Playlist: Tim Gent gets inspiration from vibe-setting visionaries within and beyond his circle

It’s clear that Tim Gent has been listening closely since he was in high school in Clarksville. That’s when he started to zero in on the way that then-ascendant rap icons J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar filled their music with a well-defined and organic sense of presence and perspective, and also tuned into promising early efforts from a collective of mixtape-dropping locals his own age, including Free P and Case Arnold. Gent not only took in the inspiration they offered, but proved to his peers that he too was serious about rhyming. After moving to Nashville in 2017, he expanded his circle to embrace R&B, pop and hip-hop specialists Bryant Taylorr, Jamiah, Lauren McClinton and A.B. Eastwood, each of them, in their own way, practitioners of perception and cultivators of vibe. They became Gent’s close collaborators as he embraced a more melodic approach himself.

Gent has developed into a nimble and thoughtful technician, a rapper and singer who can distill the significance of moments: in a youth that he looks back on as slightly wild; in the treatment Black people he’s close to have endured from police; in his resolve to continually step up his personal and professional grind. His music, especially the series of singles he’ll begin dropping in late October, balances brooding optimism, emotional acuity and swaggering fun. He created a playlist for WNXP that encompasses artists he’s come to consider kindred spirits and sources of encouragement over the years, from Clarksville-era comrades to Nashville peers Joy Oladokun, Brian Brown, The BlackSon and Reaux Marquez and those whose work Gent’s admired from more of a distance, like Mereba, JID and Vince Staples. And considering how Gent forges new connections everywhere he goes, further expanding his reach since he signed a publishing deal in 2020, who’s to say he won’t wind up making music with them too?

He writes, “This playlist is a mix of artists that inspire my creativity. It represents recent collaborations and artist I see myself building with in time.”