One-to-One with Tah Mac
to Tahland and the upbeat
Brooklyn hip-hop dynamo who is well
on his way to becoming a phenomenon
on both sides of the Atlantic Tah Mac
took time out from his busy schedule
to talk to MotorBar about his feel-good
TAH MAC IS RELAXING AT HIS HOTEL when I call. He is a natural, his voice
infused with the attractive lilt of his culture. Born and raised in Brooklyn,
New York, he began his career in the mid-90s as a co-producer, teaching himself
how to programme drums on a song and accomplishing the art of finishing a record.
This effervescent and charismatic hip-hop maestro is becoming renowned for his
sunny music. Oozing spirituality and charm and with a big personality, Tah Mac
acknowledges that there are many problems in life today but he says he tries
to be an upbeat person. If there is a dark day, he advises, just try to put
some sunshine into your life.
And Tah Mac is just the person to do it. He creates first class hip-hop that
radiates the feel-good factor to dispel the usual doom-and-gloom and violence-infused
themes of the 21st Century. Take his new album, Welcome 2 Tahland
its compulsive tracks will have you singing away the blues. Tah says: "It's
a global sound aimed to appeal to everyone and a theatre of the mind.
It is about love, life and reality. Today's society struggles and I hope it
makes everybody feel good we have to pull together as a world."
With impressive credentials, Tah must have been born with a hip-hop happy style.
Proving his gift and laying the foundations for his production experience at
the age of 15, he was working with a team of well-known hip-hop artistes.
It was in those days that he conceived his own signature sound and created an
unstoppable force that has earned him his place in the music industry. Inspired
by the events and people in his life, Tah Mac says: "Look for the positive.
If you try to make the best of what you have and wake up with a smile on your
face it will help you face the world no matter what happens.
"My mother and my staff," he adds, "are also up-beat. No matter what situation
you are in, you should live your life to the full." And talking of life, just
how old is this charismatic and gifted artiste? He laughs and will not be drawn.
"I am," he insists, "a hardworking young man. That's it."
grown up listening to hip-hop legends Run DMC, Big Daddy Kane, Tribe Called
Quest, Nice And Smooth, and Eric B & Rakim, it was inevitable Tah would be influenced
by these great artistes. "My influences are many," he says. "Including Pink
Floyd, Isaac Hayes, Sting, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Tina Turner."
at High School, Tah's parents insisted that he should work hard. His father
is retired from the US military and had high standards. But such was Tah's love
and instinctive talent for music that he quit college to concentrate on his
passion aiming to carve for himself a place in musical history. His older
peers were hip-hop stars who taught him how to make a professional record and
helped him on the path to his chosen career.
Tah rose to the challenges of entering the music world as a new producer. When
he found himself stuck in the middle of mastering a sound in music-making or
orchestrating the written content behind what made the music sound so great
he was spurred on to compose and write music while continuing as a producer
little knowing that he would one day be writing music for himself.
Known at that time for producing and co-writing for a number of other artistes,
Tah continued to build his producer discography and soon learned to separate
himself from the musical environment in which he was raised. Tah took a great
deal of risks while moving his project to uncharted waters and from a few years
laying his groundwork as a producer in Atlanta, Georgia, he moved his production
unit to the UK and London.
Tah Mac's expectations of Europe served to further his knowledge and to re-define
his musical profile. He wanted to accomplish something that very few American
producers do to lay a foundation overseas. And through this Tah understood
how to embrace the global sound he is so proud of.
It is a sound that has the ability to cross various demographics to introduce
his musical journey to the entire world as a new sound in global music. He sees
music as a universal language with which to communicate with people. "There
are so many races and creeds in the world," he says, "and I want my music to
appeal to everyone, whatever their age or their culture 80-year-olds
as much as 8-year-olds. My grandmother likes my music. It is upbeat, up tempo
and it is aimed at everyone, everywhere."
Family, friends and stability are all important to Tah. He has the backing of
his parents and says that his mother is his best friend. "I call her regularly,"
he tells me. "It is important to maintain a good relationship with your parents.
You can learn from them."
In just as little as five years of travel back and forth to England, Tah Mac
produced music for an array of signed and unsigned talent in the UK, some of
whom have become mega stars today. It was London where he has developed his
individuality and learned to cross cultivate different genres of music to find
his unique voice in the process, testing the waters of his artistry.
producing a few Number One, charted records with recognition to the talent rather
than to the mechanics behind the record, he felt a need to exceed his 'label'
as a producer and writer. After this realisation, Tah followed his heart and
created a way to make more of an impact with his message.
In this, he invented something more personal for the world. Tah Mac designed
a brand new project and this time, he is the star of the story. His intention
as a new artiste is to carry a musical legacy, which he feels adopted him as
a youth. And now, he's ready to share his talent and his magic with the world.
He loves what he does. Offers for film work have not tempted him. He says he
wants only to be himself. "It's a pity," he says, "that some superstars and
also some of those who have not made it that far are not in a happy place once
the lights go off."
While having a lot of fun with music, Tah says it was initially frustrating
because people were not understanding his music. "But once I had got it out
there it was a build-up to get everyone to understand. You have to find your
own way in life," he says, "and it feels good that people are now relating to
Tah's family came to the US from the West Indies to live the American Dream.
He says he is strongly motivated and a go-getter. He feels lucky to be able
to provide for the people around him but says that for some people money is
the magnet. For Tah it is all about enjoying life and sharing what he has with
those around him.
"As long as you never forget how to put a smile on your face," he says, "it
doesn't matter if you have five dollars or a hundred thousand dollars."
Tah finds producing and co-writing with other artistes fascinating and has enjoyed
every one of his projects. One of his biggest accomplishments was jamming with
Aretha Franklin, although he says he was too young to really understand the
enormity of that. He also enjoyed working with Leona Lewis and he says he knew
she was going to be big. "Oh, yes and Anthony Roach of the Charlatans,"
he says proudly. "He is innovative and it was amazing that Tah Mac, a young
man from Brooklyn, was working with him."
England is now Tah's second home. He says he loves the food, the people and
the simple life. He has a great appreciation of seeing The Union Flag flying
with the US flag. "The two superpowers of the world," he comments.
Although his love of music is a force that drives him, Tah winds down by reading
novels especially theatrical and best-sellers. He recently read the Benjamin
Button book and now he can't wait to see the film. He says is proud and lucky
to be constantly working. "I like to keep my mind active and I am very heavily
into current events," he tells me. "I tune in to Sky News whenever I am in the
UK." How else does he relax?
"With the two ladies in my life my little princesses," he says, referring
to Victory, his Long-Coated Chihuahua and his cat, Precious. He misses them
when he is on tour and can't wait to bring Victory over to the UK when he returns.
He enjoys the quality time they have when they go for her early morning walk.
So where to now, musically and adventurously? Where else would he like to explore?
"I'd like to visit Australia and Iceland places like that where few of
my music peers have been. I'd also love to work with Bjork, Bono, U2 and The
Kaiser Chiefs. Anything and everything in music there is," he says,
"no unheard of collaboration."
With such esteemed names, who in the world would Tah like to be listening to
his music as we speak? "I'm happy you've listened to my music and enjoyed it,"
he says. "And I'd like to think that once we've put the phone down, Maggie is
listening to my music..."
And I did Tahland is a very special place. Maggie Woods, MotorBar
Check out MotorBar's
Tah Mac music reviews.
Check out tahmcent.com and myspace.com/tahmac.