On the Radar: How 17-Year-Old Tyshane Became a Grammy-Winning Producer
Tyshane Thompson—son of gospel reggae pioneer Papa San—began making beats in the production studio in his garage at the age of 10, but despite being blessed with ability beyond his years, he went through the motions until 15.
That’s when his cousin Patrique died. She was the same age as him.
“She was so young, and didn’t really get to do anything with her life,” Tyshane told Wade-O Radio. “I didn’t even tell her about God.”
After Patrique’s death, Tyshane realized that he needed to live for God not when he grew older, but right then and there.
“You never know when your last day is,” said Tyshane.
The tragedy also motivated him to start taking producing seriously. About a month following Patrique’s passing, Tyshane reached out to numerous Christian hip-hop artists including Lecrae, Tedashii and Sho Baraka hoping to work with them. Only one returned his message—a fairly under-the-radar rapper at the time—Andy Mineo.
Impressed with the beats that Tyshane posted on his Facebook fan page, the unsigned Mineo called him to not only talk music, but the teen’s faith. When the time came for Tyshane to make a beat for Mineo, the producer concentrated all the fermented anger from his cousin’s death into its creation. That beat became the instrumental to the song “Young” on Mineo’s mixtape, “Formerly Known.”
“Look, it don’t matter if I’m young,” Mineo begins the track. “This life isn’t mine. I’m living for Him now. I ain’t wasting time.”
Mineo didn’t know Tyshane’s story, but he wrote the theme song to it. The fact that the track’s message is that he or she is never too young to surrender one’s life to Christ blew the producer’s mind.
“It’s crazy because that’s my exact testimony,” he said. “That really happened.”
Mineo shared his emotion.
“I was blown away,” Mineo told Wade-O Radio on his reaction to hearing how perfectly “Young” paralleled Tyshane’s story. “It’s nuts how the Lord orchestrated that whole thing and how that song has gone out into the world and encouraged so many people.”
Tyshane produced the songs “Young” and “Michael Jackson” on “Formerly Known.” The latter nearly didn’t make it, at least in its released form. Mineo originally sent the beat back to Tyshane with directions to edit certain parts.
“Normally when I make suggestions [Tyshane] says, ‘OK, cool. I’ll make the changes, whatever you want,’” said Mineo. “But this time all he responded was, ‘You’re crazy. This beat is amazing.’”
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Mineo asked for a few second opinions. The results confirmed Tyshane’s claim. Mineo decided to “just trust the younger ear” and write to it.
The instrumentals caught the ear of another artist who Tyshane previously failed to connect with, Lecrae.
“Lecrae wants you to send him beats: [Lecrae’s e-mail],” the Reach Records rapper emailed Tyshane after grabbing Mineo’s laptop in the greenroom.
“I knew at that point I’d never get a hot beat from Tyshane again because they would all go to Lecrae,” kidded Mineo.
First, the teen’s “Black Rose” beat made the cut for Lecrae’s mixtape, “Church Clothes.”
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Then, his “Violence” beat made the cut for the Reach artist’s album, “Gravity.”
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Then, Tyshane became a Grammy-winning producer.
— The GRAMMYs (@TheGRAMMYs) February 10, 2013
And he still can’t even vote until July 10.
What’s Next For Tyshane
Tyshane will attend Full Sail University for recording engineering this fall. He wants to not only be able to produce, but mix and master as well.
Lecrae picked another Jamaican-style beat from Tyshane’s stash for his mixtape “Church Clothes Vol. 2,” which will be released this year.
“Every single time I try to get a regular track with Lecrae, I can’t get a regular track with Lecrae,” laughed Tyshane. “I got to get a Jamaican track with Lecrae. Every time I send him a whole bunch of beats and then that one Jamaican track he’s like, ‘OK, I want that one.’ I’m just like, ‘Are you serious man?’ Look at these other beats.”
Tyshane’s track on “Church Clothes Vol. 2” is in the same vein as “Black Rose” and “Violence,” but he claimed that it’s better than both songs put together.
“I hate bragging, but that [track]—I’m telling you—every time I listen to it it’s just like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I just did this,’ he said. “It’s straight Jamaican. The other ones were kind of fake Jamaican because Lecrae can’t really talk Jamaican, but my dad actually just went in on the Jamaican accent and destroyed the beat. Oh my goodness, it sounds like a monster.”
His father Papa San will also release an album in August which Tyshane helped produced. The project will be called “One Blood” and its features will include Lecrae, Da’ T.R.U.T.H. and Fred Hammond.
“We’re all one blood in Christ,” Tyshane said, explaining the concept of the album. “No matter what color you are, genre of music you make, culture you’re from, we’re all one blood as long as we’re in Christ.”
Also in 2013, Tyshane and 808&Elite production partner Matt Massaro plan to launch an official website to sell beats and merchandise. The two started the group when they were in 9th grade. Last year, they released a free instrumental EP, “Diamonds x Pearls,” available for download at Rapzilla.
Tyshane just graduated from high school, but his career already took off. He’s now colleagues with artists he first knew as a fan, but this hasn’t changed him.
“I still love Andy. Andy is a beast. I’m a fan of Lecrae too. I can’t wait till he performs on BET tonight,” Tyshane said the afternoon before Lecrae guest starred on BET’s 106 & Park. “I’m still a little dude playing Lecrae in the car.”
Tyshane never wants to develop an attitude that he can’t enjoy his favorite artists’ music just because he works with them. He didn’t claim to be humble, but he prefers to play the background. He declined an interview at his high school after Lecrae won a Grammy because he didn’t “want people looking at [him] in the hallways.”
As a producer who makes performances happen rather than performs, Tyshane will be able to avoid people looking at him in the future, but his music will be in the spotlight for years to come.