North Bergenites may have recognized one contestant on Fox’s “The Four” singing competition earlier this month. Tyler “TyAlaxandar” Griffin crooned Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty To Me” on the show’s Jan. 4 debut episode. Griffin, a 24-year-old resident of the township, was also the mastermind behind the “I Be From North Bergen Son!” rap used in an ad for Mayor Nicholas Sacco’s 2011 reelection campaign.
Some Twitter users went wild in response to his performance.
“#northbergen let’s do this guys!!!!!!!! We gotta show support!!!!!” Tweeted DanayNicoleSimonetti.
Melissa Osorio Tweeted, “Guys, TYALAXANDAR is gonna be on TheFourOnFox tomorrow!!!!!! North Bergen people better check it out!!!”
“You left it all on stage, didn’t hold back, and looked like you loved it. Keep those goals,” Tweeted user Scott Hamilton to Griffin’s Twitter account Jan. 5.
Though Griffin was eliminated after that episode, Derulo himself even Tweeted, “Good job homie.”
“People came out the woodwork, in a good way,” Griffin said of the reaction to his appearance, last week. “I realized how much support I had. I really realized how many people are just waiting for me to make my big move.”
He added, “It’s an amazing show and I had a blast. Even though I got voted off, I understand that this is something that I was born to do.”
Three of the four judges on the show—music mogul P. Diddy, producer DJ Khaled, and singer Meghan Trainor—gave Griffin blue approval rings on stage for his performance. However, music executive Charlie Walk wasn’t thrilled with Griffin, giving him a red disapproval ring and sending him home.
All four judges must give blue rings for a contestant to advance and possibly dethrone one of four per-selected singers, known as “The Four.”
The last singer among the four after six weeks wins the competition.
“You were good,” Walk told Griffin, before motioning to the four singers. “But they’re great.”
Griffin didn’t take the remarks to be completely negative. “A lot of people thought what Charlie Walk said was dissing me, in a sense,” Griffin said. “He told me, ‘If you perform this song at a wedding, you’d get the same reaction.’ That’s not a bad thing, because the crowd was rocking with me and the crowd was going hard. He gave me feedback that essentially shows me where I’m at as an artist and shows me my level of superstardom.”
Getting on the show
A few months ago, a casting director called Griffin, seeing if he would audition for the show. Griffin soon sent audition tapes, videos, and songs.
“It went on for a little while,” Griffin said. “Like, two weeks. Eventually I got the call from one of the producers, saying, ‘We’d like you to be on the first episode of The Four. We want to fly you out to California.’ ”
How do people see him now?
Depending on whom you ask, the “I Be From North Bergen Son!” song is either a clever political stratagem or a hackneyed effort by an older politician to snare millennial votes. Griffin says reaction to his breakout hit is still overwhelmingly positive.
“Honestly, as I progress and I continue to put out more work, ‘I Be From North Bergen’ becomes more of a legendary thing, only because I haven’t stopped. [I] continue to do bigger things.”
Today, the rapper/singer makes a full-time living as a model and actor. On Jan. 5, he released a short video on YouTube called “Friday,” about a love interest. Another music film is in the works, he says. He also has a SoundCloud playlist where he posts new music regularly.
Recently, Griffin also launched a clothing line dedicated to North Bergen, called “The Berg.” One of the clothing items is a sweatshirt featuring the jitney buses that traverse up and down Bergenline Avenue. You can visit his website at https://theokaylife.com/.
Griffin also has an upcoming show Jan. 19 at Club Soho in Fort Lee. Even though his star is on the rise, he plans to keep his roots in North Bergen, no matter how successful he becomes.
He said he’d like to purchase property in North Bergen to create a free performing arts center.
“That’s my city,” he said. “All my friends are here, all my places are here, everything is here for me. I want to buy the house I grew up in and stay here.”
Griffin can be reached at email@example.com.
Hannington Dia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org