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TiRon is not a rap alias, it’s Los Angeles-based rapper’s God-given name. He’s quickly rising in the Cali Hip Hop scene, but still feels like an outsider. Because of his dual upbringing in the Chicago outskirts and in the heart of L.A., his music embodies the honesty of the Midwest mixed with the glossy novelty of California dreams. Amidst the contradiction, the young artist made a conscious decision to just be himself. “I had a couple of rap names that no one ever used; everyone was calling me TiRon,” he explains. “So I just rap about [myself]. It just so happens that the embarrassing stuff is the entertaining stuff.” Once he settled down in California in 1995, he was focused. His uncle was a blues musician, so TiRon would go to his uncle’s basement and write songs. He loved music and planned on becoming an R&B songwriter. After writing his first botched love song, TiRon rethought his musical ambitions. He didn’t begin taking rap seriously until the eleventh grade, where he started rhyming over popular beats, creating mixtapes and selling them at school. He developed his own style. “It’s easier to rap about embarrassing shit because it really happened to you and it’s vivid in your mind, you know,” he says. “Everybody can remember the times they were embarrassed more than the times they spent a whole bunch of money.” It appears TiRon’s formula worked. His latest offering Ketchup is a mish-mash mixtape of his favorite tracks, some dating back five years to his first “official” mixtape Handshakes and Pounds. The mixtape has received praises and comparisons to Little Brother and hometown hero Kanye, which TiRon is pleased about. But after a thought or two, he bristles at the underlying label that accompanies the compliment. “It’s non-threatening Hip Hop,” TiRon huffs. “So you’re automatically [labeled] a ‘backpacker,’ or you’re automatically ‘conscious.’ “ He shakes off his annoyance and gives details about a new mixtape, Mustard, that will be released in the coming months. His crew The Cafeteria Line will be releasing a few in-house projects, and he’ll be featured on the upcoming Pac Div album. Regardless of the labels placed on his burgeoning rap career, TiRon only hopes to make his people proud of the man he’s become. “I wonder if they’re disappointed cause I say ‘nigga’ or because I use profanity,” he says. “At the end of the day I wonder if they’re proud of me or of the job they did.” TiRon just hopes to make music for the remainder of his life, since that’s what makes him happy. “The only thing that makes me unhappy is bills backing up, so as long as that stuff is taken care of and I can just make music, I’m great,” he concludes. Words by Nadine Graham =========================== Download "MSTRD" and fill in the blank. TiRon is __________! http://www.megaupload.com/?d=GI6L5YE7 Follow TiRon on Twitter!! - @imtiron Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.