Tia Raye has been methodically working on her craft and focusing on high-quality releases to cement her name as a great in the Birmingham music scene. Her recent release, “The Pop Out”, is a culmination of this dedicated effort. The 5-track collection features the musician doing what her fans love most - dropping braggadocious rhymes that are layered with deeper messages. Raye will soon be releasing the video for the hit single “Wiggly” from the EP, which is sure to make waves in the Magic City and beyond.
Music has always been a part of Tia Raye’s life. “Growing up I was introduced to a family and environment of music lovers. I’m the only girl in my age group in my family, so my first view was of my older brother and he already had a passion for music. My dad had a passion for poetry. As soon as I came out the womb, I think I was trying to rhyme and imitate them,” the artist shares, “So it wasn’t long into my elementary school years that I really loved to write. It’s always been a gift but it honestly wasn’t until about high school that I started showcasing like ‘Okay, I’m really good with the rhymes.’”
Tia’s music and educational careers would continue to grow from those high school days. She created a Youtube channel to highlight her flow and went to Tuskegee University where she made an intention of getting to know other creatives on campus. It wasn’t the most artistic school during Tia’s freshman year, “so everything music-related was really intimate and really personal because everybody had a similar interest and (found) each other.” This is where Raye first crossed paths with other city greats like Carlos Charm and Paco of The Monastery.
Raye took the same mentality to Birmingham when she transferred to UAB, where she graduated from. Birmingham favorites like Crown Vic, Poetic Gawdess, Brint Story, and Troy Massive have become members of the musician’s inner circle. In addition to networking, marketing and production have been two focuses of Tia’s career. Her rapping over other artist’s beats has gotten Raye social media spotlights and attention from industry legends like CyHi The Prince. “I aspire to be on that level. I aspire for my lyrics to have greater depth and to be able to inspire people the way I’m inspired by others,” Raye shares of the honor it feels to be recognized by artists she grew up admiring like CyHi. “I can’t lie, it’s pretty lucrative. The pursuit has been lucrative. I’ve got a lot of work to do but I’m optimistic.”
While Tia Raye built her initial following mostly through her impressive remixes to songs like Bankroll Fresh’s “Walked In”, she wanted to make it clear that she was going to be a top level talent in multiple genres. “I’m an artist and I don’t like to be boxed in. My portfolio is extensive as far as what I do with a pen,” Raye explains, “I do everything. I even draw. I design my own logos.” Raye also performs poetry, comedy, writes plays, and many other creative endeavors. Her first release, “Pink Runtz” is an 11-track R&B masterpiece that leaves no doubt of Raye’s diverse talents. The album tells a love story and takes a less aggressive approach than the musician’s hip-hop takes. She was initially nervous to put it out because people love her raps so much, but her R&B record only brought in more believers. “It really helped me establish a core following,” Tia shares. The release also brought Tia Raye’s first music video to an original song, “Perfect” featuring Crown Vic.
“Pink Runtz” solidified Tia Raye’s fan base, but the people were still hungry for a hip-hop album. “When you gonna pop out?” was asked to the musician over and over again, to the point that she named the 2022 release “The Pop Out”. All 5 songs are summer anthems in the Magic City, with production from Raye’s frequent collaborator 3.A.M. aka Frankie Papino. “As for top-tier production, I don’t play. That tape bussin,” Raye emphasizes, “The mastering on that is top tier. The quality is top tier. Lyricism top tier. IF they want to hop on board some underground shit that’s gonna pop, then they need to get ‘The Pop Out’. That’s just it. It’s legendary. It’s before it’s time.”
Tia’s single “Wiggly” has already had a hot summer, and the musician recently wrapped up filming for the video. Raye hosted a “Wiggly” challenge on Instagram, with the winner being highlighted in the visual release. The artist explains that the video will feature multiple Birmingham dances and is part of her efforts to be “an activist for women and trying to include women in everything that I do. My brand is not really about myself, it’s about empowerment so this was one of my first initiatives to include others within my platform.”
Raye also has more exciting releases with 3.A.M. through what the duo has identified as Slungo Talk, which stands for “Slang from the Underground”. “I don’t know if the world knows about Inglenook but that’s a little hood in Alabama so the stretch to the top is a very, very, very long ladder. Where we are, we are still amongst a lot of artists who have powerful voices,” Tia explains, “We called it Slungo Talk because we take our slang and add it with a funky beat then put it out there in hopes and aspirations that we are eventually heard.” Slungo Talk is due to reach even bigger levels in 2023, and goes beyond the two original masterminds. “Slungo Talk is not just him and I, but just the voices of people who are longing to be heard.”
Raye’s home city is a major part of her sound and motivation. “For me to be a bold, outspoken, African-American music artist from right here in Birmingham, Alabama- every time I do something I do it with the intention to make my ancestors proud. Because I just know that as they were working, as they were marching, as they were even being beaten - there was a sound that was made. Before we even learned literature we hummed and we made music. The fact that I’m educated and I was given this God gift to keep singing a song that’s on my heart, that originated from a very, very dark place. I just feel like a barrier of light,” Raye shares, “I am so proud that my ancestors made it. So much so that I’m able to breathe, to exist, to read, to write, to learn, to thrive, to educate, and to also create music. So it’s deep to me. That’s what it means for me to be an artist here. It means I took the harder way without even choosing to.”
While Tia Raye may have had to take the harder way, the musician has turned the trials into something special and is bringing the whole city along for the ride to the top.
Cover image taken from “The Pop Out” Trailer filmed by Marcus Jay