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Judge for TiKkO

Detroit, MI
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Portrait of TiKkO
[Taken from Featured Artist: TiKkO interview October 2010]

IMRX: How long have you been rapping?

TiKkO: I been writing for as long as I can remember. My mom was listening to Whodini and UTFO before I was born so raps just something that's always been there with me. The youngest of 4 surrogate brothers, but my mom's only son, I was easily influenced into sharing their love for hip-hop.

IMRX: How did you start your career?

TiKkO: I got sent up north to finish school when I was younger because I was getting into a lot of trouble. I was just into doing a lot of bad shit and I think my mom watched The Fresh Prince too many times or something cause she sent me away. There wasn't a lot to do out there so most of my time was spent honing my skills. When I came back, to my surprise, my brother Joe had everything we needed to get a studio started. He was easily the most talented producer I've ever heard. We started working on the music and I've been at it ever since.

IMRX: What does your 'stage name' mean?

TiKkO: Nothing really, to be honest. Me and my brother Ricky were working on a roofing crew and he just started calling me Tikko. I was going by Rome still at the time but he never stopped calling me Tikko. He told me he spells it "TKO". I started using the name in his memory Ricky passed last year. I spelled it so that it would be pronounced correctly but left every other letter (T-K-O) capitalized cause that's how he wanted it.

IMRX: What has been the most positive thing that has happened in your career?

TiKkO: The love my music gets. I've performed in the same show as the legendary Proof and had the privilege of someone that great taking out the time to spit knowledge to me about this business, done live FM radio interviews, freestyled on the "216 vs. 313" DVD, and a lot of other things but nothing compares to the love a good crowd gives. That's why I love closing every performance with "Kiss Goodbye". Its a crazy feeling to read my lyrics off the lips of the crowd.

IMRX: What people or events have shaped your music and what you have become today as an artist?

TiKkO: There isn't anything that hasn't influenced my music. Everything I've ever been through goes into my music and makes it what it is, love it or hate it.

IMRX: What kind of music are you into? besides hip-hop/rap?

TiKkO: When I'm not listening to hip-hop I'm usually listening to EVERYTHING looking for a perfect sample. I love all music generally but when I'm really looking for a muse I reach for the best. Sade, Prince, Al Green, Guns N Roses... I can't really put my tastes in one bubble.

IMRX: What would you like to do with your musical talents?

TiKkO: I know music cant cure disease in Africa or end the recession so I just want to make music people can feel and hopefully be successful enough to give back to my mom who gave up so much for me as a kid.

IMRX: Who is your biggest influence (either musically or personally)

TiKkO: Slick Rick, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, LL, KRS1... they all influenced me but Joe and Ricky above all have had the biggest impact on my music. Not only did they help mold me into who I am when they were alive but the loss of them molded me into who I am today and who I am in life is who I am when I write. I can't write a single song without wondering what they'd think.

IMRX: Where do you see your self in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years from now?

TiKkO: I've been working on my degrees to fall back on. I might have some opportunities in bioengineering and I'm grabbing my RN along the way as a Plan C. The same old "rapping bio-engineer" story. I'm such a cliché, I know.

IMRX: Who would you like to work with?

TiKkO: We talking underground or mainstream? If I had the opportunity to work with Rakim, Nas, Jay-Z, Slick Rick, Common, 50 Cent I'd take it in a heartbeat just as fast as anyone else would but what I'm really looking for is a talented singer. Sade, Keyshia Cole, or Mary J would hit the spot for a collab.

My goals at the moment deal mostly with trying to get things in motion. I'm not signed right now so I'm looking for that.

[Thanks to for permission to use this interview here]