“I actually was on probation for this when I was 18,” Tre’ Amani says as he exhales a cloud of smoke from a joint. “I’m happy this is legal, man. It’s about time that we can smoke freely in Maryland.”
The rap artist, who hails from Columbia, has always taken pride in his state, including naming his 2021 project “Murilyn.” Dressed in a fitted, black Orioles baseball cap, tinted red glasses, a slightly oversized white button-up shirt, blue jeans and a pair of Little Accra Nike Air Force 1 sneakers in his recording studio last week, it’s clear Amani’s fashion sense is as vibrant as his lyrical delivery.
The unorthodox wordsmith, 29, doesn’t have the most traditional backstory for becoming an artist. “I really always wanted to ball, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to ’cause I wasn’t making grades in school and I wasn’t that athletic,” Amani laughed. “I always loved and was obsessed with music, though, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until high school.”
Since he started “taking it seriously,” Amani has done extremely well for himself. He has toured with Big K.R.I.T.; appeared on his close friend Brent Faiyaz’s “Wasteland” album and signed to his Lost Kids record label; released his latest body of work, “The Baddest Man on the Planet,” two weeks ago; and is preparing to perform at Broccoli City Festival this weekend.
Amani was influenced early by artists who would frequently appear on BET’s music countdown show, “106 & Park.” “By not having a father figure in the crib, I would look up to the Lil Waynes and Kanyes ― just these artists that I could relate to and see myself in,” he said.
Amani prides himself on being a “do-it-all, versatile” rap artist who uses music as his “therapy and diary” at the same time. “I can do anything at this point. I can give you like real hip-hop with a lot of instrumentation like I did with my EP ‘Incrementum,’ but I can also do different flows like the DMV flow and appeal to today’s generation of music, which I just did with my latest project,” he said.
Sound engineer Ryan “Top Secret” Anderson has worked with Amani for seven years and is a huge fan of the artist’s work ethic. “My guy is a beast,” Anderson said. “One of my favorite memories of working with him was when we were working on his ‘Incrementum’ project. We did it in a week because he just has such a great drive and great determination. He just always wants to reach the next level as an artist, writer and performer.”
Because Broccoli City takes place in Washington, D.C. — approximately 40 minutes from Columbia — Amani’s Sunday performance could be considered a home game of sorts. In the company of other artists such as Lil Uzi Vert, Jazmine Sullivan, City Girls, Ice Spice, Keke Palmer, Kodak Black and GloRilla who are also performing this weekend, Amani is taking his preparation for his performance even more seriously because he anticipates many people he knows will be attending. “I’m gonna have my mom there, my son’s mom, my sisters and the whole gang gonna be there, so this is going to be hella important for me,” he said.
After performing in five festivals in 2022 alone, some would assume Amani is accustomed to large crowds, but the rapper still gets tense before he hops onstage. “It’s nerve-wracking, man,” he said. “Anybody would be a liar if they said they’re not nervous before they perform at something as big as Broccoli City, but I’m always ready. If you’re not nervous then you’re not ready.”
He finds solace in the fact that his label mate Faiyaz will also be performing at the D.C. event. Amani is not shy about giving the renowned singer credit for helping him reach new heights in popularity. “Once Brent started blowing up more, I started blowing up more with him co-signing me and putting me on stages,” he said.
Now, Amani’s comfortable with calling himself “The Baddest Man on the Planet” — the same nickname as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Mike Tyson. “I feel like Mike is my spirit animal,” he said. “No matter what people said about him, Mike was the champ and the best at knocking people out and that’s how I feel about this rap shit. I can knock anyone out with these rhymes. Maybe not with the clout or jewelry, but when it comes to what the sport of hip-hop really is, nobody can see me.”