Writers Choice Spotlight
Photo Via - Sicness.net
Full Name: Walter Taylor Jr.
Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota
Height: 5 ft, 5 in.
Style: Smooth R&B melodies and vocals mixed with powerful hip-hop delivery and lyricism
Business: Scenious Society
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Walter Taylor Jr. (also known as Taylor J) was raised as the only child in the home by his mother, Frances Ellis. With four siblings at his father’s house, Taylor had plenty of family. However, it was his older brother who performs under the artist name ‘Renegade’, who would grow to be his original inspiration that led to his venture into a music career. In St. Paul, Taylor grew up seeing people make their ends meet any way possible. Some worked steady jobs, some sold drugs, some robbed. Taylor knew that his route out was in music.
Taylor grew up with the bigger picture always in mind. Through school and his adolescence, he knew that he was eventually going to have to make a big move to break the mold of his environment. After his older brother was sent to jail in 2003, Taylor’s move became more obvious and he set out to fill the void that his brother left in the music world. They kept in touch through phone conversations and visits, where Taylor would learn more about his brother’s message and vision for his movement. On top of their casual conversations, Taylor would also spit him some of the stuff he wrote which boosted his confidence and his practice. Growing up listening to Biggie, Pac, Nas, etc from his brother and his mother’s influence, he understood the roots of hip-hop when it was at its peak. As he grew and shaped himself as an artist, he became part of two local groups, Mid-west Mafia/New Era, before setting off for a more independent scene when he found his passion and enjoyment for the craft.
Photo Via - Illuminati2g
Taylor J’s overall sound incorporates a lot of different elements that keep his final projects interesting and each song a degree different than the other. In summary, Taylor brings piano keys and r&b traces and layers them with sharp hip-hop beats and precise vocals combined with a flow that ties every song together. His melodic singing works as both a filler and a main part of his songs. His vocal range plays well aside his precise delivery with his verses. When asked how he decides when and how to sing or rap, his strategy is simple. When he hears a beat he hears the whole song, when and how a certain part should be sung, what ad-libs are going to go where. It all formulates in one step in his mind and the rest of the process is simply adding the pieces.
With no background in singing, aside from his time studying music at McNally Smith College of Music, vocals come a little too naturally to Taylor. His melody mixes flawlessly with his ability to rap on top of a variety of different beats as he shows in his vast portfolio of work. His message is clear throughout his work, he states time and time again that he’s the next up and coming and is going to take over every platform on his way. His mother is a top motivator for Taylor and he proves it time and time again in his lyrics. He tells about his trials he faced on the way through music and about betrayal from those close to him, which has only motivated him to surpass them as far as possible.
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Taylor has worked with some of the greats in music already such as Gucci Mane(who after meeting Taylor attempted to sign him), Nipsey Hussle, Jazze Pha, Gorilla Zoe, and more. Topped off with a mentorship by the well-known, and well established Shaheem Reid; he has built himself into a veteran of the game with years of hard work. Though he is still after many features and projects with artists, his most desired has always been Andre 3000 of Outkast. Who Taylor had already had a run-in with, but under different circumstances.
Taylor references this run-in on the song “Impossible” in which he showcases his singing ability and also his unique flow.
The song goes on to explain the hurdles Taylor and others have faced as artists and humans overall growing up in troubled areas. While bringing attention to these struggles we also hear throughout the song that none of this will slow or stop his movement, and it shouldn’t stop anybody else.
Recent Chronology / Favorite Tracks
F*** The World
No Good ft. Dose, Gucci Mane
Clubs, Drugs, and Hotels- 2013
Peer Pressure- 2014
Central Ave- 2015
1991 - 2015
The 91 Family- 2016
Do For Me
Who Would’ve Thought- 2017
Scenious Society is the whole idea behind Taylor’s Takeover movement and the inspiration came from a professor at McNalley Smith which he attended. The professor spoke of the term “scenious” and its referral to being a genius of your scene, a master of adaptation and capitalism. Taylor quickly understood this concept and ran full sprint with what would grow into his entire Scenious culture.
Taylor emphasizes in his music and in our interview that in so many cities around the world, money isn’t just out there for everyone to make. Some people need to go out and sell drugs, rob/steal, etc. just to eat or pay the rent for their family. In his song Little Dreams he stages a conversation between two friends on opposite sides of fortune, both with different options in life. This song is an example of Taylor’s elite storytelling abilities as he assured that the conversation didn’t really take place between him and a friend but it happens every day all over. I asked Taylor what he thought of this years XXL Freshman Class to which he responded,
Photo Via - The Hype Magazine
Taylor’s next album, Only Us, will be coming out within the next month. After dropping his single “Feelings” the anticipation has stacked since. Feelings brought together Taylor’s delivery style from his older mixtapes combined with the powerful, clean, new production he has been working on every day for years. Taylor’s work day consists of 20 hours a day of constant work and tweaking of his products with small naps in between. When not in the studio, Taylor works hard on social media promoting his music, videos, clothing line, promotions, etc.
His music video for his song “Five Times” off of his newest album has amassed over 14k views in the 3 months it’s been up. His song “Hunnits” gathered 15k in only 2 months and the video for “No Good” feat. Gucci Mane and Dose has over 231k. His other songs range up to 40-50k as well. His online streams also stack in the thousands with his older stuff averaging 5k and his newer works hitting near the 20k mark with his newest Who Would’ve Thought quickly catching pace.
I have been an avid fan of Taylor J since I found him while browsing Datpiff one evening a few years ago. Since then I have listened to almost all of his work and noted his progression and have yet to be disappointed with what I find. His keep-pushing mentality mixed with his veteran stature is one that demands respect. 1991 was the first mixtape I listened to and remains my favorite. A very close second is his newest Who Would’ve Thought. Every song on both of these projects provides something knew throughout. He mixes up his flow, tempo, beats, and overall themes enough throughout his projects that the new-age redundancy bore isn’t a factor when listening through.
Each song is a refreshing change from the last. A thing I appreciate most about Taylor’s music is that it appeals to two major fan bases that sometimes disagree. Those who enjoy a soft r&b melody and those who appreciate hard lyricism and strong delivery. Taylor incorporates these into songs. With something for each party and plenty for those who enjoy both. His ad-libs are strong and well inserted as well as his choruses. Overall I expect Taylor J to be a consistent name in the entertainment industry for a long time. His versatility and his motivational drive are two that cannot fail and paired with a talent like his it is bound to take off. Keep an eye out for his local tour dates and his newest album Only Us dropping very soon.