Born in southern Maryland and now based in Texas, Tyler Cricchi, known as I AM Cricchi, presents a compelling narrative in the music world. His journey, transitioning from a typical suburban childhood to grappling with substance abuse in his teenage years, underscores the stark realities that shape his music.
With his vast, eclectic and always raw discography, Cricchi has independently charted multiple times, showcasing his ability to blend genres from hip-hop to country. His music is characterised by its authentic lyrics and versatile delivery, resonating with a wide audience. In this interview with A&R Factory, we delve into the world of I AM Cricchi, exploring his journey from personal struggles to musical achievements.
I AM Cricchi, welcome to A&R Factory! We’d love to know a little more about your most recent release, Weighted To Breathe featuring Caskey. What’s the story behind the single?
“Weighted To Breathe was written at a time when I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing chasing my dream in music, most regular people usually call it or consider a dream as such, ‘crazy’. The purpose behind this record was to remind myself and anyone else in a similar spot that if we waited or chose to give up, we’d be right back where we were, at a place where most wouldn’t want to be. Some might say at rock bottom. It quickly became one of the biggest solo songs of my career and shortly after I was blessed with the opportunity of having Caskey feature on it. That really proved my point and made everything come full circle because an artist with a much bigger influence and resume thought it was as dope as I did! NEVER GIVE UP!!”
Your upcoming project, The Road Back, talks about overcoming addiction; can you tell us more about the project and the inspiration behind the release?
“Addiction is a topic I hold close to my heart. I personally have been through the depths of hell while abusing drugs and running through the streets. This was my first project with The Lotto Tribe, and I wanted to make sure it was very special because I recognized that they believed in me, similar to the way I believe in myself. I reached out to a hometown producer Tilli Mack and told him I needed something to spill my pain on and thus this record was birthed. The writing aspect of it for me was just a matter of putting myself in the mindset of not ever wanting to go back to my old life. That’s why I’m so inspired after breaking away from it because I never want to go back to that life I used to be, stuck, in. In other words, I wanted it to be the music I wished I had when I was broken and hopeless
More than anything I wanted to create something that could save someone’s life or make a change for someone in a dark time and for me that’s what all this is about. The road back is never easy, but I hope this record gives someone, anyone, hope. It releases on May 3rd, 2024, worldwide, on the first Friday of National Mental Health Awareness month and is supported by the organization, To Write Love On Her Arms which supports mental health.”
How do your most recent releases compare to your past projects like; No Time, Runnin A Lot, I Gotta Grow, and Say Less Do More?
“I definitely don’t fit in any box. I make a variety of genres and I’m always exploring new sounds. The music I write is always dependent on the moment I’m in. Sometimes I’m happy and sometimes I’m not but that’s life and that’s what I put in my music. I don’t over-exaggerate or attempt to portray anything, I’m just me. If there is one thing that ties every song to the next it’s the authenticity of my story. Every song and every word was lived, meant and felt by me. In the end though, all my music is for everyone and anyone. I just want to bring awareness to my story, and my life and give others hope.”
How did you get into music, and where has your creative journey taken you?
“I got into music before I can even remember. My father is what I would call a “beast” on the guitar and loves to play. My dad worked a 9 to 5 for more years than I had been alive, and I never saw the same happiness he had when he was holding that guitar. That put a spark in me. It made me feel that maybe music was where he belonged, but he never tried or never could take the chance to be truly one with.
The ability to write started with my love for poetry in 2nd grade and continued through middle school. It wasn’t until I was in a juvenile youth center that I started to experiment with trying to rap on beats or write with a specific sound in mind. After that, writing music kept me alive through years and years of addiction and depression, almost daily wondering if I should live. It wasn’t until 5 years ago when I got sober that I started to clearly see the vision. Since then, I have hit the iTunes Charts twice independently. I’ve accumulated over a quarter million streams in 2023. I’ve done songs with legends such as Blind Fury, Caskey, Merkules, and many other amazing artists. Most of all I’ve been finding myself along the way and that’s something special to my heart.”
What role has the indie label The Lotto Tribe played in your career?
“That’s a chapter of my life that is just getting started, but something I’m really looking forward to. So far, it’s been nothing but love and solid continuous guidance from them. They continue to bring me confidence and opportunity. They have helped me align contracts with many industry partners and continue to put my name in the right places for growth. I genuinely appreciate them for their work so far and again, I’m very excited to see what the future holds with The Lotto Tribe!”
Which artists inspire you the most, and is there anything else that inspires you to create?
“Artist-wise, I’d say Caskey, Jelly Roll and LaRussell give me the most inspiration currently. The hustle and the constant innovation are something I respect and appreciate from all of them.
I’m inspired by different people at different times, but I often pull my inspiration from my own life. Whatever I’m feeling or whatever I’m dealing with at that moment is what I write about. Music is a way to cope and a safe space for me, so emotions often drive it. I’ll often base the lyrics, beat cadence and melodies off of just how I feel in the moment. Music is something that makes me feel alive and through it, I’ll continue to try my best to be my best.”
Can you tell us a little about your global distribution deal with Memphis’ Select-O-Hits? and being attached to The Orchard?
“This is another chapter of my journey that’s just getting started! Johnny Phillips has been extremely helpful in getting me set up over there at Select-O-Hits and I genuinely look forward to our future years together. They’re very well known from the days of his father Tom and uncle, Sam who founded Sun Records. They’ve also been influential in distributing Memphis hip-hop legends Three 6 Mafia and Lil Wyte. Even Jellyroll had projects through them in his early career. I’m just happy to be here in the now and be a part of something with such a history!”
What else is in the pipeline for you?
“This year will be my greatest yet. My biggest news so far this year will be the full rollout release for the single project with The Lotto Tribe, “The Road Back”. It’s one of my most meaningful pieces to date and I can’t wait to share it with the world. We also have shows lined up across the country including a SXSW visit here in Austin, Texas. I plan on dropping multiple singles and a possible full album once the vibe and timing feels right! There will also be more collaborations, big features and visuals but you’ll just have to follow me and wait to see what things I have in store! This is just the start for me.”
Stream I AM Cricchi on Spotify and discover more about the artist here.
Interview by Amelia Vandergast