Teezo Touchdown | Pull Up, Please, To The Heat of the Moment

Via Issue 188, The Eternal Flame Issue!

Written by

Liam Kozak

Photographed by

Zhamak Fullad

Styled by

Jenny Haapala

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GIVENCHY jacket, top, skirt, and pants, R13 sneakers, TELFAR earrings, and ASLAN WORLD metal glove and ring.

It’s a scorching day in Los Angeles, but the suite at the Thompson Hotel is nice and cool. Teezo Touchdown is about thirty minutes late, which is nowhere near out of the ordinary for artists. Zhamak Fullad, today’s photographer, sits in the living room with a friend and a baby German Shepherd. I’m helping myself to some of the snacks reserved for the production team when I hear Teezo and his entourage walk through the door. As I walk over to introduce myself, Teezo’s manager cuts right to the chase—before the interview begins, they need to discuss the creative direction of the photoshoot. In private. But as Zhamak and Teezo walk into the bedroom, Teezo turns around and says to me, “Pull up. I want you to witness this.”

GIVENCHY jacket.

Teezo’s capacity for standing out could be studied at the University of Sore Thumbs. Even his moniker, Teezo Touchdown, is a master class in brand name recognition. “I tried football for a day, I got hit, and the next day I joined band. But there’s a lot of similarities [between] the music grind and the sports grind. We all make tapes to go to the next level. We play in the streets before we play in the stadiums. That [also] answers how I started playing trombone.” While Teezo had been playing the trombone since middle school, he was musically adept from a young age. “Music has been a part of my life since elementary school. My dad was a DJ. I’ve been DJing parties [and] weddings since the fourth grade. I’ve been studying the Billboard 100 every weekend since elementary school...Well, downloading it. Sorry, y’all.”

Teezo has come a long way from the “small refinery town near the Louisiana border” of Beaumont, as he describes it. Still, he’s aware that he’s not at the finish line just yet. “You don’t have to remind me how small I am at this moment. I know. I wake up every morning as Teezo Touchdown. I know if I go to a party, nine times outta ten, I’m gonna’ have to stand in line. That’s where I’m at with this. I am on all of these great albums and these great tours but it’s weird cause I feel like it’s not translating yet. I’m doing some amazing things, but like I said, even interviews are still weird to me. It feels weird to be talking about myself, doing photoshoots and stuff like that. Because on the opposite side of it, I know when I walk out that the world doesn’t know who I am yet. But I’m being very present at this moment. So when that does happen, I can be appreciative and know how big I am ‘cause I experienced the whole spectrum. I don’t mind, I kind of embrace the lines now.”

LOEWE coat, VANEBON shirt, KWK BY KAY KWOK pants, GENTLE MONSTER x MAISON MARGIELA sunglasses, stylist’s own belt, RARE-ROMANCE earrings, ZANA BAYNE choker, and VITALY rings.

While his critics have called him a “fashion rapper” who treats his music as an afterthought, his artistic reputation tells a different story. Each track in Teezo’s discography is completely different and unique to itself, with Teezo deciding which of the tools in his bag to employ seemingly at random. His music is defined by a refusal to be categorized, an intentional bending of genres to his whims. Talking about his ability to merge such institutionalized genres like rap, indie, and punk–as well as the journey that brought him to doing so, Teezo says, “I’m glad you started out with rap. I feel like I ran away from the rap title. I used to try to correct people that called me a rapper, but now I’m standing on it. It’s the youngest genre. It’s a Black genre. And I don’t want it to go anywhere. But to me, I feel like... rock and hip hop, what they have in common is just kids rebelling against whatever the hell they wanted to rebel against.”

He continues, “So I feel like, looking at it now, I’m able to make it so fluent because they speak the same language. They both were birthed from the same place. In America, I feel like there’s going to be division or whatever it is in every single [thing]. It’s going to be in the music, it’s going to be in the culture. Like there’s no running away from that, unfortunately. But this art thing is collaborative.”

VANEBON shirt, GENTLE MONSTER x MAISON MARGIELA sunglasses, stylist’s own belt, RARE-ROMANCE earrings, ZANA BAYNE choker, and VITALY rings.

That fluency extends beyond the music. His fashion sense, his creative direction, his overall attitude...everything is meant to subvert expectation. But seeing Teezo’s presentation as his main attraction is missing what attracts Teezo’s fans: his ability to turn into a chimera in the face of a pigeonhole.

Teezo hit the airwaves in 2019 with “100 Drums,” an auditory composition of rock and rap elements painted on the canvas of Panic! At The Disco’s “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.”

Since kicking down the door, he’s dropped plenty of singles including “I’m Just A Fan,” where he displays his incredible vocal range and knack for lyricism on top of beautiful guitar-driven instrumentation. Along with his original music, a myriad of features over the last few years have helped catapult Teezo into the limelight.


Namely Tyler, the Creator’s “RUNITUP,” Don Toliver’s “Luckily I’m Having,” and most recently BETWEEN FRIENDS’ “Redlight.” BETWEEN FRIENDS are unlike Teezo’s other collaborators—they’re more of an indie, experimental, aughts-inspired pop group. This sonic seesaw becomes the perfect ride for Teezo to hop on, resulting in a pop ballad with the staying power of a tornado in Kansas.

“I’m glad you brought up BETWEEN FRIENDS because when it comes to my collaborations—it’s music first for me. Politely, every time someone tries to propose, like, a collab or whatever–I just ask to hear the music first before anything.” The desire to work with a smaller indie-pop group, as opposed to a higher-profile rapper in the genre-sphere where he’s “paid his dues,” is precisely why the projects he produces are so uniquely Teezo.

R13 shirt, ETRO skirt, KWK BY KAY KWOK boots, OTTOLINGER sunglasses, LOUIS VUITTON MEN’S bag, ASLAN WORLD belt, earrings, and rings, ZANA BAYNE harness and bracelets, stylist’s own tie, RARE-ROMANCE heart necklace, and VITALY spiked choker.
R13 shirt, ETRO skirt, KWK BY KAY KWOK boots, OTTOLINGER sunglasses, LOUIS VUITTON MEN’S bag, ASLAN WORLD belt, earrings, and rings, ZANA BAYNE harness and bracelets, stylist’s own tie, RARE-ROMANCE heart necklace, and VITALY spiked choker.

As part of a Moncler collection debut, he co-directed the music video for “I’m Just A Fan” with Austyn Sux that featured him centered in a room full of cooling fans with his arms propelling around his Moncler-adorned body. Simple, poignant, and beautiful—the art of collaboration is something Teezo’s not lost on. “I was really doing everything myself, like really holding that as like a flex. I do everything myself. I’m producing it, I’m the videographer, and all of that. But I had a conversation with my team right before I did ‘I’m Just A Fan’ to really allow people to collaborate. Like if you’re in a room with ‘em, they’re talented as well.”

VERSACE top, sunglasses, and gloves, stylist’s own socks, RARE-ROMANCE earrings, and  ZANA BAYNE choker.

Between answering messages on four cell phones, the organization and need for separation of which were impossible for me to discern, Teezo distracts himself from the interview at moments with new ideas for the photoshoot and upcoming projects. Seeing his eyes lost in the fire, I appreciate the invitation to witness it. The fire that burns in any artist is one that needs to be continuously tended to, stoked, and rekindled. And just like anyone else, Teezo’s fire dims and fades at times. It flickers between different things on different days and takes up different meanings during different times of life.

He confesses, “This is kind of what motivates me right now. I’m doing what I love to do. I love music. Being in a hotel and getting dressed and interviewed. This feels really good...I don’t like money motivation. It makes me feel dirty. It makes me feel used.” Zhamak chimes in, “Bitches?”

DIESEL jacket, sweatshirt, pants, and shoes, GENTLE MONSTER sunglasses, ASLAN WORLD  earrings, and VITALY ear cuff.

Teezo corrects her, “Women? I think they definitely motivate me on some nights. When I’m like recording or whatever. But I [needed] a healthy motivation. I used to use grief as motivation, but as time went on, the pain stopped and I felt like that motivation stopped. This is motivating to me.” Whether it be the fire in his eyes, burning to create, or the fire under his ass propelling him into action—one thing is certain: Teezo’s hot right now, and it’s not hard to see why. 

DIESEL jacket and sweatshirt, GENTLE MONSTER sunglasses, ASLAN WORLD  earrings, and VITALY ear cuff.

Photographed by Zhamak Fullad

Styled by Jenny Haapala

Written by Liam Kozak

Hair: Monique Avant

Grooming: Kelly Goldsack at Exclusive Artists

Nails: Naoko Saita at Opus Beauty using Dior Le Baume

Flaunt Film: Annika Chavez

Styling Assistant: Cooper Lawrence

Styling Intern: Cassandra Carpenter

Location: The Thompson Hotel

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Teezo Touchdown, Flaunt Magazine, Issue 188, The Eternal Flame Issue, Thompson Hotel, Liam Kozak, Zhamak Fullad, Jenny Haapala, People,