A 2003 silver Infiniti G35 — the first car his mother gave him when he was around 16 — inspired Chattanooga rapper Tut’s smooth new track “G35,” premiering on Billboard today (Aug. 9). For the Ktoven-produced cut, Tut (born Kevin Adams, Jr.) recruited his close friend, Top Dawg Entertainment signee and fellow Tennessee rep, Isaiah Rashad.
Initially setting his sights on becoming a producer while in high school, former football player Tut found himself in school-time rap battles, kicking flows off the cuff as he does now in the studio. “People would just be wanting to battle with me. After that, I just developed a love for it,” he tells Billboard, adding how meeting Ktoven (a.k.a. Tiggi) in 9th or 10th grade gym class pushed him to tackle a music career.
Despite his native city’s lack of a hip-hop scene at the time, Tut headphones were filled with the sounds of Southern rap favorites like UGK, Juvenile, the Hot Boyz, Master P and No Limit as well as the legendary late MCs, the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac. “Growing up, there wasn’t that big of a rap scene,” he recalls, noting the brief presence of a Chattanooga rhymer named Piney Woods, who was reportedly killed in a home invasion in 2009. “[I] pretty much listened to gangster rap just like anybody else.”
Look to his 2015 album, Preacher’s Son, though, and Tut delivers a 16-track set of bluesy, gospel-infused hip-hop inspired by his upbringing as the son of a real-life Baptist preacher. Despite his gritty bars (see: “Corner Stories” and “Fall on Goliath”), Tut says he still goes to Sunday service to this day and maintains a deep sense of spirituality. “It’s a big part of my life and you can hear it in my music,” he says, explaining his approach to making songs. “I don’t write music at all so anything I say is really coming from the heart and just off the top of my mind.” Tut also makes moves with a creative collective called The House, initially comprised of him and Rashad (whom he calls “Zay”). The camp has since expanded to include Ktoven and rapper Michael Da Vinci, among others.
As for his new song “G35,” Tut remembers the times he was “making friends, smoking weed, selling weed” after starting to drive his own whip. “Once you get your own car and go where you wanna go, that’s your independency,” he explains. Tut also remembers coming home following a stint in jail (“Doing illegal s–t,” he offers) when his car got broken into and his radio — one that was capable of playing movies — was stolen. The only thing left was his Friday DVD. “That’s basically where the idea came from — just me reminiscing about the G35,” he says. “At some point, we gon’ rise above all this f–k s–t and we gon’ move on up.”
Listen to “G35” below.