In 2016 Tee Grizzley stormed on the scene with his viral record “First Day Out.” The song was an autobiography that resonated worldwide. His voice was crisp and his lyrics descriptive, telling a story that placed any listener in a front-row seat to the action. As an artist, he set out to prove that he was next up to represent and far beyond a one-hit wonder.
The Down Way Up
Terry Sanchez Wallace, aka Tee Grizzley, was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. His grandmother primarily raised him because both his parents were in and out of jail. Growing up, he was initially interested in being a Hip Hop artist but lacked drive. He was often fascinated with the street life he experienced growing up. Fortunately, he focused on education by attending Michigan State University and majoring in finance. But the financial burden of being a college student began to take its toll on a young Grizzley, so he and some friends started to rob dorm rooms and sell off the merchandise. “I was just broke,” Grizzley told the Breakfast Club. “I was trying to do stuff. A lot of females up there. I was trying to go through internships. I needed some paper. I needed some money!”
After getting caught and charged for a home invasion at Michigan State University, Grizzley went on the run to Lexington, Kentucky, where he and some friends attempted a smash-and-grab theft at a jewelry store. The robbery attempt was unsuccessful; Grizzley and his friends were held at gunpoint by a customer until the police came to arrest them. “We ain’t have no hoodies, no mask on, or nothing,”said Tee Grizzley. For his crimes, Tee Grizzley served nine months in Kentucky jail and then eighteen months in Michigan prison.
Game Plan Change
While incarcerated, Tee Grizzley began to pen the rhymes to “First Day Out.” The track’s creation was Grizzley’s attempt to become a local Detroit star, but the success grew nationwide. The achievement of “First Day Out” was introducing the Detroit sound that other artists from the city would premiere soon after. “I always had a passion for music,” Tee Grizzley told Revolt, “but I never thought—or I never saw myself being a part of Hip Hop history in that type of way, having that much of an impact.”
The momentum for Tee Grizzley continued as he signed a deal with 300 Entertainment. No longer taking time for granted, Grizzley released a series of songs from mixtapes like “Second Day Out”, “From the D to the A” ft. Lil Yachty”, and debut album “Activated.”
Coneys on Me
Tee Grizzley’s voice has a signature sound that can be recognized on a basketball court in New Jersey or a club in Los Angeles. He raps every verse as if it’s his last, which can be heard on “Trenches,” where he rhymes, “Yeah, I went to Cody and Dixon/ Three dollars to my name, got a juice and a McChicken.” On “Colors,” he raps with the deep base drumroll and turns up vocally to match the sound impact. On his latest album, “Tee’s Coney Island” songs like “Ain’t Nothing New”, “One of One”, and “Loop Hole” demonstrate his rhyme-in-real-time storytelling style.
Tee Grizzley’s unique quality is his ability to rhyme with a conversational flow. For now, his subject matter is limited to mostly street life because it’s the life he knows. For many young artists, their subject matter broadens as they embrace new experiences. If he chooses, Tee Grizzley has the potential to evolve into a high-caliber artist who leaves no subject unaddressed.