September 18, 2020
“Crazy that I got a crib with no deal, living off of streaming money and features from a two-minute song with NO project,” rising rapper TiaCorine posted on Instagram. The caption was accompanied by two photos of the Winston-Salem native posing in front of a newly purchased craftsman-style house.
TiaCorine’s road to stardom has allowed her to reach a goal most independent rappers dream of. Toward the end of 2018, she dropped “Lotto,” a single that has amassed well over four million plays on Spotify. It changed the trajectory of her budding career, ultimately landing her a deal with South Coast Music Group, the Charlotte-based label who propelled DaBaby’s success.
When speaking with the Winston Salem rapper, her rockstar energy is evident and it’s clear she doesn’t care what people think. “I’m real animated, like almost like an anime character. But I’m a regular person throughout the day [slight pause] somewhat. I don’t wanna say I have like super superpowers, but I feel like a hero,” she said.
In May of 2019, TiaCorine graduated from Winston-Salem State University with honors and a degree in Exercise Physiology. The same year, she won “Best Female Hip-Hop Artist” at the Carolina Music Awards. With her ardent spirit, many would agree that TiaCorine does have superpowers. She’s balanced motherhood, college, full-time employment and rap. “When everyone says ‘how do you do it’ you just don’t know because you literally just do it,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard because [when traveling or in the studio] I miss my daughter, and I don’t want her to feel like she’s missing time out with me, or that I don’t want to see her.”
Since the start of her career, she’s learned to be smart about how she moves and makes a priority to spend time with her daughter (who’s her number one fan) when she’s not working. “[My daughter] knows my music and she’ll be like, ‘play this song’ or ‘I love this song.’ I use her as a test to see if [my songs] are a go or not.”
One decision almost caused TiaCorine to miss out on what has now been the opportunity of a lifetime. When she first received the invitation to sign to SCMG, she declined. About a year later, she reached back out to the label’s CEO, Arnold Taylor. “I just reached out to Arnold like ‘yooo man I just made a mistake’ and they were like ‘We still love you. We wanna work with you.’ It went from there,” she said.
This current season of wins didn’t come without struggle. TiaCorine’s had to learn the hard way that everyone you come in contact with in the music industry may not have your best interest. “I had got blackballed before, I got kicked off the radio, people were saying ‘well we can’t send you beats anymore.’ Certain DJs weren’t playing my song,” she shared.
Through a series of tough industry lessons, she eventually came to recognize what changes would be best for her career. “The universe will sometimes take people or negative things out of your life. And sometimes you catch yourself trying to bring them back in,” she said. “Not realizing what’s going on, and that will mess you up. I had to realize I have to let go of the people and things that I’m used to. I have to let that go if I want to level up.”
For TiaCorine, leveling up has meant co-signs from “Sugar Trap” rapper Rico Nasty and everyone’s favorite West Coast songstress, SZA. With the attention comes controversy, and when Drake and DJ Khaled released “POPSTAR” in the summer, many of her fans recognized a similarity in flows. “I was like ‘Yooo, No way.’ As soon as I heard it, when he comes in and the beat drops, I heard my song. The cadence, the lightness of the voice. Flow. Everything.”
TiaCorine is quite confident that one day she’ll meet Drake and they will not only get to collab, but also laugh and talk about the similarities of flows on their songs. She recently announced on Twitter that a collaboration with SZA is in the works.
Crediting her inspiration to a wide range of artists, she lists Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Tyler the Creator and Missy Elliot as some of her biggest influences. The influence of Nicki, Missy, and Tyler the Creator is easy to see. As far as TiaCorine’s style, she defines it as “Trap Anime”: “My adlibs are just real fun, and the beat, they kind of have a trap-like vibe. At the same time, they also have an anime vibe . . . just real fun and bubbly– kinda like bubble gum.”
TiaCorine’s debut album 34Corinne, is an 18-minute introduction to “Trap Anime.” It’s apparent where the label backing has paid off, as the quality of production is quite impressive. She collaborated with multi-platinum producers Dun Deal, Cardo and Sonny Digital. Tracks like “Mine,” “In My Room,” “30,” and “Lotto” are easy to catch a vibe to even though her lyrics can sometimes be tough to decipher. Like a lot of today’s contemporary female rappers, the album’s themes are centered around talking shit. With straightforward rhyme schemes, 34Corine captures her playful I don’t give a f*$k spirit. On “Forever,” she boasts: “Beefing with me is about who the richest now/you don’t wanna find me I suggest you just talk it out. . . Counting up large amounts/what can I argue about.”
“34 Facuet” and “Mine” pivots by focusing on the complexity of relationships and dreamy sex rather than beefing with other girls. Not afraid to take the lead, she begins “34 Faucet” stating exactly what she wants: “I just wanna f*&k you with the top down.”
Reflecting on her lyrics, TiaCorine said, “Like a lot of my stuff is kind of dirty and raunchy, but it’s the way I say it. It’s like, ‘Oh that was so cute and sweet and light.’ And it makes you feel good.”
Despite the lack of clarity in some of her lyrics or a cohesive theme in the project, there is a charm about TiaCorine that makes others gravitate toward her. With an increase in Black-produced TV shows that rely heavily on Trap aesthetics, her music makes the ideal backdrop for shows like Issa Rae’s Insecure or Katori Hall’s P-Valley. Her style has the potential to grant her opportunities outside of just releasing albums and music videos. On social media, specifically Twitter and YouTube, her fans go hard for her pointing out their desire for her to win, and a win for TiaCorine is a win for North Carolina.
34Corine feels like a solid experiment that shows her potential. “Get the Strap,” a single released in early August doesn’t appear on the album but was shared on Instagram. And since the release of her EP, TiaCorine posted a preview of a new track produced by Kenny Beats that has her riled up her fans. It seems now that 34Corine is out, the Winston-Salem rapper is ready to keep working.
With the influx of women in rap, mainstream media outlets haven’t quite caught on to TiaCorine yet. However, she has still managed to garner over 200k views with each video she drops and, in general, her online engagement across social media platforms only proves that her fans are gonna ride for her ‘til she reaches her full potential. In her own words, for TiaCorine success includes, “…landing on the Freshmen list. And In five years, I’d like to model, do cartoon voice overs. Go more in depth with it. Not just music, you know?” With her ability to overcome every obstacle that has come her way thus far, the Winston-Salem native is on track to fulfill many of her ambitious aspirations.