“There’s so many similarities to making it in football and making it in music,” T-RO, a onetime wide receiver and tight end at Southern California’s Mt. San Antonio College, tells New Times. “Football made my music career easier because I didn’t need to install discipline. I was coachable when I came into the rap game. It sped up my career, being militant about working and getting ready every day. You had no choice in football; you had to be on time. Doing that in music furthers your career.”
Growing up in Miami, a young T-RO enjoyed listening to Jay-Z, Tupac, Public Enemy, and Eazy-E but was more concerned with running routes than writing rhymes. However, his formative years here laid the foundation for when he was ready to become an MC. “Miami molded me into the hip-hop life. It’s where I learned the knowledge that I needed to proceed in a positive manner in life. In certain neighborhoods, you see a lot of things; you experience a lot of things.” One of those molding experiences was the 2005 murder of T-RO’s uncle, the up-and-coming, 25-year-old rapper Ran Rover.
One of T-RO’s latest tracks, “Final Thoughts,” would have made his late uncle proud. The heart-wrenching lyrics deal with police brutality. The song’s video is powerful and emotional enough that it became a BET Jams featured video. “My duty as an artist is to impact listeners,” he says. “I wanted to attack what’s going on today. I had to embody the parents of the victims I was referring to. I watched a lot of documentaries on brutality to research it and learned a lot about Freddie Gray and Trayvon Martin.”
The concept for the video was T-RO’s brainchild. “All my videos, I take pride in planning them. It’s something I love. I want to get into movies one day. I brainstorm with the directors (this one was directed by Kameo Films). I write the script, tell them how I want to shoot it, and we go from there.” T-RO knew he wanted this video to be as visceral as a punch to the gut. “It got a lot of touching responses. I’ve had to deal with discrimination from police. Never been physically attacked, but I’ve definitely been intimidated and harassed.”
His newest video finds inspiration in the lighter side of life.”What Your Love Costs,” which is set to drop in late January, is a more laid-back affair. “It shows me and my girl kicking it. It adds layers for my listeners. I want everything I do to be relatable. I don’t want my songs or videos to be about money and cars. That stuff’s not attainable to normal human beings,” he says.
“What Your Love Costs” is just one of the new songs and videos T-RO says he has planned for 2019, a year he thinks will be big for him. “God has done amazing things for me. I’m just thankful I get to work and share it.”