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‘Prelude’ to a star: Atlanta’s J. Tyler drops first EP

Gay Atlanta’s own J Tyler debuts full EP and chats with us about music from his heart.

By Mike Fleming

When local rapper J Tyler hits Hard Rock Café on Saturday, it may be his new CD’s debut, but to those of us in gay Atlanta, it’s certainly not our first introduction to the prolific performing artist.

Whether you’ve caught his performances at venues around town, caught wind of his music via gay Atlanta media, heard him backing other artists including LGBT Atlanta singer Alissah Brooks, or saw his viral videos, this out-and-proud young gay man has been turning heads and catching praise for a while now.

That’s what makes the new EP Prelude, featuring original tracks that J Tyler tells David Atlanta come from his heart, so exciting: We go into it already loving him.

The cutie with the talent lands at Hard Rock for part celebration, part concert with performances by special guest artists James Shealy, Erick Nathan, and Shay. But not before he sits down with us to preview the show, the EP, and what makes our Atlanta guy tick.

How would you describe your music and your career up to this point?

I got my “start” by being a dumb kid just wanting to be a rapper. I started posting remixes on YouTube and got noticed by people like Chris Crocker, Detox from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Perez Hilton and Ross Matthews. I gained momentum and started getting involved with my label, BSE. Now we’re at the beginning of having my own music. It’s exciting!

Who are your biggest influences and heroes?

In music, my first love was Shania Twain. Nobody would ever guess that, I don’t think. (laughs.) After I got into rap, I took influence from how Missy Elliot changed the game. Then, it was Nicki Minaj.

In life, I would definitely say that my dad is my hero. He’s such a country bumpkin, but he’s always by my side, supporting me, no matter what.

How much, if any, has living in Atlanta influenced your work?

Oh wow. Yeah, I’m not the same little kid that moved to Atlanta, thinking I was going to be somebody fast. My experience in the city has humbled me so much. It really fueled the drive that I already had to go after what I love.

Do you think being gay makes a difference as an artist?

I’m not just some little gay kid, you know? I wish more people would see that. It’s funny because I was just having this conversation with Adam Lambert. I sent him my EP to listen to, and we started talking about how being gay is what gives me edge. But if that’s what gives me edge, then I’m not doing my job as an artist.

What can we expect from the debut EP?

I wanted to put something out that would tell somebody exactly who I am. Each song on Prelude tells a different story from my heart. I’m just having fun and sharing heartbreak over here, and I know people can relate to that.

Tell us about the first single.

My first single is called “Dance with Me.” It actually wasn’t even supposed to be on the EP. I thought I was through with the album until my manager/producer, Ryan Snow, called me up and said he had a beat that he can’t help but hear me on. He told me to listen and if I’m not feeling it, we’ll be done.

After listening to it, I literally jumped right up and had an idea. I started writing immediately, then asked my label mate, James Shealy, to jump on the hook. We really made a summer anthem. If you tune in to Q100, you might hear this one playing!

If fans could walk away from the EP with one message, what would it be?

They will definitely understand me a lot more than they already do. You can only know so much about a person behind a computer, but if I can inspire at least one person with what I’m doing, then I can have all the validation in the world that I’m meant to do this. Prelude means so much to me. 

What’s next for you?

Oh, you think I’m gonna stop with just a drop of an EP?! You haven’t seen the last of me. I’m featured on a couple of great Atlanta newcomers’ albums coming out soon. I’ve already written my next few bops. I haven’t been this involved in my music ever, and it’s such an indescribable feeling.

What’s your dream for the future?

Honestly, I’ve already reached my dream. I’m doing what I love. I wasn’t saying I wanted to get rich by doing music as a kid. I said I wanted to do music, and that’s what I’m doing. But like I said, my time is now.  

Anything you’d like to say to gay Atlanta before your June 17 event?

Thank you. Just thank you. I’ve never been so grateful to have such support. I’m honored to be able to represent the LGBTQ community with my dream. This CD release concert is just the first of many shows like this.

But wouldn’t it be cool to say you were there when? (laughs.)

J Tyler’s debut EP Prelude will be available on all digital markets on June 17. Visit jtylermusic.com and facebook.com/jtylermusic. The Prelude concert takes place Saturday, June 17, 7 p.m. at Hard Rock Café Atlanta, 215 Peachtree St. NE.

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