'I Just Tried To Connect More Through The Music': Rapper The Teeta Unveils Art Exhibit And New Album
When the pandemic hit last March, hip hop artist (and native Austinite) The Teeta, like many performers, suddenly found himself unable to connect with his audience the way he used to. “I’m a performer. Like, I love being on stage,” Teeta says. “[The pandemic] just completely took that part of my life out. I’ve probably done over… 250 shows since 2016, so for that to be just completely stripped away – not even taking into account the financial aspect of it – that really did affect me heavily. I just tried to connect more through the music, you know what I mean? Just go back to the basics and make music.”
Unable to see his fans in person, Teeta found himself spending more time writing and recording new material. “I attacked the pandemic head on, man,” he says. “I had just had a child and everything, and I was like, ‘if I slow down right now, then I don’t know what the process is going to be like, coming back and trying to climb that hill again.’”
Teeta ended up releasing three projects in 2020 (The Quarantine, The Stimulus, and The Seventh Seal, a collaboration with Willo), so it’s safe to say he didn’t really slow down very much.
And 2021 looks to be another pretty busy year for The Teeta; he’s ready to release another new project, 24, named for the northeast Austin zip code he grew up in. 24 won’t just be an album; it’s also the inspiration for the new visual art exhibit ‘The Teeta World’ at Cloud Tree Studios.
He’s partnering with Moe Jane and Keyheira Keys to curate the exhibit. “I really thought it was a really good project and I started just thinking about it from a curator perspective,” Keys says. “And the concepts that he talked about – he talked a lot about setting intentions and manifestations, and… mindset and mindfulness. I was like… ‘let’s turn these statements, these ideas, into real things. Let’s show people that, you know, Black art is important. That our concepts are important. That our lives are important.’”
Mindfulness, intention-setting, and finding balance are recurring themes for The Teeta (he got a degree in psychology from Huston-Tillotson University), and those themes are a big part of ‘The Teeta World’ exhibit. It’s also very much about being a Black artist in Austin at this point in time. “You know, us being from Austin, we do hear a lot of people a lot of time say ‘where are the Black people in Austin?’” says Jane. “And so having this exhibit is going to be [a way of] letting people know they’re here, they’re alive and they’re well. And they deserve to have the same platform that anybody else does.”
“Right, we’ve been here, you know what I mean?” agrees Teeta. “We’ve been pushing the creative aspect of the city, the culture of the city, forward the whole time. We may have just been being overlooked at times.”
The exhibit will be on display from April 24 through May 1 (by appointment and with masks required), with an opening reception on the 24th featuring Teeta’s first performance for a live audience in well over a year. It's been a while since he's performed, but don't expect the time off to adversely affect The Teeta. "I've been practicing," he says with a laugh. "I know how flex that muscle when I need it."
He’s also definitely looking forward to reconnecting with his fans. “With the art exhibit, I kind of want to use it as a way to bring people back together,” he says. “You know what I mean? Since everybody’s been locked up in the house for a year. We want to use it as an opportunity to bring people back together and kind of timestamp that.”
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