Summer Camp Spotlight: Truth AKA Trouble

Summer Camp Spotlight: Truth AKA Trouble

In the last few years, Champaign-Urbana has really become a hotbed of musical creativity of all kinds. The weekly shows downtown in the warm months, the revolving door of acts playing the Canopy Club, and the local artists just making music for the sake of making music. Champaign’s music scene is all-inclusive; everyone loves everyone, and more importantly, people support local artists around here. We like to see our talented musicians make it and get the recognition they deserve.

Now that I have your attention, the artist I want to talk about today is none other than our very own Truth AKA Trouble, who recently won a spot at Summer Camp over Memorial Day weekend. Champaign’s hip hop scene may not be the most vibrant in the country, but the music of Truth AKA Trouble gets right in your face and demands your attention. His music is reaching more and more ears every day (I’ll admit I’m a fairly new listener myself), and it’ll be exciting to see how his Summer Camp set goes. 

So what makes him tick? We got down to the nitty gritty and he had some enlightening answers about the nature of his craft: “In a nutshell my music is heavily based on self-reflection and personal experiences. You can usually hear where I am in life at the time when listening to a full project. I kind of see myself as this bipolar artist that can go from feeling on top of the world in one song to completely down the next. But in reality it's how a lot of people in the world are. The more I go through in my personal life, the more I feel the need to write music. Sometimes about the actual situation, but most of the time it's just about channeling that specific emotion into a record”.

To someone on the outside, getting into the music business may seem as simple as getting a computer program and pressing some buttons. That’s certainly one way to do it, but if you want your music to really come from the heart and speak to people, music needs to be more than a hobby. I’ll just let the man himself say it best: “Growing up I initially wanted to be a singer. My big brother could sing well (as well as rap) and my mom has been an absolutely amazing singer for as long as I can remember, so naturally I wanted to follow the path. I did a lot of choir/show choir things while in middle school and that kind of sparked the idea of trying to write my own. Figured I'd heard enough R&B to understand the formula. So at 13 I wrote a song called ‘Tell Me’ to the beat of Siquo's ‘Incredible’. The whole song was sung, but had a break in the beat that I didn't know what to do with, so I tried my hand at writing a rap. The rap turned out to be about a hundred times better than the rest of the song. After finishing it I performed it for a couple girls in my 8th grade French class and saw both of their faces light up after I finished the rap. That pretty much began the whole thing”.

One of the most difficult facets of the music industry is simply breaking into it. Years of practice, playing small shows, writing, recording, endlessly mixing. Promotion, video, social media, maintaining a day job, all while trying to further yourself creatively and grow as a musician. Truth AKA Trouble knows a little something about that as well, and has learned how to incorporate the various lessons lurking under the surface: “I won't lie, it's all helped in more way than I could ever explain. From my first show opening for Lil’ Wyte in Peoria in 2010, which turned into us creating the song ‘The Audition’, to being one of Jermaine Dupri's guests at Nelly's Black & White Ball, to trash talking the Miami Heat to Wale backstage at SuperJam. It's all shown me how to conduct myself when reaching a higher level as well as how to interact with people of that caliber. Can't forget about the 3 years I spent working with the Fastrax in St. Louis making countless records. Those guys pretty much taught me the ropes and routines of the studio. They'd challenge me to make songs on the fly, or rewrite a few verses. All great learning tools”.

Truth AKA Trouble also recognizes the unique situation of being located in Champaign-Urbana and how it can affect music: “When I'm out of town I tend to brag about this place a lot. Probably a lot more than most do, but for good reason. With us being so close to the dead center of the country, I feel like we get the most diverse collection of people as well as tastes. The ‘Paign is kind of a melting pot of the North, South, East, and West cultures. With that, naturally, you'll see creative's of all types emerging. I've just recently become more in tune with the other genres of music around here and I'm seriously impressed. I find myself seeking out the local artists/bands now”. Talented, ambitious, and invested in the community! But in all seriousness, he’s a good testament to the artists in this area; they all help each other out.

Now, in terms of being unique, the music industry is perhaps the most crucial environment in which to stand out. With today’s music market, a band can blow up, have a stream of singles and fade into obscurity over the course of a few months. So what makes Truth AKA Trouble stand out?

“I tend to ramble about this when I talk to friends about this so I'll try to keep it short. I think what I'm bringing to the table is unique without being so different it's intimidating. I feel like I'm speaking from a point of view that I don't truly get in hip-hop today and that's the anxious, emotional, and frustrated rebel. And not rebel in the cliche point of view, but someone who has truly gone against everything they've been told forever. I've come to terms that there are a lot more people like me out there than have unveiled themselves to the world. My goal is to hopefully make those people, and others, feel much more comfortable with being who they truly are regardless of who may or may not like it. All while delivering it with a lot of style and clarity. You should learn a lesson or feel the feeling of every single song. I feel like not enough artists care about that these days”.

So with a show at Summer Camp coming up and some real experience in the rearview mirror, what’s next for Truth AKA Trouble?

“I have an album titled ‘Up Is Down’ that I'll be releasing next year between spring and summer '16. It'll be my first official album so I'm beyond excited for everyone to hear it and really take it all in. I've saved all of my best music for it and have been working on it in total of three years now. The final result will likely be a double disc project. In addition to that I'll be releasing the youth installment of my "hiTunes" mixtape series sometime towards the end of the winter. Much more behind the scenes work coming in 2016 as well, but we'll be talking about that next time around. Trust that it's all great news for myself, and for the city as well”.

Check out his music here:, and be sure and check out his show at Summer Camp! Keep your eyes on Truth AKA Trouble. 


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