Memphis-based rapper and head of the Driven by Music brand, Tyke T combined honest lyrics, bold production, and insight garnered from his graduate education to climb the charts without the help of a major-label. The indie artist -- who graduated with an MBA from Middle Tennessee State University -- studied the charts and organized his fan base, storming the Top 50 of four Billboard charts with his sophomore EP, 2017's The Prelude. Born Tyrone Stroble in Smyrna, Tennessee, Tyke's main influences were '90s R&B and New Jack Swing by the likes of Jodeci, Bobby Brown, and Bell Biv Devoe, as well as rap from Master P, Kanye West, Drake, 8Ball & MJG, UGK, and Outkast. His early work appeared on various television shows and he was a Top ten finalist on VH1's Make a Band Famous. Making a name for himself in the underground Memphis hip-hop circuit, he expanded his local base by becoming the first rapper to appear on a local televised showcase for up-and-coming artists and also by winning a local Memphis radio station "Next Big Thing" contest. In addition, he opened for both B.o.B and Boosie Badazz. In late 2013, Tyke issued his debut EP, The Overlooked. Featuring Professa C on the track "On Me," this introductory salvo bridged the gaps between T.I.'s flow, Vince Staples' attitude, and the lyrical creativity and production style of early-era Kanye. In 2015, Tyke performed "Glory" -- Common and John Legend's Oscar-winning song for the film Selma -- at a ceremony honoring the film's director, Ava DuVernay. The following year, he released the single "This Can't Be Life," a socially conscious track that took aim at systemic oppression, racism, street violence, and police brutality. His continued grassroots focus would benefit Tyke in 2017, when his sophomore effort, The Prelude, debuted in the Top 15 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, as well as the Top 50 on the Rap and R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. With a contemporary trap sound, The Prelude featured Jay Vee the Prince, Carla Barnes, Kevin Pierre, and Jus Bentley. ~ Neil Z. Yeung
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