Reppin': Galvenston & Houston, TX
While many new rap crews seem to be hustlin’ backwards, the TMI Boyz are looking straight ahead. The Texas trio saw their incessant grind pay off this past spring when their Mannie Fresh–produced single “I’m Fresh” landed on the Billboard rap singles chart and the song’s video debuted on BET’s 106 & Park.

“That was the biggest thing I ever done in my life,” says 25-year-old Steve “Sayeed” Smith, one-third of the TMI Boyz (which stands for Track Music Incorporated). Sayeed, along with Timothy “Huskey” Allen, 22, and Dectric “Dudella” Fisher, 26, started rapping in junior high school as soloists, before eventually coming together as a group in ’05 under Mario Henchmen (brother of Czar Entertainment CEO James Rosemond), TMI label CEO Lil C and Rap Coalition founder Wendy Day. “They liked how we sounded and figured we’d be a bigger force together,” explains Huskey.

Two years ago, the TMI Boyz dropped their first mixtape, Track Music Inc. Vol. 1, which was followed by Stop Dry Snitchin’ in 2006. TMI’s growing buzz landed them a spot on rapper Chingo Bling’s Texas tour, taking the group from their hometowns of Galveston and Houston to neighboring cities like San Antonio and Dallas. Next, the Boyz reached out to Mannie Fresh and created their high-energy, narcissistic anthem. It wasn’t long before major labels started reaching out, but the Boyz refused to answer. “Everybody and their mama—from Def Jam to the whole Universal—is tryna give us a situation,” says Huskey. “But if you ain’t gonna cut the check, we gonna keep it pushin’.” TMI’s second single, “Swervin’,” with its catchy kiddie hook and ice-cream-truck-inspired track, was just the push the group needed. Paying homage to Texas’ storied car culture, the song scored the Boyz their first No. 1 Billboard hit this past September.

With their debut, Grindin’ for a Purpose, released in late November on TMI/Goldtone Entertainment, TMI aim to prove that they got that work. “I was on the streets pullin’ all-nighters on the corner three days straight,” says Dudella. “You gotta apply the same mentality to music.” Spoken like a true hustler.—ROB MARKMAN