Friday night I finally saw what I had been missing out on in the Champaign-Urbana music scene.
T.R.U.T.H performed at Cowboy Monkey as a part of buzz Magazine‘s Sound of CU series. During her set, the emcee was able to stir up many emotions, but mostly the urge to run out of the bar and tell everyone that T.R.U.T.H is the best thing happening in the CU music scene right now. I know now that’s true.
We often call things unique, special, one of a kind – but rarely, they really are. This problem doesn’t apply to T.R.U.T.H; in Champaign, she is one of a kind. She’s not a musical species going extinct in CU, but one being born. In a college-town music scene where hip-hop is confusingly marginalized, the CU rapper has been able to make a name for herself through sincerity and moral intimidation.
T.R.U.T.H (real name Tierney Reed) didn’t waste a breath without a message Friday. Whether she was expressing social frustration in her 2015 track “Fuck is You Sayin’” or promoting self-worth through her 2014 track “Beautiful,” there was a point behind every word that flew from Reed’s mouth. And that’s the point itself. T.R.U.T.H isn’t just a hip-hop project; it’s a social medium for Reed to convey positivity. There was nothing but happiness floating around the room when the set ended with “Luxocracy,” with Reed repeating over and over: “You need love and I got that, so I give it, give it back.”
But what may be most impressive is the manner in which T.R.U.T.H is able to captivate an audience. All by herself on the mic, Reed takes control. Besides a DJ hidden away behind his equipment, Reed forces herself to go it alone without any backup. By design, all the focus is intent on her lyricism. There’s nothing flashy to draw you in to what’s happening on stage. In a black t-shirt, cargo shorts, and a pair of plastic sunglasses, Reed let’s her mind speak rather than let anything else on stage speak for her, as the thoughts flow out without interruption or a hint of hesitation.
Midway through the set, everything was framed in perspective. Reed opted to freestyle and the ingenuity of her talent was put to the test. Spoiler: It was one of the most impressive things that’s happened in the CU music scene in a long time. Pygmalion founder Seth Fein turned and struggled to speak before letting out: “Holy shit dude…what the fuck?” Heirship Records founder Isaac Arms’ looked like a kid riding a rollercoaster for the first time. And buzz Magazine editor-in-chief Anwen Parrott was caught laughing uncontrollably at how incredible the moment was.
The only downfall was that there weren’t more people to see it. Because, as everyone at Cowboy Monkey is living proof, when you lend your ear to Tierney Reed, you listen. T.R.U.T.H is booked to play at this year’s Pygmalion Music Festival and if she gets a good set time on Friday or Saturday night in a tightly packed venue, it will be the best show in CU this year. There’s no doubt in my mind about that now, because I’ve heard the T.R.U.T.H. Those who have witnessed it know what she’s capable of and know what T.R.U.T.H means, but now is the fun part where we get to watch what’s next for Tierney Reed as the word spreads.