Answers by Shirt below:
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At what point along your creative life did you start really trusting the process?
Phonzz, Nellyville

Shirt: Peace Phonzz. I don’t think you ever really get to trust much. I mean, it depends how we mean that. I don’t trust this ground under me to some degree, let alone the process of anything. If you mean like trusting that I’ll have a career? Trusting I could make money, be able to pay bills, live in New York City, eat? I still don’t trust those things but I almost took trust out of the equation. Once you do the work, it’s done. The game could always play you. Life could always son you and say “gimme that” and it’s over. But once you do the work, and it can be one thing or ten, once you do the thing, and maybe title it something and take a pic, it’s done, right? I don’t trust any process I just wake up and do the work. I’ve done things and touched people and took part in experiences that are not in the physical. No person can take those things away, you can’t hold that work in your hand, you can’t erase it from YouTube or take it down from Spotify. I trust that I’ve gone beyond needing to trust in man and material things. I didn’t trust I would get this long to work and live. None of this earthly shit is trustworthy. I think you should make it a point not to trust how or if you’ll get to finish. Just start. I almost like to think it’s possible whether you or I get to do it or not.
What’s it all for?
Spurious, ‘Dena

Shirt: If you mean all the art and all these works I make with titles and such, I think it’s because I’ve read enough to understand what gets saved here on earth. Art that is preserved, cared for, and passed around by people with intention is really the only thing that sticks around a bit. It becomes, well, maybe I should leave something with my bones, you know? Maybe it’s also a bit about not using my time on earth to just take but also give and leave something behind. What if I could gather all the garbage and matter I’ve accumulated in my life and make something good with it? Something that can be a positive thing for others later. Idk. If you mean all this breathing and what life is, man, I wish I knew or even had a real inkling. Are we all just randomly made and some beautiful miracle? I don’t know, man. We’re stardust that can contemplate our own stardust-dom, it’s a trippy situation.

I’ve been following your work however I can since the Rap album. It's not easy as I am in Portugal and access to that scene is limited by what you end up sharing. I have no insta or fb and feel like I'm missing out and have been missing out for years because a lot of artists, you included, stepped back from YouTube and Twitter. But I can't stand giving any info to Zuckerberg. Considering you were not simply a rapper but an artist when you came to Europe to study, not having that social media made me hang on to what I had from you. I grew up listening to 2pac, Nas and Wu Tang, and felt like your raw style was the evolution of that type. Hope you and your family are well. And I can't wait for new music, if your artistic sense takes you to that. Knowing little of what you've been up to, what are your plans, if any, related to music?!
Daniel Oliveira, Portugal

Shirt: Thanks Daniel. I love the Rap album, I felt really good about that one. No matter where you are, Portugal or anywhere else, we’re connected, man. As long as they keep the internet plugged in you can go on my website (rapartist.org) and visit the social media platforms (IG, Twitter @shirtnyc) and see what new links there I’m promoting. You don’t have to sign in or create an account to browse those accounts I believe. And I try to keep links attached to my name as up to date as possible. So on each of those platforms there will always be a link to a homebase website. I suppose one day those sites won’t update anymore (in the future when we’re truly c o n n e c t e d), but for now they do often. Man, all the artists you mentioned are my favorite so thank you for that. I’m still making music and it still happens often and always. My go-to practice. There’s a new album being released in a split second and so much more music on the way.
What are your future plans with your music? Are you working on anything? And a long shot here. Can I get verse from you…..? Please and thank you.
Walter J. Liveharder, Chicago

Shirt: I’m always working on music. That’s my go to practice. If I get a crazy beat I’m almost always instantly working on it. If I can’t I’m sad and I’m not good until I’m back recording. I hope to keep recording and releasing music. Whether you can get a verse from me for your own project depends on a lot of things including when/if I’m recording at the moment and if your beat/musical work and project is something I naturally gravitate to and want to add me to.



Why is the YouTube clip for "Real Gangsters Never LOL" no longer on the internet? Can you send or post the MP3?
Colin, Washington, DC


Shirt: I might’ve taken it down, I honestly don’t remember now. At various times I might decide a work shouldn’t be public at least from me, for whatever reason. I can’t control what other people who have downloaded the work or saved it do with it, but I can control what my own web accounts show and the selected works available for public viewing. I’m not sending that song right now. I really don’t know why but it’s not something I can devote energy to at the moment. I will say that I want a way to have a player on my site that plays selected songs.

How did the name Shirt stick with you?
Zach, Malaysia


Shirt: Ha, let’s remember all names stick to people the same way. I could've been named Head, Face (The rapper Scarface’s friends probably call him ‘Face). If you take it seriously and you’re a serious person, there’s a good chance people will call you any name you want. Shirt was short for T Shirt which I was going by first. I was painting on t-shirts and sewing patches on hoodies decorating clothing with ideas. For me it became that everytime I told people my name was Shirt it made them smile. That was something to me. All these years later now and knowing what I know about art, I think it may have been an idea I was playing with all along. An artwork itself, calling myself Shirt, making this work as this dude. Maybe I’m speaking to still a shedding that has to happen or a disrobing that has to occur at the end of the night type beat. Like there’s at least one other layer you can go when you take the shirt off. Maybe I turn 50 and change my name to Skin.


How do you get into realizing your ideas as actual product (eg. clothing)?
Zach, Malaysia

Shirt: One of the tricks is being able to do things in the first place. I’m not in jail. I’m not going hungry. I’ve made it my business to realize ideas and see them through. Whether it’s building a career making music or doing visual art, installation and performances, I make sure to show up. Product is the same way. If you’re making tees, commit to buying the blanks. Choose the color and size run, do the math how much it’ll cost. Take those tees to the printer etc. Get up and do it. Press enter on the keyboard if you have the money in the account, make the t-shirt happen, go through the steps it takes. Yeah, it might fail in some way or another. But I would say just you doing it makes it a success. 

How do you make enough money to live? Looks like you live a life that's super inconsistent, which doesn't equate to income in my eyes.
Anonymous, Brisbane

Shirt: We’d probably have to talk about what you mean by “live a life that’s super inconsistent” first. I wake up breathing, get to it, knock out ideas, fuck my girl. Consistently, you know? There’s not a day I haven’t woken up breathing and didn’t get to it. That’s consistency. Some ideas and projects make me money to live and pay my bills. Some don’t. You make money on the things that make money, and sometimes doing things that don’t necessarily make money, are ideas that end up making you money. Or not. I can say I need to be making more money just like most people. But also it’s pretty obvious I sell things, right? A verse here, t-shirts, a pair of boots, a print. I’ve sold phone calls, paintings, snowballs, and pieces of paper. I’ve sold music consistently for over 10 years and receive royalties consistently for things like publishing, streaming, my music being licensed to tv shows etc. ASCAP checks pay out four times a year for life and 70 years after. I make more than enough money to ‘live’––people live on a lot less. It’s the wanting to buy clothes by Tremaine and Martine that fucks me up. It’s all the places I want to visit and explore and the price of airline tickets. It’s how much I like sneakers and good shoes. It’s living in an expensive ass city and wanting to be bougie and drive around and eat nice places. I can say I think I should be making millions but I’m not yet. I’m not even making hundreds of thousands. But my various incomes consistently coming in means I can pay to keep going. I really do want and need to be making more money to be as comfortable as I’d like (and buy Balenciaga). I’d like some spaces for performances, maybe a brownstone.


Have you ever lived in poverty and if so, how did you get out of it?
Anonymous, Six Nations of the Grand River Reservation

Shirt: I think it depends what you mean by poverty. I remember growing up and my mom being really excited to find $2 in a jacket pocket. That has stayed with me for a long time. But then my grandmother had a decent house in Long Island, then Miami that my brothers and I were able to spend summers at. So once I got older I was able to put that into perspective. I got to leave my block a bit. I didn’t go far, I didn’t go to like Europe till I was in my mid-twenties. But I think I did see more than your average kid in my neighborhood, I don’t know. You wonder what sets people up for wanting more, having a taste for more. But as far as making decent money? I still don’t. Not for living in America, and especially not for living in NYC. It’s hard as shit. If we’re talking you’re an adult and you don’t have money, do you have your hands and feet? Eyes and ears? Do things you’re interested in make money? Does anyone make money doing what you do or want to do? Is there a path? Have a machete?Before I operated like I do now for years I had all sorts of part time jobs to make a few hundred dollars a week to take my girl to the movies or buy a new pair of sneakers every now and then. I moved out of my mom’s little Queens apartment at 17-18 years old and starting paying rent for a room, then apartments with friends. The idea has always been to keep my overhead as low as possible for as long as possible. When you want to make artwork for a living the real thing you need is some time. Time to experiment and develop. I mean, to do anything you need time. So I say my job is to stay alive. If I stay alive and get the years, I get to work and find ways to make money. Also, with releasing music on the DSP’s (Spotify, Tidal etc), you are paid quarterly for life. I’ve been an ASCAP member for 10+ years now and receive direct deposits four times a year. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few records that were in licensing situations (HBO shows, commercials) and a growing fanbase for all of that time, so as the streams go up, the checks have incrementally gotten more useful when they hit. 

How do I approach asking for a video date from someone who lives long distance without scaring them off? I’m a 35 year old woman who has never been kissed and I’m not thirsty, I’m dehydrated. I don’t want to be alone forever. I could be alone and could handle it, but it’s not what I want in this life.
Anonymous

Shirt: Are you already talking with this person long distance on the phone and want to try video now? If so, I would just say, “Hey, it’s crazy nice talking but I’d love to get on Facetime sometime for us to talk face to face and get to see eachother.” If this person likes you in any way this shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re not already talking to this person on the phone or text, it’s definitely trickier. People don’t normally want to jump on a Facetime call with someone they don’t know. My thing always is, if you want a higher chance of great results in the moment, you have to put in work on the lead up. Once a person likes you, asking to get on Facetime anyway you want is fine. It only becomes this tricky, weird thing if the person doesn’t like you yet.

I hear you about not wanting to be alone forever. I would say don’t worry too much about your age, we’re all on different timelines in our lives and experience things at different points. Sometimes it can feel like we’re not where we should be in life according to what we perceive as societal norms but I promise that stuff’s not real. Outside people will always have an opinion and be able to judge what they perceive, but you really just have to be head strong about yourself. Function in your command center. You crushing on someone?


Mark