Hip-hop artist gives back to South Lake Tahoe community
Despite not living in the basin for the past six years, South Shore-grown Andre Tyson still finds a way to give back to his hometown.
The now Bay Area-based hip-hop artist was born in Barton Memorial Hospital, and returns to South Lake Tahoe a few times each year to reconnect with his roots — and during the month of December he not only performs his music, but also hosts the annual Christmas Giveaway at the recreation center.
“Come one, come all. You don’t have to qualify, and we don’t turn anybody away — just show up,” Tyson said.
Eight years ago he searched for an opportunity to give away many items that were gifted to him as a result of his connections to production companies — and thus his annual event was born.
“The first year I decided to do it I wasn’t sure how it would go. I had so much stuff from music — people with clothing companies and festivals give me free stuff to wear it and show it off — that I was left with tons of brand new things,” explained Tyson.
That year he and a handful of friends gifted their new and used items to students at South Tahoe High School, and the giveaway took off from there. Nearly a decade in, the annual outreach is now held at the South Lake Tahoe recreation complex and is sponsored by multiple local organizations including The Buttermuffin Smoke Shop, Raley’s, Powder House, Goodwill and more.
“Every year since [the start], one or two new sponsors want to get involved,” Tyson said. “It keeps growing.”
And to this day, the event (which allows community members to receive new and used clothing, Christmas decorations, electronics and more for free) still remains organized by a group of friends who call Tahoe home and want to see people provide for one another.
In fact, according to Tyson, a majority of Christmas Giveaway donations come from those who have previously benefited from it.
“We showed up to a kid’s house, and he had probably 30 jackets and pairs of shoes he wanted to donate, and he was only 19 or 20. He goes, ‘You gave me my first pair of Nikes I ever owned, and if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have had that,’” Tyson said.
It’s a theme he hopes represents the event as a whole.
“My biggest goal with this giveaway is to inspire, to let people know that regardless of what you’re doing, what you’re going through, this is for you,” Tyson noted.
“If you don’t take clothes, I at least want you to take the idea that your town is providing in case you don’t have them. It’s all 100 percent local, and people don’t realize that. They show up, get stuff and ask where it came from, and I say ‘it comes from you: Tahoe locals and Tahoe stores,’” he continued. “My main thing is for the town to understand it does love and take care of its own.”
The eighth annual Christmas Giveaway is held on Saturday, Dec. 23, from 3-8 p.m. at the recreation center (located at 1180 Rufus Allen Blvd.). Donations can be dropped off at The Buttermuffin Smoke Shop, housed in Swiss Chalet Village, daily through Friday, Dec. 22.
Giving back through music
In addition to his holiday philanthropic efforts, Tyson is recognized by his stage name Dreda Dre — at the age of 17 he began freestyling at house parties, and eventually moved into producing and performing music full time.
“If I’m not performing, I’m helping set up at festivals around the country,” said Tyson. He works for 11 different companies, setting up at popular events such as Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and the South Lake Tahoe-based SnowGlobe, where he works as a production liaison between the music festival and city.
Tyson has also performed at SnowGlobe in the past: In 2013 he took the stage alongside friend and fellow hip-hop artist Zion I.
It’s a feat that is to be repeated this Saturday, Dec. 16, as the two musicians stop by Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for a gig that begins at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $20-$25 for the 21+ event, and additional information is available at http://www.hardrockcasinolaketahoe.com.