“Make sure you spell it ‘Tha,’ with an ‘A’ instead of an ‘E.’ Everyone makes that mistake… don’t know why, but that’s not how you spell ‘tha,’” Cameron Tripp, the trumpeter and rapper of the group Tha Materials, laughed. Tha Materials performed at Urban Grinders last Saturday night.
Tha Materials are a full vocal and instrumental group in the old school hip-hop genre and are based out of Durham. They are a six-piece band featuring the founders JC Justice III, who plays the drums, and Cameron Tripp. Additionally, in the past few years, their singer/songwriter Raney Hayes joined the group along with MC/songwriter Juteria Eaves, keyboardist/MC Reuben Ahukanna and Travis Jones on the bass and keyboard,
“I would define our music as ‘soul hip-hop’ with a little bit of funk here and there. We used to play a whole lot of covers from the ‘80s, ‘70s and ‘60s,” Tripp explained. “That’s where our background comes from. I don’t think anyone creates anything anymore. Everything is influenced by something from the past and history just repeats itself. It’s in the form of us now.”
The six band members met during their time at North Carolina Central University, as they were all part of The Sound Machine, the school’s marching band, in 2010. The idea for the band started three and a half years ago and has included different musicians. The current group of six has now been performing together for a year and a half.
Though the band started with a small audience inside Urban Grinders, a relatively new coffee shop downtown, the crowd grew significantly as the night went on. Many curious passersby wandered in as they could hear the music playing from outside the shop and stayed to listen to the music.
With their nod-worthy beats, meaningful lyrics and alluring melodies, Tha Materials mesmerized everyone at the venue with their full instrumental band. Sultry voices singing real-life lyrics coupled with rapping between verses was a nice contrast during most of their performances.
There was an evenly split selection of songs ranging between fast songs with rapping and slow “jamz,” during which Hayes would sit in front of the audience and sing with sparse instrumentals behind her, showing raw emotions wither voice and lyrics.
The band members write all of their lyrics as a collaborative effort. “Everyone writes their own lyrics, a couple of us write for the singer but, for the most part, she [Hayes] writes her own lyrics too. It just depends,” Tripp explained.
Many of the songs performed that night were new songs that had not yet been released. Their first album, “One Stop Shop,” can be found on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon Music. Though they sang original songs for the majority of their set, they did cover J. Cole’s song “Be Free.”
“Our purpose is to educate through thought-provoking music,” Tripp explained as he prefaced the song. “Listen closely to the rest of our show tonight. We be teaching.”
“We try to be thought-provoking and shift the culture. We are trying to be leaders of a new generation,” Tripp declared to the audience.
Originality is an important component for Tha Materials, “We make sure we meet each other every week to meet with each other despite our busy schedules. We try to be as original as possible when it comes to our lyrics, our sound and sing about real-life issues.”
Tha Materials are focused on educating the masses. “We feel as though there is a serious mis-education, not that everyone is not educated, but that the mis-education is contagious when it comes to certain issues,” Tripp said.
After their second-to-last song, the entire band took a short break and made it a point to come into the audience to greet and speak to everyone that came out to show support for them and enjoy their music.
“The best part of performing is seeing their reactions. I don’t think anyone ever knows what to expect,” Tripp laughed. “We’re always catching people off guard with our sound.”