How does Teezo Touchdown sleep at night?

On the eve of his debut album, Teezo Touchdown had one question for me to kick off our chat: “Do you have your pajamas picked out for tonight?”

Donning his trademark shoulder pads, eye black and foot-long nails weaved within his hair and draped across his forehead, he pauses to take a sip of Starbucks, a caramel Frappuccino that he admits isn’t the greatest. It feels like a subtle pause on the whirlwind year he’s had. “I’ve been on a coffee kick lately,” he adds, as his initial question, while quirky and off-the-cuff, is on theme for the enigmatic singer-rapper.

Within our conversation, Teezo is in the midst of preparing for the How Do You Sleep At Night? album release party in New York City. At this point, word of his debut record has spread like wildfire, not to mention through the co-signs and coinciding features that have aided in his ascension to mainstream relevance (Tyler, The Creator, Travis Scott, Don Toliver, Drake and Lil Yachty are among the most notable). Yet, the Beaumont, Texas native is more humble — and human — than his status as an inimitable superstar portrays him to be.

“It feels like my birthday,” he says. “I started this conversation sitting down, but I just can’t help from pacing… I’m excited.” Artists have their whole lives to craft their debut album, and Teezo knows this, rising to the occasion in these waking moments with a story of a lifetime locked and loaded — restless for what’s ahead.

Whether it was “don’t worry, you’re early” era hits in “SOCIAL CUES,” “SUCKA” and “TECHNICALLY” or his feature short film debut on Cole Bennett’s whyrush? that caught your eye, the 30-year-old multi-hyphenate is a sample platter of sonic flavor; fit for any listener’s taste. How Do You Sleep At Night? (Sept. 8) not only meets you with an amalgamation of sonic bliss, but immerses you in Teezo’s genre-defying brilliance. It’s a breath of fresh air, channeling the spirit of icons like Prince (who he takes great influence from) and seamlessly fusing eras to craft a contemporary tapestry representative of the 2020s’ dynamic, unbound soundscape.

As hip-hop ceases to command its once leading power over the industry, raw innovation and genreless intent pushes forward — and nowhere is it more palpable than on HDYSAN. From thumping guitar riffs reminiscent of Boston on “Stranger,” to captivating, chorus echoes of Queen on “UUHH,” and even a heart-stopping EDM crescendo on the outro “The Original Was Better,” Teezo emerges, not just as an uncharted creative, but as the digital age’s reincarnation of an ‘80s rockstar.

Teezo revels in this limitless space. Spanning 14 tracks, the album is a trek into the unknown, with each song offering more than a simple sensory experience. Rich undertones of funk, R&B, and indie-pop set the stage for Teezo’s tantalizing hooks and his startling vocal versatility. Evoking a fluidity that defies the “alt-rap rocker” title, it seems less of a label and more of a salute to uninhibited artistic expression. It’s not just the eclectic sounds of HDYSAN that pull you in, it’s the heartfelt stories that are intricately woven by Teezo’s potently frivolous lyricism. The album’s emotional ebbs and flows are evident, as raw and soulful tracks like “I Don’t Think U C Me” with Isaiah Rusk and the tender “Sweet” featuring Fousheé find their counter in the lively beats of “You Thought” with Janelle Monae and the exuberant “Mood Swings,” among other personal favorites like “Impossible” and “Neighborhood.” The comparisons to a modern-day Prince are undeniable, but Teezo introduces his own signature through the lens of “Rock & Boom” — a vibrant blend he describes as “R&B with the intensity of rock, the penmanship of hip-hop and a BOOM that will shake the world.”

Much like the scribbled, scanned post-it notes he uses to communicate, Teezo Touchdown is an artist inherently more sticky than most. Sleeping on him is a mistake; wake up already.

READ our full conversation with Teezo Touchdown about his debut album, working with Travis Scott, Don Toliver, his engagement with fans, Rock & Boom and much more below!

10 waking questions with Teezo Touchdown

JB: First I want to say congratulations on everything you’ve accomplished. It’s release night… What are the emotions you have heading into your debut album? 

Teezo: “It feels like my birthday… I started this conversation sitting down, but I just can’t help from keeping myself pacing. But I think that kind of wore off the more I started sitting in the present and being in the moment… that’s how I’m feeling right now. As far as my debut album, many say you get your whole life to craft it. That rings true for me. Starting as a DJ in elementary school, downloading the Billboard Hot 100 and playing at parties every weekend, has shaped my journey to this point. It’s influenced my crowd control and honed my musical ear. From those days as a fourth-grader in Mrs. White’s class to now, spending hours in a New York hotel room on my birthday working on this album, it all weaves together into what you see and hear today.”

JB: You’re so much more than rapper, evident in the types of sounds you’ve commanded over your career thus far. And that, to me, falls hand-in-hand with how you interact with fans and ignite rollouts for singles or videos — more specifically with the sticky notes. How did that start? What are your thoughts on how you’ve evolved from rapper to all-encompassing creative?

Teezo: “I used to be guilty of calling myself as a rapper because it was slowly becoming a derogatory term. I’ve seen other rappers in their songs addressing this shift in perception. Yet, with Hip Hop turning 50 and it being my first love, I’m determined to wear that title with pride. The songs I have, like “I’m Just a Fan”, and the comments I receive on my writing, stem from my foundation as an MC. I’ve always understood the core rules of hip hop, including the emphasis on being an original MC. This understanding influences my writing and the singles you hear from me. Even the sticky note approach I use ties back to hip hop’s rule about originality and not copying someone’s style. Being a devoted fan and student of the genre, I’ve always aimed to offer something authentic. When I got my first feature in Face Magazine with photos by Steven Klein, I didn’t want to just post “Hey, I’m in a magazine.” Instead, I took some pale yellow sticky notes I had at home, wrote on them, scanned the magazine page, and shared that. At first, I would use the entire note, but after realizing the iPhone had a square crop feature, I started using that. It’s become the main way I communicate ever since.”

JB: I’ve heard close collaborators of yours like Tyler Cole and BNYX say you’re as much of a producer as you are an artist. What’s the most important aspect to you when you’re in the studio? How do you feel you contribute to the production process for those making the music or helping you to create it?

Teezo: “I always want to ensure that the kid in me is happy. It’s never too much of a [letdown] like, ‘aw, I have to get ready for work,’ because I remember how I used to feel getting ready for things like Joe’s Crab Shack or Guess — like that hour before the shift starts, you just count down… So, I always make sure to do things, like have a TV in the studio, that remind me this isn’t just a job, but what I’ve always wanted to do my whole life.

[As far as my musical journey], I started with wanting to do everything myself, especially after seeing artists like Prince produce his entire first album solo. But as he began to collaborate more in his later career and produced some of his best albums, I realized the value of collaboration in my own journey. A turning point was when I created ‘I’m Just a Fan.’ It was around that time I had a conversation with the CEO of my label, Joseph Hill, and he just really emphasized the importance of having fun, enjoying the process and the value of collaboration. Before then, I was so serious. I wanted to make it so bad. But they basically told me, ‘You have to have fun, but also allow others contribute.’ At this level in the industry, everyone is skilled; they’re here for a reason. It’s about letting them shine in what they’re good at and collaborating to improve what they’re not.

When I first came out to LA in 2019, I thought I’d rely on my skills, but quickly realized that everyone at this level is exceptional. So, instead of focusing solely on my skills, like trying to work out the keys on a piano, when there’s a talented pianist right next to me, my strength now lies in how I can communicate my ideas to those in the room with me.”

JB: What about with BNYX? How has your relationship evolved since you guys linked on “Social Cues” in 2020? He produced “Sweet” after all. It seems like you two clicked from the jump.

Teezo: “Yeah, I met BNYX in 2019, the week I was leaving LA after having been there since March. He had been in LA for just a month. I connected with him through a good friend of mine and we ended up in the studio together. I asked him if he had any alternative beats and he shared two with me, one of them became ‘Social Cues.’ I recorded it the next day and the rest is history. As time passed, we’d occasionally run into each other in LA — and just watching his progress and seeing what he’s been able to accomplish moves me to tears. It’s inspiring to see my friends achieve their goals. Their successes aren’t based on luck but on genuine talent and destiny. Regarding future collaborations with BNYX, I believe there will be more. We prioritize our friendship over business. ‘Sweet’  is actually the first time we’ve worked together, on a BNYX record nonetheless. That’s my real friend. I’m genuinely proud of what he’s accomplished.”

JB: Talk to me about the link-ups with fellow Texans like Travis Scott (“Modern Jam”) and Don Toliver (“Luckily I’m Having”). Describe how these tracks came together and the moment it created for you in its aftermath?

Teezo: “So, I’m very protective of other artist’s creative process and their privacy, but I will say for the Don record, we did that on the road and started that song when we were on [Tyler, The Creator’s] ‘Call Me If You Get Lost’ tour. We met in just a random hallway on one of the tour stops [For context: Toliver joined his longtime girlfriend Kali Uchis on Tyler’s tour for select dates in 2021] and we bonded over growing up in Texas. And then we went to Dallas, where a lot of great music history occurred, and asked me to come to a studio. To be honest, it wasn’t the best experience, the engineers were worn out and we were tired from the road. But Don was super patient and gracious with everyone in there, he’s a true professional. With Travis, I just want to set the scene. I’m at Electric Lady Studio, and it’s just me. It’s dark, and I’m working on the song and working on it, trying to figure out what I could do. I look out to the control room where Travis was at and said ‘I don’t think I have anything for this man.’ I couldn’t see, though, because it was so dark, and an engineer said through the speakers ‘hey, Trav stepped out for a second, he’ll be right back.’ So in that moment, when I almost gave up on it, I stepped back and said ‘let me just give it one more try. If it works, it works.’ And here we have ‘Modern Jam’ as it is today.”

JB: Speaking on your prolific list of collaborators and co-signs, like Lil Yachty and Tyler, The Creator to name a few, how have relationships with these artists bettered you? How have they contributed to your work as much as you’ve contributed to theirs? What would you say to this looking back on your journey?

Teezo: “I would say don’t wait until you’re in a room with Teezo Touchdown, Travis Scott, or these other top names to put your game face on, or show how cool and kind you are. Begin that wherever you are right now. Whether you’re currently unemployed, living at home with your parents, or sharing a space with roommates, start treating them the way you would treat us when you finally get the chance to meet. It’s what I’ve been doing from the start. From the moment I first walked into a room with Chip Ray, I made it a point to talk to everyone and introduce myself. So, I suggest you start practicing that now. Life isn’t a Marvel movie; there’s no sudden, magical transformation. Every single day, you have to put in the work and stay consistent in your journey towards achieving your dreams. The change or pivotal moment you might be waiting for might not happen in the way you expect. Who you are right now is probably a good indicator of who you’ll be when you start making big moves. So, take a moment to evaluate yourself, write down where you currently stand, recognize the qualities you bring to the table, and identify areas you might need to work on. That’s what I’m still focusing on.”

JB: You’ve spoke on this genre that you’ve created titled “Rock & Boom.” What can fans expect with this sound moving forward? What was the intention behind it, specifically related to this album?

Teezo: “With this album, I think you’re going to see what to expect from me [from now on]. I definitely had another album before this that felt more like showcasing, “I can do this and that.” But just because I can do everything doesn’t mean I have to. I really wanted to focus on what I want to offer to the world. You have artists like Prince with the Minneapolis sound, all these great people that have given something unique to the world. For me, it’s Rock & Boom that I want to offer. It’s still early on, so I’m not saying this is all you should expect from Teezo Touchdown. I just love how vast the range of Rock & Boom is — covering various genres, letting me move freely. With this album, I’m not creating a box around Teezo Touchdown. Even if I seem open in my interviews and my music, I’m still learning and trying new things. But right now, it’s all about Rock & Boom.”

JB: How would you describe Teezo Touchdown to someone who has never heard of you or your music?

Teezo: “I’d ask them to think of their closest friend, the one they share all their secrets with, who knows everything about them. Now, imagine that friend becoming the biggest star in the world, yet they still answer your calls, chat with you, and hang out to watch movies. That’s how I’d describe myself.”

JB: Do you feel like the snippets helped or hurt you in the album’s rollout? What can fans expect beyond what you’ve already shared?

Teezo: “I’m excited for everyone to hear the surprises on the album. At first, I was nervous about giving a sneak preview of the whole thing, but the more I listened to it, the more I thought, “I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner.” I’ve been releasing singles since 2020, so this is about seeing how my first full album, my first complete body of work, is perceived. It’s not just about the songs; it’s about this entire project. I’m really excited about it.”

JB: How does Teezo Touchdown sleep at night?

Teezo: “Right after he prays.”