Lil Tjay | Before They Were Famous | Move Right Rap Star Biography

Before Lil Tjay would become one of the hottest
new artists out of New York dropping tracks like the Justin Bieber sampled None of Your
Love, which has over 14 million streams on Soundcloud, Resume which has over 15 mill,
and Brothers which has over 21 million views on YouTube Before he would get cosigns from Famous Dex,
Roddy Rich, Desiigner and collab with YNW Melly and more. Before he would have close to 150k followers
on Soundcloud, close to 200k subscribers on YouTube and almost 550k followers on Instagram
at the time of this recording Lil Tjay has had a monumentally fast rise
to fame, but unlike a lot of people in the new era, it wasn’t through antics and it
wasn’t through a label push, it was just through great music and talent alone. At only
17 years old, the kid has accomplished more than most people have in their entire lives.
After serving a year long stint in juvenile detention, he decided to take music seriously
and well after that, a lot happened. What’s up good people out there in the world?
I hope you’re having one Hecht of a day. Good morning afternoon, or evening, depending
on when you’re watching this. My name is Jeremy Hecht aka I don’t thechts back…
One of these days I’m gonna come with a killer pun and you’ll be left speechless
but for now, here we are on before they were famous and today I’ll be taking you through
the life and career of Lil TJay prior to fame. I’ve covered other newcomers like YNW Melly
and Comethazine so be sure to check those out after you finish watching this
one if you like it. And as always be sure to let us know in the comments down below who we should cover next, Without anymore talking though, let’s get into it. LilTjay was born Tione Merritt on 183rd street
in South Bronx, New York on April 30, 2001. He grew up with his mother and two siblings
in an apartment in the Bronx and when he was still young, his mom went back to college
to get her degree. He told Pitchfork that he was the problem child, always getting into
fights and committing petty robberies in middle school. But he always managed to get all of
his school work done. At home he was well behaved, never even so much as cursing in
front of his mother, but when he would step outside it was blunts and of course some cursing with
his friends on the block. He told Rolling Stone that his neighborhood
was very diverse, and he even learned some Spanish from his friends. He grew up listening to people like Meek,
Rihanna, Rick Ross and Drake and he actually met Meek recently who told Tjay he was a fan
of his music. But the Justin Bieber sample on his record
None of Your Love wasn’t random. He told Pitchfork that he used to watch Justin Bieber
videos and think to himself “damn, this is going to be me.” He says he would watch
TV seeing the way that artists live and he would envision himself on that stage. He always
felt like he was meant for something bigger than himself. It was artists like Bieber, MJ and Usher that
would later inspire him to sing. He was even nicknamed the “Bronx Bieber” on Facebook
when he first started making music. That’s kind of a hard nickname actually. He says he was also inspired by the kids on
Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, watching shows like iCarly and Victorious all the time. He
told Pitchfork: “Yeah. I’m not going to lie, I was really
into some childish s***. I got friends that were watching Disney, but they would never
tell you. Ariana Grande, that’s my wife! [from the show Victorious] The street sh*t
felt forced upon me. The real me was at home watching all of that s***.” I’m with you 100% bro. TJ, I still go on
record saying that High School musical is the greatest trilogy of all time… I even
got to live out my lifelong dream of being Troy Bolton this year for Halloween. Shout
out to my Gabriella. But before I get any weirder let’s get back to TJay… In 2016, when Tjay was 15, he served close
to a year in a youth detention center for a robbery case that he doesn’t like to talk
about publicly. In jail he played a lot of spades, but it was also behind bars that he
started writing some of his most heartfelt and personal songs. He would sing those songs
to other people in jail, even rapping some of them for the correctional officers, and everyone
had a positive response, recognizing that he had something special. He had two notebooks
full of verses from his time behind bars that would later become some of his most successful
tracks. He told Rolling Stone in one of his only interviews so far: “It’s nothing that I would want to do
again, but I learned a lot from it. I feel like if I wasn’t to go to jail, I probably
wouldn’t be the person I am. Cause I wouldn’t have sat down and wrote those songs and I
never would’ve been able to focus on what I want to accomplish.” He also says that he doesn’t want anyone
who looks up to him to focus on that part of his life. Unlike many people who shy away
from the title, he wants to be a role model. He always wanted to have kids look up to him
and now that he has that influence, he wants to make sure he uses it right. He even encourages
his fans to stay in school and focus on the important things. Even though he recognized that he wanted to
create change for himself in a positive way, when he first got let out, he was still caught up
in his old ways and not focusing on anything productive. He was occasionally recording
songs on his laptop that he describes as a more traditional rapping style, but he wasn’t
taking it too seriously yet. But it wasn’t until he stepped into a recording
studio for the first time that he was able to realize a new direction for his music and
his life. The first song he ever released was called
“Don’t Gotta Explain” with Lil Tut. But the first song he recorded in his first
ever studio session was “Resume.” The song was much different than the verse driven
bars he had previously recorded on his laptop. When he got into the studio, he was inspired
by memories of singing Usher and Michael Jackson as a kid with his mom. And in the heat of
the moment, he decided to sing the lyrics he had written down instead of spitting them.
And when he played Resume for all of his friends and they all kept telling him: You have to drop that officially
online. He did drop the song in 2017 and off of reposts
alone, it got close to 5k listens within a day. Everybody I knew posted it at one time, and
then just I guess other people from different places started reposting it and they actually
listened to it and then it started to go crazy.” Eventually, it blew up… garnering over 14
million streams. Crazy because for most people, the first song they record in a studio is
not a massive hit to that degree. But then again, most people don’t ever get
10+ million streams on any of the songs they record. Like he says on his new song Leaked “man
I just came home now everybody knows me.” He kept posting songs online but made sure he waited
until each previous release would flatline in terms of growth and views, then he would
drop another banger. Record labels started calling after seeing
his first few drops do massive numbers online and reaching the top of the soundcloud charts.
On his song Goat he says “independent but I could have got signed.” Initially he was
showing up to label meetings with no one but his teenage friends, which was exciting but
also overwhelming for the kid, which I can understand. But it was his song Brother that became even
bigger for TJay, with the audio alone gaining over 22 million streams on soundcloud and
the visuals sitting at around the same amount of views on YouTube at the time of recording. When speaking about the song to Rolling Stone,
he says: “I know how to hide my emotions. I can say
what’s going on and not make you want to feel down. A lot of time I like to sing music
that people can relate to, but not necessarily put them in a depressed mood. In ‘Brothers’
I’m saying, ‘Bodies drop all the time, I don’t feel nothing.’ Basically I’m
trying to say I’m bringing the struggle into a more of joyful, melodic sound.” Speaking of his sound, it has often been compared
to fellow New Yorker, A Boogie, whose melodic driven verses without sacrificing his bars has
become a staple sound in the newer generation of rap. And although TJay doesn’t mind the
comparison, he feels like he’s beginning to craft his own sound. In terms of today’s
rap, he doesn’t relate to the drug heavy use rap. He’s more focused on longevity.
And hearing him speak, the kid is very grounded and I actually have a feeling that he’ll
be around for a long time in this game. Once music started getting to a level where
he was popular online, it was hard for him to attend school normally. Remember, he was
16 when he started to blow up. I remember I put out a couple songs at 16 that had a
few thousand plays online and I felt like the man, but I can only imagine if you have
20 million hits. There’s no way you’d be able to walk around like it’s nothing. But TJay says that he is doing homeschooling
to finish his degree because it’s really important to him to show his younger fans
that he is staying on the right path. Early on, he had cosigns from Lil Durk and
Famous Dex who reached out through Instagram. And eventually, he knew a label could take
him to next level, so after initially declining, he ended up hiring a lawyer. going to label meetings, and signing
a deal with Columbia records. In December of 2018 he dropped his first EP,
No Comparison, which included Ready for War feat. YNW Melly and Bad To The Bone, which
now has over 1.3 million views. It’s time for the part of these videos that
I do solely for our female viewers. It’s shoot your shot with Lil TJay? What are your
chances at dating the man behind the hit songs? Although he sings about women a lot, he has
never had an official relationship. But says that now, he’s looking for someone who he
can rely on and wants someone who is really going to love him for who he is as a person,
and not just for the clout and the success of his rap moniker. So ladies if you’e watching, shoot your
shot in his DMs. He seems like an emotionally aware guy and says he only writes about what
he’s feeling. But just remember, he is only 17 at the time of this recording so if you’re
looking not to get yourselves in trouble, you gotta wait at least a year. Back to the
video. He told XXL that one of his standout moments
in his career so far was ” performin’ in front of a crowd—I don’t
know, how many people—at the Wells Fargo Center [in Philadelphia]. It was great. I
like the response I got from the crowd. Industry was there. It was lit. It was a good experience.” The Wells Fargo center holds 19,500 people
so that had to have been surreal. As for what’s next, TJay says he will still
be very selective with his releases saying: “If I don’t feel like it’s a hit then
I don’t feel like dropping it. I won’t drop an album until it’s perfect. A lot
of albums got two or three singles but the rest is caca. I want every song on it to be
a hit. My whole life I wanted something more—I didn’t get here just to be broke at 28.
I have plans: vocal lessons, dance lessons, on some Usher shit.” He’s been in the studio with LA’s own
Roddy Rich And been seen with Famous Dex, Desiigner,
and Jay Critch. And many more artists recently, so I’m sure
we have plenty of new music to look forward to from TJay He also says another Justin Bieber sample
could be in the works, but this time he wants to cover “One Less Lonely Girl” which
in my humble opinion is one of the most underrated tracks of all time. His rise to fame was pretty fast so there
isn’t a crazy long story about his rise to fame. The guy made good music and people
recognized it early. As for the rest of the story, well you know it because this is Before
They Were Famous! As always, I’m Jeremy Hecht for Famous News, be sure to subscribe to the channel, turn your post notifications on so you don’t miss a single video. Hit me up on Instagram or Twitter @Jeremy_Hecht let me know who to cover next on this channel. Or leave a comment below Dream Good, Live Better, I hope you have one
hecht of a day and I’ll see you in the next video.

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