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Sunday December 5th

Topiq reps Chapel Hill with new hip-hop album

<p>JSWISS, J Rowdy, and Topiq pose during a performance. Photo Courtesy of Joshua Rowsey (J Rowdy)</p>
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JSWISS, J Rowdy, and Topiq pose during a performance. Photo Courtesy of Joshua Rowsey (J Rowdy)

Some begin with a specific path in mind, which changes over time; others don’t have a clue. For UNC graduate Kyree Tittle, his journey at UNC led him to his true passion: hip-hop.

Even as a kid, Tittle, also known by his stage name, Topiq, was always into music. He took an interest in poetry and played the violin until the age of 10, when hip-hop and songwriting gained his attention. But it wasn’t until his sophomore year at UNC when he began taking these passions seriously.

In 2011, Tittle and fellow UNC hip-hop artists founded the Chapel Hill hip-hop collective known as No9to5 in a booth in Ram’s Head Dining Hall. From there, the various acts began opening for well-known artists like Asher Roth, WATSKY and the Latin Grammy Award-winning ChocquibTown.

Working with No9to5 has led to big things for Tittle, including a move to Los Angeles after graduation, having his work featured on PBS and National Public Radio, opening for shows in New York City and now, the release of his brand new E.P., “Code Switch.”

For his most recent project, Tittle was lucky enough to work with a cartoonist who has worked on “The Simpsons.” This resulted in the cartoon rendering of Topiq himself, which serves as the album cover.

Tittle said the name “Code Switch” comes from the idea that people operate differently depending on their surroundings, such as the way they speak or the positions they take on an issue.

“‘Code Switch’ is a switch from my previous projects — from what you hear on the radio and from the genre I’m associated with,” he said. “The album as a whole will touch a different group of fans, whereas (the title track) ‘Code Switch’ could stretch across countries given the chance.”

UNC senior Hannah Olaniyan said she enjoys hip-hop and rap for that very reason.

“Rap music isn’t just loud party music — it has deeper meanings and you can find an artist who appeals to you,” she said. “It’s a lot more diverse than pop music.”

Friend and fellow No9to5 cofounder Josh Rowsey, also known as J Rowdy, said Tittle’s new EP represents a new direction.

“I think he’s experimenting with his sound, and everyone who listens to it will be surprised that none of the tracks sound the same.”

Tittle cites Lupe Fiasco as a major musical influence, hoping his music reaches that level one day.

As for whether or not he plans to move back to North Carolina, Tittle said it is very probable.

“I want to be a global entity; I want to have freedom of movement, but North Carolina is definitely my home.”


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