Weird is a reoccurring theme for 22 year old rapper Christian Tafoya in a few aspects. His alias, Weird City Tafoya reflects the city he hails from (Austin). Weird in the ways he started recording music (through a Playstation headset) and just weird how I came across "When I Walk", latest track by Tafoya that has put out (fell into my lap through Twitter). However, weird is not the term to describe his music, terms such as articulate and eloquent come to mind on that subject.
Curious to know the man behind such a great track, Sobre Sound interviewed the Austin native:
Sobre Sound: How did you start making music?
Tafoya: I started making music when I was thirteen with two other friends of mine from my neighborhood. We'd record with a PlayStation headset in my boy's room. Haha! I remember recording over Chamillionaire and Lil' Wayne tracks. We called ourselves Southside Clic. My rap name was C-Red back then and I'd rap about a lot of things I didn't have. I've always thought I could be a great writer. After starting with them, we'd record every once in a while until I was seventeen. About a year after I graduated high school in 2011 I had found out an old friend of mine from school, Xavier Fontenette (AKA Zay Prime), was producing music and putting together a group of rappers under his label.
Growing up, my mother's taste in music really rubbed off on me. I can remember my early years listening to The Cure, The Cranberries and The Smashing Pumpkins a lot with her. Somewhere around the age of three or four I picked up on hiphop. Hypnotize by Biggie and Wanna Be Baller by Lil' Troy really did something to me. The stories that Biggie told always had me thinking further than I normally would. The dude's flow was just so smooth while also getting real meaning across. The mix of all the great 90's Rock and Hiphop music I had growing up really made a difference in my life and helped form the person and artist I am today.
SS: What's your creative process like?
Tafoya: What really gets my mind going is moving. I'll be walking around outside listening to my favorite music artists, then get all I need to write out of letting their scenarios come to life in my thoughts. Aside from that, I feel that we all have certain things constantly on our mind that reveal themselves through the things that we do. My thing just happens to be rapping, so that's the outlet for all of the stories in my mind. There's never NOTHING to talk about, or anything holding me back. My pen is freedom.
SS: This latest track you released 'When I Walk' not only has a great beat and a great flow, in my opinion, what I enjoy the most about the song is that in a genre where a lot of the songs that are about women in negative contexts, especially now a days (I'll use J Cole's ‘No Role Modelz’ as an example since it just came up on my Spotify Radio), this song seems to be about coming to terms with a woman on your mind that you're wishing the best for so eloquently, what can you share about this song, did you produce it yourself?
Tafoya: "When I Walk" has to be the best song I've ever written. It's raw truth. It's me being honest to who I was and who I've become. The whole story starts back in December of 2011. I had broken up with my first love, wasn't able to go to college due to money and gained a ton of weight. This all built up inside and made me very depressed and sickly due to not being able to hold down any food. One day, I left my house in the middle of the night and just started walking. This started to become a regular thing that I'd do every single day from then on.
Eventually, I got into a local community college in Austin, got myself a job and really started doing what I felt I was supposed to do. But really, it was all in attempt to get that girl back. When that didn't work out, I dropped out and started writing a lot more. One of the songs was "When I Walk". I wrote it over no instrumental. This was a song I thought would never get finished. When I first started writing it, it was some time in 2012.
Depression took it's toll on me and I felt I had to let the song go along with the girl. 2015 came pretty fast. I had been with another girl for about a year throughout 2013 and 2014. After that ended, my first love came back to mind. I was wondering how she was doing. Zay Prime had been cooking up instrumentals and sent one my way (When I Walk).
I passed up on it, he gave it to another artist, but she never did anything with it. I was checking my emails and listened to it again one day, and then the lyrics from "When I Walk" just started pouring out of my mouth. It's kind of weird actually. Right then and there I knew the song had to be finished. So, whereas the first verse was a lot about my depression in 2012, my second verse that I wrote in 2015 was about reminiscing about the good times we had and how her presence in my life really pushed me forward in a positive way. I really do hope she is doing well. "When I Walk" goes out to her to show thanks for everything that she was for me and everything she inspired me to be.
SS: What can you tell us about your last EP The Motley? How did you start working with Zay Prime?
Tafoya: I started working with Zay Prime back in 2012. We had a group under a label Zay created named Royalty Empire Productions. At our high point, the group's primary members consisted of Zay Prime, Kid Flame, Tok'n, Lil' ATX, Sace and myself. Life kind of took a toll on the group through getting caught up with the law, having children and other individual ventures. We've dwindled down to only a few members and have decided to disband the group. Zay and I felt this could be our last hoorah, so him and I made The Motley. All of the instrumentals on the EP were produced by Zay Prime, with the exception of "Mo!", which we worked on together using a Depeche Mode sample I've always liked. We started working on the EP at the end of 2014. The great thing about it was that we could really depend on each other for this project because we both actually put in work to go far with our music. Not a lot of people can say that, so I really appreciate him sticking it out with me to complete The Motley. Since the release in August, we've both been getting a lot of recognition for the music we've created.
SS: In your song 'The Cameras' off the EP, you have a reporter asking you if it's hard to get recognized in Austin (music capital of the world) and you basically respond with it being all about the grind. It seems as though Austin is very "rock-centric" how would you compare the hip hop/ underground scene v. the "rock scene" is there is any comparison?
Tafoya: Let me start off by saying Austin's hipster community is a very large one. I feel like Austin as a whole is more open to listening to different genre's of music and discovering the next big thing before everyone else, simply because we are not tied down to a certain style yet. Sure, the rock scene is very popular here, but there are tons of rappers from other cities who have gotten discovered at Austin's music festivals. The problem here is that everyone wants to be the first breakout rapper from ATX, so most rappers seem very hesitant to help anyone else out and push them to make moves. Meanwhile, bands who are strangers to each other make it a mission to put on shows together. Thus, shared fans/supporters and more exposure. That is one big difference between the hip hop and rock scenes here in Weird City.
SS: What new stuff have you been working on? You mentioned working with Amber London from Raider Klan, [associated with SPACEGHOSTPURRP] how did that come to be? What can you tell us about this new track?
Tafoya: During SXSW in March of this year, my photographer, Jordan Lester, took me to a show where I'd light Amber London's blunt on stage. [Haha] I heard her music before and saw her perform that night. The next day, I mentioned her on Twitter and started talking music with her. The track I have her featuring on is called "New Era Zombies" and is produced by Zay Prime. The song is all about sticking to what you like, even if it is a trend. I should be dropping a few more songs produced by Zay Prime by the end of this year.
SS: What do you have planned for 2016?
Tafoya: 2016 is looking great for me! I'll be releasing another EP with multiple producers, artists and promo companies backing it up. There will also be a lot more shows lined up, specifically during SXSW. The Motley EP will be available on iTunes and Spotify as soon as January. To kick off the New Year, I'll be dropping a visual for "Third Coast Rulers", along with John Ibe as the first video for my YouTube channel. This upcoming year is all about making more connections, so I'll see what opportunities are in store for me when I get there.