He recorded his first rap song when he was 5. Now this Bay Shore native and music student at Georgia State University has signed with BMG Records.
John Norris, III grew up around music.
That doesn’t mean he was sitting in the backseat while mom and dad played the classics through the car stereo. His dad, John Jr., was a manager for rap legends like Naughty by Nature and Big Daddy Kane.
“I was always in the studio, around the studio, around artists,” said the younger Norris, who graduated from Bay Shore High School in 2015. “I remember recording my first song, a rap song, when I was 5.”
Norris, whose family and friends call him Tre (for John the III) no longer has that track from 14 years ago. And he doesn’t exactly care to hear it, either.
Let’s just say he’s come a long way.
Greaterbayshore.com caught up with Norris — now known as Tre Trax — at Bay Shore High School last week. He was home for Thanksgiving from Georgia State University in Atlanta.
The now-producer with BMG had just returned from the West Coast, where he was creating music with known songwriters and artists that included Devin Goode (credited for working with Drake), Yuri Joness and Runes, and others.
He’s also credited for work with Lil Donald & Freebandz, K. Camp, Young Dolph, Remy Boy Monty, Jose Guapo and Dj Luke Nasty.
In a recent feature in the revered hip hop magazine The Source, reporter Milca Pierre wrote the young musician, “spoke openly about positioning himself towards the path of becoming one of music’s greatest names.”
He got his big break like so many other talented and tireless people do.
Like most teenagers, Norris spent a lot of time at home in his bedroom.
Much of that time was spent making music, a skill he honed over countless hours at home in Bay Shore and in the high school studio.
He also spent a lot of time shopping his music, a task that amounted to him cold-emailing artists of all stripes that he would find on Twitter, and sending them audio files of his beats.
With hundreds of lines in the water, he’d often enter his name in the Twitter search bar to see if anything ever popped up. Nothing ever did.
Then, at 3 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning of 2014, he took another shot by typing in Tre Trax.
“All I see is Juice, produced by Tre Trax on Soundcloud, by Lil Donald,” he said. “I was like, what is this? At first I’m mad, thinking somebody stole my beat; what am I going to do?”
“Then I took some time to listen to it,” he said, “and was like, this is really cool. I listened to it that whole day — we went into the city — I really liked it.”
He and Lil Donald, whom he had sent the beat, got in touch and worked together. The song gained traction.
Within months, Juice was getting radio play in the Atlanta area. One of Norris’ friends from Bay Shore even heard it being played on national television, during a Atlanta Falcons game on Sept. 14, 2015.
“My song was playing in the Georgia Dome,” Norris said proudly, pulling out the video clip on his phone. “I got the call from my friend and he was just like, ‘Yo I heard your song on TV.’
“I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’”
Tre Trax was blowing up.
NOT BY CHANCE
John Norris, III is no dreamer.
Sure, he dreams bigs, but he’s out working hard to accomplish his goals. It’s more like fulfilling a vision.
He grew up playing in the church band, and was supremely talented on the drums and cello — even in elementary and middle school.
But it wasn’t until a summer music program before entering high school that Norris began to take his music more seriously.
Bay Shore music teacher Ed Schaefer took immediate notice.
“He was always looking deeper into things, and asking questions,” said Schaefer, emphasizing the amount of time and thought Norris devotes to mastering his craft.
“And then the talent,” Schaefer said with a smile, “It could come a little too easy to him at times.”
As a sophomore, Norris was named one of 10 winners for electronic music in the state through the New York State Music Association (NYSSMA). He was invited to a special ceremony in Rochester, where he played his piece and gave a short speech.
“For my dad and grandfather, who also came up with me to Rochester, when they saw me be acknowledged for my music … after that, it was go-time,” he said. “It was like, this could turn into something.”
“I just remember thinking, I want to do this,” he said.
That meant studio time.
“He spent so much of his time here [at the high school] in the studio,” Schaefer said. “And by the time he was a senior, he was composing, creating, researching. Just looking ahead.”
He was also getting invites to places like Atlantic Records in New York, where he played tracks for some of the biggest names in the industry, including DJ Drama.
Like a top high school athlete faced with a choice between schools, it was the summer of 2015 — not long before leaving for college — he decided to sign with BMG Records.
BMG now helps facilitate his ability to work with artists from across the country.
The challenge for 2017 and beyond, he says, is balancing work for the music industry with school work at Georgia State, where Norris is studying music.
But the endgame is the same: a Grammy
“In five years I see myself with a whole Grammy,” he said. “Not just a nomination but a whole Grammy. That’s the goal. That’s always been the goal. I don’t really care for the riches or the fame. I just want that Grammy. I’ve told everybody, including my publishing company.”
“And, of course,” he added, “with the Grammy, the rest will follow.”
Photo: John (Tre Trax) Norris at Bay Shore High School’s music studio last week.