Show & Prove: Teezo Touchdown
Words: Georgette Cline
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the Spring 2024 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Everything is bigger in Texas, down to the metal nails decorating Teezo Touchdown’s hair and, sometimes, his face. The 31-year-old artist repping the city of Beaumont, a.k.a. Boomtown, has built a playful world in which nails, football shoulder pads, facial piercings and eye black (what football players use on their face) often formed into the letter T on his upper cheeks are part of his daily look. The avant-garde approach to his outer shell is as creative as the music he’s making.

Teezo coins it rock & boom: “R&B with the intensity of rock, the penmanship of hip-hop, and a boom that will shake the world.” It’s a sound that rappers like Drake, Travis Scott and Tyler, The Creator have all gravitated toward by featuring the rising superstar on their most recent albums. Teezo’s appeal nestles between the eclecticism of André 3000 and the innovation of the late singer Rick James. The football enthusiast is acutely dialed in on his very specific artistry. “You can say this is the improvement era right now,” he shares while sitting inside RCA Records, his label home.

Born Aaron Thomas, Teezo became entrenched in hip-hop as an 8-year-old kid. He joined his dad at DJ gigs, and his uncle was also a rapper. “They were like chasing the same dream that I’m living right now,” shares Teezo, the youngest of five siblings. Electronic band Kraftwerk, reggae and Frankie Beverly as part of Maze were often heard in the house growing up.

While other boys were playing Xbox or a PlayStation, Teezo was “doing this music thing” in his room on DJ equipment his father bought him. By fourth grade, Teezo started DJing and learning the techniques of chopped-and-screwed music, a staple in Houston, an hour-and-a-half drive from Beaumont. He even wrote a school paper on the subject. Houston’s own Lil’ Flip was (and still is) Teezo’s favorite rapper.

“That’s what I love about hip-hop,” says the creative polymath, who went through three different rap monikers—King Lashane, A.T., and Teezo Suave—before settling on Teezo Touchdown. “You don’t really need much to get into the art form. You just need a voice. And maybe if someone has a beat, even better.”

In seventh grade, he made his very first song, “Bang Me Through Your Speakers,” and produced the beat. “It’s very cringe,” Teezo admits. Elevation hit in high school. MySpace became his platform of choice to share his music in 2008, while also promoting tracks with local rap group 2Live Click. Local Beaumont singer Dante Davis inspired Teezo to take singing, songwriting and performing more seriously. Teezo also debuted his first mixtape that year with the fitting title Varsity. “It’s rapping because I didn’t understand singing,” he recalls. “Now when I get compliments on my singing, it’s kind of crazy ’cause I used to be so tone-deaf.”

After graduating high school in 2011, Teezo went to Prairie View A&M University and played trombone in the marching band while his music took a back seat. An academic suspension led Teezo to step back from his education while he worked at Joe’s Crab Shack and other restaurants to pay the bills. He tried returning to college and released a few songs here and there, but eventually had to leave again as he admittedly dropped the ball.

“Developing, meeting people, getting more skilled in songwriting, [and] seeing what do I wanna look like” helped Teezo to hit the ground running with his music in 2016. He released three projects in two years: Professional, The Example and Cover Boy. In 2019, he unleashed “100 Drums,” a track that finds him rapping over pop-rock band Panic! at the Disco’s 2005 classic “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” with lyrics about gun violence. “No, I do not promote guns/But coming where I’m from/You’d be dumb not to have one,” Teezo delivered in the live performance video, which took off on social media. Trippie Redd became a fan of Teezo after seeing the visual and invited him to collaborate in Los Angeles.

“100 Drums”—without sounding preachy or corny—also captured the attention of music executive Amal Noor, who’s been managing Teezo for the past five years through her company, about:blank LLC. “Teezo isn’t afraid to be experimental with his artistic gifts and push himself further to explore new bounds,” she says. “He calls it ‘trial and success,’ which is what artistry is all about.”

Noor introduced Teezo to J. Hill, founder and CEO of independent label Not Fit For Society. Teezo signed to both RCA and Not Fit in 2019. “I saw a star in him from the beginning,” Hill explains.

As Teezo continued to deliver new music and videos like “Bad Enough,” in which he plays guitar while rocking black latex and football gear, some of hip-hop’s elites took notice of his maverick spirit. Tyler, The Creator welcomed him on “Runitup” in 2021, and brought Teezo on the Call Me If You Get Lost Tour a year later. The rap newcomer also appeared on Travis Scott’s “Modern Jam” and joined La Flame for the Circus Maximus Tour in 2023. Teezo even got a look on Drake’s “Anthem” and a few other tracks at the end of that year. “I play it cool, but I’m still like, Man, I’m in the room with such and such right now,” Teezo says of these winning moments.

Teezo’s 2023 debut album, How Do You Sleep at Night?, arrived in the thick of it. It’s an experimental listen that bends and blends rock, rap, R&B and pop on standout gems like “Neighborhood” and “Nu Nay.” The deluxe version dropped at the top of 2024. Teezo’s currently on the Spend The Night Tour, a headlining trek across 24 cities. A look at Teezo’s social media shows that he’s in constant promo mode on the road. He even speaks to fans through yellow Post-it notes on social, his preferred way to communicate.

JID, Lloyd Banks, Chance The Rapper and Timbaland, among others, are also all tapped into Teezo Touchdown’s movement. The man on the starting line has earned praise from many corners of the game. Now he’s looking to pay it forward. “I wanna have a great playbook for you to follow and hopefully that it motivates you, see what I did right, see what I do wrong,” he affirms. “For the next person to basically take this wherever I take it. And then you take it even further.”

Straight to a touchdown.

Read Teezo Touchdown's Show & Prove in the Spring 2024 issue of XXL Magazine, on newsstands now. The new issue also includes the cover story with Gunna and conversations with Metro BoominDanny Brown42 DuggJim Jones and Maino a.k.a. Lobby Boyz, DruskiThat Mexican OT41BabyDrillRapsody, actress La La AnthonyBigXthaPlugRob49Reuben Vincent, singer Tyla, actress La La Anthony and producer Tate Kobang. There's also a look at how social networking has a chokehold on rappers' feelings and how hip-hop in 2024 is experiencing more wins than losses and the ways in which kid rappers are thriving thanks to social media.

See Photos of Gunna's XXL Magazine Spring 2024 Issue Cover Story