Singer, actor and author Tyrese just wants to share his story.
This month, the triple threat released his self-directed and narrated documentary, A Black Rose That Grew Through Concrete.
The documentary briefly chronicles Tyrese’s humble beginnings in Watts, California, to his success as an accomplished singer/actor and author and now as a sought after motivational speaker.
AllHipHop.com had the opportunity to talk with Tyrese on what inspired him to create his documentary. The singer shares his honest thoughts on comparisons to Steve Harvey, the latest news on his supergroup with Tank and Ginuwine and why he’s so passionate about teaching people about love.
AllHipHop: Why now, why did you want to document and share your life story A Black Rose That Grew Through Concrete?
Tyrese: My privacy is all I own. I’m not interested in being the biggest star. I never was. I didn’t even know I was going to get this far and stay in the game this long. I just didn’t know. But my journey hasn’t been easy.
I feel like in this economy, in this world, in life, people are always inspired by an inspirational story but I feel like right now there’s a lot of people that are saying “F*ck it!” and they just giving up. I wanted to remind people that I lived in that horrible economy. I know what broke is. I know what hungry is. I know what feeling stuck is.
I know how people see me now, but, I didn’t come from this. Arguably, I’m still not used to this.
WATCH – A Black Rose That Grew Through Concrete:
AHH: For you to have achieved success as actor, author and singer, you seem to be humbled by it all. What gives you that feeling of appreciation?
Tyrese: I ain’t really got no choice but to be humbled by it. I’m just still in disbelief that sh*t happened in the first place. There’s a lot of people that get arrogant and cocky about this, but y’all acting like it’s always been here.
Who are you to start making money and selling records, and being in movies and then you’re starting to be condescending and evil towards people that don’t have what you have? If anybody has ever called me arrogant, it’s because they’ve created who I am in their mind before they met me.
Will Smith, I love him to death, but not everybody is Will Smith. To walk in a room, and they’re always excited, always happy, always got the energy. It’s just not normal. Will Smith, as a personality, is in a league of his own. It’s a part of what makes him amazing and great. He’s one of my mentors that has changed my life, but you get around people like Will and you think “Damn, if it takes all of that, I don’t even know if I want to get to that level.”
He takes a picture with everyone who asks. If anyone hasn’t ever felt like I wasn’t humble, it’s because I’m human.
AHH: In your documentary, you reveal you wanted to be a trashman. That was your dream.
Tyrese: I feel like it’s manly. Before I even knew I had the gift to sing or act, I didn’t know I was going to be in showbusiness. I wanted to become something that I was exposed to.
I found out the trashman got medical, dental benefits, retirement plans and pensions. I did my research. I used to go eight to nine houses up the street before the trashman got to my house and I would help him every week.
That was my goal. Anybody who knew me as a child would tell you “He’s dead serious.”.
AHH: Were you inspired by Tupac Shakur to name your documentary A Black Rose That Grew Through Concrete?
Tyrese: I loved that quote that he wrote in his poem. I met ‘Pac a few times and til this day, I’m still very close to ‘Pac’s mom, Ms. Afeni Shakur, living out there in North Carolina. I’ve been to her ranch and stayed there for a couple weeks.
Certain people are like “Aww man, you’re using the title”. I met him. I won’t say that we were best friends, that I ever had his cell phone number ’cause I’d be lying. Ultimately, I felt very comfortable with naming my documentary this because I can identify with that quote.
Me, as a black man, my career growing wasn’t easy. I grew through concrete. I was not supposed to make it through that concrete. People singing about the bottom, but I really did start beneath the bottom.
AHH: When you let Teddy Riley and Will.I.am get an exclusive listen to the beginnings of your Open Invitation album, they basically told you it wasn’t good.
Tyrese: Well, they didn’t say it wasn’t good. They said it wasn’t right now. It’s not what people are doing in the music business now. Will.I.am is genius enough to say the music is good, but it’s not what he would do, because it’s not what he’s doing.
I didn’t look at it as negative or disrespectful, I just said “Well, sh*t, my music is just not what’s popping today.” This is good music and great songs, but I don’t know if this will work if you release it today. It’s like trying to use your 1989 education in a 2013 world. You’re going to have to go back to school. Because I haven’t dropped an album in about five years, when I got back in the studio, I picked up where R&B left off for me. Justin Timberlake did the same thing.
Although he’s a white man, and white people singing soul R&B music will always sell and do way more, he rightfully deserves everything that he’s accomplished. Just like Justin Timberlake, I shut off everything to go and do movies.
AHH: You’ve released Manology, which has been receiving positive reviews, but what has Tyrese so passionate about men and women relationships?
Tyrese: I just think a lot of people like me, we want to know more and we want to be better men and women. We want to understand the opposite sex. When it comes to being a man with kids, you say, how can I naturally know how to be something I was never raised by.
How can you expect me to be a husband or to even know what the concept of husband is, if I wasn’t raised in a house to witness what a husband is? That’s what Manology is. It’s a manual to get in front of “manipulation”. It’s the biology of man. It’s for women and for men.
Men read this book and they hit me like “Yo, I thought the book was gone be like Steve Harvey’s book giving advice to women but my life changed!”.
AHH: It’s rare you get a Black male entertainer who becomes vulnerable with talking about relationships.
Tyrese: You can’t give advice if you don’t expose your own stuff. It’s one thing to just talk about it because you’re trying to be a shock jock, and it’s another thing to talk about the results of cleaning it up and doing it better.
A lot of people just write books because they want to tell all their business. I don’t want to tell all my business. I’m telling you about this so I don’t seem like just a dude at the pulpit giving you advice, but yet I don’t know anything about it and I’m perfect.
AHH: What’s your role in the upcoming Thanksgiving film, Black Nativity?
Tyrese: Jennifer Hudson plays my baby momma, who I left when our child that we had was very young, played by Jacob Lattimore.
There’s layers that get peeled back that’s going to shock a lot of people. I’m going to scare the sh*t out of people in this movie. I don’t think anybody has ever seen me this dark. I went places I’ve never went as an actor.
I grew my beard out and just became a different person in this movie and it really messed a lot of people up. I’ve never been more inspired by a group of people I’ve worked with on a movie set.
AHH: What’s going on with TGT? It seems like you didn’t hold anything back on your first single, naming it “Sex Ain’t Never Felt Better”.
Tyrese: We’re grown. We are men that actually want women. Take it as you want. Me, Tank and Ginuwine have all been doing our thing for many years in this R&B arena. This concept of R&B Avengers, just like the movie, you’ve got people that love Iron Man, Captain America. It’s a beautiful thing to merge all of these energies and fanbases to create a real night of true R&B music.
AHH: What kind of responsibility do you feel as an entertainer, you have to inspire people to live healthier lifestyles?
Tyrese: No two situations are the same. If you are fat and nasty and you don’t like the way you look, do something about it. It’s simple.
When you take a shower and you put your fat, nasty body in the shower and by the time you get out, the mirrors are all steamed up so you don’t look at what you did to yourself. That may sound offensive or insensitive but ultimately, you are big as hell because you have earned that sh*t. You worked your a** off to eat everything in sight to get big as hell.
If you got a problem with the way you look, then you need to do something about it. Excuses sound best to the people that’s making them up.