Midwest Rapper Is Ready To Put St. Paul On the Map
6:30AM ET December 20th, 2012
Contributor : Malcolm Strong
A Rocky Williform Company
Born and raised in St. Paul Minnesota, Taylor J. knew from the moment he decided to pursue a career in hip hop, he was going to have to fight an uphill battle. When you’re not based in New York or Atlanta or Los Angeles, it takes a special kind of determination to get yourself out there and noticed.
“[The St. Paul hip hop scene] was non-existent,” says the 21-year old with a laugh. But that all will change if Taylor J. has anything to do with it. He was inspired to pick up a pen by his brother, who was forced to abandon an attempted hip hop career after a prison sentence. A 2003 phone call to the then-11 year old Taylor forever changed his focus. “I was sitting at my mom’s house and got a call from the Douglas County Jail in Superior, Wisconsin from my big brother,” he recalls. “He called me and let me know that he got himself in some trouble--in a situation. But at the same time, he was giving me a lot of positive sh*t.” Up to that point, young Taylor didn’t realize his brother was writing rhymes. But after rapping to him on the phone, the youngster was inspired to make his own attempt and a hip hop career. “The moment he rapped that verse to me, I knew that was it,” he says. “I knew it was it. He insisted that I wrote a verse very day. He’d call me and ask me to rap it to him. That phone call, that’s when I knew—this is what I was doing. I felt like it was my job to finish what he couldn’t finish and allow him to live through me.”
Since that day, Taylor has grown into his own. Since moving to Atlanta, he’s been focused on taking over the game and with the success of singles like the Gucci Mane and Dose-featured “No Good” have helped him cut a path through hip hop and slide into his own niche. “It’s an artist’s job--an entertainers job--to entertain, but as an artist, I feel like I’m giving people exactly what it is,” he says bluntly. “I’m not sugarcoating sh*t and I’m not a flashy type of guy. I’m not really a singles-type of rapper. I’m bringing that life experience content to the industry right now; [what]the average nine to five n***a that’s waking up every morning to go to work can actually [relate to.] Not being so far over people’s heads and talking about shit that’s unattainable.”
“Being from St. Paul, you’re coming from the bottom,” J explains. “And you appreciate sh*t when you come from the bottom. You gotta work that much harder than everybody else. And you appreciate it. You teach yourself how to become a hard worker. I think that sh*t was great for me to be from St. Paul. Nothing was given to me.”
That Midwestern work ethic has served Taylor J. well, but he admits he’s had to get used to some of the shadier aspects of the music industry since moving to Atlanta. “The first thing I was disappointed in was just the personal relationships throughout the industry. There are a lot of good people in this industry, but a lot of people who are false and manipulative,” he says. “And their intentions are 100 percent bad. It wasn’t really a shock. You always hear rich muthaf**kas saying ‘these n***as is fake,’ so you already expect some bullsh*t. But when you experience it firsthand, it’s a wake-up call and sh*t’s real and you can’t trust these muthaf**kas.”
Despite those negative experiences, Taylor J has been able to navigate through some treacherous waters to get his voice to the people. His new “Control” mixtape, with famed hip hop journalist/historian Shaheem Reid, represents the pinnacle of all of his hard work up to this point. “I guess the mixtape term is to say ‘hosted by,’ but on the cover it says ‘With Shaheem Reid,’” he clarifies. “He’s not screaming all over my sh*t--he’s actually presenting this body of work with me. And I think it’s the best I’ve ever put together and I think the songs individually are all the best songs I’ve done at this point in my career. It’s the first project with major placements and features on it. Gucci, Dose, a couple of more people. This was my moment of truth.”
And it’s a moment that Taylor J most definitely earned. But he’s not resting on his laurels. And he knows exactly who he is as a man and as an artist. “When I moved to Atlanta, it was a bigger situation,” he recalls. “I’d signed my deal and I felt like everything was about to change up. But really—it’s the same sh*t I was doing in my mom’s basement. The same amount of time I spent in that basement is the same amount of time I spend in the studio. The best advice I’ve gotten so far is don’t switch up your method and stay strong behind that. And that advice came from just about everybody I ran into.”
Sounds like wise words to follow.
Follow Taylor J. on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorjtakeover
And check him out at Youtube.com/taylorjtakeover and his "Control" mixtape is [HERE]