Singer Tish Wrote a Track So Powerful Yeezus Called

Sought out on the strength of a single (yet to be released) project, Tish Hyman has worked with Alicia Keys, Kanye West, and possibly Spike Lee (TBD). Her The FADER-debuted single “Subway Art” is an original tribute to the souls who wander New York City‘s subways, and caused Erykah Badu to tweet, “who dis?” while Diddy actually picked up the phone.

We asked her what she did right to capture the attention of the greats.

The first project you will ever drop will be your album, Dedicated To. What have you done differently that’s allowed you to skip the mixtapes and EPs?
I think my approach on everything is kinda like a ’90s kind of view. I’m from New York and I’m from that era in hip-hop where it was just albums. Mixtapes were what they did after albums, where they’re rapping over other people’s beats. I didn’t feel like I needed to do one of those; I wanted my first piece of work to be my story, and for people to feel like they got to know me listening to this album.

Spike Lee was at your listening party. I know you’re not allowed to talk about whether or not you’re in Chiraq, but maybe I can get a little out of you. Will you be on the soundtrack?
I’m not sure! I don’t know. Spike has the music. If he has a scene that it’s suited for, I hope so, but I’m not sure. I gave him the music, though. Even if I’m not on the soundtrack, Spike’s rollin’ around listening to Dedicated To.

Erykah Badu tweeted “who dis” about your “Subway Art” video. Has anything come of that?
No. I think she was just probably chillin’ on a tour bus, came across it, and was like “Who dis?” And just genuinely wanted to know who it was. I tweeted her like twice after that. She didn’t get back; she probably didn’t see. She has like a million followers. But I was very happy that she saw it and liked it enough to Tweet it and Facebook it.

It was very cool because I look up to Erykah Badu. When I was a kid, she had “On and On,” and I was just [messin’] with it. I’m glad to see that people I look up to are getting to hear me. You never know… I might run into her one of these days… I hope to work with her one day and maybe even tour with her.

Put it out into the universe.
That’s it. That’s all you can do!

What did you do that made the people you’ve worked with including Spike Lee, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys, Kanye, and Diddy, take note and want to work with you?
I think that “Subway Art” led to a lot of the stuff that happened. Alicia heard “Subway Art.” A woman named Alicia Bekton, I met her one night, she loved my stuff and my spirit, so she wound up playing it for Alicia Keys. Alicia Keys and Swizz were like, “Come out to New York and meet with us.” Originally she wanted the record for herself, but after we hung out and she listened to the full project, she said to me, ”Tish this record is going to be big for you. You should keep it. Why don’t you come work on some stuff for me?” So I went and did some records with her and I believe one of them is going to be the single.

It’s really great. She sounds amazing, she was totally humble and amazing to work with.

What about Kanye?
“Subway Art” is definitely the reason. Kanye, well, one of the guys who started with him, Malik Yusuf, I met him at a studio. The owner of the studio heard me playing my album and was like, “You gotta get over here and hear this girl.” He came and he really liked the stuff that I played him. Two days later, Malik was on my couch with Elon Rutberg at 3 am, just chillin’ and listening to the record. A week later, Kanye makes the call that I need to go to Malibu and meet with him. It was really surreal.

I really got a lot of respect and love for Kanye. He’s definitely an influence in my life and just an amazing artist. He really loves “Subway Art” and [unreleased Dedicated To track] “Home for Christmas,” and he just showed his support. I wouldn’t say I was working with him, but we were in the studio just playing around with ideas—mostly we were just hanging out and talking and he heard some of my records. So I met with him more than worked with him. I definitely won’t forget that experience. He was playing the record because I guess he wanted to remix it or something like that.

He went to Diddy and played the record for Diddy, and that’s what got me in the studio with Diddy. He was like “Who the hell is this girl?” I’ve been working with Diddy quite a bit this year on some of the stuff he’s doing. It’s been really amazing, the response. It’s what I always wanted. I’m a real hip-hop person. I’ve been following hip-hop since I knew about it. To have some of the legends, some of the people who have been in the game for years, listen to my stuff and respect what I do, it means the world to me.

So you’re not relying on a social media campaign to get you out there, like many artists are? People are taking notice purely because of your talent?
Yes. I’m very happy. I’m excited. I can’t wait for more and more people to start messng with it.

What do you think that we, as individuals, can do to create social change to positively change the climate of racism and social justice issues?
I can only speak on what I can do. What I plan on doing is just making sure that I make music that enlightens people, not just young people, but everybody, and makes us feel emotional again. Speak publicly on the things that are happening. Not only speak on them, but do things about them. You gotta get out there in the community. Like, I want to get out in my community; I’m from the Bronx, and throughout my career I want to do a lot of philanthropy and build rehab centers and build after school centers, and just put things in the community I grew up in. Starting there and work my way outwards, inspiring other artist to do the same for their neighborhoods and where there from.

I think the music is key. My plan, and my way of being a voice for my generation is just putting music out there that I can stand by, and music that will influence people to do good things. And make people feel good. You can turn up too, but it don’t gotta be all about the turn up. Sometime it’s like… Why you turning up? Did you do something great in your life that you need to turn up?

Just inspire people to do better. That’s what I plan on doing with my music, my career, and my life.

Amen. Anything you want to add?
To the people out there waiting on the album, it’s worth the wait. I’m planning on releasing it the beginning of next year. I wanted to do it this year, but it wasn’t meant to be. I got two more songs coming out this year. I’m going to do a lot of features. I plan on collaborating with a lot of artists and making great music that makes people happy. If there’s anything you take from me, just know happiness is free, and it’s a choice.

Image: The Artist

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