Pop-Punk Rapper TITUS: From Soundcloud to the Marquis

New Jersey's TITUS isn't afraid to be vulnerable.
Courtesy Khufu Najee
New Jersey's TITUS isn't afraid to be vulnerable.
TITUS is one of the most popular musicians on SoundCloud at the moment. The music-streaming platform recently released the New Jersey rapper’s latest EP, DAMNED IF I DO, to much applause, which wasn’t a surprise. TITUS, born Randolph Newman, has built a cult following over the years by posting his mix of pop punk and hip-hop to the platform. His cover of Kate Bush’s 1986 track “Running Up That Hill” went viral on TikTok and charted at number three on SoundCloud’s Hot & New: Pop chart. The tune, made popular again by Stranger Things, was his best-performing track for a first week, which was all organic movement with 80 percent of streams coming from fans searching for the track.

“I would say the ease of access, just in general, for being an artist has allowed for much more product. There are just more artists and people expressing themselves, and way quicker, because you used to have to go to a studio and book time and do all that. Now you can just have software and buy a microphone and to some extent release a song as soon as it’s done,” TITUS says. “At the time I started making music, I didn’t know anything about releasing music, so I just used SoundCloud, and I would promote my SoundCloud as a way to get all my friends and eventually strangers to listen to all of my music. That was huge for me. I’m very thankful that I came up through this era with this technology.”

His “DIY all the way” attitude also includes designing and pressing his own merch, something he takes pride in and likes to promote on his current tour in support of Arrows In Action. Catch the acts on Sunday, November 20, at the Marquis Theater.

TITUS is certainly excited to bring his new music to people, including “Too Young,” which is about his mother, who passed in April after a battle with Stage 4 uterine cancer. Growing up in a single-parent home, the loss has understandably hit him hard, despite the success of DAMNED IF I DO.

“To describe the year, it’s been a lot of highs and a lot of lows. The album was great. To be able to release all of those songs to everybody was great. On the contrary, I lost my mom in April, so that was tough. That was during the end of that EP, when I was trying to finish it up. But this tour has been great so far. It’s been like a roller coaster this whole year,” he reflects. “There are two songs on there — ‘Too Young,’ which is a song I wrote when she was sick and ultimately decided to keep at its (original) length, because after she passed, I wanted to keep it the way that she knew it; [and] ‘Until Next Time,’ [which] is kind of like my salute to her passing.

“It’s one of the reasons why ‘Too Young’ is in our set, because she was always excited for me to travel for music and stuff. She knew that’s what made me the happiest. She kind of lived vicariously through me, in that sense. She didn’t get a chance to travel much in her life, so she was always excited when I had a trip or something coming up. She would have been really happy to see me traveling across the country doing what I love. It is all a tribute.”

Right now music is helping him grieve more than anything.

“It’s very weird for me. I don’t really know how to grieve. I don’t really have much control over it. Some days or weeks are good. Some days aren’t. Some days are really bad. With that being said, music has always been my own form of therapy. In the writing process and in the performing aspect of just being able to say these things out loud, to write them down, to look at them as a listener, for me, is therapeutic,” he continues. “I try to maintain that process for myself when I feel I’m going down a bad path. I don’t really have a playbook or advice about how to deal with something like that. I personally never went through a loss so close to me. … She was a big sense of stability for me, so when she died, I felt like I was just floating. I still feel like that.”

With influences from Blink-182 to Lil Wayne, TITUS's music is also meant to be vulnerable — cathartic, even — for him and his audiences. “It starts with being able to be vulnerable on stage with my own experiences. A lot of people I talk to after the show will say, ‘I went through something similar’ — whether it be learning to love myself or going through some kind of grief — and, ‘It was nice to hear someone else say it to a room full of people and being okay with that,’” he shares. “It’s kind of like having a voice for people who don’t make music and wouldn’t have a way to do that themselves. In a way, it’s like bringing people together, and everyone’s a little more vulnerable in that room to each other after.”

TITUS, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, November 20, Marquis Theater, 2009 Larimer Street. Tickets are $17.