Ty Brasel is an icon of faith-driven hip-hop. Over the course of four albums, multiple Dove Award nominations, and more than 72 million digital streams, he's created a sound for doubters and believers alike. It's a mixture of urban influences and spiritual messages, fusing the street-smart swagger of rap with the melodies of modern pop and the smooth soundscapes of R&B. Tying that combination together are the lyrics of an autobiographical songwriter whose experienced everything from dark lows to heavenly highs.
Ty continues to count his blessings with 2022's TRANSCENDENT. Stocked with trap beats, buzzing bass lines, and high-profile guest appearances, it's the most energetic album of his career. These songs find Ty not only glorifying his maker, but encouraging others to move past their own obstacles, too, using his own backstory as proof of God's patience and forgiveness. It's not just a mission statement; it's a rallying cry.
"To 'transcend' something, you rise above your limits and overcome whatever's holding you back," he explains. "That word is reflective of my own life experience. Things like ego, depression, pride, and fear can hold you back. Doubt and trauma can get in the way of you accomplishing your goals. I'm here to show people, using my own life and my own music as an example, that you can always keep going."
Ty grew up on the outskirts of Memphis, where soul music, blues, southern rap, and gospel were in the air. It was an inspiring place for a young artist, but a dangerous one, too. Crime and substance abuse took hold of his life at a young age, derailing the progress he'd made as a musician. After a series of arrests threatened to land him behind bars for good, Ty began rekindling his relationship with God, kickstarting a spiritual shift that found him abandoning his lifestyle and regaining his passion for life.
Inspired by innovators like Kendrick Lamar and Post Malone, the born-again Brasel developed his own brand of hip-hop: a heartfelt, hook-driven sound that mixed the upbeat energy of Saturday night with the reverent flection of Sunday morning. His independent debut, Young T, introduced that sound in 2017, while 2018's Destined For Greatness found him partnering with IVAV, a division of Curb | Word Entertainment. Brasel's third album, The Divine Storm, was released during the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, serving as a sort of hip-hop tonic for a world in desperate need of a helping hand. Brasel followed The Divine Storm with a mixtape, Destiny, Vol. 1, one year later. Meanwhile, he continued working on a long-term project: an album that combined the best songs of his career with a trio of iconic producers and nearly a half-dozen collaborators. Over the course of several years, TRANSCENDENT took shape.
"We tried to take it to the next level," he says. "The production is incredible. Working with Dirty Rice, Joseph Prielozny, and JuiceBangers — three legendary producers who've won Grammys and Dove Awards — inspired me to push myself as a songwriter. We took our time, working hard to bring up the energy and create something that would pull people out of their seats. I was 17 when I started making music; I'm in my upper 20s now, so I've grown as a person and as a communicator. I'm hoping TRANSCENDENT helps me connect and communicate with an even broader audience."
TRANSCENDENT finds Ty Brasel connecting with his fellow artists, too. Jay-Way, The WRLDFMS Tony Williams, Aaron Cole, Foggieraw, and Parris Chariz all make appearances, furthering the diversity of an eclectic album whose highlights include the timeless R&B melodies of "LOVE?" and the synth-driven modernism of "RIGHT ON TIME." Equally diverse were the locations in which Brasel and his collaborators worked, setting up makeshift studios in rented houses across the country. "We rented an AirBNB in Blue Ridge, GA, and recorded nine songs in four days," he remembers. "We did something similar in AirBNBs in LA and Nashville. That's my favorite thing to do as an artist — lock in with friends, create freely, and just see what happens."
The result is an otherworldly album with a human core. An album that lives up to its name. Salvation is never too far away, and Brasel has created another soundtrack for the life-changing journey from tragic circumstances to triumphant redemption. This is what it sounds like to rise above.
"It's hip-hop," he says. "It's inspirational. It's pop. It's Christian. It's R&B. I'm a fan of all those genres of music, and TRANSCENDENT brings them all together. That's what I'm hoping to do with my music: bring everyone together."