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Arguably, no recording artist fits the description of multihyphenate better than Tyrese. Actor, singer, CEO, model, author, and philanthropist — it's been an unprecedented jump from the streets of South Central Los Angeles. In an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com, Tryese discuseds the art of creativity, balancing acting and music, his biggest career moments, and his latest album, Open Invitation, among other topics.
"For me, it's still like a long dream that I could have never seen coming," says Tyrese of his career.
Born Tyrese Darnell Gibson, Tyrese began his dream at age 14, performing at talent shows in the Los Angeles section of Watts. After starring in a Coca-Cola commercial, Tyrese landed a recording contract and released his self-titled debut album in 1998. The album cracked the Top 20 on the Billboard 200, sold more than 1 million copies and spawned his first GRAMMY nomination for "Sweet Lady" for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Following the release of his sophomore set, 2001's gold-selling 2000 Watts, 2003's I Wanna Go There notched Tyrese his second GRAMMY nomination for "How You Gonna Act Like That."
"When you get that phone call that you have a [GRAMMY] nomination, you really can't compare it to anything else," says Tyrese.
In search for additional creative outlets, Tyrese dabbled in modeling and television, hosting MTV's "MTV Jams" program. He also made the move to the big screen in 2003's 2 Fast 2 Furious and has gone on to starring roles in films such as Transformers, Legion, The Take, and Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.
"I think there is value in just having a fan base. And once you have that fan base you can take them on whatever ride you want," says Tyrese. "I love movies but ultimately until you write and direct your own film, you're helping [others] to get their visions and ideas out. But when you do music, it's yours. It's your baby."
In 2011 Tyrese added The New York Times bestselling author to his résumé with the release of How To Get Out Of Your Own Way, a book offering a candid look at his life and rise to fame. His philanthropic endeavors include participation as an ambassador of Operation Hope: 5MK, a program designed to help reduce the rate of high-school dropouts, and his own Watts Foundation, which is working toward building a state-of-the-art youth center in Los Angeles.
After a five-year recording hiatus, Tyrese returned in 2011 with the independently produced Open Invitation. Tyrese teamed with artists such as R. Kelly, Ludacris and Rick Ross. Released via his Voltron Recordz imprint, the album topped Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart and the single "Stay" became a R&B/hip-hop hit.
"What I really wanted to do was do an album that was anchored in spirit and consistency," says Tyrese. "Hopefully when my fans and supporters hear this album they'll be able to feel the spiritual connection from one song to the next because it was all done literally at my house. I had 14 music producers, songwriters, singers all sleeping at my house for three weeks. … We had so much fun making this album."
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