LEVELING UP WITH THE HEADY AUSTIN RAPPER
By E.S. Sparks
The following interview was done at FEELS SO GOOD before The Teeta’s performance on July 16th, 2022.
Born and raised in Austin, TX, The Teeta is a prime example of the innovative and conscious rap coming out of the live music capital’s hip-hop scene. His emergence proves that home is where the art is, and if you keep your feet firmly planted, you can rise above the competition and have a damn good time doing it.
Photo by Blaine Leggett
How would you describe the energy of FSG compared to more traditional music venues in Austin?
Avante-garde. From the vinyl to the shirt designs, it’s authentic. It’s not just some shirt manufacturing warehouse or some shit. It’s actually cool.
What would you say is distinct about the Austin hip-hop sound?
That no two artists sound alike. I haven’t really come across two artists that sound alike, and that’s rare especially for smaller places. It’s easy to [have] this definitive thing that everyone just hops on the bandwagon with, but I haven’t really seen that in Austin. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing ‘cause I think that makes it easier for people on the outside to recognize the reasoning, but I think it’s always good for artists to be original until something sticks.
Photo by daryl.next
Do you think there’s something inherently competitive about the genre?
Oh yeah, definitely. It’s built off of competition, whether it was dance or graffiti, tagging. Hip-hop was based off of competition. It’s less competitive this day and age lyrically and creatively, but it’s still intrinsically competitive. Like I’m still kind of old school, I like to just be the best. I feel like I am the best rapper. You know, I look the best. (Laughs.)
“I’m not a hater. I can admit when someone else is good, I can support them, help put them in a position to go higher.”
What do you do better than other rappers? Talk your shit!
I got more personality on the track. You know it’s me when I’m on the track no matter what the beat sounds like. I learned how to balance lyricism with making something that’s catchy at the same time. All that shit.
Photo by Blaine Leggett
How do you balance being competitive with wanting to build others up in your community?
I’m not a hater. I can admit when someone else is good, I can support them, help put them in a position to go higher, and that don’t hurt me because at the end of the day I’m really competing with [myself] from last year. Like how do I go up? That’s my main competition.
Are there any inspirations that people might be surprised that you draw from?
Oh yeah definitely, like my main inspirations… I’m hardly inspired by rappers at all. I’m more inspired by Journey, all those power ballad fuckin’ rockers back in the 80s. Michael Jackson is who inspired me to even be me. Muhammad Ali–not a rapper–but he was kind of a rapper. He was a poet. He would get in the ring and you know, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!” His charisma and shit. I’m more inspired by the greatness of that, rather than trying to have my bankroll in an Instagram picture, you know what I mean? That don’t do nothing for me.
You started out as a visual artist. Just curious: do you think more in images or words?
I think more in concepts and I orchestrate it from there. Even with “The Teeta”: Who is The Teeta? I want people to identify [certain things] with The Teeta, I want it to be a household name. Why is it “The” Teeta? Because it sounds similar to a band name, and people catch on to that type of thing easier and it would help me integrate with other genres of music. [The Teeta] is an idea that basically you can do whatever the fuck you want to do, you don’t really have to put yourself in a box. I know it might sound cliché but that was my original thinking of it because I was always different from everyone around me. I never let my environment fully dictate who I was or who I wanted to become. I was in the mix but I had my own idea of where I wanted to take my life, so The Teeta is a representation of that, along with a lot of over-the-top shit too.
With your more esoteric interests, like numerology, when did you first delve into that?
The numerology shit just hit me one day. I’m telling you, I didn’t delve into it, it kinda delved into me. Seven life path. And I started researching it, I’d say around 2014. I always have had an innate knowing so it was just kind of leading me down, like following footprints.
Photo by daryl.next
So I wonder, do you believe in predestination? How do you reconcile that with free will?
They’re intertwined. It’s like playing a video game. There’s an ending to the video game, there’s different levels to the video game, but you choose what you do during the missions. It’s like that.
Where ultimately does this end, how do you win?
The way to win is to live as freely as you can while you’re here, and express the things you want to express, and be who you want to be. That’s the way to win. ‘Cause you’re going to deal with a lot of bullshit for that, whether it’s financial, whether it’s criticism, whether it’s whatever.If you can look at [your life] at the end and say, Shit, well I had the most fun out of everybody goddamnit, so I’m ready to get on out of here!
Do you think “fun” is underrated?
Hell yeah! This shit is about who has the most fun. Everybody just wants to have fun, in reality. And I’m a serious person, but overall I just want to have fun. I want to enjoy everything I do, every day.