Camden, Arkansas-bred rapper Tony Tillman reflects on past hardships on “Granny’s Couch".
The respected wordsmith covered by Okayplayer, Rapzilla and NewReleaseToday, recalls how financial struggles led him to stints of drug selling and robbery before he turned his life around. Tillman addresses the unfortunate plight all too common amongst inner city youth: “The hood's like prison we all some lifers / All got raps I ain't talking cyphers / Homeboy can barely buy his daughter diapers / He bout to jack son I ain't talking Michael.”
Tillman says a recent visit to his grandmother’s house in Camden motivated him to write the song produced by Grammy Award-winning musician Courtney Orlando, formerly known as J.R. “The visit was a bit nostalgic for me,” he recalls. “I lived with my grandma most of my teen years and slept on her couch. So, while I was there I began to think of a lot of the things I had experienced during that time. I remember going from being like 'Dang, I can't wait to get out on my own and off this stupid couch’ to becoming content and accepting the fact that I was a hood dude.
Tillman continues, “Living in the hood felt like a prison, and I was doing what I had to do to make the most of it. All of the wrong I did then like gang banging, selling dope, burglarizing houses, and robbing people was all an attempt to escape my reality and a push to get up out the hood. I eventually made it out, and did something positive with my life, but now I can't help but to feel sorrow for people who are still in that type of situation. Young men and women who are currently going through what I went through, sleeping on their granny's couch feeling trapped and longing to get out of that situation.”
Orlando-based rapper Deraj returns with a new anthem, “Way Up".
Featuring American Idol finalist Kassy Levels belting the chorus, “Way Up” is both an expression of gratitude and an ode to strong faith. On the track bustling with humming keys and electric synths compliments of Grammy Award-winning producer Malex and OB, Deraj credits his faith with keeping him in a good place. He hopes to inspire others, rapping, “We got the medicine, all you gotta do is let it in / He just came to fill you way up, what you hearing is the evidence.”
Deraj, who has been featured in HipHopDX and Rapzilla, says the song is about staying motivated. “When people and situations strive to keep us down, we stay focused on the things above no matter what,” he says. “We won’t settle for low standards when God made us greater. Since we were made for more, then with everything we do, we aim do it Way Up.”