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Tim Chantarangsu – better known by his moniker Timothy DeLaGhetto – began his career by making videos for his friends and posting them online.
A new media personality, DeLaGhetto has racked up millions of subscribers with his hip-hop and comedy videos on YouTube. He leveraged his burgeoning internet career by releasing rap albums and making appearances on MTV television shows “Wild ‘N Out” and “Guy Code.”
The Daily Bruin’s Kevin Truong spoke with DeLaGhetto about his upbringing in Southern California, his experience as an Asian-American entertainer and where his stage name came from.
Daily Bruin: You have a couple of aliases, or names that you use for various different gigs. You have your YouTube name and your rap name, so can you tell me a little about the origin stories of those names?
Timothy DeLaGhetto: Timothy DeLaGhetto comes from an episode of “The Fresh Prince (of Bel-Air),” there was an episode where Will (Smith) joins a poetry club to pick up girls, and they ask him to make up a poem and he makes up a poem by a guy named Rafael de la Ghetto … And (the name DeLaGhetto) was like a throwback to him and the show.
Traphik is my rap name. I thought it was important for me to have two seperate names because I didn’t want people to think I was making comedy music, so I wanted people to be able to tell when I’m being funny and when I’m trying to make real music. The actual origin of Traphik was in high school. I used to rap under the name Ticket, and I had a friend who called himself Traphik and after a couple years he didn’t rap anymore, and I was like I actually like the name better.
DB: I read that you were going to California State University, Long Beach, but then decided to drop out to pursue your career full-time, how did that go with your parents?
TD: I’m blessed to have really kind of open-minded parents. My parents both knew that I wanted to do the entertainment thing; they knew that’s where my heart was at. They would go to all my plays and musicals and stuff. So when the stuff I was doing on the side was kind of taking off … it got to the point when I was going to school and I was doing the YouTube stuff and I was just doing okay at both … Then I took a year off, then I took two years off and then I never went back because everything was popping off and going so well and I just figured I could go back to school.
DB: There’s not that many Asian-Americans in the rap game, but how have you kind of gotten past that in your career?
TD: YouTube was a big tool for like not only Asian rappers, but Asian entertainers in general. The fact that there was this whole demographic of people who had never been exposed to Asian comedians, Asian singers, Asian rappers, so that means like there was a group of us who were probably getting a bunch of views just because we’re Asian. I do kind of feel like since I’ve been on YouTube for nine years, even if people don’t like my music I definitely feel like you can realize what I’ve done for the movement.
DB: Tell me a little about your transition from YouTube to mainstream media now that you’re on MTV and doing TV shows like “Wild ‘n Out.”
TD: It was something I always wanted to do and I knew I would get there so when I finally started making those moves, it felt good. Actually, the funny thing about “Wild n’ Out” is that they told me that they needed, like, a token Asian and it came down to me and another rapper friend of mine and I got the part. I remember thinking this was the first time being Asian actually helped me in career as opposed to in the past when I was going to auditions for stuff and going nowhere.
DB: You paid off your parent’s mortgage and you described it as a big moment for you, can you describe what that moment was like?
TD: I just kind of felt like everything I was doing had led up to that moment, like that was what I always set out to do and that was always one of my big goals. And when I finally got to the point when I was able to do it, I just kind of felt validated … I remember my mom specifically, when I was younger, she would tell me how tired she was from working all the time. When I paid off the house, she was like “Finally I can take a break.” And that’s what made me tear up a little bit, finally my mom feels like she can relax a little bit and you know, that’s why I do what I do.
– Compiled by Kevin Truong, Bruin senior staff.
Clarification: DeLaGhetto has racked up millions of subscribers, not thousands.