T-Money, (born Tyrone Kelsie, January 4), was one of the leading pioneers in the rap industry with the group “Original Concept.” He was a vital player in the evolution of hip hop as one of the original innovators of the sound and the scene, extending into the modern rap genre.  T-Money was born and raised in Westbury, New York. The name “T-Money” was derived from his mantra, “I’m so money,” with “money” being a euphemism for success, lavishness, and fame. In the early part of his career, he dee-jayed at parties and clubs, with spinning and freestyle being a signature of the scene. Although the sound of hip hop has changed drastically over the years, the element of spinning, freestyle, storytelling, and dance remain a key component in the theme of hip hop today, lending credit to T-Money as one of the originators of the sound who paved the way for modern hip hop in the mainstream.

In his youth, T-Money’s love of music was shaped at home, with his parents playing everything from Barry White and Marvin Gaye to The Spinners and Gladys Knight and the Pips. One of his favorite artists and inspirations was the Jackson 5. He formed a DJ group, Concept Crew, in high school with longtime friend, Doctor Dré. Aside from performing with the group, he excelled in athletics and played running back for his high school team, Westbury Green Dragons. Throughout college, he continued to play in the music group Concept Crew, while moving on to play college football for the New York Tech Bears. He was also one of the DJ’s for the legendary college radio station, WBAU 90.3 FM, which included a host of other renowned hip hop artists from that time. Torn on which career path to take, his fate to pursue music was sealed after suffering a knee injury during a college football game.

In the early part of the eighties, Concept Crew had made a name for themselves through the vein of parties and clubs, eventually making their way to college radio and free stations. Free radio offered a wider range of reach over the airwaves, which allowed them to gain momentum and an increasing fan base as their music was broadcast from Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, and surrounding areas by 1983.  In 1985, T-Money, along with the other members of Concept Crew, released the famous promo, “Knowledge Me,” which aired on WBAU radio. T-Money wrote the lyrics, performed vocals, and co-produced the piece with Doctor Dré and Eric McIntosh. After hearing the song, Rick Rubin signed the group to Def Jam Recordings, and after being signed, the group changed their name to “Original Concept.” In 1988, their album Straight from the Basement of Kooley High, was released by the label. Original Concept was one of the first of many legendary artists to sign with Def Jam, which remains one of the most notable recording labels in the music industry today. Their song, “Pump That Bass,” is one of the most recognized songs in the hip hop genre.

After the release of Straight from the Basement of Kooley High, Original Concept took Queen Latifah on her first tour, as well as touring with another legendary hip hop artist, DJ Mark 45 King. Subsequently, T-Money went on to host Yo! MTV Raps with Doctor Dré and Ed Lover. Yo! MTV Raps was a music variety show which included comedic sketches, music videos, and live performances and appearances on the set. After receiving tons of fan mail in favor of “The Mailman,” T-Money displayed his acting ability with the portrayal of several other popular characters, most notably: Uncle Bobo Lovetree, The Nubianator, Clarence Coldwater Capsule, and Michael Jackson at Forty. He was also featured on his own Yo! MTV Raps trading card which was #143 in the series. The show ran from 1988 until 1995, with the last episode going down as a significant page in hip hop history.

During the course of Yo! MTV Raps, T-Money kept busy with interviews and appearances. He was featured in several magazines, such as Black Beat, Spin, Fresh!, and numerous others. Adding to his repertoire as an actor were his roles in the movies Juice (1992), and Who’s the Man (1993). From 1992 to 1993, T-Money dee-jayed on the MTV game show, Lip Service, with host Jay Mohr. During T-Money’s time on the show, Lip Service won the Cable ACE Award in the game show category. He also joined the MTV Spring Break’s popular annual lineup from 1990 until 1995.

Since his time on the music scene, T-Money has continued his career in music by pursuing different career ventures in the industry. In 1996, T-Money graduated from the New York Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in communications, and in 2010, he earned a professional certificate in marketing from NYU. He worked with Stevie J. of Bad Boy Entertainment, having worked with several high profile artists, such as LL Cool J, Heavy D, Boyz II Men, and Mariah Carey, as well as up-and-coming artists. Utilizing his experience and education, T-Money developed his own promotions and brand  marketing company, TM Media Works (2012), which has been renamed T450 Style & Launch Inc. The company provides a variety of services for the entertainment industry and beyond. In (2020) T-Money reunited with Ed Lover & Doctor Dre’ for Yo! Just Say Vote, a live stream of who, what, where, how and why of voting. The trio also have a documentary project in development entitled, The Griots of Hip Hop, chronicling their life stories.

In 2023, T-Money started a Podcast on YouTube entitled, Tha T-Money Podcast Joint featuring Ciara Ross. These brands are extensions of T-Money’s continuous hard work and life long  career in the music business.