In 1995, Tyrese Gibson bounded onto a bus and into the limelight.

During a famous Coca-Cola commercial that showcased both his singing and acting abilities, he crooned the “Always Coca-Cola” theme song as he captured the hearts of fans across America. It was Tyrese’s first big break.

Since then, he has developed into a world-renowned R&B singer and movie star. His critically acclaimed new album, Black Rose, has flown up the charts and off the shelves since its July 10 release. The star's final solo release is currently No. 1. on the Billboard 200 and sits atop the charts in more than a dozen countries. Download it here.

Although 20 years have passed, he never forgot his roots with Coca-Cola.

“If it wasn’t for Coca-Cola, no one in the world would know me,” he said during a recent phone interview.

On July 14, the four-time Grammy nominee remade the aforementioned Coke commercial with a fresh twist. “I’m going to get on the bus again,” he said. “Remind people of that place that I took them to that helped me change my life forever.”

Tyrese in the 1995 'Always Coca-Cola' ad
This time, he walked onto a bus singing his new single, “Shame,” while holding a can of Coca-Cola labeled, “Share a Coke with a Dreamer.” The video has received more than 10 million views and more than 2 million likes on Facebook.

“Twenty years ago… I took this ride and it changed my life forever,” he captioned the video.

Today, Tyrese is taking his most challenging ride yet as he strives to "save the genre of R&B" with Black Rose. Tyrese believes that R&B today needs more substance and less featured guests.

“I’m just trying to remind people that they can stand on their own two feet and do their thing,” he said. “I’m on a mission and nothing and no one is going to stop me until we get there.”

His mission extends far beyond music. “At this point, I want to use this God-given stage to give hope to the hopeless, to inspire the un-inspired, and to motivate the unmotivated,” Tyrese said. Black Rose is the second album he released through his own label, Voltron Recordz.

Tyrese calls Black Rose his most personal project yet, one that took over three years to complete. In addition to the album, Tyrese created a documentary about the making of Black Rose and a short film for “Shame” featuring Jennifer Hudson and produced by one of Tyrese's heroes, Denzel Washington. 

Still, he points to his first commercial as one of the most pivotal moments of his career.

“Everywhere I go, everything I do,” he said. “Everybody knows me from that Coca-Cola commercial.”

Earning a spot in the ad was far from a sure thing. With no money to get to the audition, he had to wait for his music teacher to finish work and give him a ride. Tyrese arrived to the audition over two hours late and had to convince the woman in charge to unpack her equipment and give him a chance. The rest is history.

“It’s okay to be a dreamer,” he said in his new video, holding up a can of Coke. “It’s okay to think big.”

Michael Agrippina is a summer intern at The Coca-Cola Company.