An In depth review of TETRUS Debut Album “OUT OF TOKENS”
Time travel with me. Let’s go back to a much simpler time. A time without mandatory face masks. A time before Laser Thermometers were routinely being aimed at our foreheads. A time when politics didn’t really matter to most of us, and someone coughing in public didn’t fill you with mortal dread. Lets revisit an Era where all we wanted to do was hit the Arcade and feed STREET FIGHTER 2 or MORTAL KOMBAT our Quarters. Ahhhhh…What a time to be alive.
My Pops used to take me to all the hottest Arcade spots in South Florida. PIRATES on Coral Way (Back Back in the Day), CASTLE PARK which became Malibu Race Track (behind Mall of the Americas), and GRAND PRIX RACE-O-RAMA which later became BOOMERS in Broward (Across the street from 6 Flags Atlantis Water Park…I told you we were Time Traveling). If it wasn’t a Big Mega Arcade, we were atleast hitting the little Arcades next to the movie theater. I never stopped to estimate how much money my pops dropped at these Pixilated Dope Holes. He never played much himself, but loved to watch me play and cheer me on or coach me on how to pass the level. In hopes of beating the game, he would keep the quarters, and later, “Tokens” coming, until eventually we were all “Out Of Tokens”. (Rest in Peace Pops).
Now let’s time jump forward 3 decades to the present, to a public Hollywood City Park on a Monday Night. It’s the 3rd Monday of the Month to be exact, and there is the sound of Boom Bap in the air. As you walk past the Food Trucks that would set up around Young Circle Park on Hollywood Blvd once a month, proceed up the paved walk way towards the Amphitheater, you notice a mob of people packed in tightly into a circle, all bobbing their heads to a beat pumping out of a portable speaker. All of a sudden, the huddle erupts in shouts of “ooooooh!!!”, “Whaaaaaaat!!!”, “Did You hear That??” and one voice from out the crowd yells “LETS GOOOOOOOOOO!!!”. This is South Florida’s Cipher In The Circle, a monthly gathering of the hungriest MC’s in the Tri County Area who still believe in paying dues the old fashioned way. And that is the voice of #CITC’s young King TETRUS.
In preparation for the release of his first Official Album “OUT OF TOKENS”, the Miami native chopped it up with WVCC Radio breaking down the Mind, Body and Soul behind this project. We got a chance to kick it with Tet at 24 Hour Studios in Kendall, the new home of Engineering Boss MIAMI BEAT WAVE, and got my first taste of the master piece he’s preparing to drop on the world October 10th, his Birthday.
WVCC: So what’s behind the title of the album, “Out Of Tokens”?
Tetrus: “Out Of Tokens” means you cant Play anymore. I feel like I have wasted a lot of my Time and Talents my whole life just playing with my craft and passion. Games Over, I aint Playing anymore”.
He explains to me how he was a member of the Florida State University C.Y.P.H.E.R. Hip Hop Organization in college, a huge consortium of MC’s, BBoys, Producers, DJ’s and everyday Hip Hop Heads who organized Hip Hop Shows, Battles and Parties around campus. While at FSU, Tetrus performed live with several bands and was a regular in the Freestyle Cypher scene, but other than just rapping to wow the crowd and impress the ladies, he never took his Art serious enough to get in the studio and create a whole album. After Graduating from FSU, he went the Corporate America route and pretty much stopped practicing the art of emceeing all together. Until one day he got an invite from fellow FSU Hip Hop Alumni LACE GAMBINO to come out to a new Cipher that was starting to pop in Broward. That night he came out to CIPHER IN THE CIRCLE and immediately made a name for himself. I had met Tet a couple of times before at SATURDAY MIC LIVE at CATALYST MIAMI, a monthly event dedicated to MC’s that Vice City Cypher used to host before the Corona Era, so I knew he had skills. However, his Charisma, Quick Wit, and natural ease flowing off the top in the circle made him an instant favorite of the crowd and crew. In the coming months, TETRUS became one of the voices in the cypher that raised the energy and vibe, even when he wasn’t rhyming, earning himself the title of #HypeManofCITC.
TETRUS: “The energy in those CITC Cyphers sparked a fire inside of me. I saw how serious everyone was taking their craft and how hungry everyone was. I met Triple Z at the first CITC I attended and we hit it off right from the get. From there me and Z started building, and watching him record his projects I started thinking about putting together whole songs of my own. CITATION SOUND’S Chef Draz, one of the CITC Family Producers who was always on deck with beats for us to bless hit me up about working on a couple of tracks, which set me off collecting original beats. Then me and Z recorded the WHERE WE FROM single for TRPL Z‘s WIZARD EP, and it was a wrap. I loved the way I sounded on record and I knew this is what I wanted to do.”
Its only right then that the album opens up with a rowdy skit over a Chef Draz beat with a guest appearance from “Little Havana’s Black Hand Man from the Trash Can” TRPL Z. On the intro, Tet honestly and unapologetically proclaims, “I JUST WANT TO RAP” and so the adventure begins.
NO MORE GAMES:
The Chef Draz laced knocker starts off with an insistent thump reminiscent of that knock on your door when you owe someone money. Tetrus came to collect. Showing off his Miami Swag and Lyrical ability to the fullest he gives you a taste of the glow that earned him respect in the unforgiving cyphers of South Florida.
“See its real Easy, This is what I hear from My City…I see you in the Cyphers, but do you make songs/ Pen-Game Popeye, You know its so Strong / Super Heroes Masked up Like Spawn / Better than anyone that you put on / This Thrown that I’m sitting on was built for King Kong / Voice Crossed Colors its like its Kris Krossed / From the Little City That Birthed Rick Ross…”– Tetris: No More Games
Black Boy Joy feat. CASHE
Angered and inspired to speak out by the shooting of Brionna Taylor, Tet uses this banger by producer NAYZ to expound on the dreams of all African American youth, to one day rise above the oppression that surrounds them daily, even when their parents worked hard enough to get them out of the hood. He understands that even though he is a well-mannered, College Graduate, from a well to do family, his skin color makes him a target and admits to fearing the possibility of his mother one day mourning him at his wake. “Hands to the Sky, I pray to God, her son He can’t take/ These stories, they cant be true…Turn on the News, their favorite shooters be the Boys In Blue”. If you’re not familiar with the homie CASHE who steps in to clean up on the 3rd Verse, take a second and check out BLACK MOGUL. We just played this single last night on WVCC and it got mad love. Once you hear the verse he drops on this joint, CASHE will definitely be a name you’ll keep on ear out for.
Dripping in Miami Steeze, Tetrus swoops down out of a heart wrenching soul sample with a pair of verses that are part prayer / part acceptance speech. He shared with me while playing this song that he is “Without words to describe how I have been feeling during this whole writing and recording process. I feel like the Me in my dreams, and the Me in my reality are finally merging into the complete ME. I’m finally doing what I was destined to do. Before, I went to school, got the degree, got the executive job, had the money, the toys, my pick of women, you know, young paid and living wild. But I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t creating anything or using my talents that came to me so naturally for anything productive. This album, and this song especially, are me realizing who I am and finally taking ownership of it. The truth is I finally found what My Truth is.” Produced by Owen Hearts, this gem is easily one of my favorite songs on the album.
IGNITE feat DYNA EDNE:
Now this is the point of the album where my expectations got blown away like a crib in the community of Country Walk during Hurricane Andrew. “Mr. Bars On Top of Bars” takes us from the cypher on the street corners to the big body Benz ride to the Club. This audio crack boulder starts off with waves of female vocalist, DYNA EDNE’s sultry voice washing over you, as Tetrus slides all over the Ready for Radio Piano sound-bed provided by DJ PAIN 1. This is the joint you want to play with your lady in the car, hand on her lap. I need to hear this single playing on other radio stations than just WVCC Radio in the months to come. Lets speak into existence.
Another bullseye by Producer NAYZ. TETRUS doesn’t waist any time on this ticking time bomb of a beat. As soon as the soul touching Vocal Sample at the beginning of the track is done, Tet attacks the drums with ferocity. This is a man on a mission to inspire a clepto to take his own Life and A Nun to Fuck on Site. This the type of joint to Inspire you in the Gym or on the Court. Forgive the heavy flexin “Your chick rocks Fila? Mine expects Fendi/ Anything less than perfection offends me”…. Okaaaayyyy… I see You TET!!
LOVE IS LOVE
There arent many MCs who can hold it down in a pit of Spitters and still have the soul required to make an all out “Panty Dropper”. Many try and fall short. Tetrus however proves on this joint he is one of those few artist that can pull it off correct. Speaking as a Card Carrying Underground Hip Hop Head whose hated on Commercial Rap most of my life, this shit is Raaaaaaawwww. Supposedly the sister on the addictive hook is Tetrus’s own cousin, and boy does she bring this DIAMOND STYLE beat to life. Another song ready for national radio. This that joint to send to your shorties DM and just wait for the dominoes and panties to fall.
The lead Single of the Album, TIMELESS embodies the energy of CITC. The banger of a beat is provided by Chef Draz, the Hook provided to Tet by none other than GRIDLOCK/DOOMS DAY Shooter & CITC Bully BENNIE KNUCKLES. Come out to a CITC gathering and you’ll understand what this songs all about.
The album ends in Grand Cinematic Fashion with a Bank Hiest pullee off by the BLACK HAND GANG. For all yall still sleeping on the scene, BLACK HAND RECORDS is the Brainchild of TRPL Z and partner BERDN, of which TETRUS is an Official Member. Once you hear this outro track produced by DJ PAIN1 you will know without a doubt that the BLVCK HVND Movement is a Problem. They both massacre the song and ride off into the sunset leaving behind the promise of more mayhem to come.
I hit up TRPL Z for the 411 on one of the dopest tracks on the whole album and working with Tet on Out of Tokens.
TRPL Z: “Tetrus is like a brother to me. I was there from the beginning, when he was picking all the beats, figuring out what do with the songs. I saw him grow and kill everything from the Beat selection, to the writing, to the Recording of the album. Desperado was us going through beats looking for one that stood out style wise from all the other songs on the album. He wrote his verse right away, and I was stuck on it for like 2 weeks. Finally the morning we were supposed to go record it at Beat Waves, I caught the spark and wrote my ass off up until the point I stepped in the booth. I actually finished the verse in the booth. Now its one of my favorite verses and songs. All in all I’m just really proud to have been a part of the making of this album and Im proud of Tetrus and happy for him. He created something great here.”
As we wrapped up our listening session, I asked Tet how his family was taking the news that he was pursuing a career in music full time now, since I noticed him mention a bit of tension between him and his folks on songs like PLEASE.
Tetrus – “My mother is a huge fan of funk music and loves the samples we used in the album . My sisters Deldra, Keisha, Starla ,& my brother in law Bobby are all the reasons I love music and Hip Hop. They said I better come with it on the album! So I’m hoping to make them proud. The one who surprised me tho was my dad.”.
He proceeds to tell me about a Fathers Day lunch he had with his dad this past June, part of a yearly tradition for the Owens men. Most years, he explained, they would both dress in white linen and sandles, “You know that “Black Man with Money Beach look”. “Well this year I showed up with my Cap, A T-Shirt, shorts and some Kicks. My pops looked me up and down and asked me if this is how I dressed now, and I told him “Yeah Dad, this is who I am”, to which he replied, “Its good to finally get to know my real son.” “That was Mind Blowing for me.”
Just like my pops would spend so much dough on quarters, just to watch me play the arcade game and try to get the top score. Never playing himself. Just happy to watch me give it my all. I think Tetrus’s Dad is just as happy watching his son live his dream, and give the game all he’s got. I’m sure he’ll be proud of what he hears when he presses play on “OUT OF TOKENS”.
Make sure you pick up a copy of OUT OF TOKENS this Saturday, 10/10/2020, on your favorite Online Streaming Site, and if you an MC, plan on being out at the next #CipherInTheCircle on Monday 10/19 where Tetrus will be celebrating the release performing cuts off the Album Live.
Also make sure to catch Tet’s interviews on
And Tune in Tuesdays and Thursdays 9 -12 Midnight to South Florida’s Home for Indie / Underground Hip Hop – #WVCCRadio