To make it to the top, you have to be willing to meticulously watch the greats and apply what you’ve learned, all while being patient. This is a strategy rising music star and producer, TAWO has put a lot of effort into perfecting his artistry since the age of 14, the Atlanta, GA., native has only just begun. Making a point to keep his lyrics and music content appealing to the masses the 26-year-old rapper (TAWO has been adamant at shaking the ‘rapper’ label) is a walking embodiment of thinking beyond his years and in staying power.
Back in 2014, TAWO (then rapping under the moniker ‘William Blaze’) released his first project, New Vtlvntv Sound, a collaboration mixtape with another Georgia native, Jay Mays, that was hosted by DJ Iceberg. Followed in 2015 by an EP project, Season of The Sting. Both were met by hurdles and unforeseen personal life events that slowed their success and impact. Then came 2020. Using his middle name as his stage name, more focus and better honing his craft, TAWO is on track to make this his breakout year.
Having already released three projects so far: Closer Than I Appear, Blaze Loves MoMo and Spring Fever, and on track to releasing his debut album later in the year, TAWO has no plans of slowing up.
Seated in the AfriQtalk studios living room flashing his signature goofy smile, TAWO discusses his initial jump into the music scene, one day being bigger than Drake, experimenting with his music and much more.
AfriQtalk: What convinced you music is what you wanted to do?
TAWO: Music is just one of numerous things that I’m drawn to like acting, fashion or politics. I just think it was the earliest and easiest way for me to express myself creatively. It was so accessible in my household growing up. My dad had and still has such a crazy CD collection and my mom would just keep the TV on like MTV Jams and stuff like that. So naturally I was drawn to the storytelling and impact certain songs had on people and that was something I wanted for myself.
Why do you think the acting wasn’t a first choice for you?
For me at least back in the day, and when I say back in the day I mean like early 2000’s it was hard to just go out and start acting from a starting out standpoint. You have to audition and so forth. With music I was able to just connect a mic to a computer and let it rip.
How did you end up finding yourself musically? You have a unique music voice.
I would say at first that was my biggest obstacle. I was taking in so much music that I would go on a track and sound like that artist and that really bugged me. Then when I went to experiment and try something new, I felt like people would not vibe with it. So there was this constant back and forth within myself and it really slowed me down in the beginning. I had to take some time to live life and really get to the core of who I was and take that and translate to my music. Now I just vibe, I don’t know what else to call it.
How did things change for you in 2020?
It’s weird answering that question with this whole pandemic thing going on. I just pray that the world heals and people like learn to be more compassionate to everybody and all that. On a more music note though I started this year off with a go-and-get-it mentality. Like I have no excuses anymore. I’m in a space where I can dedicate all my time to my craft and really hit the ground running. I’ve dropped three projects so far. I’m working on this dope video and also on an album. I’m not letting off the gas. This has been ten years in the making. I’m not getting any younger.
What was it like in the beginning for you?
Lost. Like when I was in high school doing the whole Facebook rapping thing it was cool. It made me popular and all but when I went to the real world I was just like confused really. I didn’t know the first thing about the music industry and how to progress from where I was. That’s pretty much how everything started to fall apart. Even with a project with a well known DJ on it I couldn’t move to the next level. I did some shows here and there but the consistency was off. It was hard.
“Closer Than I Appear” really started the run you’re currently on. How did that come about?
It was just a collection of songs I made over the years. 2019 was a really bad year for me and it put a mindset in my head that I need to get on my game. So compiled some records I had laying around and recorded like one or two songs and just threw it out there. After that I was like why stop now, and I just kept going. I never even liked the project to be honest. I just wanted something out there. I know a lot more about the music industry than I used to and so I’m incorporating all my knowledge and really grinding. It’s still a challenge and I’m learning new things like everyday.
Why didn’t you like the project?
I have this problem of just hearing my old music and cringing. I think it’s a maturity thing. I want to push myself to the next level all the time so when I hear old songs like that it irks me. I was still William Blaze when I recorded a lot of those songs. And it sounds dumb because I put it out this year but I just wanted something to get my metadata and SEO going on the streaming platforms. Don’t get me wrong I have a lot of people who loved that project. It’s just a personal thing.
What’s the difference between TAWO and William Blaze as a person?
It’s a combination of a lot of things. Life experiences, maturity, deeper thinking and a better appreciation for the simple things. I think William Blaze saw the world as only what was in front of him. The music was more taunting, more careless. Now everything I do is calculated.
What makes Georgia such an important part of your image?
It started this journey I’m on now. From my street smarts to how I view music to looking at the country through the lenses of the south. When you leave and look back a lot of things become clear and I want to always translate that into my music even though I don’t talk like I’m from the south. I still want to paint the experience in my music.
What are you looking for in a label?
As of now I have no plans to ever sign to a major label. I have my own that I started and I just want to build on that.
As of now?
Yeah, nothing in this life is for certain. Things change and so do people’s thinking. That’s just my current thinking. And it will take a lot to change it.
Where were you mentally when you started making Spring Fever?
Man…. I was just in a constant state of reminiscing. I spent all of 2018 living in Denver, Colorado and I met so many women that touched me in some way or another. So that was just me expressing myself towards that direction. I have a lot of content to record about my experiences in Denver. My mind really changed while living there.
Why do you think that’s a good direction to go in your music?
It was a moment in my life where I was really stripped to the bones physically and mentally. I was put into situations that really opened my mind and changed my way of thinking. The whole energy in that city is powerful. And I don’t want to sound corny or anything but just from that one year I have enough personal material to be the next Drake. The stories I have to tell and how things panned out is remarkable. I’m going to really start diving into it in my album.
The next Drake?
Of course! I say that with complete confidence. I want to be bigger! I have so many stories to tell. So many styles of music I want to try. You know like I hate being called a rapper because I don’t want to be put into that box. I have no idea what a genre is when I record music. It sounds almost like a safety net to say I make hip-hop music. I just make music. My debut album is going to really prove that point.. And all of this is just the start. I want to make a leap into acting too.
What sound were you aiming for with Spring Fever?
I just wanted a real modern retro feel. I wanted it to sound like the whole project was floating in air. Something that gave off bubbly vibes. I was also just experimenting with the whole thing. I really loved what came out of it.
What about Blaze Loves MoMo?
When I heard heard those two beats produced by Yunnygoldz I was like I just have to jump on those songs and really laser beam my deliverance. I didn’t want anything sounding to static or boring. I had a lot of fun working on that one. I’m actually working on a video for Bahm3x right now with this young dynamic director from South Carolina.
Take a listen
Bahm3x was such a vibe! You plan on making more music like that?
No doubt. My verse on there was nice. I’m definitely incorporating stuff like that on my album.
How has your parent’s response to your music been?
They have been real supportive, especially my mom. She was the one who took me to my very first real studio session. I used to record music on the computer and microphone she had for work. At first I used to hide my music from my dad because he was always the “go to college’ and focus on a career type of guy so I wasn’t really eager to show him but he is always asking me to play my music these days.
I know it sounds premature but what’s next for you?
I’m guessing you mean after this year?
I really don’t even know where to begin. Music for me is just the beginning of another journey. From music I want to create visuals that are story telling and like short films and from there I want to make feature films that tie to one album. And also breaking into mainstream acting as well as fashion. I just want o build this mammoth of a beast company and just change the dynamic of everything possible. Also somewhere down the line I want to get into public service but that’s far down the road. If I were to just pinpoint to 2021 I would say I want to be Grammy nominated and have a really good foundation under my feet to build on. So I really have to get on my game and grind.
You can catch Tawo doing his thing at https://www.tawoofficial.com
or follow him at https://www.instagram.com/willtawo