student / musician / homecoming heartthrob
'Purple and Gold' is a series of interviews I did at the start of 2018 with high school students from Columbia High in Lake City, Florida. Their portraits and interviews were focused on their self image, perceptions of success and how they plan on achieving that. As with all stories from here interviews, the goal is to establish sense of place. These subjects are unique in that their sense of place has not been fully formed yet, so it's a delightful case study about identity, when it's being solidified. Tyrec is a junior interested in music who wants to have his whole family with him no matter what.
On family
"I'm very family oriented person. After my father passed, it's just, they are my people you know? My siblings, my mother, my nieces and nephews. Take one of them out of the picture and it would be heartbreaking.

My older brother, he's just like my father that passed. He's the head of the household even though like we're all in different households now since they are grown up. He holds everything together. He's the advice giver, the provider. My sister, the oldest girl, she's real down to Earth and she's always there for anyone if they need it. She will literally give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. And then me, I'm the one that tries to make everyone laugh. Even if it's a bad situation. I don't want nobody to be frowning around me. I want to see nothing but smiles."

On stability
"After my dad passed, we weren't able to keep a stable home until now. That was back in 2000. We must of moved at least 10 times? We used to label the streets that they was on, like when we go back down memory lane. The house on Austin was my favorite. I had my eighth birthday there. My brother got me a bicycle, my other brother got me my first pair of skates  and we just had so much fun there. My least favorite house was probably the first one. It would have been condemned for sure. There were snakes, and light coming out of the walls and stuff. It was a bad house.

We've been through a lot as a family. After my grandma passed, it's like, that's when I seen the worst thing my mom. She broke down. It that took all her strength. My siblings have had to be my mom and dad and I love them for that. But I'm a mama's boy at heart and to see her regain her strength through all of this, it's just amazing."
On music
"When I was younger my brother used to listen to a rapper, Twista, from Chicago and I would mumble and make up words just to try and keep up. Twista remember is like the fastest rapper, so I was like seven years old trying to mimic him and my uncle was like, "dang this boy can rap." 

Even though I was younger than them, I would tag along with my brothers when they hung out with their friends. I would freestyle because they were freestyling, I just had a lot of fun you know?
Eventually I started to take it seriously, writing stuff down, wanting to go to studios and stuff.

Around this time last year actually I tried to hang around people that do music so I could practice more. That's how I met Carlton, the founder of Method Poetry, and I started to hang with him. Ever since then it's been good. Method has been another family to me. Even though we have different personalities and speak on different subject matter, we all click. 

Last year I wrote a poem titled 'Ways to treat a woman.' The poem is basically me telling everyone how my mom taught me how to treat a woman. When I performed it over the summer she cried. Like she cried and hugged me. Every time I share my work with her, especially that piece, she'll cry. Between my two families I can work on poems and music and get good feedback. If I need help or am unsure where I am everybody is all ears. My mom especially. Music has already gotten me closer to my family, taken me to Method I don't know what's next but I know there's more."
"I can't see myself being without my family. I can't go a day without being around them, they give me so much strength."
On success
"Even though kids are going to school, their circumstances still stress them out. Even if their mothers tell them, "don't worry about that, let me handle that, you just go to school." The kids out there stressing about where they are going to lay their head at night or where they're going to get their meal or whatever. Success is being comfortable where I'm at. I want to make sure me and everyone that's around me are finally really comfortable. I want us to be living good. Right after I graduate, I want to get more serious with music and see where that takes me. I don't want to go to college immediately after school. I kind of want to enjoy that freedom from school, take time to focus solely on music."
"I want to see nothing but smiles."
On high school
"I'm almost done so I'm just trying to enjoy it you know? I became homecoming heartthrob kind of by mistake. I was the only male that came to the meeting that day so by default I had the inside track. I really didn't want to do it but they convinced me. And wearing a suit when its hot out isn't a small thing, but it ended up being so much fun. Hannah was cracking me up on the back of the truck wheels riding through the parade. She was pretty funny. I won't forget that moment any time soon."

On graduating
"I've always wanted to make my oldest brother proud. So like if I feel like if I graduate high school, if I go to college, and graduate there too, I know he will be proud. I mean, I know they are already proud of me, how much my music and poetry means to them, but holding up that diploma for them will just be icing on the cake."
From Valdosta, GA
Lives in Lake City, FL

*other stories to consider

Back to Top