In just half a decade, Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group has established itself as one of the most productive companies in Hip Hop. The record imprint already owns six number one albums from Ross, Wale, and Meek Mill. Fellow Maybach representatives Gunplay and Stalley have also dropped well received LPs over the last two years.
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MMG describes itself as an “untouchable empire." In order for the “House That Ross Built” to continue its reign at the top of the charts, new princes must be crowned. In 2013, the Bawse made a move to help maintain Double M’s kingdom when he officially signed Atlanta rapper Tracy T to the label. According to the “Legit” rhymer, Rick Ross offers him more than just a stamp of approval.
“Ross is already rich, but he’s one of them dudes that keeps wanting to motivate you,” Tracy tells AllHipHop.com. “When Ross is talking, it’s different from anybody else talking. He motivates you to go get some money and be one of the greatest.”
Ricky Rozay is not the only person in MMG that Tracy has embraced as a mentor. Meek serves as a confidante as well. During the recent dustup between the Dream Chasers founder and OVO’s Drake, Tracy was on the social media frontlines defending his labelmate.
“Meek is like a brother to me. I f*ck with Meek so strong,” discloses Tracy. “Meek’s one of those dudes that says, ‘Come on, let’s do it. I’m gonna show you this sh*t. You’re gonna get sh*t too.’ He’s one of those real dudes that showed me a lot when I first came in the game. We’re all a team - iron sharpens iron.”
Since joining Maybach, Tracy has taken the baton and built a notable buzz off key features and his own DJ Scream hosted mixtapes. However, it was more than just a potent co-sign that allowed Tracy Richardson to go from a childhood in the traps of Decatur to living in a luxury high-rise apartment building in North Atlanta.
Those pre-MMG days included a young Tracy maneuvering through the perils of a hustler's lifestyle, but the experience provided him with a level of discipline he applies to his current occupation.
“I’m from the streets, so I just apply the same hustle to the music industry. I had to learn the music industry, but it’s really the same kind of hustle,” says Tracy. “I just feel like I got the work, and I’m gonna sling it. The more I drop the work, the more I’m gonna put it out, and the more it’s gonna get sold. That’s how you become a kingpin in the streets. I got a crazy hustle and a crazy plug. I’m trying to be the kingpin of the music game.”
Tracy is now slinging musical projects, and he’s establishing a considerable cabal of fiends waiting for the next re-up. His 85,000 Instagram followers and 46,000 Twitter followers form a social network which patiently waited to cop his latest release - 50 Shades Of Green.
For the 2014 collection The Wolf Of All Streets, Tracy tapped his MMG comrades Meek, Gunplay, and Ross as well as ATL natives Que and Offset. But the big-name guests on 50 Shades included collaborators from outside his home team and hometown.
The 15-track mixtape has tunes with Yo Gotti, Boosie Badazz, and Shy Glizzy. Portions of the production were provided by hit makers Jahlil Beats, Childish Major, Sonny Digital, and Beat Billionaire. In addition, the latter sound architect played a significant part in Tracy eventually etching his name on the dotted line with Rozay.
Tracy states, “Beat Billionaire has been a longtime friend. He introduced me to Ross. That’s how I got to MMG. That’s my homie for life.”
Both The Wolf Of All Streets and 50 Shades Of Green display Tracy has an extended connection to some of the top producers in the culture, and the self-confessed perfectionist is known to spend entire days in Atlanta’s Twelve Studios writing to their beats. 50 Shades was only uploaded to the web a week ago, but the effort that went into crafting Tracy’s most recent release has been in the making for months.
“My tape had been done, but I kept recording, kept recording, and kept recording. I could have been put some sh*t out, but I just wanted to be happy with my work. I wanted to be happy with my art,” he explains. “I got into a zone. I was in a 50 Shade Of Green state of mind. I had to get comfortable with myself, comfortable with my tape in order to even produce the feeling in the studio to make the project.”
50 Shades Of Green is an obvious reference to E. L. James' popular erotic romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey and the Sam Taylor-Johnson directed film of the same name. But Tracy T flipped the "fifty shades" to reflect his focus on the numerous ways he plans to rise through the ranks.
“The title represents different levels in the game, different shades in the game, different levels of paper, and different ways to get the paper,” clarifies Tracy.
Rap is just the first step in Tracy’s mission to increase the digits in his bank account. At the moment, he’s building his Money Bound brand with his day-one allies, and listeners can expect to hear TT contributions on Maybach’s forthcoming compilation Self Made Vol. 4.
Film endeavours and corporate partnerships are likely to come in the future as well. Jay Z, the quintessential hustler-turned-rapper-turned-businessman, functions as Tracy’s financial inspiration from afar.
“I look at music as the first platform, and everything else comes after that. It’s all part of the beginning stages. I start with the music, and then it branches off to acting, endorsements, and other things,” conveys Tracy. “I don’t look at myself as being just a rapper. I’m trying to spread my wings and fly. I gotta be an eagle out here.”
As the music industry shifts from CDs and downloads to streaming, artists are having to get accustomed to a modern business model. Tracy T came up in the Internet Age, but as a street-centered performer it is fair to wonder how will the industry’s nearly complete shift to the digital space affect his reach to his core base of support.
“It’s all about adapting to what’s going on. In order for a soldier to survive in the field he has to adapt to every climate, every situation. We ain’t nothing but some more soldiers in the field, and if you can’t adapt to what’s going on, you’ll be left behind. It’s not affecting me. I just got to switch the game up to continue moving,” he says.
While Tracy has been putting rhymes together since he was in elementary school, the East Side spitter’s career direction over the last three years has put him on the path to becoming one of the brightest emerging stars from Atlanta. His hustle is nowhere near complete. By 2020, Tracy T envisions himself standing among the elites in the entertainment realm.
“I see my label jumping off the ground. I see movies. I see a lot of different things launching from this platform. I see myself growing in the game as a boss, not just an artist,” Tracy declares. “I’m building an empire. Just like Rozay. Just like Meek. I’m on the same team. You see what they’ve done in just a few years. I got the same ability to do it.”
Read other installments of AllHipHop’s #ATLRiseUp series here.
Stream/download Tracy T’s 50 Shades Of Green via Datpiff below.
PHOTOS: artist/Tracy T’s Instagram