UK alumnus releases album



By Joy Priest

UK alumnus Tarik Adams returned to Lexington this summer on a Wednesday night for his debut performance at Cosmic Charlie’s. The 2009 integrated strategic communications graduate is now a recording artist, pursuing a dream that had been put on hold during his undergraduate career.

“We had almost 200 people come out to (Cosmic Charlie’s),” said Adams, whose real name is Tarik Nally, of the June 8 concert, “I wanted to reintroduce myself … for me, as an artist, it was tough doing a 40-minute set when people only knew one song on the project.”

At the time, Adams had only released one single on his project “Tigers and Girls,” which debuts in Lexington Friday at his album release party and Sunday online for free to the world. That song — “Wake Up” — was the one he hoped those 200 people would know well enough to sing along to as they welcomed him back.

“I’m really excited to come back and perform … especially at UK because people will have had time to listen to my music,” Adams said.

The co-founder of Diversity Dialogues on UK’s campus was also involved in UK Student Government and was a student ambassador. Now, the 24-year-old says he wishes he would have been more persistent with music.

“During undergrad I just felt like we didn’t have a connection to the resources we needed to actually record,” he said, “but if you want to do music, get it in gear now because you have the opportunity to have the whole student body behind you. UK is a really supportive community.”

The once over-achiever on campus has now adopted that work ethic as a lifestyle. Since graduating, Adams has developed his label, Feel Free; done some freelance advertising; and started on his Master of Business Administration degree at Xavier University while he lives in Cincinnati.

Now his label has grown from a start-up idea with a childhood friend to a working brand with four artists — Adams, Lexington natives J Cannon and Fatal, and Louisville rapper Jalin Roze, who has recently established a major blog presence after releasing his third project.

“Me and my partner Josh La Rock started Feel Free my freshman year in college,” Adams said. “Now we’re working hard to build the label up and get it national … outside the region.”

Adams said his advice for college students who have a passion for music is to put in the effort and get the resources together now, especially with social media at hand.

“I didn’t have Twitter as a sophomore in college to connect with people every day; I was introduced to a blog my junior year, and now everyone has five Tumblrs,” said Adams, who learned the “tagging photo” marketing scheme on Facebook while studying at UK.

“The Internet is at your disposal,” he said. “Make quality music and stay true to yourself. There are people out there who will like your sound.”

Adams calls “Tigers and Girls” versatile with elements of pop, rock, hip-hop and more. He said he wanted to show his love for music.

“The title just came to my head and I put it on Facebook and a lot of people ‘liked’ my status,” he said. “As I developed the concept … it just became an interesting way of saying ‘bad girls’ and ‘good girls.’”

During his time at UK, Adams identified Chester Grundy, director of the Martin Luther King Cultural Center, and Sonya Cunningham, an adviser in the College of Nursing, as his mentors and motivators.

“I had so many mentors at UK,” Adams said. “They were really helpful when it came to pursuing my dreams.”

The “Tigers and Girls” album release party takes place Friday evening at Devassa Bar and Lounge at 10 p.m. Admission is $5 and a hardcopy of the album will be available for $8. The album will be available online Sunday night for free at, and the album is hosted by Lexington resident DJ Always and NYC deejay Terry Urban (Santogold, Lil’ Wayne, Coldplay).

Link to Adam’s latest video:  “Heaven Only Knows”