Released earlier this year, Travis Scott’s “UTOPIA” set records in stream counts for all music platforms. Along with jaw-droppingly high numbers, the album included an impressive roster of talented artists from all over the rap industry. One of the most prominent collaborators of the album, Teezo Touchdown, was featured on Scott’s song “MODERN JAM,” in which the funky instrumentation combined with Teezo’s unique vocal style left listeners hungry for more.
Upon completion of the album, many fans felt intrigued at the sound of Teezo’s performance in the album and had arms open wide for anything new. With a germinating fanbase, Teezo Touchdown released his first album titled “How Do You Sleep At Night?” after a long line of singles and features. Marking his first attempt at an LP, did Teezo prove to his new fans that he can go beyond short performances as just a mere feature?
Coming in just shy of 40 minutes, the debut piece holds 14 songs of extensive range that showcase the individual capabilities of Teezo as a musician. It definitely deserves its genre title of “alternative” with every song varying greatly in sound.
With the first being, “OK,” the listener is transported back in time to the punk-rock era of the early 2000s. As the album closes, “The Original Was Better” flips the listener on its head with strong EDM influence in the instrumental portion. Between these two juxtaposed pieces, there were countless other genres explored in the discography. Genuinely going into this without any sort of expectations was such a rollercoaster, because of the constant twists, turns and drops in sonics.
Although the genres are constantly evolving, the high production value remains persistent throughout. With clean and coherent mixing on each song, there was rarely a moment in which I was faced with orchestration that I disliked. There were, of course, a few songs that I did not love based on their instrumental alone. However, that’s the nature of the beast when it comes to music- not every piece is guaranteed to be a favorite.
Additionally, Teezo’s harmonies on the choruses are heavenly more often than not. Similar to his performance in Scott’s work, pieces like “UUHH” and “Daddy Mama Drama” have bridges and choruses that give the listener goosebumps. Immaculate vocal layering allowed for the two pieces to blossom into some of the best works on the debut. Personally, Teezo’s belting and harmonizing capabilities rise above his rapping or rhythmic flow found in the surrounding verses.
Unfortunately, the bad taste that did not leave my mouth from this album was the beyond-horrendous lyricism. Under the guise of a feature, Teezo was able to have guidance from the original artist in enhancing the song with his own style. Without this vital backbone, Teezo was ultimately left on his own for the entirety of the album.
There were moments in which the emotional, sensitive themes —family issues, job crisis and existentialism— would be absolutely squandered by the lackluster manner in which they were delivered. Teezo had great sound, in both a vocal and instrumental sense, but it was his lyrics that ruined it for me.
It was shocking at times when I listened to the lyrics, so much so that I often rewinded in order to check if I really heard him right: “Did he just rhyme the same word three times in a row? There is no way he said that, it’s so cheesy.”
Anything that was built up through musical progression was immediately demolished by the, quite frankly, embarrassing lyric writing.
For being a distinguished feature in the works of Tyler, the Creator, Travis Scott or Don Toliver, Teezo underused the potential of his invited collaborators. It is baffling to see someone, who gained notoriety through this medium, throw away the talent of his own features on his album.
Marking four songs with features, artists Janelle Monáe, Fousheé and Isaiah Rusk, are added in such a way that it underplayed their musical capabilities. Monáe’s contribution to “You Thought” was a meager five words, Fousheé’s “Sweet” was barely over two minutes, and Rusk’s “Too Easy” and “I Don’t Think U C Me” were simply forgettable. I expected so much more in regard to the features Teezo chose to incorporate into the work, especially since his entire reputation was founded upon them.
Overall, “How Do You Sleep At Night?” made me question how Teezo Touchdown —or better yet, his record label — slept after its release in September. Whilst the vocal performances from Teezo were impressive and the instrumental pieces were eccentric, the lyrics were abhorrent and virtually showcased the album’s inability to stand on its own. In my eyes, Teezo failed his fans and proved that he is just a small artist supported by the talent of much bigger names in the industry.