ant, reflecting on his trajectory. “I started filling up rap books, going through different stages of learning how to write and string together my thoughts.” By his estimation, the years of discipline will go on to yield impressive results. “In two years, check the Billboard,” he grins. “That’s definitely how I feel.”
From: Detroit, MI
Sam Austins has been entrenched in the world of music since his childhood, as his father once performed in the Motown group The Four Tops. Today, he finds himself as part of Pusha-T’s handpicked group of emcees, drawing comparisons from both Kanye West and Prince from the man himself. “A lot of people have a lot of different distinct taste,” explains Push, “but to put them together and make them all cohesive when they’re all from different genres, and different places. That’s his talent, and that’s his gift.”
Drawing from an eclectic band of influences, from rap legends to rock acts like Coldplay and David Bowie, Austin’s musical palette is wide-ranging. “I wanna push culture, push boundaries,” explains Austins. “Not just the music, but the visuals, the art. It took a lot of work on myself, and work on my craft, for people to finally understand, and me to understand, that this is real.”
T Got Bank
From: Brooklyn, NYC
Brooklyn’s T Got Bank stands among the more visibly distinctive of the chosen emcees, largely because of his signature face mask. Yet he also possesses a notable sense of humility, driven by a long abiding love for his craft. With influences drawing from Gucci Mane, Young Dolph, and more, T combines a relaxed sense of menace with a technician’s dexterous flow.
Pusha explains that where T Got Bank is concerned, his differences will set him apart from the masses. “When he came in the studio, we listened to the music, which was great. But beyond that we started like, trying to expound on his character,” explains Push. “You know, expound on the little nuances that are going to make him different.” Case in point, T rocks his face-mask at all times, from interviews to performances.
From: Detroit, MI
Monalyse approaches writing from a poet’s perspective, drawing influence from artists like Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar and SZA. “People don’t think that female rappers are that lyrical, or that great of artists,” she explains. “When you do full songs, people take to it.” Now, Monalyse makes sure to retain her poetic sensibilities, implementing her roots into her hip-hop writing. Said roots were not lost on Pusha-T, who wasted little time in labeling her a poet.
“Like she’s somebody, you listen to her records and you know that she’s dialed in, super dialed in musically,” explains Push. “But I could also let her stand in front of a stage, on a stage in front of me, and just say all types of poems and just see where her thoughts go.”
From: Harlem, NY
During his childhood years, Hass Irv found himself split between Africa and Harlem, soaking in two decidedly different cultures. When it came time to cultivating his rap career, he already had ample influences to draw from. After opening for Young Thug, a night that found him crowd-surfing across a sold-out crowd, he knew what he had to do. “In rap, when you first make it, you don’t really make it,” explains Irv. “It’ll only come if you keep pushing it. If you stop, you’ll never know what could have happened, tomorrow or next week, it doesn’t matter.”
“The ill thing about Hass is, he’s the energy, he’s the lightning rod. He’s the turn-up guy,” explains Pusha. “But lyrically he still figures out how to infuse lyrics and a whole storyline.” Now, Hass aims to make music for “everybody,” while making sure his attention to lyricism keeps his audience invested in his journey.
From: Wilmington, NC
North Carolina’s Trevor Lanier’s introduction to making music did not come from hip-hop, but rather performing in various metal, rock, and funk bands. Now, Lanier spits bars with such precision that Pusha-T made sure to take note. “His flows, his flows were crazy,” praised Push. “Super on point. Super surgical with his delivery.”
An independent musician from the jump, Lanier likes to think of his music as “laid back,” with special attention to vibe. “I drop music when I wanted to,” he explains, “I go out in the ocean when I want to. Things I’m feeling that are going on, and relationships with my friends, I can’t really say it to them, but I can put it on a track. That’s my escape.”