10 New Artists You Need to Know: April 2017

Tee Grizzley, Middle Kids, Aldous Harding, J.I.D., Hayley Kiyoko and more

Tee Grizzley
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Tee Grizzley

Sounds Like: A young soldier rapping his truths

For Fans of: Kevin Gates, Meek Mill, Mozzy

Why You Should Pay Attention: Tee Grizzley's breakout hit, "First Day Out," captures the joy of finally being free after a long period of incarceration. It's inspired by the Detroit rapper's 18-month prison stint on home invasion charges, and his hopes for what he'd accomplish when he got out. A month after he was released in October 2016, he posted a video on YouTube, and the song quickly gained traction, gathering millions of views before peaking at Number 88 on the Billboard Hot 100. Amidst significant label interest, Tee Grizzley settled on 300 Entertainment. His critically acclaimed debut mixtape, My Moment, features a collection of raps he wrote in prison as well as production from DJ Mustard, Sonny Digital and Motor City street rap vet Helluva. The themes range from "No Effort," a barking, swaggering bit of braggadocio, to "Testimony," where he harmonizes soulfully about his close relationship with God. Meanwhile, he has dropped another rising single, "From the D to the A," which features a cameo from Lil Yachty.

He Says: While Tee Grizzley served his sentence, he buried himself in books. "I read a lot of Louis L'amour Western books. I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, all of them. I read The Art of War," he said. "I read a lot of black novels, too. I read a lot of Five Percenter books. [Five-Percent Nation] is not something that I considered converting to," says Grizzley, who considers himself a Christian, "but I definitely appreciate what they had to say, though."

Hear for Yourself: "You ever been inside a federal courtroom?" asks Tee Grizzley in "First Day Out," a stirring tale of a hard-knock’s criminal life and eventual redemption. Mosi Reeves