For rapper T-Wayne, the Internet has been a giving meal ticket. The Texas native, who has steadily released music videos and dance clips to his YouTube page on a nearly weekly basis over the past seven years, uploaded the audio track for his breakout hit "Nasty Freestyle" three months ago. But it wasn't until a month later, when he released its official music video, that it exploded thanks to Vine users syncing the song's opening line -- "First, let me hop out the motherfucking Porsche" -- to everything from Spider-Man to a moon-walking pony.
Since then, the 24-year-old has been on an astronomical rise. "Nasty Freestyle" made its Hot Shot debut on the Hot 100 at No. 43 and climbed to No. 19 in it second week on the chart, racking up 6.4 million U.S. streams in the week ending April 26, according to Nielsen Music. On YouTube, its official music video has garnered more then 16 million worldwide clicks, and he scored an 88 percent gain in mentions of his handle on Twitter in the week ending April 28, according to Next Big Sound.
Now signed to 300 Entertainment, home to Migos, Fetty Wap and Young Thug, T-Wayne (born Tyshon Dwayne Nobles) is riding high on the success of his insta-viral hit, introducing a new crop of listeners to his sound on his recent mixtape Who Is Rickey Wayne? In his first interview in over a year, he discusses sharing the same name as Lil Wayne and T-Pain's never-released T-Wayne project, his relationship with Waka Flocka Flame and how "Nasty Freestyle" is only the beginning.
You're from Texas and played football in high school, and that seemed to be the direction you were heading in. What made you stop?
I played football since I was like seven-years old, all the way through high-school until my senior year. At one point I had the most receiving yards in the district. I stopped playing football because I wanted to do music. In the 11th grade, I told my coach, 'I don't want to play football any more because I want to do music,' and then my coach told me, 'T-Wayne, do you think you're going to get a record deal? All these people are out there rapping and doing music, you need to stick with sports.' So I got back into sports in the 12th grade year, [but] then I hurt my shoulder and had to sit out for like three or four games. Then after that, it was just done. It stopped me from getting a scholarship even though I played half the season starting. I guess they had something against me and decided I wouldn't get a scholarship so I just stuck to my roots and kept rapping.
What did you listen to growing up?
It was really '90s-style rapping, like Eminem. I started really doing music [because of] Eminem. I saw the 8 Mile movie when I was young. My whole entire life, I had been freestyling. But after the 8 Mile movie came out, all the kids wanted to freestyle battle. So at my middle school in 8th grade, I started freestyle battling. We would have the whole lunchroom crowd around us and the coaches would let us freestyle battle. Of course, I wasn't the best but like I said, I've been rapping for a long time. I followed Soulja Boy when I was younger too. He influenced me a little bit.
At what point did you start recording music?
I started recording when I was in 8th grade. This guy I went to school with in 8th grade had a computer that had a little microphone embedded into the screen of the computer. So he was like, come over, record a song [and] do whatever you do. So I went to his house and recorded that and I recorded a whole 30 songs on this thing. He made a CD and I started passing this CD around my school; that’s when I knew. I was like 14 or 15-years old, and the whole school knew all of my lyrics, word for word. I dropped that little mixtape in 8th grade. We had [a] pep rally and they let me perform. The radio station let me come to the station because they saw me perform and that’s when I knew I wanted to rap.
You're also an accomplished dancer, judging by your YouTube videos.
I wasn't much of a big dancer because a lot of people know I was never like a real dancer. I danced for fun because one of my homeboys danced. This was the crazy thing, there was never really dances to my songs. So many singers had dances that made their songs. That's what made me start dancing because nobody else would make dance videos to my songs, so I started making my own dances to my songs. That helped me get out there and put my music out there. I used a little dance platform to get people behind it.
In 2013, you said you signed to Brick Squad. How did that opportunity come about?
Well, I had a song at the time that blew up in Atlanta and Waka and everybody just started looking out for me. I wasn't really signed onto Brick Squad, I was just affiliated with them. That's like a family. They just looked out for me when I was coming out and they helped me out a lot.
What's your relationship now with Waka?
That's still my big bro. He helps me out with everything. He gives me advice every now and then. He told me to do what I want to do. I used to always ask, 'should I do this? Should I do that? What should I do?' He’s like, 'lil' bro, do what you wanna do.' When I started really doing what I wanted to do, that’s when it started. [It was] like I found this within myself; it worked.
What made you want to use YouTube as your portal to build your career?
I wanted to get my face out there and it was the best way for me because I didn't want to have to pay big shots and stuff. I wanted it to be a platform where I didn’t have to go where everybody else was going to get known. I want to be able to do it myself. So I filled up my YouTube channel. I would post stuff once a week: dance videos and music videos. I just filled up my channel with myself just to get my face out there, because all my life no one ever recognized my face but they knew my music. I never had videos in my life but now I have videos every week.
And then "Nasty Freestyle" is the one that took off.
The song took off because it's so catchy. Those lyrics, you can’t deny, because it really is a hard freestyle. It says some real stuff but it also says some funny stuff that people can relate to. It will make you laugh. We had made a dance video to it when we first did it. Right after we made that dance video, the dance video just took off and everybody started copying the dance moves we did to it. Once everybody started doing it then people started doing funny stuff.
Vine also played a huge role in giving it a boost. People synched up the beginning of the songs to different clips, I'm sure you've seen plenty of them. Which one was the catalyst?
I want to say the one where the girl's weave fell out of her hair. She was dancing and her weave fell out, that took it up to a whole other level.
What's your favorite one that you've seen?
My favorite would be the one from Kylie Jenner but that one wasn't online. When I'd seen Kylie Jenner do it, I was like, 'whoa.'
Your real name is Tyshon, but you named your mixtape Who Is Rickey Wayne? Where did Rickey come from?
I was freestyling like four years ago. For some reason I was getting sick of people comparing me to… I'm not going to say it. You know what I mean, they would get my name confused when I was just freestyling and I just felt like I just wanted to change my name because I was getting sick of it. Randomly, the name Rickey just came up and it was [in] a "Riot" freestyle that 2 Chainz had done when I was younger. The rap was like, 'Rickey Wayne.' I was like, 'that sounds kind of good,' so I ran with it. It doesn't really have a particular meaning to it. It just came, it popped up and it was organic so I just ran with it. I was like, 'God put that name there for a reason so I'm going to take it.'
You seem to be alluding to the fact that T-Wayne was the Lil Wayne and T-Pain project. Do you feel like people don't affiliate you with that anymore, or do you still get that?
I rarely get that now. Because I have been T-Wayne since 5th grade... My first name is Tyshon, my middle name is Dwayne. So when they first did that, it hurt, but I kept the name. I rarely get it now, but I was getting it like crazy. That's what made me come up with Ricky Wayne, but I see that now T-Wayne is sticking so it’s not as bad as it used to be. I might just stick with it. Ricky Wayne is still my other name though.
Now that "Nasty Freestyle" is on the rise and your mixtape is out, are you still unsigned?
No, no. I just signed with 300 Entertainment. They gave me a good deal. They looked out for me on the deal because a lot of new artists don’t get those big deals anymore, which they kind of hooked me up with. They showed me a lot of love. I've been looking at [that] place because they have Migos and Fetty Wap. You know they have some big names. So I was like, 'I might as well.'
So looking forward what's your next move?
We haven’t really figured that out yet but the info will come soon. We've just got to figure it out, slowly but surely. We just have to make sure that everything is right. It will be figured out soon.