Teff Mayweather comes correct (Barbados)
Straight from Barbados, the young emcee Teff Mayweather is making some preliminary (read: growing) waves within the global hip-hop scene. Set to perform at World Hip Hop Market’s second annual A3C Hip Hop Festival showcase Planet Hip-Hop in Atlanta, the rapper is stoked to rub shoulders and unleash his “Island Life” sound on the States.
By Amanda Macchia (for World Hip Hop Market)
Mayweather’s recently released debut mixtape, aptly titled Dreamworld, features a host of emcees including pop-idol Rihanna’s younger brother, Rorrey Fenty, who also shot the emcee’s latest music video.
Teff’s got some big things in the works, so big he can’t tell us because then we’d know too much. Check out our conversation with the Bajan rapper as he gears up to make his U.S. debut at A3C’s Planet Hip Hop in Atlanta, GA on 12 Oct. 2012.
World Hip Hop Market: I read somewhere that you’re 23 years old. Is that true?
Teff Mayweather: Where’d you read that?
WHHM: An interview on JayBlessed.com When did you start start making music?
TM: I’ve been messing around with music for about 9 years, but Dreamworld is my first serious project.
WHHM: What were your goals with Dreamworld?
TM: I’ve been working on my sound for a while. Obviously you don’t usually hear about rappers from Barbados, so I had to make sure it sounded right, sounded natural while still being hip-hop. My goal with Dreamworld was to finally present that sound in a package, and use it to get exposure internationally so I can take this to the world. Looks like it’s working.
WHHM: As youthful and pop-driven as your music is, this very happy celebration of Barbados and your culture is also quite present. How does that influence what you write about or how you present your image via music videos and other forms of media?
TM: I wouldn’t say it’s pop-driven but it is a young, fun, island lifestyle I’m working with. Barbados is where I was born and raised so I use that to my advantage. I mean, how many rappers have you heard with that story? Usually rappers get rich and see the world and talk about beaches and islands and being where it’s sunny in the winter. I’m already surrounded by that. My whole brand is “Island Life” so that makes for some authentic imagery in videos and artwork.
WHHM: Can you expand a little on this “Island Life” brand that you talk about? The image of Barbados that we get to see from you isn’t from the perspective that we’re used to in rap – the all inclusive resort, the vacationer’s spot. Coming from you, it’s more intimate, it’s national pride and a love for your way of life. How have you sought to bring that style and brand, if you will, to your music?
TM: “Island Life” is just about how me and my friends live out here in Barbados, our very own sub-culture out here. That is a huge part of my music and brand. If you listen to Dreamworld you hear some of the reggae samples and other tones involved. I talk about life just like any rapper you listen to but then I slide in that beach life, the weather, the exotic girls, the laid back life…you hear it in my raps. That life you wish you had!
WHMM: Can you tell me about the hip-hop scene in Barbados? (for instance… Is breakdancing more than/less than/or just as prevalent as graf, is there an “active” or community-focused voice as seen in the presence of hip hop geared ngo’s, etc..)
TM: The hip-hop scene in Barbados is still a sub-culture. It’s definitely not as influential to the overall pop culture out here as it is in New York [City]. Rap is one of the most popular genres especially for the younger generation. I mean the internet runs everything so the kids relate to the swag and the content.
As far as local rappers, I am the only one right now with radio hits or club hits. There are tons of other great rappers but their followings are more underground. They might get radio play here and there but in the club we hear Ross, Wiz, Drake…the usual. There are only 300,000 people in Barbados to start with, so understand that the sub-culture is strong, but it’s already a small place.
WHHM: What is the music industry like?
TM: There is no real industry to be honest. That’s why I’m so anxious to take my stuff to the world scene. There’s definitely a heavy music movement here but most are looking to take it outside. There’s mad talent but not much in place for us to thrive unless it’s a more traditional genre like Soca.
WHHM: You seem to be doing well in your career so far. Has it been difficult to be an independent musician in Barbados?
TM: It’s been difficult but that helped build me to what I am. Fighting with it. I host a lot of parties and events and basically do other things that go hand in hand with rap to make money until I reach my real goal. I look at the world as one place now and we kinda got THE biggest female pop star alive as inspiration.
WHHM: Do you find that tourism effects the music industry at all?
TM: Actually a lot of genres like reggae, pop, r&b…they depend heavily on tourism. We have a pretty strong live band culture here. Tourists love some live music so musicians in those genres do a lot of weekly gigs singing mainly covers with some original music in between. I do my thing in between but I don’t do covers and I don’t want to water myself down in such a small place.
WHHM: You said that after you finished your last mixtape you would be headed to the United States. You’re gearing up for stops in both Atlanta at the 2nd annual A3C Hip Hop Festival, and in New York City for CMJ Music Marathon. What are you most excited about?
TM: I’m excited to just network. Of course I can’t wait to meet some of these rappers at the festival like Raekwon, Ab Soul, Nipsey Hussle, Gunplay, Just Blaze, Dizzy Wright and even Young Guru and so many others, but what I really want to do is meet and create relationships with people that can help strengthen my independent situation.
WHHM: Are those both one-offs or do you have other shows planned in the areas?
TM: I’m waiting to confirm some other stuff but definitely not just one-offs. You can stay glued to my website www.Teff-Island.com for those near future updates.
WHHM: You’ve been working with Rihanna’s brother Rorrey “GQ” Fenty. Your track “Army” that took the hook from Rihanna’s “G4L” featured the young MC and got over 29,000 hits on YouTube. He was also on the team that produced your newest music video for “I Need a Moment”. What was his role?
TM: Y’all really did your research though. Yeah, me and Gallest (GQ) came together for the first time on “Army”. He’s also on “There For Me” off my project Dreamworld, one of my favorite tracks. I’m on his mixtape coming next month too. He’s really into photography on a personal level and I tried a different concept with this video called “Stop Motion”. It’s basically using still photos taken at shutter speed and manipulating them like animation to look like a video. So he basically shot it and co-directed it with me. Shout outs to Gallest, I owe him one.
WHHM: What is that track about?
TM: “I Need A Moment” is really a song about needing a quick break when everything around you starts to get too hectic. I think everyone feels like life could be too much at times, no matter what you’re into. I just put it out there from my island life point of view.
WHHM: How long are you in the US for?
TM: Who knows? I’m trying to create the right situation for myself so I’ll be here for a while.
WHHM: Are you traveling around, or making NYC your home-base?
TM: Definitely traveling around. NYC is my home base for now. No place like New York, but I can’t call [it] my long term home base quite yet. Wherever the music takes me.
WHHM: What are some of the things you’re working on while here?
TM: Well, I’ve got a couple new producers and artists to work with. Working to solidify some of the more administrative aspects of this music thing. I can’t tell you exactly what ’cause then you’d know too much. Starting on my next project too with heavy production from Akah Revera.
WHHM: Anything else you want to shout out in the run up to A3C and CMJ this October?
TM: Shout outs to my whole movement back in Barbados. Reppin’ “Island Life” to the death. I’m just trying to bring it home. Major love to Fiona Bloom as well. Check out my project at www.Teff-Island.com.