The old saying goes, blood is thicker than water, and you can’t get any closer in family ties than twins. This may explain the undeniable artistic chemistry of rising rap group Tru Fam. Shareef “Sha” Nealy and Tyreef “Just-I” Nealy are two brothers who are striving to see the family’s name reach great heights in music, acting, and digital media.
Sha and Just-I grew up in a single parent home in Patterson, New Jersey following the careers of some of their musical idols like Kanye West, Cee Lo Green, and Kid Cudi. While at Rosa Parks School of Fine & Performing Arts, the duo discovered their love of performing, and later while attending Bloomfield College that devotion for entertaining converted into a desire to pursue music full-time.
“We went to a performing arts high school. We actually went for acting. We got use to being on stage, so our freshman year in college we decided to start doing music,” says Just-I. “We just played around, and a couple of our friends thought we were pretty good. The next thing you know we started getting booked for shows. It just took off from there.”
Fast forward to present-day, and you have Tru Fam preparing to release their debut project Thrill XL. The group has already posted several well received videos on YouTube including one for the song “Rich Kids” which currently has over 30,000 views. Up next is a clip for the single “Speed Racing” which was filmed in the guys’ hometown.
“We shut down one of the biggest art museums ever made. It’s called the Patterson Art Factory. It’s about 200 square feet,” shares Just-I. “It’s going to be some sexy models in there. It’s just us wildin’ out, having fun, and showing a lot of energy in the video.”
Showing love to the city that raised them is just one way Tru Fam hopes to help lift the East Coast Hip Hop scene back to prominence. While other regions in the country have seen their rap artists become stars nationwide, it’s been several years since NY/NJ/CT has had a fresh face repping for them outside of the tri-state area. Sha and Just-I say they are ready to carry that torch.
“I know how Atlanta took over. Miami got its run. Chicago [rappers] right now are doing their thing. Us being from Jersey we already had our back against the wall,” says Sha. “We never really had an artist that broke out. We got Joe Budden, but besides him we don’t got anybody in the new school taking over. That’s what we’re coming for. We’re up for the challenge.”
Besides music, Tru Fam is also looking to make waves in other mediums as well. They created an online animated series called “Cool Kidz” that’s written and directed by the brothers. They also have ambitions to use their acting training in the future as well.
“They should make a House Party, and cast Tru Fam as Kid & Play,” suggests Sha. Tru Fam’s goal is to get their message out to the masses in whatever form they can.
“Our music is just real situations. If we had a girlfriend, and we broke up with her, we’re relaying that through our music,” explains Just-I. “If there’s some pain that maybe one of our friends went through or one of us has been through it. It’s just real music. It’s a lot of facts whether it’s art, whether it’s acting, or whether it’s our music.”
Tru Fam’s Ultra Culture movement is on a path to convince its followers to acknowledge their gifts and embrace being themselves. It’s that self-sufficient way of thinking that is the backbone to Just-I and Sha’s drive to succeed using the independent route.
“We’re willingly to stay independent if we have to. We love doing the work anyway,” explains Sha. “There’s a lot of independent artists bigger than major artists these days. You got Macklemore, Mac Miller, Chance The Rapper. So independent for us is not a bad thing, not a bad idea.”
It may be only a matter of time before Tru Fam is mentioned in the same conversation as those rappers. With their dedication to crafting appealing music and a constant presence on social media, Sha and Just-I are consistently expanding their fan base.
“We’re dedicated to our craft. We just want to make the best possible music,” says Just-I. “We love performing and doing shows. We definitely appreciate each fan that we gain or have, because we know how it is to not have a fan, and we just love music and doing what we do.”
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To connect with Tru Fam follow them on Twitter @TRUFAM
Check out the video for “Rich Kids” below: