After bursting onto the US rap scene in 2016, Tee Grizzley has certainly made a name for himself over the past two years, collaborating with some of the scene’s heavyweights and releasing a truckload of mixtapes, albums and singles that have smashed records and received an overwhelmingly impressive reception from both peers and fans alike. Now, having been signed to 300 Entertainment and Atlantic Records; he’s kept up the tempo by releasing his third solo project Still My Moment after dropping his first studio album Activated just a few months prior. It’s safe to say that his eyes are definitely set on making the same waves in the UK and the rest of Europe.
GRM linked up with Tee Grizzley and 300 Entertainment in Paris a couple weeks back for his international launch and to celebrate the release of his latest project Still My Moment. Grizzley’s performance, although only a short PA, managed to turn a Parisian night club well known for being home to the city’s electronic music lovers into downtown Detroit within a matter of seconds, captivating the vibe of the whole venue. As well as getting the chance to see Grizzley perform live in the flesh, GRM also got to spend some time with the Detroit rapper to gain a deeper insight into his journey and rap career so far.
Having only officially been in the music scene for a few years, the world’s first proper introduction to Tee Grizzley was back in 2016 when he released his debut single “First Day Out”. Relatively unknown at the time outside of his hometown of Detroit, not yet signed and having just come out of prison, Grizzley’s music debut took the industry and internet by storm for his unapologetic rawness, grit, and honesty, and peaked the people’s interest in him as a budding new rapper with a very real story to tell. He told us:
“I had a real life story behind it, like with the video, the First Day Out thing. Everybody out there rapping the same stuff… but I was the first one with that real story, it drew everyone’s attention”.
The single, which Grizzley literally recorded and released the video for on the day he was released from jail, earned him widespread viral recognition when Lebron James had the track playing in the background during an Instagram video. The track went on to amass over two million views on YouTube in less than three weeks; shortly followed by the coveted Platinum certification, and eventually a record deal with 300 Entertainment the following year.
Since then he’s released a plethora of material including three solo projects, a joint mixtape with Lil Durk and has worked with a range of artists varying from the Detroit underground rap scene to some of hip hop’s most prolific rappers of the moment including Offset, Meek Mill, Jay Rock, Lil Yachty, Chance The Rapper and Lil Pump. Considering he only released his first single two years ago, Grizzley’s growth as an artist and machine-like work rate has been second to none, especially in the face of personal adversity:
“…It was difficult at one point because I was on house arrest so I couldn’t leave or go to the studio, so getting songs recorded like that it was kinda difficult… I feel like it held me back but one thing it did do is it gave me a lot of discipline”.
Hailing out of Detroit, Michigan, Grizzley has gone from being a local rap sensation to a well established and respected artist both within the Detroit music scene and around the US. He cites his hometown of Detroit as being the main source of influence for him in terms of his sound and flow as a rapper, and the thing that is quintessential for defining himself as an artist:
“…to me, Detroit, when it comes to music is its own country. We dont make it into the industry cos they don’t like our sound. we too raw, we too gutter, we too street… I would say its the flow, the accent you know what I’m talking about?”.
Check out the track “Keep The Rest” off the new mixtape Still My Moment which Grizzley explains to us most conveys this distinctive Detroit sound.
Now turning his attention overseas to Europe and the UK, Grizzley hopes to channel the same energy and success he’s managed to capture in the US with his fans across the pond. Despite being distinctly recognisable as a Detroit rapper with his accent and flow, Tee’s versatility lies in his sound and universally relatable real life story telling, which definitely enables him to have massive crossover appeal in the UK:
“… when I make music I’m talking about the stuff that I’ve seen, did, lived, I’m talking about my life. So that’s why I can’t say oh I’m this type of rapper; I’m talking about my life for real”.
Keen to win the hearts of his UK audience, chatting to GRM about UK music and some of his dream UK collaborations, Grizzley talks about wanting to work with the likes of West London vet Estelle and the potential of exploring a more Caribbean influence in his music, an influence that has long been embedded in our UK urban (and even now more mainstream) music scene, especially as of late with the flourish of the Afro-Bashment wave:
“Nah I do like her. I do wanna do some music with her… I’m into the reggae stuff I wanna do some of that too.”
Earlier this summer Estelle dropped an all reggae album, her 5th studio album Lovers Rock, so hopefully this is a collaboration we could see happen in the near future.
Now with 2019 round the corner, Tee’s future is certainly looking bright as he plans on taking his music out on tour:
“I feel like 2019, by me being off parole, I plan on touring in America and out in Europe. I plan on staying consistent, I gotta stay consistent and stay touring because like I said I don’t really do no trolling, I don’t do no 6ix9ine type shit, you feel me? I don’t do all that. I’m just about the music, I’m me, I’m a person, a regular person like you, I just make music”.
The latest project Still My Moment is out now on all streaming platforms and also be sure to listen to his album Activated which also dropped earlier this year in May, and boasts features from everyone from Chris Brown to Jeezy.