What's up Leafers? Welcome to the latest edition of On the Rise where we interview upcoming hip hop talent. Today's guest is artist, Traphouse Trav. Travis was born in Queens, New York in July of 1996 to two wonderful, hardworking parents from the island of Jamaica. He was raised in a household with who he calls "the four best siblings I could've asked for" and raised going to the United Community Church of God--also in Queens, New York. God, family, and hard work were big parts of his life. His parents encouraged him to especially value his education both in and out of school. It was important for him to be book smart and street smart. At just 8 years of age, Travis was taking two public transportation buses everyday to go to his magnet school on the other side of town. Experiences like this shaped his fascination in cultures and challenging himself. Ultimately, he earned a full scholarship to Notre Dame where he studied Computer Science. He built relationships, led a couple of organization, and studied in Europe, twice, during that time. Since then, he has been working in the tech industry and creating music. Trav has been making moves in his city so we had to tap in with him! Check out the interview below.
Westleaf Staff: What's up, Trav? Your sound is dope. When did you start making music?
Trav: I think I actually started back in middle school when I would create my own remixes to existing songs. I like taking things that I like and making them into my own. With music, it wasn't anything professional, but if I made my own remix to a song an artist dropped, it was because I liked some part of the song, but I also felt like lyrically, I could cook something up clever.
Westleaf Staff: That's dope! What city do you represent?
Trav: I live in Atlanta, but I will always claim Southside Jamaica first. It is where I grew up. Being there shaped a lot of my experiences. I have some amazing family and friends still in that area and so I'm always going to love it for what I remember it as. Also, hint, hint--I have an unreleased track that may be one of my favorites ever dedicated to where I am from. I can't wait to drop that one at some point.
Westleaf Staff: Shout out to Atl and Jamaica! Both places have produced so many legends. So how did you create your stage name?
Trav: This is a great question! In college, we were doing an event to welcome Black students to Notre Dame. One of the icebreaker activities was us using alliteration to introduce ourselves and everyone else who introduced themselves before us. If you were last to go, you had to remember everyone's adjective plus their name. We got to my name and maybe it was inspired by the Bobby Shmurda line "get up out my trap house!", but I introduced myself as Traphouse Travis. Safe to say a lot of people started calling me Traphouse for much of my college career. Fast forward to the music and I start off with another stage name. Looking back it was dumb. I wanted a name that meant something to me. I actually liked being called Traphouse. It would throw people off who didn't know me. If you called me Traphouse, you likely knew me. Now through music, as Traphouse Trav, I invite people in, in some capacity, to get to know me. I don't actually trap though.
Westleaf Staff: Nice. That's a fly name. It's cool to see that it came natural as well. Those are always the best names! So how did your early life shape your interest in music?
Trav: My early life was one growing up in Southside Jamaica. So I had the 50 Cents of the world be big. I also listened to Lil Wayne (good puns and bars), Nas (iconic), Kanye (creative), Biggie (flow and acceptance of self), Em (top tier vocabulary and rage), and Pac (lyrics) in terms of hip hop the most. I just loved all of it. I will say though that just music as a whole is something I credit to my dad. He used to be a DJ in Jamaica. When he came to the states, he worked his butt off (being a father, husband, and employee) so it felt like he never had much time to do anything else. However, he found a way. His passion of working on music and building equipment in his free time never died and never will. I still see how much it fills his soul and it's something that I emulated in my own way. To be able to create in my own way, it fills my soul.
Outside of that, I almost forgot, I also used to be in dance school. I sometimes wish I still did it, but creating my own music now might be something that people can move to.
Westleaf Staff: It's dope to see that you're inspired by your father. Shoutout to you for taking it to the next level! Salute. So who is your biggest Musical influence?
Trav: If I had to choose one today, it would be Kendrick Lamar. The ability to tell stories is beautiful. Good Kid Maad City has songs that really resonate. The delivery is there. When I tell stories through music, I want to paint pictures like he does, but also spread a message. I hope that my Balcony Blues track does that. I also hope future tracks do that.
Westleaf Staff: Kendrick is a legend! Next question! What's been the defining moment in your music career thus far?
Trav: The defining moment might be right now. I started on this professional journey back in 2020 with no idea how anything worked. I took a leap and just decided to make music with equipment I invested in. It was a cool thing to start, but as I look back, I'm kind of like, "wow, I sounded like that. That boy needs work". In all seriousness though, I think I am continuing to develop my craft and I understand how to spread messages and reach more people in a very genuine way. I believe that there are people who are moved or inspired by what I express. Everyone has something that they want to say. Whether people admit it or not, they want to be heard. I want to be heard. I feel like somebody is finally listening in this very moment. For me, that's the moment.
Westleaf Staff: Wow! That's super insightful. People are listening for sure. Our staff listened before this interview!
What makes you a unique artist?
Trav: I consider myself unique because I really put myself out there in ways that a lot of people potentially could connect to. I display a very vulnerable side sometimes that some people wouldn't know if I didn't put the art out there. Do I value streams and blowing up? Yeah! Absolutely! I think it's great, especially if I want people to get my message. At the same time, I care so much about the "what" resonating with people and the "why" for me doing this. Not every song is going to speak on mental health, violence in the world, or being ghosted. Hint. Hint. More music coming. There are going to be more fun ones too. I just think messages that give people something to hold on to or resonate with are dope sometimes.
Westleaf Staff: I love that answer. So what does art mean to you?
Trav: Art to me is any form of expression that allows the creator to share a piece of them--whether that be thoughts, experiences, feelings, or something else. Some examples of art to me are painting, sculpting, acting, singing, rapping, podcasting, designing, fashion, prose. There is so much more, but the main beauty in it is the part of it that is you.
Westleaf Staff: True! That's deep! Where do you see your music career going over the next few years?
Trav: It is tough for me to say. I plan to continue to focus on my craft in my free time. I just want to continue to express myself. I am open to collaborations and opportunities to grow myself and my fanbase. If I made a few million off of streams tomorrow, I think I would still make music for fun because it fills me. I've been kind of investing in myself in that way. I think I'd also help a couple close people I know who are interested in areas of music by funding their development in production or marketing or something else. For now, I will go with the flow and continue to share with those who support me.
Westleaf Staff: Dope! I wish you much success! Before we go, describe music in three words.
Trav: Storytelling. Fun. Expressive.
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