GRAMMY-nominated songwriter and producer TC Tiyon Christian has worked with artists such as Brandy, Tamar Braxton, and alongside the late producer Lashawn Daniels. On Juneteenth, in the midst of Black Music Month and the powerful civil uprisings that saw thousands rallying and proclaiming that Black Lives Matter, he dropped his debut album Rain, marking his independence on his own Make Ah Sound Entertainment label and carving out a lane for his career as an artist.
NMAAM spoke with TC about how his music reflects bringing in love during a time when it’s needed most and the power of healing.
You’ve been in the business for awhile, writing and producing for other artists, but what took you so long to go independent and release Rain as your debut album on your label?
TC: I feel like there [are] a lot of factors that played into me finally becoming the artist TC. I battled with putting music out for a long time because I had insecurities with certain things in the industry. They can kind of make you feel like you’re not good enough somewhat. Of course, there’re some people that kinda like to try to stop your progress as far as your artistry. I’m just at the place where I’m just ready to do what I’m supposed to do. Music makes me happy. So I can’t worry about what other people think of me.
You released Rain on Juneteenth. What were the factors that went into deciding to release it on that particular historical date?
TC: Honestly, my birthday is June 16, so it’s close to Juneteenth, and I always release music around then. A couple of years ago, I realized that the month of June is a staple because of Black Music Month and of course we’ve always known about Juneteenth and its importance to the culture and what it represents. I felt that I am African American that does music and I’m proud to say I’m free. The ancestors that came before me are those who fought to make sure that I’m in this position so I’m paying homage to that. Juneteenth represents freedom, and I have a voice and I want to be heard. It symbolizes love, and the album is really love driven and right now with everything that is going on, people need love now. I think that it’s important that people get back to realizing that love is what makes the world go round and makes people happy.
You mentioned that honoring the ancestors is what is important to you. Here at the National Museum of African American Music, we are “One Nation Under a Groove” and it’s about honoring all of the past and present Black artists. Why do you think it’s so important to acknowledge the Black musical cultural experience?
TC: I think that awareness is the biggest part of just anything in general, when it comes to our music for so long, I felt that creatively it’s been stolen. You have what’s known as “blue-eyed soul” and white people take Black music and make a fortune off of it, and the artist never sees a dime of it. Think about Little Richard as an example. He was vocal about not receiving money from his work, and others covered his records, and it wasn’t until Michael Jackson bought his catalog and gifted it back to him to start making money off the music that was rightfully his. It’s important that this is a real thing in the industry, so we have to make sure we are taking care of our business and need to be aware of what we’re signing when it comes to our creative work.
What is the meaning behind the album title Rain and the lead single of the same name?
TC: With the album title Rain, it is symbolic of cleansing and renewal, like a rebirth.
You know how the [Native Americans] used to do the rain dance because they wanted the rain to come and water their crops to become plentiful, so they would have food and blessings. So you have that aspect but then you have the aspect of revenge or karma at bay so it all ties into several scenarios. The song “Rain” specifically is about how people that have done you wrong and you just wished that they feel exactly how you feel. So, it’s like they feel rain coming down on them like karma. Like whether it’s the police officer that had his knee on George Floyd’s neck, that stuff is going to come back to you, when you put out bad into the world, it’s coming back.
What do you hope people take away from your music?
TC: I want people to take away that my music is vulnerable. I feel like my songs are like my own therapy, because I don’t talk to anybody about how I feel about things, so I write it out. I just hope that my music heals other people like it heals me.