Tee Grizzley – My Moment
After taking the rap world by storm with an out of nowhere, once in a decade type debut viral hit single, and signing with record label 300 Entertainment, it seemed like it was high time for Detroit’s Tee Grizzley to take advantage of the monumental hype and release a full project. He teased out a few singles like the aggressive and high quality ‘Straight to It’ with fellow Detroit residents Band Gang, as well as a collaboration with Lil Yachty, but I’m glad we now have a full release from him as we were left wanting more and I felt like he was just scratching the surface, and its great to see that he is much more multidimensional and versatile than a one hit wonder.
Tee Grizzley burst onto the scene with a vengeance late last year, seemingly coming out of thin air and garnering almost 25 million views on Youtube for his debut song First Day Out, probably the most hyped, talked about, and ultimately captivating debut song by any artist in recent memory. In writing my recent review on Kodak Black’s Painting Pictures, I talked about how Kodak captured the sheer jubilation and bullishness of being freshly freed from prison; other artists beleaguered by legal troubles like Chief Keef and Gucci Mane (who both released songs called First Day Out) have both explored this theme as well, but perhaps no one so far has hit the scene with such a bombastic and memorable ‘First Day Out’ as this 23-year old from Michigan, whose real name is Terry Wallace. I won’t go too in depth as the song has already been out for a while and has been much discussed by other sources already, but I will say that it was certainly worth of the plaudits. Over a sparse, minimalist piano beat, Grizzley informs listeners, ‘Being broke did something to my spirit, asked niggas to plug me, they act like they couldn’t hear me’ and you can really hear the pain and sense of abandonment in his voice, before he goes from tribulation to triumph rapping ‘Look at me now, driving German engineering’. The simple but powerful and iconic hook has since become one of the most popular lines I’ve seen on Facebook/Instagram/memes over the last few months ‘These niggas prayed on my dowfall. I know they prayed on my downfall. On all ten b*tch I stood tall. Showed these disloyal niggas how to ball.’ There are almost too many amazing lines in this song that will get you amped up to even name them all because I’d be missing too many others, but I love when the beat picks up and Grizzley delcares that he’s from Joy Road but his money ‘long as Six Mile’ a line I can see going down as a classic in Detroit, or when he talks about how the fiends ‘had me Blade dancing, eating sixty dollar salads’. There’s something I love about boasting about eating an outrageously expensive salad while most other people are bragging about steaks because it just makes it seem even more extravagant and luxurious.
It would be almost impossible to ask any artist, let alone such a new star like Tee Grizzley, to follow up on a once in a decade type debut hit like First Day Out, so I don’t want to judge the album or followup material through that lens as it would be unfair to the artist. The next big ‘single’ from this album, No Effort, obviously isn’t as virally explosive as First Day Out, but it’s still a top notch single in its own right. Over a high-energy beat that evokes the same vibe as First Day Out after it speeds up, Tee asks listeners ‘Should I buy a watch or an aquarium?’ (Come on Tee, always the aquarium) before getting more menacing, spitting ‘If you take me for a hoe, I’ma take it to your porch, I only fear the Lord, anybody else can see the morgue,’ one of my favorite ‘I dare you to try me’ type lines I’ve heard in a while. His flow on this song and others is a captivating, rapid-fire, in your face type style reminiscent of other Detroit and midwest rappers like Payroll Geovanni and adds in a bit of a country, midwest ‘drawl’ for lack of a better word which gives it even more charisma.
While these two well-known mainstays are certainly the best songs on My Moment, the project has some other worthwhile moments, like the extremely emotional and personal ‘Day Ones’ as well as the religiously-inspired, almost gospel-like closing outro, ‘Testimony’. As a young man who was facing a thirty year prison sentence for a variety of crimes such as an attempted jewelry store heist and several burglaries, and ended up only serving three years before being released and quickly experiencing fame, success and wealth beyond his wildest dreams, it makes sense that Grizzley has a quite a few religious references thrown in around his music and seems to put his faith in the Lord, taking shelter in his faith during hard times and being thankful for it in the current good times. More singing than rapping, Tee Grizzly thanks God or never turning his back on him, for ‘saving him in that cage’ (prison) and asks for help staying on the right path and for forgiveness.
In Day Ones, Tee sings almost as much as he raps, mourning the fact that most of his long-time friends are in prison, the loss of his father, and skeptically wonders about the intentions of ‘new’ friends that have surfaced since his rise to fame. Its a lonely feeling that many of us will never face, because let’s be honest, most of us will never be wealthy or famous enough that people will want to be friends with us for our money or influence. You can tell that these pressures have been weighing on Grizzley as he becomes more famous; in a recent video he posted to Instagram, a clearly hurt Grizzley talks about the fact that friends and family are saying he’s ‘changed’ and he wonders where these people were when he was starving and lonely in jail and none of these same people came to visit or sent him commissary money for food or deodorant. He sadly states that he knows that none of them will come and visit his grave when he’s gone because they didn’t visit him in prison which was 20 minutes away, and that he knows no one will watch out for his younger brother or keep him on the straight and narrow and they’ll just ‘hang him out to dry’ and that his elderly grandmother will be out shoveling snow in the cold Michigan winters after he’s gone because while he was incarcerated and couldn’t help nobody offered to do it for her. It’s a sad, sobering video and it really matches the vibe from ‘Day Ones’ and gives you a rare insight into the mind of the artist.
There were a couple of forgettable tracks here but that’s to be expected from any project, especially a debut. Interestingly, Tee Grizzley had zero features or collaborations whatsoever on the album, showing he can carry a full album’s worth of material by himself and reflecting the fairly personal and biographical nature of the album. My Moment is definitely carried by the strength of its two smash hits as well as the really strong and introspective songs that end the album, but there are a few other cool tracks as well and I would certainly say that My Moment is well worth the listen and a solid debut project for one of the most exciting and charismatic up and coming young artists out there. It will be great to watch Tee Grizzley’s journey and see where he goes next as he is likely just scratching the surface of his considerable potential.
1. My Moment – Intro
2. First Day Out
3. Real Niggas
5. No Effort
6. How Many
8. Side Nigga
11. Catch It
12. Day Ones
13. Testimony – Outro