The number 19 has a profound significance in artist Lil Tati’s life. It’s the title of his debut project, a work that has been years in the making for the Miami, Florida native. It’s also Tati’s age, and the age that his father was when Tati was born. It makes for a full circle moment, with Tati taking the first major step in his career. As Lil Tati makes way for his big introduction with NiNET33N, the stars are aligned for this singing/rapping sensation. And he’s just getting started.
Music has always dominated Tati’s life, before he was even making it himself. He watched his father, Franklin Martinez aka Frank Miami, go from cutting hair at a barber shop in the USA Flea Market (Liberty City) to managing then-bubbling acts Farruko and Lary Over to later forming Carbon Fiber Music in 2014. The label is a Latin music powerhouse, home to the aforementioned acts, along with a number of heavy hitting artists and producers. “I remember growing up, seeing these artists sleeping on our couch who then developed into mega stars” Tati recalls.
A big moment for Tati happened in the 6th grade when he went to his first music video set. “There were all these girls and cars, and they even let me in the video,” he explains. “I felt like the man!” It wasn’t until the 9th grade, when Tati began to figure out his own artistry. He and a friend started writing to beats and later rapping over them, though he knew he was nowhere near where he wanted to be musically.
By his junior year at American Senior High in Hialeah, he wrote some bars down and texted them to his dad with a note that said, “I want to make music.” His father’s reply was that of a typical dad but also a label owner who took his work seriously. “He was like, ‘Ok but if you suck I’m not putting it out,’” Tati says with a laugh.
He called family friend, Crook, and asked for help booking studio time to cut a demo. Tati dropped some loosie cuts via CFMB Records and was met with significant traction including “Bank Roll,” “Dilemma,” and the multi-lingual “ChiCha” with Eladio Carrion, Ronny J, and Lary Over. The stage is now set for his first project, aptly titled NiNET33N.
“I like to describe NiNET33N as ten songs with all different sounds,” Tati explains of his debut. “Not everybody likes rap, and not everybody likes R&B, so I’m just giving you everything.” The project’s first single “Up Late” features dancehall legend Mavado and brings a combination of Tati’s knack for R&B with Mavado’s Jamaican- rooted signature sound. “I know Mavado doesn’t collaborate with just anybody, so I was so honored to have him on my track,” Tati expresses.
He’s also joined by CJ on the cut “Came Up,” which was a whole new sound for Tati. “I’ve never done Drill before,” he admits. “It was a lot of fun.” Carbon Fiber veteran Farruko makes an appearance on the radio-ready “She Got It,” while Tati shines solo on the banger “Blah Blah Blah” about “teenage toxic love,” as he puts it. “It’s about hearing your girl talk a whole lot and not wanting to listen at that point because she’s buggin’ you,” he says. The project has all of the makings of a teenager inching his way into young adulthood. “19 is an important year in my life,” Tati says. “I feel like I’m growing up now and my project is proof of that.”
While it’s inevitably a new era for Carbon Fiber Music as it extends its English-speaking-focused Billionaire arm, it’s a new era for Lil Tati as well. He is an extension of a legacy that has been cultivated over the last decade, only now he is a part of it on his own terms with his own sound. “My goal really is to just be heard,” he says matter-of-factly. “I know I’m the new kid, so I just want people to listen to my music and remember my name.”
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