In The Flesh: Jae Motherfuckin’ Tilt, Mind-Blowing Brownies, and a Death Ride Inside the Ass-Kicking Rap Van

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Shortly after boarding the high-ceilinged cargo van, otherwise known as The Rap Van, Tom Johnson, impresario and driver, introduced the night’s featured artist. “Let’s welcome Jae motherfuckin’ Tilt!”

Jae Tilt took to the mic and before launching into his first song, like all good hosts, he graciously offered the audience─packed 18 deep in the cargo area of the Dodge Sprinter─a plate of brownies. The plate full of tasty snacks went ‘round, just like first class service by an airline flight attendant, before departing the R Bar on an exhilarating 20-minute death ride through the streets and byways of downtown Tucson, this past Sunday night.
Tilt literally rocking the Rap Van. - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Tilt literally rocking the Rap Van.

Drawing inspiration from the storybook of his own life, Tilt released Product of 93 in March of 2016 (available at iTunes, CD Baby etc.). “It’s the past; the stages of my life. I felt like when I dropped it, I wanted it to be like the beginning, when it all started ... that was in ’93. So, that’s where the title came from.”

Yes, Tilt touches raps of sex and bravado with aplomb, and there’s notable realness to his words, rife with hardship and pain, he pulls no punches in his confessionals. Lyrics speak freely of gritty realities, like seeing dad cooking crack when he was three years old. There’s a discernible message of positivity too, and so we asked him about that.

“Everybody has to struggle,” Tilt says. “But that no matter where you come from you can prevail and you can get out of that situation. Everything that you go through makes you ... and builds your character.”

What’s next for Jae Tilt?

Years Later, that’s the LP dropping May 19th.” You have a label or self releasing? “Yeah, I’m on a label, Golden Artists.”

In a Tucson Weekly interview from last year, Johnson said, "The basis of hip-hop music is a community thing—to bring together people, to push away the bad stuff.” He proved the concept on this balmy Sunday night.

Buddha in full-on spit action. - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Buddha in full-on spit action.

Everything was bouncing in this mobile hip-hop venue ... bodies slammed together with every bump and turn in the road, pale and sweaty knuckles gripped tightly to safety cords dangling from the ceiling, loudspeakers thumped and shook the van with percussive beats, in-the-mood lights glowed, people danced and shouted out with Tilt and his dreadlocked lil’ brother Buddha who back up on the mic. It was hot and sweaty in there, for sure. In short, the intimate ride in The Rap Van with Mr. Jae Tilt was utter chaos; precisely why it kicked serious ass.

"Raptoberfest." A Sunday series featuring hip-hop and rap artists continues through May 7th at R Bar, 350 E Congress Street.


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