Welcome to COSIGN, where I’ll present a group of fresh and invigorating talent that does more than just add to the conversation of who’s next, they advance it! There’s something intangible they possess. It’s more than just hustle. This collective group simmer on the edge of fame and notoriety not only because of their skill and ambition, but because they did more than just wish on a star.
The biggest compliments a writer can give a new artist whose music is playing, is for us to stop and ask “Who’s that?” which is exactly what happened when East Nashville MC Petty somehow creeped into my editor’s speakers. After releasing a string of mixtapes in 2012, the 24-year-old dropped “Short But Sweet” , rhyming over a collage of soulful beats from Brooklyn production duo The Stuyvesants. Lyrically, Petty (real name Thomas Bender) blends his west coast influence and southern twang with honesty, humility, hunger and the kind of hurt that only comes after karma has finally caught up with you.
The unsigned rapper “yes ma’am and no ma’am’d” me in the beginning of the interview making sure to mind his manners. But later sparked some greenery once he got comfortable. P shed light on the mental space he was in while recording the 16-track mixtape, some of the wisdom imparted to him from the “Old Heads” and his undying love for Ms Badu. Petty doesn’t have any major labels behind him. The reason why he got the COSIGN is because…well..he’s nice! Don’t believe me? Just push play.
Wassup with the name “Petty,” how did you get it?
I adopted it from the singer Tom Petty because my first name is Tom. People would call me ‘Petty’ when I would joke around with them. It started as a joke until I began answering to it.
When did you start realizing you could actually rhyme?
I played a lot of sports growing up, but I stopped playing basketball my sophomore year. That’s when I started taking music seriously. My friends told me I was good. For a while, I wasn’t listening to them. But the more I started making music, I started to believe them.
Before “Short But Sweet” you made five mixtapes in one year. Why?
I released five mixtapes in one year because when you’re listening to a new artist you go back and want to listen to more of their music. Now, I’m just giving you time to fall in love with me…if you want to.
Why name it “Short But Sweet?”
The beats were short. They had a more organic sound. The title of the CD described the run I had with a chick on a lot of records I was referencing. The relationship was short but sweet. When you get into a relationship sometimes you think it’s going one way and then boom! It’s over, like the songs.
How much of Thomas is infused into your music? Or is it all Petty?
There’s a lot of both. They both influence each other. More songs are entertaining then those that come from the heart. My album will be majority from the heart. I make it obvious the songs that are entertainment and the ones from the heart.
What kind of person is Thomas?
Thomas is a fun person. Chill. He’s a good dude. A smart dude. People should get to know him.
You have a song called “Drinking With The Old Heads” in which you talk about your old “pahtnas” schoolin you? What other advice did they teach you?
They told me to stay humble. I’m a very humble dude. I may not come off as humble in some of my records but I am. I was at my friend’s house, and it was fresh after the release of “Short But Sweet” and my friend’s mom said no matter how big you get, don’t get too big where you can’t sleep on somebody’s couch. That stayed with me.
In 2014, where do you hope to see you and your music?
Next year this time, I would like for my city to be recognized in hip-hop because right now we don’t have a say . Who is Nashville in hip-hop? Right now, no one acknowledges Nashville. We’re known for our country music. The people coming out of Nashville, we’re going to have our run. A year from now, I want us to have a say so.
A lot of emcees have rhymed over E. Badu’s “Other Side Of The Game.” Why did you choose to do it?
Because I love Erykah Badu. I rap over a lot of her beats. It’s this theme I’ve got, plus it’s paying homage to her. I think I might be obsessed, but not in a bad way. In a just-shut-up- Erykah Badu-is-on-the radio-I-don’t-want-to-hear-you-talk-right-now-kind-of-way. [Laughs]
No one loves Erykah more than me. No one!
I’ll let you think that! [Laughs]
Are you a ladies man?
Not anymore. I’m learning. Being a ladies man ain’t gonna get me something real. “Other Side of the Game.” That’s the stage I’m at. I’m learning life.
So what’s your Plan B if this music thing doesn’t work out?
My plan B? Hmm. My plan B is to make my Plan A work.