Olive Branch, Mississippi is a small town just south of the Tennessee border, less than 30 milesoutside of Memphis. It’s name, the story goes, was inspired by the moment in the Biblical story of Noah when a dove, having been sent out into the flood-ravaged world, returned with an olive branch. Although his life hasn’t always been peaceful, Ty Brasel was raised in Olive Branch.He grew up in the church there, the son of parents who divorced when was a grade school kid bent on chasing glory in the world of sports. He’d been baptized as a Christian before the age of 10, but lost his way as a teenager. The pull of drugs and temptation of living for the here and now put him on the wide path to a dark place. Until after his senior year, he says, he had an enlightening moment — an experience that felt supernatural to him. “Everybody’s experiences are different, but it was just one of those situations where I felt like there’s nothing else I can do, I’m in a terrible situation right now,” he says. “I cried out to God and I feel like he showed up in a very supernatural way.”Temptation is never far away, though. After he enrolled at the University of Mississippi he started writing and recording rap songs, but he also became reacquainted with booze, weed and pills. He was arrested for possession. Then arrested again. And arrested twice more before another awakening.“If I keep going down this path, I’m going to ruin my potential for life,” he remembers thinking in a jail cell. “I wanna thrive, I wanna live life.”It was soon after, in 2013 during a gathering with friends, that someone pointed him to Matthew 6:33, the first words of which burned into Brasel’s mind — “but seek first the kingdom.” He decided to put it all his creative energy into Christian hip hop. His style, as showcased on 2017’s independent release, “Young T”, draws inspiration from the southern trap style rap he was raised with, as well newer influences like Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper. His musical tastes are eclectic, like the soundtracks to long road trips with his father when he was a young. “He would go from Run DMC to the Partridge Family,” Brasel says. “I came up with the notion that good art is good art.”His songs are often aimed at people in the down cycles of life and in his lyrics the theme of overcoming life struggles and personal demons is ever present. The notion that while there may be storms within, peace comes from heaven like a bird with an olive branch.
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