In Association with Cheap Monday...

“I wake up and get to the bread, y’all n****s wake up and stick to the bed” opens Ta’East’s ‘WithTheShit’, a motivational ode to realness delivered over a sample of Mica Levi’s ‘Under The Skin’ score. Released online in September last year, for many the track was a first taste of the unique approach to hip-hop that’s been honed by the Kentucky-born, San Diego raised rapper and his go-to producer Cairo Mayeson across a pair of free mixtapes. “I think everyone feels like that, or has felt like that at one time in their life,” he says, considering why the track made such a profound connection. “It hits you right on the head.” The song was premiered by Virgil Abloh, who spun it on a KNOW WAVE radio broadcast, and received regular plays from Benji B on his Radio 1 show - securing two fans who would become vital players in the development of his career.

A small town upbringing in Oceanside, California and Summer’s spent in Kentucky allowed Ta to cultivate a unique style without the influence of peers and a local scene. During long hours working in the mail room at the Screen Acting Guild, where he would process checks for actors and actresses, Ta absorbed the words of self-help gurus Wayne Dyer and Tony Robbins through his headphones. He’d utilise his time at work by making notes that he’d later use to combat his own stress and anxiety, then hit the studio as soon as he clocked off. This motivation has spilled over into his lyrics which he describes as “a collection of mantras.” “I didn’t want to work a nine to five,” he declares. “It was misplaced energy. I took that energy and put it into the music. It was motivating at the end of the day.”

His latest EP, ‘Okay, I’m Ready’ sees him emerging from what he describes as “a really dark place” 16 months ago with the first ever release on Benji B’s Deviation Music imprint. Over six tracks he demonstrates his ability to manipulate his flow around a variety of beats from cinematic soundscapes to traditional sample-based hip-hop without ever losing the clarity of his lyrics. “It feels good,” he says of the faith that’s been instilled in him by the world renowned Radio 1 DJ. “Nothing’s clouded, there’s no competition. Who wouldn’t want to make history?” He admits that a lot of Benji has been indispensable in shining a positive light on the hurdles of the release process. “He’d show me the bright side. We were working on getting a release date and everything for the EP for so long and the sample clearance and things like that. He'd always have the upside to things.”

Another progressive force, pushing Ta’s career to the next level, has been Virgil Abloh - best known for his work with Kanye West, and founder of clothing brand Off-White - who’s recently come on board to handle creative direction for Ta. The pair initially connected on Twitter, and since unleashing ‘WithTheShit’ on the world, Abloh has been a vital supporting character in Ta’s story. “He’s just a huge fan of the music. He's helped me get a few shows. I rocked out with him on a few sets - including Boiler Room and ComplexCon,” he says. The pair are currently taking the first steps into a very promising relationship, as they get started on Ta’s debut album. “I pretty much come up with the ideas and he'll give some suggestions. One thing that I've learned from him is keep creating, non-stop. Just keep coming with the ideas. I watch him constantly come up with new shit.”

What’s important to Ta’East isn’t simply to make himself a living from music, he’s focussed on influence and legacy. “People are so replaceable,” he explains. “I think it's important to say something and it's important to contribute. That's all I want to do is contribute to the culture and be able to say that I did something special to influence or create a sound.” With a combination of his own passion for Southern rap and Timbaland, and Cairo’s Rasta upbringing and love of New York rap, it’s unsurprising that their own melting pot experiments result in a unique output. “I look at people like Kanye, in particular,” he reveals. “He's one of my biggest influences. I would like to get to a point in my career where I can keep reinventing myself, but stay familiar.”

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Words: Grant Brydon

Brought to you in association with Cheap Monday. Check out their latest offerings over on their website now.

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