Cedarville guard Tytist Dean (3). (Photo courtesy of Cedarville University)
If Tytist Dean, an MBA student at Cedarville University in St. Paul, Minnesota, could choose one word to describe his life journey playing NCAA Division I basketball and to produce Christian rap music would be “unorthodox”.
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Although Dean has been a sports fanatic from a young age, a football injury in high school, school transfers and coaching transitions made a sports career distant. âI felt like I always had to prove myself to new coaches,â Dean said.
âIn my last basketball game in high school, I had no offers,â Dean added. âThe bells rang, and I went to my family and started crying because my dream was to play college ball, and it just didn’t seem feasible anymore. “
Even though his hoop dreams were called into question, Dean spent countless hours in high school mixing and developing tracks in his family’s family studio.
Dean’s father, Korey Dean, has been producing Christian hip-hop for over 20 years. He owns the One Way Entertainment label and has been nominated for the Stellar Awards for gospel music. Tytist’s mother, Mariaha Markel, creates spoken word poetry. Both of her parents are Grammy nominees. Her brother, K-Jay, started making music at the age of 9 and her sister, Celena Lena, produces rap music. You could say that the musical talent is family.
Although Tytist originally avoided the title of “rapper”, preferring backstage production and audio engineering, he began to wonder as a high school student if he could be a person of influence with his music. . So, in the winter of 2017, Dean released his first six-track EP recording, “What Can I Say?”
âI sacrificed so much to be in the studio, to the point where my friends almost stopped asking me to go out,â he said, describing the effort required to produce his first EP.
âMany people have recognized that the favor of the Lord has brought me to where I am. It’s like he’s saying, ‘I still have you. Despite its current appearance, the impossible is still possible. ‘ “- Tytist Dean
About a month after his last game in high school, a family friend of Dean, who specializes in matching low-profile athletes with college programs, called Liberty University. After Dean’s subsequent visit and basketball tryout, Liberty coach Ritchie McKay offered Dean a preferred replacement position.
Dean was a member of the Flames for three seasons – all of which ended with places in the NCAA tournament (although the 2020 tournament was not played due to the coronavirus pandemic). But for various reasons, Dean still had three years of eligibility after graduating from Liberty in 2021.
That’s when Dean got a call from Cedarville, Ohio University basketball coach Pat Estepp, who asked him to visit the Division II school and try . A week after the visit, Estepp offered Dean a full scholarship to play for the Cedarville Yellow Jackets. Dean enrolled at Cedarville in 2021 and is currently pursuing an MBA.
âMany people have recognized that the favor of the Lord has brought me to where I am,â Dean said. âIt’s like he’s saying, ‘I still have you. Despite its current appearance, the impossible is still possible. ‘ “
Primarily targeting an audience between the ages of 18 and 25, Dean couldn’t be in a better context to produce his rap music. Since moving to Cedarville, Dean has continued to write and produce both individually and with his sister. They both recently played at the Cedarville basketball launch event, “Madness in the moonlight.” The sibling duo “Sis N Lil Bro” will release their second studio album in early 2022.
Over the past four years, Dean has performed his music in approximately 70 events. Some of his fondest memories include a performance at the Twin Cities Youth Revival in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in front of over 60,000 people, as well as the 2017-2018 CRU New Years Youth Seminar.
âThere is always room for growth; no one is perfect, âDean said. âIt is very helpful to surround yourself with people who love Christ, people who don’t need centuries-old influences to be their main source of happiness and influence. There is nothing wrong or embarrassing about having a good time without causing problems or constantly looking over your shoulder.
Dean’s main passion is basketball, which he wants to pursue professionally, whether it’s playing on the court, coaching on the bench, or working in a company. But anyway, he’ll make music. While perhaps unorthodox, Dean’s personal history is nonetheless marked by basketball and musical talent, as well as community support.
This story was originally written by Anna Grace Galkin of Cedarville University and republished with her permission.
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