Taylor J is a rapper from St. Paul, Minnesota who is only 21 but has already been rapping for 11 years. He was influenced to get into music by his older brother. He released his mixtape Control at the end of last year which featured Gucci Mane, Nipsey Hussle, Cyhi The Prynce, Jazza Pha and Gorilla Zoe. and was hosted by Shaheem Reid. Mechanical Dummy sat down with the rapper to learn more about his influences and musical style.
Words by N.Sella.
Mechanical Dummy: Who are you and what do you create?
Taylor J: I’m Taylor J and I create great fucking music. I create feelings. I change feelings. I create visions. I create dreams. I’m a creator, period. I create art.
MD: What was your creative influence?
TJ: My first influence was my big brother. I was always a fan of music just as a listener. Always rapping to some songs around the house growing up, but I never really looked at it from an artist standpoint until my big brother had got locked up in 2003. When he got locked up, that’s when I found out he was really into the music. He had a couple label situations but the streets got the best of him. He was a real big role model, I always wanted to do whatever he was doin’. So when he put me on that shit and was just telling me all that shit that he was doing, I was super geeked about it. He pretty much insisted that I started writing everyday. So he’d call me everyday and ask me to spit him a verse. So it was kind of a thing between me and him; A goal everyday to have something to rap to him when he called me. So after a while he didn’t really have to call me anymore. I was just doing it. I fell in love with it really quick. Before I was even too sure that that was what I wanted to do, I didn’t even think about it because that’s what he was doing. And I just grew a crazy ass passion for it. And it’s been like ten years now so that was my first influence, my big bro. I still talk to him every day.
MD: How’s your brother doing today?
TJ: He’s still locked down. He’s coming home next summer. We talk all the time. He’s living through me for the time being.
MD: How do you create feelings and visions?
TJ: I really just base it off of my own feelings and me just being great at knowing what my people want. This is kind of off topic but I’m working on building my own label in the midst of everything I got going on right now and it’s called Scenious, and it cancels out genius. I’m kind of like a genius of my scene, and knowing what my surroundings want. Knowing how to feed what they want and knowing what’s in demand. I use that with my music and me being the scenious that I am, and just knowing how people feel around me and being in tune with today’s people. That’s a real big help in knowing what topics to trust. Ten times out of ten. I’m really just basing my feelings off of my own feelings. There’s always somebody that’s feeling the way you’re feeling. And everyday I feel different. So I’m pretty much all over the place as far as feelings go, and I think that’s why I’m able to touch everybody because I think it’s so many different things that at least one person can agree with from each feeling that I got.
DM: Do you follow the trends in hip-hop?
TJ: I’m not too big on trends. I’m not really a Hypebeast, but I feel like right now Hip Hop is really in the hands of young niggas and I love it. From Chief Keef to Fat Trel. All these niggas in their teens and mid-twenties, it just represents what I stand for. Young niggas growing up and becoming something. So I love it. As far as the content, some of it is a lot different from what it used to be, but I can’t say it’s right. I can’t say it’s right because it’s an art and you can’t really tell an artist his picture is drawn wrong if he’s the creator. So I love what it stands for. I’m going to always be a fan of this shit. I know Hip Hop is only going to keep changing and I’m going to just keep going with the flow, rolling with the punches.
MD: Where do you seek inspiration?
I just pay attention to everything that’s going on. I’m a student before anything. So I’m always online, just in tune with what’s going on. Just paying attention to who’s making the most noise right now. What are the big moves being made and how I can add or subtract something from my game plan to make it what it needs to be.
MD: Any inspirations outside of music?
TJ: Definitely, it’s shit outside of music more than anything. Just everyday life. The people I surround myself with everyday. Shit that I haven’t seen yet that I want to experience. My family, my mom, my grandma, my aunties, all my niggas. Even all my haters. Even the niggas and bitches that don’t want to see me do it. All that shit. That’s one thing that I want to make important to everybody out there. Use everything as motivation. It’s real easy to look at shit as a bad thing, but use that shit as motivation, man so that shit can never happen again. Everything is really motivation.
MD: Have you learned anything new about yourself from making music?
TJ: I’m learning everyday about myself. I’m learning that I’m a lot more humble than a lot of other people. I’m a lot smarter than a lot of people too. I don’t really know exactly what I’m learning, but I like what I’m becoming.
MD: What’s your ultimate dream?
TJ: In the next year, I want Control to be the most successful mixtape in Hip Hop – period, ever. I want to have some type of deal going on, some type of major situation going on to where I can touch the masses with my music. Just being able to touch the masses with my music, that’s my main goal in this next year. To have all my people straight financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually— all that shit. Everybody happy.
MD: What do you look for in an artist to collaborate?
TJ: Man, just the energy. And of course the music and kind of what they stand for. Their beliefs and shit. If we connect on the same beliefs and shit, it’s real easy for us to vibe. But if a nigga kind of like the whole opposite person of me, regardless of the music – it’s hard to personally vibe with the person. So really I just look at what kind of person they are if music wasn’t in the picture.
MD: What’s it been like performing?
TJ: I’m on tour right now with Gorilla Zoe’s “Animal House Tour,” it’s a college tour. What I like most about it is just the response from the people. Just to have people accept what you’ve been working on your whole life. Going out there and knowing that these people are screaming and going crazy over some shit that you created – is a hell of a feeling. So that’s my favorite part, just being able to interact with the fans on a personal level and let them know that we’re the same people. That I’m like them. A lot of the people at the shows, it be kids at school. People in school that really got dreams like me.
MD: Do you ever have fear of not making it?
TJ: Honestly, as far as the music goes, it’s never been a fear thing for me. And I blame my big brother for that because I was 11 when I started. He was just always telling me, “You so good, you so dope,” and no matter where I went and who I rapped for, they would tell me that I’m so dope. So regardless what I felt about it, I felt like if they liked it, that’s the whole point. So I always felt like a motherfucka was going to like my shit either way it went. So I never really had fear of a person not really liking my shit or nothing like that. It was more of an excitement type thing. Like, “I can’t wait to be able to show you this shit.”