Tiffany “TuKool Tiff” Davis is a Christian rap artist, but she didn’t always identify this way.
Early on, Davis’ music was about money, cars and material things. Now looking back, she says her music lacked substance.
After graduating from college, Davis said God began “tugging on [her] heart,” and she decided to use her gift of songwriting to spread God’s word.
Since then, she has garnered over 13,000 monthly Spotify listeners and over 100,000 Youtube views on her most popular song, “Enemies and Foes,” which she collaborated with Christian rapper J. Monty who is based in Atlanta, Ga.
Davis moved from Killeen, Texas, to Charlotte when she was 13, but knew she was destined for music since birth.
When her mother was pregnant with her, Davis said someone at church laid their hands on her mother’s belly and told her, “Your daughter is going to be a musician.”
This prophecy rang true as Davis began playing the drums in church at seven years old.
“I was playing drums at church, and I really wanted to quit because I wasn’t as good as the drummer before me. Some of the kids picked on me, and even some of the adults in the church made faces when I would kind of mess up,” Davis told QCity Metro.
But Davis said her mother encouraged her and reminded her of her gift.
“She told me that, ‘Tiffany, music is in your bones. You were made for this; you can’t quit. You have to fight through it, and you have to learn and grow and develop.’ And that moment right there [became] the backbone to how I am and how I approach my art,” she said.
Rap and poetry
Growing up, Davis’ uncle introduced her to battle rap which sparked her interest in the culture and sound of hip hop. She also listened to various genres of music, from rock to R&B and jazz.
Some of her early rap influences include Slick Rick, Eminem, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliot and Tupac. However, it was the late Tupac’s poetry that caught Davis’ attention. She says she fell in love with his storytelling.
When Davis was in middle school, she began writing poetry about social issues and personal experiences. Her poem “Kin Folk” was featured in a magazine detailing her experiences as an African American.
Her ability to write poetry aided in her writing her first song at age 14, which was the theme song for the D. Dub Show, a local television show hosted by David Williams.
Davis also competed competitively in marching band, which taught her about the level of discipline needed to achieve her goals.
Many traditional Christian churches believe that women should wear dresses, or present themselves in a specific way.
Davis didn’t exactly fit that mold.
“I’ve never been what society would deem as a girly girl [and] all my life, I was called a tomboy,” Davis said.
Davis said she didn’t like wearing dresses and was always told she needed to “close her legs” or sit as a girl does.
However, other people’s idea of femininity didn’t affect how Davis viewed God because she had always been able to separate personal beliefs from her faith.
In the fall of 2009, Davis entered her first year at Winston Salem State University, where she majored in music with a concentration in music business.
She joined Tau Beta Sigma, a co-educational band sorority, and WSSU’s marching band, where she continued to sharpen her musical skills. Davis also received the nickname “Tin-Man Tiff” through the band sorority, eventually translating to her stage name.
She began reflecting on her attributes and remembered that her friends often described her as “too cool for school” and chose a unique spelling for “too” based upon her admiration for Tupac.
Davis also joined Music in Action (MIA), a music group at WSSU that would host live events and concerts at which she performed, which sparked a love for being in front of a crowd.
Her music gained recognition during this time as she rapped about money, cars, and clothes, which was popular but, looking back, she said, had no substance.
After graduating in 2014, Davis continued to make music, although it didn’t reflect who God is, and, she said, neither did her lifestyle.
Over the next three years, Davis began exploring who Jesus was and what it meant to have a relationship with him.
Dedicating her talent to God
“I remember hearing the voice of God for the first time,” Davis said. “I was smoking [at a friend’s house], and I was very close to being convinced that He was cool with weed. I went to the bathroom, and everybody else was, you know, still having a good time. And the Lord [spoke to me] and said, ‘Now you’re vulnerable.”
Davis said once she realized she was hearing God’s voice, she began to sober up and really listen.
Before this experience, she said she believed she needed to be intoxicated to make music, but through this encounter, she decided to stop smoking.
Davis told QCity Metro that making music in a sober state helped her to better understand what God wanted her to deliver through her music.
Once Davis began creating music focused on God, she said her creative process shifted. She stopped cursing in her songs which challenged her to expand her vocabulary. Davis also incorporated prayer into her songwriting process, which increased her musical capabilities.
“The more I started to include him in my process of writing with prayer, asking him to use me, my raps, use my lyrics, I went through the roof with what I was capable of doing,” Davis said. “I feel like I’ve always been a pretty decent rapper, [and] I feel like it’s something that has come naturally to me, but the level that I operate in my gift now is only because I gave it back to [God].”
She released her first Christ-centered project, “Time, Space, and Things That Don’t Matter, Pt. 1,” in 2019, which details her personal experience in Christianity through songs like “Me of Little Faith” and “Choke.”
At one point, Davis said she considered medical school to become a surgeon but feels that creating music is her true purpose.
Davis, now 32, has released three albums, five singles, and recently released the song, “Push It.”
She makes music part-time, but hopes to turn music into a full-time career that can sustain her and her family.
“Knowing that I’m reaching [people] where they are, [and] what I’ve given them is something I can be proud of, you know?” Davis said. “I’m giving them nuggets, and I’m planting seeds in their hearts and minds that will yield good fruit for the rest of the world [instead of] negativity.”
You can find Davis’ music all major music platforms.