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Teezo Touchdown the Texan rapper destined for greatness
Photography by Cristian Diaz – @fuckatnames

Teezo Touchdown: the Texan rapper scoring big with pop punk and trap sounds

The emo cowboy from Beaumont built a cult following in 2020 with a string of viral music videos, but 2021 is the year for his Andre 3000-via-Panic! at the Disco sounds to crack the mainstream

“Don’t worry, you’re early”, reads the Instagram tagline of Teezo Touchdown, the Texan artist who wants to let you know he’s destined for superstardom. 2019 saw the release of his first single “Slice” but it was his July 2020 follow up, “Strong Friend” – an infectious emo-pop ode to companionship – that proved to be the first significant step on his journey to the top. 

A stream of singles quickly followed in the months after, including the mellow “Careful”, and the heavier, punk-rap “SUCKA!”, each accompanied with a video shot in front of a rusty, graffiti-covered, garage somewhere in Beaumont. Despite the setting, each visual (directed by the multitalented Teezo) bursts with the vibrancy of his extravagant clothing (think Prince and Rick James with glitter-smeared arms and nail-studded hair) and the bright notes of his melodic 80s-inspired rap ballads.

Teezo is a natural when it comes to melodic hooks, and has a truly unique ear for harmony, with most of his tracks featuring deliciously layered vocals. But his cowboy-hat-wearing, lolly-pop sucking alter-ego, Eugenius Hanes, who pops up in Teezo’s video skits from time to time, takes credit for a lot of the creativity: “Teezo’s like an empty glass you know? He just waits for me to come in and I flood him with the ideas,” he says in a recent clip.

Despite his prolific output, and the fact that he now has support from the likes of Tyler, The Creator, Lil Nas X, and Chance the Rapper, much about Teezo Touchdown remains shrouded in mystery, including his real name. We caught up with the artist to find out more and talk Texas, tunes, and Willy Ts.

Can you tell us how Teezo Touchdown came to be?

Teezo: By way of Southeast Texas. He’s what you would call a trial and error artist. My origin story came so in the moment that I didn’t really get to track it. But my timeline was really this: artist turn video director, turn artist.

When did you first start making music?

Teezo: Oh, music has been a part of my life since as long as I can remember. I think my first memory is music, so it’s always been there. In 2016 I decided to take it by the horns and really take this thing for what it is and just engulf myself in it. I was in school at the time because I thought it was what I was supposed to be doing, kind of something to tell my family on Thanksgiving when they ask what I’m up to, you know. But when they ask now I’m like: ‘I’m a full-time artist’.

What were you learning in school?

Teezo: I was going for Mass Communication, which is ironic because now I think I’m doing mass communication for sure with my art. So it’s full circle.

Do you remember the first instrument that you ever picked up?

Teezo: They have this thing called Sam’s Club everywhere in the US, it’s like this wholesale warehouse, but they have like a piano that sits in the middle of their store to test out. I think that was like the first thing, unless you want to call turntables an instrument. 

Your dad’s a DJ right? So you were surrounded by music from a very young age?

Teezo: Absolutely. He showed me how to DJ, now he’s kinda like my booking manager. I started mixing around fourth grade, I remember because my teacher wrote a letter home to my parents about it. My class was asked to write down what we were passionate about or something like that. And I wrote about how I just learned how to chop and screw music the day before. Instead of saying to my parents like: ‘hey he knows what he wants to do! You should water this plant’, she was actually like trying to see what the hell was going on in my house. Other people were playing basketball and baseball. I was learning how to DJ.

What was it like growing up in Texas?

Teezo: Pretty cool. Once I left Beaumont it made me really appreciate that there’s no other place like your city. Every time I go back I’m like a complete Beaumonster, I gotta go everywhere. Like John’s Seafood to get me some salt and pepper chicken, or like give me some Willy T's Gumbo. I do all the stuff that Beaumont people like to do.

I probably didn’t get out of Texas until like 2019, then I went to LA. In Beaumont, me and my friends just wanted to have a show at SXSW in Austin or be on Say Cheese TV, so to actually go to LA was pretty surreal. I called my friend and I was like ‘yo the talent curve out here is so tremendous, like everyone’s so good.’ But I have this appreciation for it because it has so much to do with my character development.

There's always friends and different collaborators popping up in your videos and you perform with a band sometimes. Do they help with the music production or is that all Teezo?

Teezo: If you were to talk to me, like, two years ago, it would be like ‘Yeah, man, me. I’m producing, I’m writing, I’m doing the video.’ But now man, I just find so much fun collaborating with artists who I like. I mean, it’s cool to do it by yourself, but those small inputs from people around you can do so much. I’m very receptive to collaborating. No one does it alone.

Tell me about Eugenius Hanes.

Teezo: Eugenius is Teezo from the perspective of the outside looking in. So I think it’s just all perspectives. It’s another way to communicate, you know? When I do interviews I normally go to Eugenius because it’s cooler to hear him talk about me than me sit here and talk about myself. And it lets me put Teezo out there and become so in the moment. So, so, so in the moment. To the point that I should stop and smell the roses sometimes.

“You know if you play football, you may go to college, you may go to NFL and be like a superstar. I feel like there should be a similar lane open for instrumentalists” – Teezo Touchdown

You have a lot of intricate vocal harmonies in your work, do you see this as important?

Teezo: As far as the harmonies go, I was in marching band and I played trombone. I think it starts there. I remember like, before I learned to sing, I had this very talented friend, his name is Dante. He used to sing a line and he would go back and do a harmony and I’d think like: ‘yo, how do you know what notes lay on top?’ And now it’s like my favourite thing to do. I think it’s the trombonist in me. I just love those stacks and those harmonies.

Did you enjoy playing the trombone?

Teezo: Absolutely. I want to start something new in the future, because there’s not really an NBA or NFL for being in a band, and I want to get more people from marching band or orchestra to become pro. There is obviously a pro level but it’s not really broadcast in the same way as sport is here. You know if you play football, you may go to college, you may go to the NFL and be like a superstar. I feel like there should be a similar lane open for instrumentalists. 

A Super Bowl for marching bands? I would definitely watch that. Tell me about your videos. When did you learn how to shoot?

Teezo: My friend Denzel pretty much taught me how to use the camera. I’m talking about the ISO and the aperture and all that stuff. And when he told me that, it kind of changed how I view music videos and movies. Like now when I’m looking at movies I’m thinking like: ‘oh, where’s the lighting setup?’ Or like: ‘oh this is great composition’. My favourite film company right now is A24 man, they’re knocking it out of the park. I watched Midsommar like three times over the break.

Who have you been listening to this year to help you through periods of isolation?

Teezo: A lot of Hook. She is amazing. She also dropped a very heartfelt documentary just now about her life. The first half like brought me to tears. I got put onto her in February and I’ve been stuck ever since. And then K Suave who just dropped this new project Thot Slayer 2. I’ve been friends with him for like three years now. We met over the internet, like someone hit me up to do a song and he happened to be on it. We’ve been cool ever since. So I’m pretty much listening to people and then like, I don't know if I’m manifesting a friendship, but I guess if I listen to them so much I become friends with them which is kinda cool. But I’m a super fan man, tthe point that I hope that it doesn’t hurt my career. 

Another person who I’m listening to is Jade. She’s from Beaumont as well. I was at her house the other day actually, I was looking at her and I was like: ‘I’m sorry if I’m fanning out right now but it’s like, I’m in here with Big Jade!”. It never gets old to me to see people living their dream, and to be cool with them is such a bonus. I get to see the miracle up close. 

You obviously have a unique style, but do you have any fashion heroes?

Teezo: Kerwin Frost. Let that be the name that’s put down. His style of dressing is so outrageous. Yeah Kerwin Frost man. I don’t know anyone else who’s doing it like him. And that’s the beautiful thing about it. There’s a lot of DIY with what I wear, or just like getting clothes from friends. Going to the mall and shopping is kind of nerve-wracking for me now because everything is so like, brandy. And that’s not really my thing. I like more personal connections with the stuff I wear, you know, whether it’s coming from a thrift store or like I said, friends giving me clothes.

Can we expect any Teezo clothing lines in the future?

Teezo: I’m aiming to be the biggest so whatever comes with that, whatever comes with that. 

What are your hopes for 2021?

Teezo: Just another year on the road to becoming the biggest artist ever. I don’t know how long that road is, but this will be another year on it. I’m really just taking it one person at a time and building that genuine connection, continuing to grow, to try stuff, to succeed, continue to build, and to bring it.

Teezo Touchdown’s ‘Social Cues’ is out now