As one of the founders of musical collective TheHouse, TUT (AKA Kevin Adams) has been close to the heart of Chattanooga’s hip-hop scene for quite a long time, exploring facets of its neo-soul, bounce and ’90s nostalgia-laced inclinations. Over the years, his own perspective on these sounds has changed, revealing a deeper understanding of the history and influence that rap music has had on the infrastructure of modern society and the effects that its socially conscious narratives and bitter revelations have had on current musical ideologies.
Over the course of a handful of releases (albums, EPs, singles), TUT has developed a unique and piercing look into the inner workings of his inspirations, finding common ground with his fellow Chattanooga musicians in an effort to highlight both the opportunities to be found within the city and those whose lives are marked by poverty, violence and injustice. As with any art, he takes what he’s experienced and molds it into the skeleton of his own creativity, turning the good and the bad things in his life into fodder for his lyrical insight.
On his recent single, “Keep It Cool,” he pairs with producer Tiggi to create a song that finds new ways to express classic hip-hop truisms by subtly combining the sounds for which he’s become known with some that are just now finding purpose in his music. He’s not trying to throw everything at you all at once—this track is arranged to elicit a mounting awareness of its hold on your senses. The bass rumbles while TUT’s voice is beamed directly into the deepest parts of your brain.
Expressing ideas of everyday life—including women, drugs, violence, ego and the need to escape—”Keep It Cool” finds a way to deal with the pressures and volatile emotions that course their way through our veins. There’s a careful minimalism that runs counter to the dramatic details he espouses, with each nuanced plink and blip quickly sliding alongside the song’s martial beat. It’s a testament to TUT’s and Tiggi’s abilities that the song manages to say so much and be filled with such a wealth of reactive influences when it’s composed of the barest musical elements.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.