Houston rapper T2 Ghetto Hippie is creating in a lane all his own. Aside from making some of the freshest tracks coming out of the South, he’s collaborating with local rappers, bringing in church singers on new projects, all the while paying homage to the city that made him. On his latest EP, Double Cups and Taco Trucks, T2 breaks away from traditional hip-hop sounds, creating a unique project. Today, T2 Ghetto Hippie premieres the visual for his track “Back in the Day” with RESPECT. The visual matches up with his hippie vibe, featuring rainbow skies, tie-dyed tees, and T2 rapping about his experiences growing up. Repeating the cliche but honest hook, “I’ve known it since back in the day,” T2 explains how he’s always known he was supposed to be great, following in the footsteps of hip-hop legends.
RESPECT. sat down with T2 to talk about his newest project, future collaborations, and his signature sound.
RESPECT.: You collaborated with other Houston artists on the project, like Maxo Kream. Is it important for you to work with other local artists, if so, why? What’s your dream collaboration?
Yeah for sure, I think it’s extremely important to work with other artists from your area. It helps get the name and brand circulating in conversations and local demographics you may not other wise reach as quickly. It’s just got to be some organic good vibe type shit. With pretty much everybody I have featured on one of my songs, it was a “we got cool and made some music” situation. I’m a fan of all the artists I work with. As far as dream collab, it depends…locally I would love to have Devin the Dude and Chamillionaire on the same track with me. Would be wild. In general, I would love to work with Kanye [West] or [J.] Cole. Or Snoop [laughs].
RESPECT.: The South has really emerged as a destination for hip-hop in a way it hadn’t before in the last few years, especially with the increasing popularity of trap rap. Now, cities like Atlanta and Houston are producing some of the best producers and artists, getting on par with cities like Oakland and Brooklyn. Why do you think this is happening now? How does your music play into this?
I feel like trap music and Atlanta artists in general really helped the south continue to shine over the years after the crazy Houston run between around like 03 – 07. Then finally, when people got more creative and experimental down here in the H, we all kicked the door in again for southern artists. Maxo and Fat Tony are from Houston… they don’t sound like stereotypical Houston artists. At all. Ugly God is from Houston… he doesn’t fit the mold. Even like Russ, he’s from the A and doesn’t sound like an Atlanta rapper. People branching out creatively is helping bring a whole new audience to the south. The producers played a major role in this as well… lol I think that producers were sick of making the same type of beats all the time, so when they evolved the artists did too. It started with producers like Trakksounds, Rockaway, Sound MOB and DJ Chose in Houston. People like Drake and ASAP Rocky helped too when they were spotlighting Houston culture in their art during the years H-town didn’t have a major player in the mainstream besides like Bun [B] and Slim [Thug]. But me? I just stay in my lane while trying to capitalize on the eyes and attention that the south has on it. In most cases, I’m super different to everything else Houston has to offer, so it’s easy to stand out to all the people who are paying attention. Or at least I hope it is [laughs]. I just recently got to the point in my career where I have enough momentum to actually make an impact on what’s going on down here, so yeah, I’m fuckin’ excited to see what’s next.
RESPECT.: Let’s take it back for a second. Talk to me about your name – how’d you come up with “Ghetto Hippie” – and what is the significance of ‘T2’?
I got into some crazy shit when I was 18 and had to leave the country. I went to England for a quick minute man. While I was in England I was at a bonfire party and tripping on mushrooms when somebody called me a “Ghetto Hippie.” I don’t know if it was the state of mind I was in or what, but it resonated so loudly with me and just made so much sense that it’s been a part of my name ever since. Even before the rap shit was serious. It just fits me and what I represent. I’m all about love and I spread it… but I’m from the south west side of Houston, TX. And the south west taught me the rules of being a man and the rules of being a G. And it may sound corny but I live by that shit. Ghetto Hippie… contrasting reality type vibe. And then T2 is a nickname I’ve had since I was a lil kid. There are two T’s in my real name. My initials are “T.W.” It’s always been T2. My whole family calls me T or T2. Even my moms.
RESPECT.: Your sound is in a totally different ballgame in regards to rap music out right now. Talk to me about your style a little bit, because since it’s so unique in comparison to mainstream rap. What are your thoughts on other experimental rappers right now, who are working in between various genres, (like XXXTentacion for example)?
[Laughs] facts. I def sound different to what’s mainstream and popular right now man. My style is strictly based on the music I like to listen to. I don’t listen to a lot of mainstream rap aside from like the legends like Kanye, [Jay-Z], [Kendrick Lamar], Cole. I’ll briefly check out new stuff as it drops just to stay aware, but I probably jam other genres more then I jam rap. I grew up jamming other genres as much as I did rap. My influences are just different. I believe as an artist you should make the music that you would want to jam to, and everything else will fall into place. Fuck trying to make what’s popular. I’m trying to make shit I can listen to over and over dude. And hell yeah, I’m super into a lot of the experimental stuff going on in hip-hop right now. Some of it is trash haha but the good stuff is really good. It’s refreshing. And like I said previously, especially down south, I feel like this new wave of creativity is opening a lot of doors and garnering the attention of people who may have never looked this way before.
I think X is ill as fuck forreal and super super lyrical. His new album is amazing, he’s low key an inspiration. That’s a project I was going to check briefly and have continued jamming since. Dope shit. His freshmen freestyle was wild tho [laughs].
RESPECT.: Your project Double Cups & Taco Trucks has been out for a month or so. How have you felt about the reaction thus far? Did anything surprise you?
Loving the reaction yo! Good vibes all around. And ready for more. [Laughs] yeah, I’m surprised how well the Maxo song was received to be honest. I am usually pretty adamant in being very real and very factual in my music and not bragging and boasting about bull shit that’s not real or is exaggerated. But in that session and with that beat, we were just bull shitting and having a lot of fun. I mean, it’s a song with Maxo [laughs]. And I was just talking shit in the booth. Damn near free styling dude. I wasn’t sure how my core fans would feel about it, but the record came out awesome and everyone vibes with it. I was just stoked with how many people singled that song out as one of the ones they jammed a lot from the project [laughs]. It’s way different then everything else on the EP, but somehow fits perfectly. Shit has been good though. everything is positive. And so many new followers and fans have started paying attention since the release. I just want more. Gotta get it in front of the rest of the world now.
RESPECT.: Talk to me a little bit about the influence of almost gospel or church-like piano sounds on the project. Why did you want to include that? What’s the inspiration for it?
Dude so I’m big into what I call “getting lost in Spotify” which is basically just playing a bunch of extremely random shit from other genres or unknown artists and saving the stuff I like to jam again later. One day I randomly stumbled on some choirs singing like chill gospel songs and I got super inspired. I didn’t have my speakers up too loud when the choir started singing and it was almost like perfect background music at that level. And I’ve always been big into rap songs with a background singer or something going on behind the rap vocals… to add layers and depth and warmth to the music. So I was like, “damn. Ok, what would it sound like if I had a choir going throughout the whole project?“ I reached out to one of my producers, Chris Rockaway, because I knew he knew some church singers. So we linked up with them and I told them the idea. We tried it out with a few songs and we all liked it so much we just continued and pieced the project together as a team. The singers on “Double Cups” most def have a hand in why the project sounds the way it does.
RESPECT: Your experience of Houston obviously involves double cups and taco trucks [laughs], but what else is your experience of that city like? How does that play into your sound?
[Laughs] Yeah, Houston is crazy man. I was born in Ecuador, moved here when I was 1 and lived here ever since. And one thing is for sure… Houston is as amazing at is crazy. But it’s home and I love it. It 100% completely plays into my sound. The culture, the people, the music down here… everywhere you go in Houston, everything is so different just a few blocks away. We are a melting pot of so many different races, cultures, and diverse backgrounds that it was easy when I was young to listen to more genres of music than just rap. But we also had such a dominant rap scene I could get my fill at all times. People like Pimp C, Chamillionaire, and Devin The Dude showed me how to be melodic in my style. The list of creative influences I’ve gotten from this city alone is endless.
RESPECT: What’s up next? The project just dropped, so what are you thinking about doing – some touring, new music, etc.?
All of the above. Definitely continue to get Double Cups & Taco Trucks in front of new listeners first and foremost. Also on the verge of figuring some stuff out now, tour wise. Dabbling in some creative stuff outside of music with my business partner/animator The King Dub. I’m going to continue dropping visuals from the project and release some of the material I have with other artists that I’ve been saving for the right time. But my main goal right now is use this project to help expand expand expand. I’m not at a level to where everybody knows who I am, and I want to change that ASAP.