Be yourself: There’s no greater feeling than living and expressing your truth. Ever since I’ve been doing that personally, I’ve seen a shift in my growth & how my audience expanded. I have people who message me often that tells me how much my music help them get through hardships and tribulations they may be facing. When growing up, there’s artist who did that for me so being on the other end now is a wonderful feeling.
As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Twondon. Twondon is an aspiring musician based out of New Jersey. Born in Brooklyn, NY he picked up on music at an early age from being around his mom whom managed and also worked with artist such as Lil Jon, Fabolous, Redman, BG (Cash Money) & more. It wasn’t until a few years after high school he released his debut EP ‘Stay Golden’ in 2015 executive produced by Smoke DZA. Twondon then started making records with artist such as Smoke DZA, Bizzy Crook, Dessy Hinds of Pro Era, JAG, and more. A few of his records have been on FM radio such Hot97, Shade45, as well as getting press on VIBE Magazine, The Source Magazine, Noisey, Elevator, HipHopDX, Forbes & more. He’s since released a series of projects which led him to get on coastal tours throughout New Jersey, Boston, D.C., New York, Toronto, Montreal, Philadelphia and open up for artist such as French Montana, Meek Mill, Azizi Gibson, Benny the Butcher, Classified, & more. He started his own record label, Upperclass Entertainment in which he signed himself & opened up a studio in New Jersey. He also has his own clothing brand Upperclass Int’l that does exceptionally well and it’s currently in select retail stores in New Jersey.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
For sure. I always tell myself that I feel like I grew up pretty fast versus the normal kid. My mother who raised me along with two other siblings never treated us like babies. She always led by example and reminded us that whatever we wanted in life to go for it and work hard at it. Seeing her work hard in her field only inspired me to want to do the same growing up. My first job ever was sweeping up hair inside my uncle’s barbershop after school. Since a youth, hard work was instilled in me. I definitely had a fun childhood though as well. One of my biggest interest before music was basketball so I was very much involved in sports. Looking back at my childhood, it seems like the universe was grooming me to always have a competitive mentality as well as a hard work ethic. I remember being very observant as a kid and just soaking up everything that surrounded me in my environment knowing that one day it may be my job to tell all these stories.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
– There’s no specific story but I lived in a very musically inclined house hold and was raised by individuals who had a hand in it in some way, shape or form. My mom use to manage artists and throw her own shows; she’ll always bring me with her around that energy. Whether it was studio sessions, meetings, on the road, etc. I knew I had a story to tell, I knew I can tell the story of those around me who couldn’t convey it, I knew I wanted to use my voice to inspire, motivate, & influence whoever cared to listen. I just wanted to be heard and this was the perfect way to let it all out.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
A promoter reached out to me to open up for an artist at Webster Hall named Azizi Gibson. Before the proposition, I had never heard of him so I almost didn’t agree to do the show. But before responding, I checked him out and actually fell in love with his music. I agreed to do the show and it was probably one of my favorite shows. Fast forward a year or two later, he gave me the opportunity to tour with him for a few dates that helped expand my brand and fan base. But to think, if I was too ignorant to check him out and say “No.” to that show — that opportunity would’ve never presented itself years later, lol.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
– I don’t think this was a funny mistake, but when I first started I wanted to sound like anything that was hot. That was a big mistake because I wasn’t being myself. I was doing what I thought will work. The lesson I learned from that, after it wasn’t going in my favor is just to solely be myself. Tell my own story that will draw people into my world and make them fall in love with who I truly am, not who I’m trying to be because there’s no coming back after that. At all.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
– I just released my first album of 2019 titled ‘Sorry 2 Bother U’, and my goal is to drop at least 3 more this year. I’ve also been designing a lot of new merchandise for the brand which is exciting because it allows me to tap into a different part of my brain and express creativity in that field. I’m also looking into getting the clothing within 5 more retail stores before the year ends. I love the challenge and journey of everything I just mentioned because once I complete what I mentioned it just reminds me how blessed I am, and how the sky is really the limit so maybe I should start aiming higher, haha! OH! and I’m looking to start up one more business this year… but shhh! lol
I’m very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
1. Film & television plays a big part for our youth. We need to create diversity in that field so the youth of all colors, shapes, and sizes know it’s possible for them.
2. Film & television also plays a big part on our influence. If all we see is the same thing, then it lessens what we feel may be possible & impossible for us.
3. In the end, we all look at film & television at some form of an “escape.” We look at it to ease our mind of stress and any worry we may have. Creating diversity will help film & television reach a more broad audience and maybe spark something in that individual brain that’ll make them feel like they can emulate something similar to help the world escape.
From your personal experience, can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address some of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?
1. Be more vocal and hands on in your community. People look at entertainers like superheroes so if they see their “super hero” is fighting the good battle, I’m sure they will as well.
2. Shed light on the platforms that do diversify their brand and business. If we shed more light on those that do, it will possibly influence the ones that aren’t to get with the program… its 2019, people.
3. Stop being afraid.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Hm.. great question, man. I guess
1. Be yourself: There’s no greater feeling than living and expressing your truth. Ever since I’ve been doing that personally, I’ve seen a shift in my growth & how my audience expanded. I have people who message me often that tells me how much my music help them get through hardships and tribulations they may be facing. When growing up, there’s artist who did that for me so being on the other end now is a wonderful feeling.
2. Learn the business: The music industry is dog eat dog. It’s cut throat. It’s every man for themselves. If you don’t learn this business and surround yourself with the right people you’ll find yourself at the bottom of the barrel. Don’t look for someone to educate you in this business, because they won’t. They’ll take advantage of that instead. Educate yourself.
3. Don’t keep score: Count every blessing you receive in this game but don’t keep score. Keeping score leads to disappointment because when things don’t go your way you start to feel hopeless. You start to say to yourself, “well, it was a great turnout before how come it isn’t now?”. Results will NEVER be the same. There’s going to be ups and downs. But as long as you DON’T KEEP SCORE you won’t lose that motivation and drive to keep going forward regardless of the outcome.
4. Sleep on it: When I first started, I made a lot of impulsive decisions. Throughout time I learned that it’s important to step back and analyze whats in front of you. It’ll always be there tomorrow (most of the time). Maybe wait another day to release that song? Maybe wait another day and work on that design? Maybe wait another day for that e-mail to arrive? Maybe wait another day before saying Yes or No to a decision? Don’t be so quick to pull the trigger.
5. Register your business: Someone actually did tell me this when I first started but I wanted a few years before actually doing it. Now I wish I did it earlier because once funds start accumulating, opportunities start being presented, etc. You want to have your business in order. There’s nothing worse than playing catch up, cause the IRS will catch up to you, lmao!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
– The biggest thing is creating balance with your brand and product. In todays era, people want their “food” instantly and still expect quality. A cheat code to that will be to plan 10 steps ahead. If it’s January, already know what you’re going to be doing in June. If you create a revolving door with your product, you start to train your consumers mind on how your operation works therefore they can never put the pressure on you, therefore you don’t ever give them their “food” subpar. Balance.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
– Support. Plain & simple. A great percentage of the world don’t follow their dreams, aspirations, goals, etc because most of the time they don’t have the support. They don’t have anyone rooting and cheering for them. Now imagine a movement of people who solely supports one another? That can possibly motivate someone enough to move forward with an idea that may change the world. Think about any product, any service, any musician, etc that you love…. now imagine if they didn’t have any support to present their ideas to the world.. *kanye shrug*
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
– My Mother, my team Upperclass, and two of my teachers in high school. My mother because she believed even before I believed. She taught me how to perform, how to brand myself (along with a few books & observing my favorites), how to present myself in a professional manner, how to hustle.. the list goes on. My team, Upperclass plays a big role because they keep me on my toes. They believe in my vision and they treat it like its their own. They understand that it’s a process and it won’t happen overnight which takes the pressure off me from making irrational decisions. We all treat each others dream like its our own. We also understand we all have a role and position to play and we do it faithfully. Having the right team is important. I got the dream team. Lastly, Dr. Orlov and Mr. Fererra believed in my vision in high school and instead of looking down on a student who didn’t want to do anything they assigned, they taught and gave me tools that helped me prosper in my field — maybe because outside of teaching they were entrepreneurs as well.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
– “Do it right the first time.” First impressions are everything no matter what you’re doing in life. My mom always taught me to do it right the first time therefore you don’t have to worry about it later on. When you don’t do shit right the first time, it comes back to haunt you. Thats something I try to remind myself from time to time.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
– I don’t have a specific person tbh but rest in peace Nipsey Hussle, he would be on the top of that list. I admire everything he stood for and represented. I built my blueprint based around a lot of game that Nip put into his records and even his interviews. He was living proof how possible this shit is. How you can get it, lose it all, and get that shit right back again. That if you do business the correct way, treat people right, stand for something, and put in the 10,000 hours you can have it too. I don’t know man… he changed my world, personally & I can only imagine how much more he had to offer.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
On all social media platforms my @ name is @TWONDONUC. My music is on all streaming platforms under ‘TwonDon’ & as for the clothing brand, you can tap in at @UPPERCLASSINTL on all platforms or www.upperclass.us.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!
Nah, thank you! Upperclass forever.