LYNNWOOD — This is Ty Lewis’ year. The hip-hop and rap artist, who performs under the name Leyshock, is about to release his 10th song in as many months, and he is producing a kick-off concert this week for a good cause.
Not long after Lewis released a song in January for his birthday, COVID-19 hit Snohomish County. Lewis, 24, decided to stay relevant in an unprecedented year by releasing a new song every month in 2020.
“Every year, I release a song for my birthday,” he said. “That’s how it started.”
All of 2020’s songs were recorded in his home studio in Lynnwood. So far he’s put out “Satisfied,” “Would You Be You?” “Unsure,” “Attitude,” “Wobbolty Walk,” “Where Are My Friends?” “Rising Up,” “Four” and “Nice Thing.” This month’s song — titled “Janet” — is set to drop Oct. 23. Each new song release is paired with artwork or a music video.
An introspective artist, Lewis has found a lot to sing about in 2020. “You can follow the trajectory of my mindset,” he said. His songs explore thoughts and feelings surrounding COVID-19, Black Lives Matter/Back the Blue protests and the presidential election, as well as his experiences as an up-and-coming hip-hop artist.
“This project is supposed to be very relevant to the year, and I got very lucky that 2020 has been so eventful,” he said. “That said, I wish none of it happened.”
In addition to the 12-song project, Lewis volunteered with the Best Buddies in Washington this year to produce its first-ever Buddypalooza.
The virtual concert kicks off Best Buddies in Washington’s Virtual Champion of the Year Gala on Oct. 18 via Facebook. Not only is Lewis the producer, but he will be one of the event’s featured performers.
Along with Leyshock, also performing in Buddypalooza are the Seattle Symphony, Brittany Allyson, Fantasy A and KingDow.
“We are so grateful for Ty’s vision,” said Erica Brody, a Best Buddies in Washington director. “We came up with this concept of a virtual concert to kick things off — a high-energy event celebrating different artists in our community.”
Best Buddies in Washington is a nonprofit organization cultivating friendships, jobs, leadership development and inclusive living for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The local chapter of Best Buddies International was established this year.
Washington’s Virtual Champion of the Year Gala is Oct. 18-23. Buddypalooza kicks off the event on Oct. 18, followed by Trivia Night on Oct. 20, Wine Tasting on Oct. 21, Buddy Talks on Oct. 22, and then concludes with the Champion Celebration on Oct. 23.
Last year’s Champion of the Year was Devon Adelman, who raised $48,808.86 for Best Buddies in Washington.
Brody has been volunteering for Best Buddies International for 15 years. When she moved to Washington in 2017, Brody got to work to bring Best Buddies’ mission to her new home state. So far there are 15 high school chapters throughout the state, including at Lake Stevens High School.
“I’ve been really passionate about bringing it to Washington, because I’ve seen firsthand the impact that friendship, leadership and inclusivity can make,” she said. “An inclusive community is truly incredible and unstoppable.”
As Leyshock, Lewis has shared the stage with Afroman and Bezz Believe, and performed at the Marshall Law Band’s Summer Splash Fest in Seattle.
He moved from Phoenix to Seattle in 2015 to study musical theater at Cornish College for the Arts, only to leave after two years. He switched from performing on a theatrical stage to performing on the music stage after being diagnosed with epilepsy.
“They couldn’t have me fainting on stage, so I bowed out,” he said, “and I’ve been doing (music) as a side to my gig at a pawn shop ever since.”
Lewis formed the rap-rock band 3Bruh before deciding to launch a solo career as Leyshock. He sang and played piano in the band, which released two albums in only a year and a half.
As a solo artist, Lewis’ sound is influenced by Macklemore, Hobo Johnson, Travis Thompson, Wale, Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino.
His most recent album, “New Bones,” was inspired by a shoulder surgery for an injury that was so severe it required that a cadaver bone be put in.
He found out about Best Buddies in Washington through his orthopedic surgeon. He jumped at the opportunity to help with Buddypalooza. Lewis’ mom — who pushed him to pursue music — was the director of the special-education department for an Arizona school district.
When he started his 12-song project, Lewis figured he’d struggle to meet his monthly deadlines. But he didn’t.
“I was like, ‘In June, this is going to become a problem,’” he said. “But then I made it through June, I made it through July, and here we are.”
Lewis is working on December’s song right now. He’s also looking forward to listening to all the songs from January to December in a playlist, which will be available at www.leyshock.com.
“I’m excited to listen to what the year was like for me,” Lewis said. “It will be fun to hear the progression of the music, how my strengths have grown and how I’ve adapted to my weaknesses.”
Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; firstname.lastname@example.org; @sarabruestle.
If you stream
Buddypalooza kicks off the Best Buddies in Washington’s Virtual Champion of the Year Gala at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 18 via Facebook. Featured performers are Seattle Symphony, Brittany Allyson, Leyshock, Fantasy A and KingDow. Watch the free concert at Best Buddies in Washington’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/bestbuddieswash.
Washington’s Virtual Champion of the Year Gala is Oct. 18-23. Register for the gala at bbwachampion.givesmart.com. Once you’re registered, you may purchase tickets for the Virtual Trivia Night ($15) and Virtual Wine Tasting ($30), donate to a champion-in-the-running’s campaign and bid in the week-long gala auction. Go to www.bestbuddies.org/washington for more information.