The Chicago Defender’s Black Music Month Special Edition
Ty Money | @tymoney
The streets of Chicago can take you in, chew you up and spit you out without any remorse. There are many stories shared of young men whose lives have changed either for the better or worse.
Ty Money has walked through most of his young adult life relying on the streets as extended refuge—hustling and trying to survive. The love of his family never far but like many youth, the streets can have a stronger influence.
Having served one-year at the Vienna Correctional Center, he was released in 2013. On the ride back home, his mother played the mixtape he completed before going inside. Sharing that moment with his mother and listening to his music—he realized his true refuge was music—not the streets.
In the last couple of years, his Cinco De Money mixtapes have become a hot commodity on the streets—attracting the attention of national publications and hip-hop fans. Since his first mixtape dropped, his producer partners have expanded to a reputable group of familiar names that include Rio Mac, YF, Honorable C-Note, ChaseTheMoney and Hearon Trackz. The latest Cinco De Money 3 mixtape features the recently Bump J’s first recorded release since being released from prison.
What made you decide music was a profession you wanted pursue full-time?
Music runs in my family. Everybody in my family does music so it was a ‘no brainer’ for me. Marvo is my big cousin. Everybody knows how to rap or sing. My dad would have DJ equipment everywhere so I would hear music all day.
Throughout this time, you were incarnated, was there a moment that given a second chance—you would not return to the street life?
Yes, when I was in isolation for 24 hours locked down—I knew it. I didn’t want to live like this. Running the streets, you could end up two ways—the grave or jail. I didn’t want to do or go through this. I knew I had a talent and the people I was locked up with also knew I had a talent. They told me I needed to get out and focus on my talent. All that time I had to sit and think, I realized who I was and what I could do.
What formula works for you to create a buzz without going through the traditional process of radio airplay?
I think it’s pure talent. A lot of people feel they have to ‘do this’ or ‘do that’. I was always the type that sat back, minded my own business, stayed in the studio and kept working on my craft. I don’t like doing shows. I’m a studio body, I like the studio first. I want to make sure I’m ready for all of that. There are people out here who probably have 20 songs and they’re doing shows. Eventually, they’re going to run out of songs. I’m not going to run out, I want to make sure I’m ready.
When did you start getting calls from people outside of Chicago about your music?
We went to London with Mos Def. That really opened my eyes–it was the first time I met Drake, Chance the Rapper—they were all wondering, ‘Who’s this guy from Chicago with Mos Def? Why are you with Mos Def, how did that happen?’ I mess with a lot of Muslim brothers [FOI] and they pull a lot of strings. They introduced me to Nick Cannon and Mos Def’s brother as well. They didn’t have to, but they did anyway.
What new projects are you working on now?
I’m working on a project with the Honorable C-Note, front and back together. I’m thinking about releasing Cinco De Money—one, two and three as a collectible. I still distribute physical product because I’m old school.
What inspires you? Is it family, other musicians or is it yourself?
It’s probably myself. I’ve always been the type of person that wear a mask. It’s motivation for me. They told me a long time ago, I wasn’t going to make it, I was weak or never going to make noise. They never played me on the radio. Now, my record with Bump J is being spun every day. All of this was motivation for me. It’s like the fifth-round draft pick that went on to win the Super Bowl.