Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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Tah- Mac: On the road to success

Tah-Mac Tah-Mac Tah-Mac Tah-Mac Tah-Mac Tah-Mac and Mr Lewis Tah-Mac Tah-Mac Tah-Mac

Brooklyn-born-and-raised MC/producer Tah Mac celebrates the release of his debut album, granting Pete Lewis a warm âWelcome To Tahlandâ over afternoon drinks at Chelsea Harbour.

No newcomer to the hip hop game, Tah first made his mark in the mid-Nineties when - while still in his mid-teens - he became an original member of rap icon Erick Sermonâs now-legendary Def Squad production team. Which, in addition to crafting major hits for the likes of Keith Murray and Onyx, also saw him regularly touring with chart-topping rappers-of-the-day like Redman and DMX.

Meanwhile, with New Yorker Tah now based in both LA and London, the self-proclaimed âglobal soundâ of his aforementioned new album âWelcome To Tahlandâ boasts such diverse guests as contemporary soul man Cee-Lo (Gnarls Barkley): DJ Lethal (Limp Bizkit/House Of Pain); and guitarist Ritchie Kotsen (glam rockers Poison) - who all feature on the party-themed single âLavish Lifestyleâ. Meanwhile, British former Sugagbabe Mutya Buena injects a soulful chorus into the socially-conscious rap/R&B of âGive Backâ; while other names on board include such up-and-coming talents as Shay & Trix (the bouncy, P-Funk-influenced âFeeling Goodâ) and Tia Myrie (the breezy, reggae-tinged âBack In Timeâ).

âThe idea for the album title came to me about four-and-a-half years ago, when I first started putting this project togetherâ, begins a laid-back, quietly-spoken Tah: ââWelcome To Tahlandâ basically means âwelcome to my amalgamation of soundâ. You know, as I worked on this record in so many different parts of the world - the UK, France, Germany, New York, LA - it basically represents me just putting everything into one big melting-pot. Theoretically I wanted to reach out to the masses, so thereâd be something on there for everybody from eight years old to 80 years old! So, while the smallest kid can appreciate tracks like âLavish Lifestyleâ or âBack In Timeâ, at the same time even grandmothers and GREAT grandmothers can appreciate a song like âGive Backâ! You know, while hip hop - from a demographic perspective - can so pigeonholed, I at least wanted to climb the various fences and embrace anything from a rap sound to an alternative style and beyond!â

While the braggadocio rhymes of wealth and party themes of jiggy-flavoured tracks like the irrepressible âDo It Bigâ and âTime Of My Lifeâ may seem at odds with the doom-and-gloom of todayâs economic climate, Tah nevertheless insists they do play a relevant role in todayâs music scene: âIâm really just showing the world that, regardless of what weâre going through at any trying time, music can always be FUN! You know, because weâve all seen so many news stories all over the media about the worldâs economic turmoil recently, I just wanted to put out a record to try and cheer people up a little and offer a few minutes of escapism. I mean, on a song like âLavish Lifestyleâ Iâm actually saying âWhether you have five dollars or 50 pounds in your pocket, you can still have a good time and party till the sun comes up!â. You know, Iâm a positive person, and I always REMAIN positive! So I just wanted to put a smile on peopleâs face by staying true to myself.â

Unusually for a successful US hip hop producer, six years ago Tah made the unexpected decision to partly base himself in the UK in order to broaden his musical horizons: âYeah, looking back it was a huge risk to take. But, at the time I didnât LOOK at it like thatâ, he explains: âBecause I was embracing the fear of leaving behind everything that I had at home and travelling overseas to make my own way and my own imprint. I realised that everything was repetitive in my own backyard, that in America everybody was doing the same thing. So I just decided to go somewhere where I could create my own comfort-zone and then, eventually, take the foundation Iâd laid here back home and beyond. â

âAnd some of the talent Iâve ended up working with here in London has been amazingâ, he adds proudly: âFor instance, I worked with Leona Lewis before her whole âX-Factorâ experience. And, even back then, I saw something golden about that young lady. I did a record called âSugar Sweetâ with her, and I remember telling a lotta media outlets here in the UK that she was gonna be one of the biggest pop artists to come out of this country in a long time. And, even though I donât think people took me seriously at the time, Iâve definitely been proved right since! And, when she and I bumped into each other in LA at the Grammies this year, it was a great moment! We embraced each other, and she was like âTah, you we right there with me when people still didnât understand what I was gonna DO!â... And itâs the same with Estelle, who I also worked with here in London a few years back. You know, to see HER on a world platform today and have her embrace me is great too!â

With 18 years in the game already behind him, Tah has strong feelings on the current commercial demise of hip hop: âI think back in The States, in certain areas, people just kinda got lazyâ, he observes with honesty: âYou know, it became all about making a two-bit hit record, making whatever you can make from it to replenish your lifestyle and keep things going for the moment - and just forgetting the reality of what hip hop was always ABOUT! They were basically just doing it for the MONEY, and not for love of the ART. And what a lot of these people forgot was that, once the consumer starts losing interest, then you actually have nothing LEFT! Especially in this digital download era.â

âSo yeah, itâs very sadâ, he adds genuinely: âBecause thereâs so many artists that were getting million-dollar, or two-million-dollar, deals who are now working in McDonalds! Some of them Iâve even seen working in gas stations - and itâs shameful to SEE that! And a lot of it is also because many of them were allowing the wrong individuals to control their life, and werenât in control of what they were doing on a day-to-day basis.â

âSo the state of hip hop has now gotten to the point where either you take control of what you do as an art-form, or you just stay stuck in a rut!â, concludes Tah passionately: âAnd for me itâs all about remaining POSITIVE! You know, just be true to yourself, do what you gotta do on a daily basis - and youâll GET there! Because the business, as we all know, is shady top-to-bottom! But, at the same time, if you DO get the right people around you - like I, for one, have my mother - to take care of your business on a day-to- day and you stay true to your art, then you really have nothing to worry about.â

The album âWelcome To Tahlandâis released April 27. The single âLavish Lifestyle featuring C.A.S.H.â is out now, both through TAHMC Entertainment

All photos care of Romain Kedochim. For more visit ROMAIN PHOTOGRAPHY

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