The Baton Rouge Hip Hop scene is rich with talent, but it often gets narrowed down to its stars. Each era has its top dog – whether it be Young Bleed, Boosie Badazz, Kevin Gates or NBA YoungBoy – who garners most of the national attention.
But those looking in from the outside of Louisiana don’t realize how many artists play pivotal roles in the scene. Baton Rouge’s mainstream stars undoubtedly make an impact, but countless rappers and producers have been the driving forces in shaping the styles and sounds of the city. TEC is one of those artists who probably doesn’t get his just due. Over the past decade, he’s carved out a spot as one of Baton Rouge’s top acts. And at times, he’s seemed on the cusp of stardom along with his rap partner Maine Musik.
But TEC’s story is one of perseverance. Early in his career, he signed with Master P in one of the multiple attempts to reboot No Limit Records. But a three-year stint in jail derailed that opportunity.
It would’ve been easy for TEC to fade away after that No Limit deal, but he only came back stronger. His duo with Maine Musik emerged as a force to be reckoned with when their 2016 single “Go Crazy” blew up, generating millions of views on YouTube.
Since then, TEC and Maine Musik have established themselves with their Spider Nation movement. Maine’s own legal troubles have disrupted their momentum at times, but TEC’s managed to keep the ship afloat as a solo act.
TEC’s music is an amalgamation of the last 15-20 years of Baton Rouge rap. His brashness and vulnerability are akin to Boosie Badazz — one of his biggest influences —yet he more deftly conveys his thoughts in a manner reminiscent of under-appreciated rhymers like Max Minelli or Box.
And though he frequently employs a sound that harkens back to Trill Entertainment’s glory days, he’s just as comfortable on less regionally identifiable beats and sing-rapping like Kevin Gates or NBA YoungBoy. He’s found a way to keep up with Hip Hop’s ever-changing sensibilities while never deviating from the backbone of the city that raised him, making him one of the most intriguing artists to emerge from Baton Rouge in the streaming era.
TEC has shined in recent years, carrying the Spider Nation mantle while waiting for Maine’s return from prison. He’s flourished creatively, delivering heartfelt lyrics on standout projects such as 2019’s Ketha Son and 2020’s Web Life Vol. 3. He’s also found a home at indie distribution powerhouse EMPIRE.
In October, TEC dropped his Web The World album, which is arguably his best work to date. The project showcases his versatility and sees him working with legends such as Boosie and Too $hort.
Following the release of Web The World, POW caught up with TEC to discuss his latest album and get an update on Maine. The Spider Nation rapper opened up about his career, life during the pandemic, Baton Rouge’s signature sound and much more in the in-depth conversation. – Justin Ivey
What’s life been like for you during this pandemic? How has it affected your career?
TEC: I just had to learn how to get money in different ways. it affected my Web Life 3 a whole lot because it dropped right before the pandemic. I was on a press run, but I couldn’t do none of the interviews. I couldn’t do none of this shit to really push it and then like I wasn’t talking to my label or my distribution. I wasn’t talking to them because ain’t nobody know what was going on. I ain’t know what the fuck was going, so that shit was crazy. I had to fly back from New York because it was a state of emergency. I just had to be in the house and get money from home: ownership, verses, features … It was different. Soon as shit opened back up, I got back to it, but shit is different now.
With touring hampered by the pandemic, did you find yourself in the studio more often or did you end up spending less time there?
TEC: I was in the studio more because I was stuck in my house. I had nothing to do but record. That was my only way to escape from family and shit ‘cause we were just in the house with my kids.
You just dropped the Web The World project. It comes a few months after your Year Of The Spider tape. What were your goals for this new project?
TEC: Just to touch people like I always do. Web The World, the title of it is self-explanatory. Web The World – like spread my web all across the world, all across the globe. And just continue to put out good music in different ways and do more collabs. Just try different shit and show versatility.
Yeah, I did notice you have some more collabs on this one than usual. One of the collabs that stood out to me was “Dead Boy.” I’m a big fan of OMB Peezy, and y’all seem to have good chemistry on that track.
TEC: Yeah, he raw. I fuck with Peezy. He been fucking with my shit, and I been fucking with his shit too. We studied each other’s shits, but when we get together on some shit, it’s impressive, fa sho. I fuck with that one. I recorded my verse and that hook in my pantry!
And that song was produced by DJ B Real. That’s a certified Baton Rouge hit right there with B Real on the beat.
TEC: Fuckin’ right, that’s my dog. He sent me a pack of beats and every beat he sent, I just jumped on them bitches. I think that was the first one from the pack, and he said he didn’t even like that beat. He’s like, “You picked the beat I ain’t even like.” He like, “You made that into some whole other shit.” I fuck with B Real though, fa real.
What does B Real mean to the Baton Rouge rap scene? He’s been such an integral part of the city’s sound.
TEC: Yeah, he a real legend with that shit. He started the sound out here, him and Q Red [On The Track]. Shout out to Q Red. He hit me up and told me all he’s been listening to the new project. Shout out to him and B Real and Mouse [On Tha Track]. They created a whole sound for Baton Rouge fa real, like made our own little wave. ‘Cause the first wave, we had a sound but we ain’t really have our own sound. It was just like shit from New Orleans because they had Cash Money and [Master] P and them with No Limit. We had Boo[sie], but they made our sound. Shout out to them niggas. I gotta fuck with them. I always go back to my roots and that shit be the easiest ones to record too. They paved the way for all the new producers. Now, there are producers that ain’t even from Baton Rouge sometimes and they got the sound in their [beat] packs.
You mentioned how producers outside of Baton Rouge have started using the city’s sounds. What’s it like for you when you see that? Are a lot of producers from outside of the city sending you that style of beat?
TEC: Fuckin’ right! For me, I don’t know what to say about it ‘cause they shit be raw too. The song “Purple Baby Champion” on the album, that’s a Baton Rouge sounding beat. But the dude who made it’s from Oklahoma. His name’s Rob. He made that beat and it’s a Baton Rouge type vibe to me.
It was so easy to run on it. This just shows how big the sound done got and how people have taken to it. There are other people outside our region or outside our state and city fucking with the sound too, so this shit just means more. We need a name for this shit.
Speaking of Baton Rouge, you’ve got the “Clapped Up” collab with Boosie Badazz on the new album. This is the first time y’all did a song together, and I know he’s a big influence on you. You’ve performed at Boosie Bash, but I imagine it was something special to get Boosie on that record.
TEC: That shit meant a lot. That was like a goal in itself. Everyone from Baton Rouge wanna get a song with Boose. He was everybody’s favorite rapper at some point. Especially if you from our city – fuck rapper, he’s a role model and shit. Everybody wanted to be that nigga, fa real. So, to have him on my album? That shit raw.
It was impressive too. He gave you a great verse! That was one of his best I’ve heard in recent years.
TEC: Yeah, he ain’t play on that bitch! He came with that old Boo shit. When I heard that bitch for the first time. I was around some other people when he sent the verse back. I played that bitch and niggas parked their car, jumped out the car and ran down the street like, “Yeah!” I was like, “Oh shit.” I swear to God, that boy ran down the street and came back saying, “Man that’s a hit.” I’m like, ‘What the fuck?” [Laughs] He like, “Yeah, you brought it out of him!” That nigga Boo flashed on that bitch, I’m not gonna lie.
That’s gotta feel like a sign of respect and an acknowledgment of what you mean to the city. Boosie knew he had to bring his A-game since he was making a record with TEC.
TEC: Shit yeah. I’m just glad to have that type of respect. I respect him too. He raw. I love that type of shit. That’s what this shit about, fa real, shit like that. That was big for me. Shout out to Boo.
Too $hort is another legend you collaborated with on this album. He seemed like a perfect fit for “Play On Me” because the song had an old school vibe. It’s reminiscent of his classic “Freaky Tales.” What did it mean for you to get him on the track?
TEC: That means a lot. [EMPIRE founder] Ghazi heard that song and put it together. I fuck with Too $hort on that beat. That shit was raw. When I first did it though, I was I was thinking I want E-40 on there too. I wanted to have both of them on it. But, I just did it. Ghazi got Too $hort on that bitch and he flashed on that bitch. That shit pressure fa real. I fuck with that. That shit was different ‘cause even my grandpa listens to Too $hort. He was like, “You fuckin’ right. That’s raw. You got a legend!” He was happy about that shit.
That’s gotta be a special moment in your career. You got to connect two generations of Hip Hop by working with a pioneer in Too $hort.
TEC: That’s right. That shit crazy. I ain’t lying that shit crazy ‘cause niggas been hearing that Too $hort shit for decades. “The Ghetto” and all that; that shit raw.
That song “Play On Me” also had one of the funniest lines on the album. You had me laughing when you said “white hoe with a long nose like to talk like Howard Stern.”
TEC: Yeah, I was just running that shit. [Laughs] I was drunk in the studio, so I was like old school rapping on that bitch drunk. I was saying whatever came to my mind.
Sincerity is evident in your music. The Web The World title track is a great example of your honesty. On the song, you say you used to live for the moment but have reached a point where you’ve grown and become more mature. Can you expand on how life has changed for you over the years?
TEC: I’m more disciplined now. I try to discipline myself. It’s basically me getting mature and realizing other shit matters to me. I ain’t worried about small shit no more, buying small shit. I ain’t worried about material shit, no more jewelry and shit like that. I’m thinking about other shit now. So, that’s basically what I’m saying. I’m investing my money into other stuff and focusing on business.
Another standout song on this album is “Why.” You’re a real open book on that one.
TEC: I ain’t got a choice but to be open book because I be freestyling. So, whatever be on my mind at the time when I’m in there, I just gotta put that shit on there.
On the hook, you say you feel mentally incarcerated and that really hit me. Is it therapeutic for you to get in the booth? Does recording music provide you some relief?
TEC: Fuckin’ right. That’s the only time when I get to vent and express myself. So that shit, that’s fa real. That’s how I’m really feeling. That bar meant a lot to me right there, fa sho.
That was a powerful bar. I know we’ve talked a lot about your solo work, but I did wanna check on Maine Musik. How’s he doing and how often are y’all able to speak these days?
TEC: We talk like every two or three days. He can’t really a call a lot [from prison]. He can’t make that many calls a day, so he be calling his girl and shit. He good though. He’ll be home real soon. Next year, fa sho. Me and him got a project on the way. ‘Bout to put out a project with me and him. I’m about to drop that Retaliation 2 tape. Some real raw shit. Some new shit on there, some old shit. it’s pressure, fa sho.
Nice. I know fans are gonna be excited to hear that. So, he’s definitely getting out next year?
TEC: Yeah, fa sho. And the tape gonna drop at the beginning of the next year, like around February.
That’s great. Can build a little momentum for him when gets out.
TEC: Absolutely. Gotta keep that all the way. We was waiting on a perfect time to drop this shit anyway. We both came to an agreement that now’s the time to do it.
You’ve been able to remain independent through your deal with EMPIRE, which handled the distribution for Web The World. Have any labels reached out or tried to sign you over these past few years?
TEC: Yeah, all of them reached out or reaching out, but I fuck with EMPIRE. I fuck with Ghazi. I fuck with them, all the people there. With EMPIRE, it was a nice business decision. They put my shit on right. They put the album on different places. They got my business right. Before them, I ain’t really have all my business right. I thought I did, but I didn’t. They put me in a good situation, so I gotta fuck with them.
Did your past experience with Master P and No Limit help you avoid any bad deals? It seems like you knew EMPIRE was the right situation for what you needed.
TEC: Fuckin’ right. It showed me a lot ‘cause P brought a nigga in a lot of rooms before I could get there myself. So, I’ve seen it all being around in that shit and seen that shit early before I went to jail. I’ve really seen the best of both worlds. Right before I went to jail, I was fucking with P and out there going in these rooms, meetings with labels and shit and different types of places around other celebrities and shit.
You seeing all this luxury shit, so I went from that to being locked up for three years straight and coming home. I had to rebuild on my own. Shit was crazy.
I learned a lot of business shit from fucking with P ‘cause he a real businessman when it comes to this shit. If you don’t know your business, you could end up fucked. You’ve got to know your motherfucking business and know what you’re getting yourself into. Have your lawyers and your people on this shit. I ain’t sign no contract without no lawyers.
One thing that’s always impressed me about you is how you’ve stayed focused on music. You’ve never worried about social media trends or tried to make moves for clout. How do you handle the fame that comes with a rap career?
TEC: Handling fame be the hardest part for me. That shit crazy. I don’t know. I can’t wait till I get to the point like on some J Cole shit or Kendrick Lamar shit when you can just can drop music and ain’t gotta do none of this shit. ‘Cause if it was up to me, I probably wouldn’t fuck with Instagram or none of that shit ‘cause life too real. Shit too real. Real men gotta move different, gotta move militant and shit. I don’t be posting where I’m gonna be and posting this and that type of shit. I be wanting to do big shit and be on that type of level with them niggas like J. Cole.
Hopefully that’s the next move for you! TEC, I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me. Fans can stream Web The World now and you mentioned the upcoming project with Maine. Is there anything else on the way that fans should know about?
TEC: Yeah, I’m gonna drop a deluxe edition of Web The World and we gonna have a Spider Nation compilation with everybody on there. All of Spider Nation, they gone have they own mixtapes dropping too. And I’m gonna keep dropping, so y’all just keep watching.