“There’s a song on the album called ‘Time.’ What it was: I had kind of a weird epiphany. I remember time was freezing, and where I’m at in life, I didn’t like,” admits Clarence Garrett, the man behind Rochester’s hip-hop phenomenon T.A.G. “I was looking at my life, and some of the things that happened years and years and years ago were still affecting my life.”
“‘Are you going to waste your time from this point on?’ ‘Are you going to move on and forgive and move past it?’ ‘What are you going to do with the time you have left?” he continues. “Basically from beginning to the end of the album is me figuring out how to do that. And hopefully encouraging other people along the way.”
“Scars Rise,” T.A.G.’s upcoming album, finds Garrett making leaps and bounds since 2013’s “One Love,” stepping up the production value and songwriting. “After my last album, for some reason, I started listening to more uptempo, turn up stuff, and I was on that for months at a time,” Garrett says. “I was really liking that music for awhile. I wanted to really work on, as far as the more uptempo stuff, my hook writing. I did focus on that, diversifying, but also sticking to my core more melodic stuff.”
There’s really something for everybody on this record. “Scars Rise” is T.A.G.’s most diverse record to date. Sure, if you want a bumpin’ club banger, there’s a few of those (“Whaddup,” “Leggo,” “Dats My Jam”). But where “Scars Rise” really shines is its introspective, slower-tempo tracks. Songs like “Scars,” “Watchin’ Me” and “Rise” find Garrett tackling personal issues: where he’s been, where he’s going, his relationships with friends, family and God. It’s these songs that show why T.A.G. – an acronym for Totally Against the Grain – stands apart from the all-flash-no-substance that dominates mainstream hip hop.
“I wanted to take some things that I’ve never said and write it out. On this album, I went wider than I did on the last album. I wanted to encapsulate a lot different experiences,” he says. “Even if you don’t have the same background I do, I’m pretty sure we have similar experiences. I want to be able to connect with you.”
To bring his vision to fruition, Garrett enlisted the help of other talented area artist. “T.A.G. is all about features and bringing other people on board and exposing you to other artists. I build my songs around my features,” Garrett explains. “Because of the content of the album, I had to reach out to other people to get all of the other features I wanted.”
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J-Glide and 3CK contribute nutso verses on “Dats My Jam.” Duality brings something fierce to “Leggo,” while Marshall Love and Excalibar add to the inspiring “Can’t Hold Me Down.” Singers Chrischon Ellis, Maria Danielle and Jade Reanne bring some airy hooks to “Scars Rise” more melodic tracks.
As if he wasn’t busy enough producing the record (he says he’s been writing it since 2013 and recording since January), Garrett and some friends are working to launch a record label. “Me and my friend Excalibar have teamed up with a couple of other guys and started Light Rider Music,” says Garrett. “This is the first solo project out of that label.”
Look for “Scars Rise” on Tuesday, July 7. To see T.A.G. perform, look for him at the Kingdom Festival in Greentown on July 10 and at Garrett’s own Promote Love event, featuring T.A.G., 3CK, Pryme, Jade Reanne, Dana Miller and Duality, in Rochester on Saturday, July 26. Visit www.taghiphop.com or T.A.G.’s Facebook for more information.