Interview by Jefferson Ellison, done in Partnership w/ AVLtoday.
TEYG is a rising rapper from North Carolina who is catching the eyes of music industry vets and winning the hearts of his hometown. After seeing mild success with his songs "My Life" and "Unconditional," the young rapper was met with great fandom after his song "No Love Lost" feat. Boosie Badazz premiered on World Star Hip Hop. Yet, even that paled in comparison to the response to his greatest hit, “High Horse“ feat. Stunna 4 Vegas. With over 1 million views, the artist is surely making a name for himself and on his own terms. As someone who went to high school with him, I can tell you that his representation as a rapper has nothing on his reputation as a person. Always pleasant, cheerful, and humble, TEYG deserves all the flowers. As hip-hop becomes mainstream and catches the interest of those who see it as a moneymaker rather than a lifestyle, it's important that we shine a light on those who still make music because they love it and because it's how they tell their story. With rappers like DaBaby and Rapsody making a name for themselves, North Carolina rappers are showing the world what the Tar Heel state has to offer. TEYG currently has his sights set on higher ground, and who knows... maybe we'll become the next Atlanta.
How long have you been rapping? I’ve been rapping for almost 5 years now How did you get started? What got you into music? I’ve always had a love and passion for music as far as just listening. It wasn’t until, I believe my junior year in college, when I got my first MacBook computer, that I began recording myself over instrumentals. I fell in love with the whole process and have been writing/recording ever since. If you weren’t a rapper, what would you be doing? If I wasn’t rapping, I would probably be doing some kind of work with youth. I’m a Human Development & Family Studies major, and so my goal is to one day have my own youth program. Something after school/summer based. I want to include all youth, but my focus will be on those who are underprivileged. When did you first feel like you started seeing success in rap? I believe I noticed success once I started getting consistent feedback and compliments on my music. My hometown of Asheville being the biggest support system that I have. Today, the music has continued to spread all around and because of it my fanbase is steadily growing. Last summer your music video with Stunna 4 Vegas came out. How did that collaboration come to be? The “High Horse” collaboration featuring Stunna 4 Vegas was something my team put together for me. Someone on my team knew someone on his team, a conversation was had between the two and once that happened I got to work. Once I found out about the collaboration, I went searching for a beat and wrote the song without any questions. I confirmed with everyone that it was ready and we met and recorded the song at a studio in Charlotte. Stunna laid his verse, no pen or pad and once everything was recorded, we listened to it a couple times and confirmed we had us a hit. Were you surprised by how well your video with S4V did? I wasn’t really surprised, more so excited really. Actually the day we recorded the song, Stunna told me personally that he knew the song would receive great review and sure enough it did. It was an eye opener for sure though, it motivated me even more to continue perfecting my craft. Who's in your Top 5? Currently and in no particular order, my top five is Lil Wayne, Erykah Badu, J Cole, K Dot, and Myself. When can we expect new music? You can expect new music any day now. Being that I’m an independent artist, it’s a little more difficult for me to just drop new music as much as I would like. Plan and simple, it cost to do it the way that I prefer. I have a certain vision for the music which requires more than just a simple upload to a music site/platform. Honestly, I have so much unreleased content, it’s basically just the financial side of things that really slows things down. I’m always working though, so always be on the lookout! Do you think it’s harder to get into rap not being from Atlanta, LA or NYC? I believe it’s harder to expand musically period. When you think of places that you mentioned, they are the Mecca’s for music. Not saying you have to be from those places, but more so just being heard in those places. You have artist with big names who come from all over the world, but the majority gravitate to those places and others like it in order to be heard. If that makes sense. What is Hunnid Da Label? Is that your record label? Hunnid is a family. It started as simply a group my bro’s and I created back in high school, and over the years we just continued to grow and build. It’s something that I identify with. The meaning itself is really just about being honest and true to ourselves as well as to one another. Once I got started with the music, we basically turned it into a label, as well as a brand period. If you could collab with any one person, who would it be? That’s a tough one, but really any of the four in my top 5 would be a blessing. What has it been like navigating the business side of the music industry? Me being someone who simply wants to focus on my craft itself makes the business side a little frustrating. It can be good and it can also be bad. On the music end, you have all these feelings and emotions involved, but on the business end, both are basically absent. Now thats not always the case, but for the most part it is. Most folk just care about the what you as an artist can/will do for them. Very few care enough to take the time to get to know and learn the artist. Most just want to see results that work in their favor. One of the main reasons I haven’t jumped at signing with a major label is because of people who just want to take advantage of artist and simply only look out for themselves. You see so many artists get cheated out of their work and earnings simply from doing bad business. It’s a lot that goes into the business side, and it can truly be a headache. Though it does have its benefits, it also has its disadvantages.
What’s it like seeing yourself growing as an artist? Is it surreal? Did you always know you’d make it?
I honestly never saw myself turning my music into something that would leave my circle of friends. I never imagined any of this growing up as a kid, I just always loved to listen. My love and passion turned into me experimenting myself and here you have it. I’m still getting used to the recognition and everything. At times it can even be a little overwhelming. I’ve never been the most outspoken person, honestly I would consider myself to be more along the lines of someone who is shy/timid out in the open. The music gives me a voice. It lets me express myself in ways that I couldn’t in normal conversation or interactions with people. It’s truly an outlet for me. All the things that I feel/experience emotionally or even physically, if I can’t or don’t feel comfortable talking about it then I write about it. I put my life in my music and because so, I’m very sensitive about it. It’s something that I’m getting better with dealing with, however I still get nervous whenever I drop something new or even when I perform. All in all though I’m thankful for this gift. It’s truly a blessing. I’ll cherish and continue to perfect it for as long as God allows me.