By Will Brown
It was six years ago that Tyree released his debut album Now Or Never.
During that time, the Auckland rapper went on to receive the 'Best Male Artist' award at the Australasian Urban Music Awards; and - along with his group Smashproof - has achieved the honour of having the longest running #1 single in the New Zealand Top 40 Chart with the socially poignant hit 'Brother'.
Now a key songwriter in no less than 5 Top 20 charting singles in New Zealand, Tyree's much anticipated sophomore album Motivation has just been released today!
We caught up with Tyree and discussed his new album and what the future holds.
It's been a six-week break between albums, what have you been up to during that time?
In that time I moved over to Australia with my partner; which was the first time for both of us that we'd moved out of home, and we had a child... a daughter, a beautiful little girl. She's 3 years old now. That's pretty much what I've been up too, working on music and being a Dad.
Your new album Motivation is released today, where did you record it?
I recorded it at MTC Studios. We have two studios here and I recorded it in the B Studio, but I really like recording it myself as opposed to having an engineer who records me. So I recorded most of it myself downstairs in the studio. It's a little bit tricky, but you get use to it. You've got to be on your game.
Why did you name the album Motivation?
Two big reasons. There was a point in my career where I had moved over to Australia and I thought I had lost the flame for music. It wasn't till I came back to record the last Smashproof album that it sort of reignited the flame again. The label liked the songs I was writing for Smashproof and they offered me a second full album. I was so humbled and just motivated me to just carry on and chase my dream.
The other reason was during the six years between the albums I always struggled with my weight. I remember going on tour with Smashproof and hopping on the scales in front of the boys and I was 117kg, the heaviest I've ever been in my life. I just wanted to get it down and motivate other people; it's all in healthy living you know? I'm 98kg today so it's getting there!
How long did the recording process take?
That's a funny question because it did take quite awhile. It was about 2 years in the making. I was at a point where I had an album two years ago, but you always want to better the songs and better the material that you've got. And it's hard as a musician to be at a place where you're content to release that music and say "That's enough, this is what it is, release time". It was hard for me, so I'm happy I'm at a place now where I'm happy to release the album.
You must be really happy it's finally come out.
I'm so stoked man, there are no regrets and I couldn't have done better. This is my best work so far and I'm just happy that the world gets to hear it.
And you've got some pretty big guests featured on Motivation too...
Yeah man, I was fortunate enough to get some of the greats of hip-hop and New Zealand music in general. I got Scribe, Che Fu, Pieter T, my boys Young Sid and Deach. I'm so stoked to have some of the greats of Aotearoa music on my album.
And is there a tour planned?
Yeah, I'm trying to pencil out a tour now. We're going to hit everywhere in New Zealand and have a couple of dates locked in for Australia, so I'm really looking forward to getting out there and seeing how people react to the music. It's just awesome to get back on the road again. So I'll be looking at doing that around March / April
How do you find the current NZ hip-hop scene?
I think everything happens in phases. I believe NZ hip-hop was strong years ago, especially when Scribe came out. The momentum was there. Now people seem a bit more into reggae and pop music, which is cool, but I believe hip-hop will come back around and have its time again. At the moment how it stands, it's not really as strong as it use to be.
What's the status of Smashproof right now?
We are currently working on our second album; it's just hard to get us all at the studio together. But we're 13 songs deep at the moment and it's sounding awesome and amazing. Some of the songs on there are smashes. So expect the second Smashproof album at the end of this year.
What else is happening with Tyree?
I have a label that I'm running currently called Empire Records. We've signed Drew Neemia, Jae'O, Tipene and we're doing quite well. Stella, she's on my latest single ‘Fighter' and I'm working closely with her. I really like writing pop songs as well as rap, so that's sort of what I'm doing on the side. I just hope to get my label off the ground and flood this industry with some good music.