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PAUSE MEETS: TEEZEE

TEEZEE

Talks Alté Culture, Being Lagosian & Becoming a Father…

PHOTOGRAPHER: MARIAM SHOLAJA
FASHION EDITOR:
 RHYS MARCUS JAY
FASHION ASSISTANT: JAKE MARCELO
MAKE-UP ARTIST:
ELIZA CLARKE
MOVEMENT DIRECTOR: KANE HORN
INTERVIEW: GRACEY MAE

Special thanks to The Locke in Dalston, Courvoisier & Kiss of Wine.

“Whether it’s Alté, Teezee or Native – it’s all about legacy.”

Sunglasses: Prada, Jacket: 3.Paradis, Shirt: PTTRNS

Hi Teezee! Welcome to Pause Magazine. You are the crowned Prince of Las Gidi, coming more like the crowned Prince of London. Talk to us about your 2021 summer festivals!

The summer festivals have been really exciting – it’s been amazing. I’ve done Parklife which was epic. Obviously, I always used to go Wireless as a kid. The first time I went, I actually watched BBK and Drake – this was maybe 2015. You always dreamlike “Damn! One day I’d love to be on even the small Pepsi stage” not even ever really thinking mainstage, but you know, God has His way of making things work for you. Fire vibe, I loved it.

I love that for you. You grew up between the UK and Nigeria. You came to London for college at 16 – what was it like being the new kid in school at such a critical age?

Coming to college in London was interesting because being Nigerian, I always had a lot of family here. My parents lived here before they went back to Nigeria, and I used to come quite often as well so the change wasn’t that hard. Going to school with that many white people was the only new thing for me. Apart from that, it was cool being the guy from Naij – who was actually very Nigerian. Because I was into sports and music, I didn’t really get bullied but at the time, it wasn’t that cool to be Nigerian per se. Since I grew up there, I knew the importance of my culture to me so I wasn’t affected by what people thought. I was definitely the Naija boy in school.

Top: Reuben Selby, Trousers: Cold Laundry, Slippers: untitlab™ Jewellery: Artist and Stylists’ Own

So when did you transition from Teni Zaccheaus Jr. to Teezee?

That’s an interesting one. My dad was also called Teeeze growing up because I’m a Junior – so my dad has the same name. He was definitely a popular guy about town; he ran nightclubs! He was into the music scene and had a lot of musician friends and stuff. I think I got handed the name Teezee from birth. People were calling me this from at least five so it just kind of stuck with me. With music, I kind of knew that this was what I wanted to do. I didn’t know how to go about it but it was something I definitely thought about from a very early age. Maybe 10-11, but in Nigeria, they don’t make you think that’s a reality. That’s not something that you do. It’s not something you aspire to do. You aspire to become a doctor and a lawyer and an engineer. So, you know, growing up was having those opposing views of two different worlds made me become who I am today.

You’ve touched on your father but you’ve recently become a dad yourself. Congratulations to you and my namesake (Grace Ladoja). How has life changed now that you know you’re a daddy?

Life has changed drastically but in the best way possible. I feel like having a son has just elevated everything that I do and all the things I wanted to do. It makes your time so much more streamlined as well because when I’m out, it’s work work work. Before then, it was a lot of waffling! There was a lot of time-wasting that I allowed in my life before I had a son. I think since that change, it’s changed my drive, it’s changed my tolerance for BS and just made me generally a happier person. It’s kinda affecting every aspect of my life.

Sunglasses: Prada, Jacket: 3.Paradis, Shirt: PTTRNS

You said you did a lot of waffling but I beg to differ. As one of the pioneers of the Alté scene with BOJ and Fresh L, you’ve spent the best part of 10 years creating a movement. Talk to me about a huge driving force behind it – Native Mag and Nativeland Festival. Popular for being a breath of fresh air, a voice for the youth, number one platform in Nigeria… why was important for you to create this platform?

The Native really came out of like the necessity of championing people from where we’re from; telling the stories of the people that the rest of the world hadn’t noticed yet or [those that] no one’s really talking about. In Nigeria, well actually not just in Nigeria – in most of the world, where people tend to only enjoy the success stories. No one wants to know the journey of how did this person start here and get there. It’s always like, “let’s only talk about the people who are sitting at the top”, “let’s talk about Dangote”, or whichever artist is at their pinnacle of his game already. There’s so much coming out of our community: from music, fashion, style, tech, arts… that we need to celebrate these people from inside out before they get the acknowledgement from outside in, which was something that was already happening. Music is a key reason for everything. I was already doing DRB shows with Fresh L and BOJ before I started doing Native. That time, we were still kids, we were just figuring it out but we’re still putting on shows, still getting Davido, Ice Prince, or whoever was hot at the time to come on the same stages with me or Prettyboy DO or Santi – before anyone even knew that whatever we were doing was going to make sense. So Native just kind of made us upscale that into a bigger thing of evolving more people from the African diaspora like Skepta, J Hus, Yxng Bane, Not3s, Maleek Berry – at the same time as having people like Odunsi, Tems and Rema on stage. That was the kind of connection that we always wanted. For me, it just really stemmed from pushing music first, because that was what’s most important to me and just figuring out how can we be relevant. Music was not about money, but it wasn’t like music was paying all the bills per se so it was like how do we translate what we’ve seen and studied in culture – what we saw the likes of Jay Z doing, what we saw Puff Daddy doing… even down to Nigerians like Don Jazzy…how do we do that for our own generation and for our own young alternative Nigerians who aren’t catered to with mainstream culture. Now people all around the world enjoy it and it’s no more like a niche thing. It’s like general youth culture now so it’s super exciting to see.

Jumper: Feng Chen Wang, Boxers: Supreme, Trousers: Maharishi

Kudos to you. Given the 50/50 split, do you count yourself as diaspora or do you feel Nigerian? 

I’m definitely Lagosian. I’m in London currently, but at heart, I think I’m definitely Lagosian. I don’t know oh!. Diaspora is a very interesting word but I guess now, I’m predominantly in London at the moment, but I am definitely a Lagosian above anything else.

Talk to us about connecting with the African Diaspora in Cuba, when you were doing the Havana campaign. 

Yeah, that was fire. It’s another thing that was really close to me. I like exploring Nigerian culture, or African culture – specifically Yoruba tradition because I’m Yoruba. I’ve always been interested in knowing how we translated our religions and our language to every part of the world. The first time me and my partner, Grace, went to Brazil, we went to explore the whole thing of the orishas and Yoruba culture. It spread over 500 years ago from this small West Africa region of Nigeria and now, it’s a predominant thing in other parts of the world. It’s just so exciting and it really connects me with my music. It was also really part of this new musical journey of understanding one’s roots and the importance of where we’re from and what you’re doing, because just thinking that some of our ancestors took a ship to these places, and the culture is still prevalent today, that’s the legacy I’m trying to instil in what we’re doing. Whether it’s Alté, Teezee or Native – it’s all about legacy. I want my son in 30 years to look back and be like “Damn, Dad you guys did some cool shit!” I think legacy is most important to me more than money or clout or those other things. It’s really about how do we impact the future generations to see that there were some young Nigerians at a time, who did stuff that impacted the world in their own way. That’s really the mission that I’m on.

Talking about legacy, when you and the DRB boys started Rap Royals and dropped Coronation Vol.1, did you ever think this is where you would be 10 years later?

I’ll say yes because when you’re at that age, you’re just dreamers. We started doing it because we were just young boys in the same high school. We are connected by our roots in Nigeria and our love for making music. It really just started with us sharing music. We used to burn the music on CDs and send it around to people. We were just inspired by what Mo Hits were doing, what BBK was doing. Those types of movements inspired us to do our own version of that. Because we’re Nigerian, and we live in the UK, we always knew our thing was different. It wasn’t really about thinking out, “we’re gonna be the biggest in the world”, it was more like, “This is sick. We love doing this and our thing is different from what anybody else around the world is doing”. We knew that from the jump, but in terms of how big or how far we go, we were just having fun with it. I think that’s kind of what helped us to evolve because when we started DRB, we were 12. Then we became DRB Lasgidi and became me, BOJ and Fresh L because the other guys were staying in the UK. Me and BOJ were like, “Yeah, UK is fire but what makes us special is being Naija”. I’ve already gauged it. Wearing trad[itional garb], wearing dashikis – just being different. What people found funny and weird, to me and BOJ specifically was what makes us stand out from everyone else. We just continued pushing through in our own way and I really thank God that we’re where we are today.

Sunglasses: Gnoochi, Jacket: Filling Pieces, Shirt: Qasimi, Shorts: Kaptial @ Mr Porter, Shoes: Filling Pieces

From CDs to Limewire, from Limewire to email blast, from email blast to Soundcloud, to YouTube and now we’re at “Arrested by Love” – the EP dropping soon. What was the creation process like and what can we expect from the project?

The email blasts – oh my God! Well, it’s a very versatile sounding project. I definitely spent the last 12 to 18 months really delving into my new sound; exploring different sonics. It’s super eclectic. I have guys ranging from Backroad Gee to Pa Salieu, Lancey Fouxx to Teni the Entertainer and Davido, so you know that you’re gonna hear a wide range of sounds. That’s the beauty of Alté. The new wave of Afro is a bit of everything and that’s definitely what I represent – being Lagosian and also a London boy. That’s the dichotomy of the character that I am and I really try to channel all the different angles of what I’ve been going through in my life. From the rager-party-boy side of Teezee, to the soft-lover-boy, daddy side. I’m just trying to channel as many emotions as possible. I really want people to feel really connected to the music. It’s a vulnerable project; the most vulnerable music I’ve ever made. It’s stories and narratives that I haven’t really told musical stories from that angle before. I think that it’s gonna be really exciting for people to take a look into Teezee’s world for the first time properly.

Sunglasses: Hot Futures, Suit: Tokyo James, Vest: Stylists’ Own, Slippers: untitlab™

Sunglasses: Loewe, Top: Qasimi, Shorts: Kapital @ Mr Porter, Shoes: Dr Martens

I’m interested in getting into the stories. “Arrested by Love” is a very definite statement. What does that mean to you?

It’s kind of like a double entendre because when we started lockdown in 2020, I was binging – I love Nollywood. I’m one of those people who it’s been part of my aesthetic since we started this Alté thing with Odunsi. We had so much free time so I was watching a lot of Nollywood [Nigerian Hollywood] movies – whether it be on YouTube, or just downloading them. There was this one in particular that stood out to me that had Jim Ike and Genevieve. I really enjoyed the craziness of it all. When I was working on the projecs, I felt like love was the most overwhelming component to everything that was going well for me. Growing up, [I didn’t] really understand love languages or how people connect. When we grew up in Nigeria, everything’s very different. You’re not really on the “Daddy, I love you” – do you get? So just getting over a lot of things, helped me get to a place that love is the most overwhelming and the most present force in my life. Whether it be with my girl, my son, my family or with my passion for what I’m doing… Literally and metaphorically arrested by love and it’s the best feeling ever.  Since I actually took that path of self realisation; the importance of love and giving it/receiving it, kind of transformed me in the last 12 months. I just felt like it was just an apt title plus it sounds like a Nollywood film as well. I like the fact that it has that title, and you’d expect the music to be some moody love songs, but that’s not what it is. So yeah, it has a close place in my heart.

Aww, you’re letting love lead! On the topic of Nollywood, are we gonna see you in movies or acting anytime soon?

You know, what by God’s grace! I’m planning to. New Nollywood is fire – I really like it. It’s definitely interesting and really something that I want to do in the near future. See my guy Damson [Idris] acting up and down now, it’s gingered me. Let me see what I can act! [laughs]

When I see it on Netflix and on the big screen next year, I’m going to say I prophesied it from here. Before I let you go, if I want to find out your favourite selfie angle, what you had for breakfast or what you and Grace are getting up to with my baby boy, where can I find you online?

@teezee on Instagram and @teezeeDRB on Twitter. Those are the only ones I’m on right now. Wait. I’m on Tik Tok now as well… what’s my Tik Tok name? Jesus! Eeeh… @teezusbhrist

Last message to your friends, family and following?

I’m so glad that everyone is going to come on this journey with me. I feel like I’ve worked on a lot of stuff. I’ve built a lot of things up and now I’m really delving into bringing people into my world and my mind. It’s daunting but it’s exciting at the same time, and I’m just so happy that I’m going to lead with love and I’m going to get everyone to feel the Teezee energy – worldwide. This is a global pee! It’s not a Naija pee or a London pee – this for the whole world. I’m excited to let you guys have this!

Follow TEEZEE on Instagram

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