I have not had the opportunity to meet up and coming rap artist Tyler Shoemaker in person. However, this guy immediately caught my attention when he found me on Twitter, and quite honestly, I’m really glad he did. I’m also happy to say that his fan base has definitely gotten bigger since I first learned about him, and I think it is well-deserved. While some of his beats may sound mainstream, what really caught me was his lyrics and the sound of his flow. His voice is definitely one I like listening to, and thankfully his lyrics seem to have more substance than a lot of the junk that’s on the radio these days.
I recently took a chance to reach out to him to see if he would be interested in doing an e-interview with me, and he was pretty open and willing to do so. I’m really glad he took the opportunity to work with me. I really do hope that he continues to keep it real and that one day his music will get played on the radio.
For those of you who want to learn more about him, as well as listen to and/or purchase his music, I will be including links to his website and all his social media at the end of the post, and he will also be a permanent addition to my regular links page, for future reference.
Since I want this post to be the main feature on this site for the next week, I’ll be going on another one of my planned posting hiatuses. I’ll be seeing you all again next weekend!
And now without further ado, my interview with The Exception!
CEC: Tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you come up with your stage name, “The Exception”?
TE: It actually comes from my first passion in life, basketball. Being one of few white kids playing on my All-Star basketball team in 6th grade, my black teammates thought it was unusual that I could out jump them, so one day one of them said, “White boys can’t jump, but he’s the exception.” And the name just stuck with me and was an easy and obvious choice for a stage name when I started in music.
CEC: When did you first decide to pursue a career in the music industry? What was the process like for you? How long have you been making music? Do you write your own music, or do you have someone who writes the lyrics for you?
TE: I began writing rhymes in the 8th grade, and began recording by my sophomore year of high school, but it was more of a hobby at that time. I didn’t know I wanted to pursue music as a profession until probably my freshman year of college, when my song “In The O”, an anthem for the Ohio State Buckeyes (where I attended college) got radio play and created some major buzz for me across Ohio. I write my own music, and I take great pride in the fact that I write, record, mix and master every song myself. The only part of the music I don’t do is make the beats. I partner with several well-respected producers in the industry to come up with the right sound.
CEC: How would you describe your music style? Who are your influences?
TE: My style is kind of challenging to describe, to be honest with you. Some songs I may come on and have a strong Eminem or Lil Wayne influence with my flow and delivery, whereas others I might sound more comparable to Mac Miller or Drake or someone. My biggest influence is Eminem, by far. I also really like Drake, J.Cole, Mac Miller, Lil Wayne, T.I., and so on.
CEC: Are you currently signed with a professional label? Or are you currently independent? If you’re independent, are you looking to get signed by anyone?
TE: I’m 100% independent. I like being my own boss and making my own schedule, but I would definitely consider a major label if the opportunity presented itself. At the end of the day, I want to make a living doing this.
CEC: Have you worked with any “big names” on set yet? If not, who would you like to work/share the stage with/open for?
TE: I’ve worked with a lot of major producers, but as far as artists, I opened up for Asher Roth last year spring break in AZ, and he was a really cool guy and we had a great time partying together. I also had a show put together with Mac Miller and The Game, but plans fell through due to some legal issues with The Game (go figure). This year, I’m performing at the Memorial Day Weekend Festival in AZ with Mickey Avalon and Audio Push.
CEC: I see you’ve got a few albums out in your online store. Would you mind telling me a little bit about each of them?
TE: “No Excuses”, released in 2010, was my collaborative album with my good friend Marc Carter (M.Carter). It’s an 18 track album that basically allowed me to test out some different styles to see which ones I was more comfortable with moving forward. “Wake Up Call”, released in May 2011, has been my most successful album. I gave it away for free to begin with, and it collected over 295,000 downloads on HotNewHipHop.com. “Here To Stay”, released in November 2011, was an album that I put a lot of time into and focused mainly on reiterating the point that “Wake Up Call” wasn’t a fluke, and that I was just getting warmed up in this industry. My latest album “F.A.M.E: Fans Are My Everything” was another giveaway album to show appreciation for the fans that have stayed by my side throughout my career and given me so much encouragement to keep chasing my dream.
CEC: I’ve experienced that you really take the time to get back to your fans through Twitter. How else do you connect with your fans?
TE: Absolutely. I think that responding to fans and interacting is the only way to show people that I’m just like them, and that I really do appreciate their support. I connect via Facebook the most probably, and get an overwhelming amount of messages and support on there, and I do my best to get back with everyone that shows me love.
CEC: Do you ever worry you won’t be able to keep up with your fanbase? I can only imagine the difficulties of maintaining the practice of staying in contact with all your fans as your audience gets bigger.
TE: Yeah, that’s definitely the challenge I’m beginning to face more and more. The bigger my fan base gets, the harder it is to stay in touch and keep up with every single message or tweet that comes in, but I definitely try my best to respond to everyone and let them know I do notice and appreciate them taking the time to represent me.
CEC: I noticed that on your website, theexceptionmusic.com, you allow people to sign up for email alerts, but also give them an option of joining a “street team.” Would you like to expand on what your “street team” is?
TE: The street team is basically just a fancy way of letting me know who is out there repping the hardest for me and spreading the word the most. It is basically like becoming a member of a “fan club” or something like that.
CEC: What’s your tour schedule like right now? How many different cities have you been to so far? If you have one, what’s been your most favorite show to date?
TE: It’s starting to really pick up now that it’s getting warmer and people are wanting to hire entertainment for events. Right now, I’m performing in Lake Havasu City, AZ April 7. I’m performing at a high school prom in late April, followed by a radio show appearance on ArtistFirst Worldwide Radio (to a million+ listeners), then traveling to New York in May to perform live on The Real Radio Show for 50,000+ listeners/viewers (it will be streamed online). My favorite city so far has been either Knoxville or Lake Havasu, both of those cities really showed me a good time and treated me like they wanted me to come back.
CEC: What have been some of your greatest successes to date? Any challenges or fears?
TE: Having my song played at the 2009 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl was really cool, getting radio play, opening for Asher Roth, having the #1 album of all time for an unsigned artist on HotNewHipHop.com at one point, lots of things like that. I don’t fear failure, because I feel like the only thing that can stop me is myself. I have the talent and determination to succeed at all costs.
CEC: What’s your day-to-day like on a more “normal” day? Is there anything other than making music that you like to do for fun?
TE: I’m just your average guy, honestly. I work, I go to school, and I work on music. I don’t have much free time, because if I’m not at school or work, I’m doing some kind of music business. So aside from traveling and stuff for music, I’m kind of boring I suppose!
CEC: What are your current long term and short term goals? In other words, what direction are you trying to take your career? Do you have something specific in mind, or are you more of a “go with the flow” kind of person?
TE: I don’t have a certain point I want to get to, per se, but when I become known wherever I go to perform and promote, I’ll feel like I “made it” I guess.
CEC: Do you have any upcoming albums in the works right now? Or are you more focused on touring at the moment?
TE: I’m always making new music. I don’t necessarily have a project I’m working on as a whole, but I’ll be steady releasing songs for the next few months. My main focus is to promote the songs I do have, since I’ve done 65+ songs since 2010.
CEC: What are some of your rules of thumb while working in this business?
TE: I just always try to be myself. At the end of the day, I don’t want to be remembered for something I’m not. I like that people can see that I’m just an average college kid who had big aspirations and who is making major moves, but at the same time remains humble and down to earth.
CEC: Do you have any advice or messages for people who are trying to get started in the music industry?
TE: Don’t try to be like your favorite artists. There’s already an Eminem, a Drake, a Wiz, etc. Be yourself, and talk about things that you actually know about. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from someone more successful than yourself. Everyone started out bad an unknown, remember that.
CEC: And finally, just for fun—if you could just take a minute, sit down and have a conversation with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
TE: Eminem, or Kobe Bryant. They’re both my idols, for the simple fact that they are obsessed with success. They have overcome obstacles to get what they wanted, and haven’t let up. They are both considered “older” for what they do, yet still dominate every aspect of their games.
And there you have it, my interview with a pretty genuine guy currently working on making his own mark in the music industry. Just to be clear, I approached him and not the other way around for this interview, and I am not being compensated in any shape or form. I just really believe in promoting the people I am lucky enough to come across (especially those of the creative variety) that I believe have the potential and probably wouldn’t hurt from the extra attention, haha.
As I said before, I will be including the links to his website and all the social media he utilizes in my main links post for your future reference, but here are those same links below now, if you’d like to check him out right away. (And I totally think you should.)
Social Media: Twitter | Facebook | MySpace | YouTube | Reverb Nation
Buy Music: iTunes | Amazon
(This blog post was written in close collaboration with and approved by the interviewed artist, The Exception. Images used in this post were taken from theexceptionmusic.com and used with permission.)