Meet TUT. Birth name Kevin Adams Jr., TUT is a 22-year old rapper hailing from Chattanooga, Tennessee, who recently released his first full-length project, Preacher’s Son. As you can probably guess by both his name and the title of his album, TUT is the son of Kevin Adams Sr., a prominent preacher in Chattanooga—but as TUT himself (or anyone who has listened to the album) would tell you, he’s far from perfect.
As somewhat of a coming-of-age story, Preacher’s Son chronicles TUT’s struggle between fitting the mold of what society deems the son of a preacher should be like, and simply being himself—though there’s much more to the album than can be explained in a few sentences. As one of the best projects to come out in 2015 thus far, Preacher’s Son is only the beginning for TUT: he most recently performed at SXSW and expects to release another full-length project by the end of this year. Touting an undeniably high work ethic, TUT is determined to make everyone know his name as the self-proclaimed “youngest king in the game.”
Two of our writers, Taylor Rubright and Ronnie Ramirez, shared the same appreciation for Preacher’s Son, and had the opportunity to have a conversation with TUT to discuss the album, as well as his his beginnings, inspirations, and future ambitions. As someone who wants to spread positivity, TUT radiated humbleness and passion in speaking on both his music and his life. TUT—”The Understood Truth”—is an undoubtedly bright spot in the current hip-hop landscape, and as his art grows, his name will surely follow.
How are you doing?
I’m pretty decent man to say the least. I just ate a little weed thing so I’m kind of baked.
Let’s start off with a little introduction for those who aren’t familiar with who you are. What is your name and where are you from?
My name is TUT. Some niggas call me “The Understood Truth” and I’m from Chattanooga, Tennessee!
Have you lived in Chattanooga all your life?
Yeah. Born and raised in Chattanooga.
You say that you chose the name TUT because King Tut was the youngest king and that it also stands for “The Understood Truth.” Can you elaborate on what you mean by “The Understood Truth?” What does that mean to you?
“The Understood Truth” is just an acronym, but how I actually came up with the name TUT is…we actually came up with the name because we were gunna call, me and Zay (Isaiah Rashad by the way), we were gunna have a joint group called YGTUT back in like 2011. My great-grandfather, they used to call him Tut. So like, it’d be cool to let that name live on. But also, you know, just to be a young king in general.
Also, it is sometimes stylized as YGTUT. What does the YG add?
Like I said, it was a group me and Zay were gunna have back then. Basically, we were some young G’s and kings. We were gunna make the group, then he got signed to TDE. But before then I was already going by YGTUT. People would be like, “there goes YGTUT,” so it was more so I was YGTUT than we were YGTUT.
You have an Instagram video of yourself passionately singing some Michael Jackson. Who are some of your musical influences? Who did you grow up listening to?
I have an Instagram video of Michael Jackson?
Yeah! You were singing some Michael Jackson with some passion!
Oh! [Laughs] Yeah, yeah. I like Michael Jackson bro. I’ve liked him since I was a kid. It’s crazy that you would mention that because like ever since I could remember he was like my favorite artist, like pop singer or whatever. I used to watch the contest at my grandmama house. I remember like on Halloween they used to show the Michael Jackson contests and shit on VH1. Then like the “Thriller” video and the ghosts and shit. I used to watch that like every Halloween. My mama got me the Michael Jackson DVD, I mean not the DVD, but the tape or whatever. My pops used to get me those too. My pop he likes Michael Jackson. He used to sing “Thriller” all the time. I got heavily influenced by Michael Jackson, you know? I just really love his music. He’s probably the best artist, writer, singer…of all time, you know? Best performer.
Absolutely. Growing up, who else did you listen to?
I listened to a lot of OutKast. UGK. I listened to a lot of Isaiah Rashad. Ktoven productions. I like Juvenile. I just like the classics man. I just like classic shit. I like powerful shit. I like Kanye West, Late Registration. That’s probably one of my favorite albums. I just like classic shit man.
What led to the moment you decided music was something you wanted to pursue full-time?
Probably about the time I was in college. I had already been fuckin’ with music before. Probably the time I met Isaiah Rashad in college. That was probably the time I got serious with it and tried to make it a job.
So did you and Isaiah Rashad go to the same college?
Yeah. We went to TSU [Tennessee State University] together.
You are a part of The House collective that Isaiah Rashad frequently references. Is The House something you’ve always been a part of from the beginning? How did that collective form?
Yeah. I’m actually a founder of The House. Me, Michael DaVinci, and Isaiah Rashad founded the House. Michael Da Vinci, Rob, first introduced me to Isaiah Rashad when I first started to go to TSU. He [Michael Da Vinci] was like, “This nigga can make music. Y’all should work together and shit.” After that, me and Zay became like brothers and we still got that relationship to this day. That’s my nigga. I talk to him damn near like every day. That’s really like my brother. It’s just like a friendship really. Rob [Michael DaVinci] was the last to rap out of the three of us. He started rapping because me and Zay was rapping. At first we were the Flight House. If you go back and listen to old House shit, you’ll probably hear shit like Flight House. Then we ended up just dropping it to The House later on.
Preacher’s Son was originally supposed to drop on April 30th of last year. Why was it pushed back until January of this year?
Because I had the project done at one point, but we weren’t really satisfied with it when we were trying to drop it at that time. I basically felt like the project could have been a lot better. So after hearing it, me and K [Ktoven] went back on it and got introduced to live instrumentation. Like playing live instruments. So like everything that had been made to that point…the next song was better than the last song and the songs ended up becoming better than the last songs, you know what I’m saying? So you know, we weren’t proud of it. Then in November I ended up getting into some troubles so we had to push it back again until January 5th. So we put it out on January 5th and that’s basically why. We had shit on there that didn’t even make the album, like more than half of the project didn’t make the album so we ended up basically putting out a whole new project when we came out with Preacher’s Son.
That shows a lot of patience. You waited to put out a solid project and that’s a lot different than what most people are doing right now. So what was the idea behind the #ProudToPay release instead of a traditional free release? Being relatively unknown prior to this tape, how did that method of release end up working out?
I was kind of torn on that. We weren’t really trying to sell the project. We were just trying to get as much exposure as we could. You could support it at tuthouse.co. Now we’re doing this thing where you get the high-quality project along with a House sticker if you support. If you donate like $30, you’ll get a t-shirt. We got hella t-shirts. It’s basically so you could support in any way you want to support. Even if you want to buy the project for a penny. I mean, that’s kind of disrespectful, but you can buy the project for a penny! It’s basically just supporting the music.
On Preacher’s Son there’s this duality of good and bad. Like on the hook of “Hangin’,” people are criticizing you because you’re a preacher’s son, but you’re smoking weed. So what is the concept behind Preacher’s Son?
Preacher’s Son is really just the life story. The story of my life, up to this point. How like me, my dad, and my mom had disagreements. Just me being me. Not something that like necessarily everybody agreed with it, but now like everybody came around and they supporting. It’s just everything I was going through. Like my cousin Justin getting kicked out of the army in North Dakota. Songs like “Bad Guys” to “Sunday Service” to “Fall of Goliath.” Everything on there is just a testament to my situation and me just overcoming.
As you mentioned before, a great amount of live instrumentation was used in the production of Preacher’s Son. Was that Ktoven’s decision or your own?
It was both of our decision. I remember about the time we started working on “Holy Water.” I remember it was supposed to be like an R&B beat or some shit like that. It was like the same song, but it came out more spiritual. But then after that, I was like, “Bro, we should get a guitar on this.” We both agreed we should get a guitar on this. After that, we ended up getting introduced to our guitar player Taylor Freeman. K introduced Martelli who was another cold-ass guitar player. He [Martelli] ended up playing bass on most of the tracks too. Then got introduced to Sway Mo and a bunch of other people and that’s how the shit came about. Derrick introduced me to Angela Mae too. She a cold ass singer. She came in and I got her on “Living on the Sun.” I had “Living on the Sun” done by the time she came in and “Holy Water” [as well]. Then she just hopped on those.
Is live instrumentation an aspect of production you try to include in your songs?
Yeah. I wouldn’t say directly, but it’s just something that comes along when it fits. We’re just trying to make good music. We’re just trying to make the best music possible. If the live instrumentation does that, that’s what we’re trying to do. If I make a turn up song, I need some heavy bass. Those don’t really have live instrumentation. We don’t do a lot of shit like that anyway, but we’re just trying to do what fits. It’s not on purpose. It just kind of happens.
Like you said earlier, you said Preacher’s Son was a brand-new project by the time you released it. Some songs didn’t make the project, like “Throwed” with Isaiah Rashad. Did those just not fit the theme of the project?
“Throwed” is still gonna come out. Isaiah just never really directly dropped his verse on it, he was just always talkin’ that he had something for it. We thought he was gonna come on the project. If we put out “Throwed,” Lucki Eck$ is probably gonna be on it now.
Could you give us a little more information on the deluxe version of Preacher’s Son?
Oh yeah, about that…the deluxe version ain’t comin’ out no more. [Laughs] Yeah, it ain’t comin’ out no more…we’re gonna drop probably another song called “Living Sacrifice.” And we’re working on our next project right now, so expect that out around the fall.
“Preacher’s Son” was a phrase that appeared on the cover of Isaiah Rashad’s Cilvia Demo. What’s the significance behind that?
Isaiah Rashad, that’s little-big-bro. I guess he didn’t know what to come up with for the cover art, but he was just lookin’ at Cilvia as a demo, people look at it as an album…when he was up in Vegas he told me he was in the hotel arguing, I don’t know if it was switched to “Lord,” but somebody was workin’ on the cover art and he was just asked if he was gonna put other title names on there. Like, I wasn’t the only one on there, like they put Rob’s title on there, “Strictly 4 My Niggas,” but I think he said he was gonna call it some bullshit like “For Us” or some shit now. It was already understood that I was comin’ out after Cilvia came out. That’s how me and Isaiah had already orchestrated it. Before we had came out with Preacher’s Son, cuz we had already had a concept for the idea of Preacher’s Son just for the songs. But the way we wanted it to evolve, is Isaiah comes out first, and then I come behind him, you know what I’m saying? And then hopefully Mikey D come behind me. That’s basically how it is. You know, he just left “Preacher’s Son” on there along with what Cilvia was supposed to be—it was supposed to be “Khaki”—and then him and Rob was supposed to come out with this project called “Fake Trill”—well, they low-key did, but it was only like a four song project that they put on sound cloud. But that’s pretty much how that happened.
Southern hip-hop, especially new-age Atlanta hip-hop, is becoming pretty much synonymous with trap music. How do you feel about that direction and what do you feel you are personally bringing to the development of southern hip-hop?
I’m not totally against trap music, I just feel like sometimes that shit be kinda too reckless for the generation coming behind us. It’s like, I’m living in Chattanooga and seein’ a lot of my niggas, you know, bein’ locked up at a young age. One of my best friends got locked up when I was 13—and he was like 12—for shooting a taxi driver. I know how that shit be, I listen to music from there and I’m like “y’all niggas talkin’ reckless bruh, and I know how niggas in my city be when they hear you talkin’ reckless.” I feel like I should say some shit with some substance from where I’m comin’ from. You know, help the niggas from generations under me. You never know man, that’s all I can probably say, for example, one nigga gettin’ on a song and tellin’ niggas “you gotta slow it down young blood,” sayin’ some simple shit like that. And it’ll make a nigga rethink his whole life. “I just be out here, you know, doin’ this, maybe I should try to make a business for myself,” or whatever it is—get a job or something. A nigga can’t do nothin’ behind no wall, man. It don’t make sense. It’s stupid.
It’s cool, I like turn up music bruh. I like to turn up, I like to have fun. I like to play Young Thug or Rae Sremmurd or whoever when I’m getting fucked up—all the time, when I got a long ride I put them niggas on. But niggas don’t think it through. In some ways, they really are role models to people, even when they don’t notice it. Not sayin’ I’m tryina be a role model, but I’m just aware that I’ma be held accountable for the shit I say. People gon’ listen to the shit that I’m saying, so I just gotta say some shit with some kinda substance, you know what I’m sayin? That’s all I’m really tryina do.
That’s awesome man, that’s really cool. What you’re doing is pretty much the polar opposite of what’s going on in Atlanta, and like you said, I can appreciate both of them, but sometimes you gotta listen to something with a message.
It’s like I said, I have fun too, but when I come out with this project, I’ma be talkin’ hella shit.
About a year ago you met 2 Chainz & Jazze Pha. How did that meeting come about?
I was at a basketball game when I met 2 Chainz. I was just with my Pop—and, you know, he a preacher or whatever, but he got a lot of friends. Jazze Pha and 2 Chainz, that’s how I met them, pretty much just bein’ out here, you know, chillin’. Jazze Pha, he heard “Live in Chattanooga” and then some other shit. And I just met 2 Chainz on the floor and talked to him for a minute, and you know just went back in my seat. It was just some random shit like that. But I went out to eat with Jazze Pha, so it was tight when I bumped into Jazze Pha, we chopped it up for a minute. They were tryina get us to come to the studio the next day with 2 Chainz, but I was already on my way back to Chattanooga. I’m sure we’ll eventually end up crossing paths again.
Can we expect some collaboration in the future?
What, from 2 Chainz?
I mean, shit, if he come for it, but I’m not friends with the nigga like that. Not just like I can be like “hey bro, you should get on this song with me.” You know, like I’m good friends with Sonny Digital. I was just at Sonny Digital’s crib last night. Obviously I wasn’t gonna say “hey bruh we’re at your crib, we should record man.” Cuz I’m still a young nigga! I’m friends to these niggas when I come around, but I feel, in a way, there’s respect I gotta earn in order to get on songs with the bigger muthafuckas. That’s how that be, I just be chillin bro, I’m in the cut.
You said you’re already starting work on your next project due out this fall, so what else is next for you? We heard rumors that you’re supposed to be performing at South by Southwest. Do you have any possible tour dates coming up?
We’re still trying to get a calendar together. We got shows, I got a show in Nashville and people are tryina get me to come out to California and shit. But we gotta get shows booked, that’s really all that it is. We’ve been working on trying to get a tour together and stuff like that, but we still gotta get some dates in order. If you know anyone who’s tryina get Tut to come to your city man, email YGTUTthehouse@gmail.com because we’re tryina come out there. Wherever it’s at, we’re tryina come out there and turn up.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years as “the youngest king in the game?”
In the next five years, I’ve got a lot of plans, man. I see myself with our own studio business and our own studio building in downtown Chattanooga. I see the merch poppin’ off. I see me still makin’ good music…still tryina reach different levels with this shit. I see me gettin’ better, in other words. That’s pretty much it. I just see me getting better all around. In five years, I’ma be the same nigga with a different mentality.
Dope. We’re hoping to see you blow up in the next five years. We definitely appreciate you taking the time out your day to do this interview.
This shit was dope as hell man, I appreciate y’all for reachin’ out and giving me this opportunity.