Brooklyn’s Teyonahhh came to me in the best possible way: someone thought she was dope as fuck and shared her music with me. There’s nothing more exciting than geeking out with someone over an upcoming artist, pressing play, and being blown away by the sheer talent. My first few seconds with Teyonahhh’s debut album, First Impression, transformed me from excited to jaw-dropped.
The way Teyonahhh, 19, spits with both ferocity and focus caught me off guard. As I spent time with First Impression, I found her to be a wonderfully varied artist, tapping into the melodies New York has become known for at one turn and barring up at the next. The appeal of Teyonahhh comes firstly, then, by way of her versatility.
“I always loved music since I was a kid,” Teyonahhh tells me over the phone. “Once I got more comfortable, as I got older, I started to write more about life.”
Teyonahhh’s life-bars are most evident on the First Impression title track, where she delivers three solid minutes of bars, recapping her story up to this point over a pensive piano loop and swelling guitar. “I always knew I would make it,” she announces. Immediately, we’re hit with her astounding confidence.
In speaking with Teyonahhh, too, I’m struck by her security. She tells me confidence comes naturally to her. Considering her background in the beauty industry, I shouldn’t be surprised to find the young spitter brimming with assurance.
Beyond bars, Teyonahhh packs in gummy melodies and has a talent for crafting earworms. She cites A Boogie and Megan Thee Stallion as two key influences who helped her find her voice in hip-hop. Pressing play on the standout selection “Thugz Cry”—which she wrote in one day with the second verse only taking the artist 10 minutes—you can hear both Boogie and Megan reverberating through Teyonahhh’s delivery. The breathless sing-song flow and depth of the heartbroken songwriting summons images of Boogie’s sleeper hit, “Me and My Guitar,” while the empowered lyrics signal Megan’s no-nonsense writing.
With First Impression standing as a formidable debut, I ask Teyonahhh about her intent with the record. She leans into her versatility, telling me: “I wanted to let everybody know what I could do and how creative I am. I wanted to show different flows, and every verse is a different side of me. I [can] do all types of music.”
Though “debut” is a big word, Teyonahhh approached the release fearlessly. Of course, she does hope people fuck with her, but she’s secure in her place as an upcoming artist.
“The most rewarding part has to be my fans,” Teyonahhh says of her come-up. “Everybody that believes in me and listens to my music, that’s the biggest reward… How in tune they are with my music. I love it when people know the words to my music ‘cause I know they’re really listening when they quote my songs. Even for a caption! I just love it. That’s my favorite part, just [knowing] I did this.”
Speaking of doing this, Teyonahhh assures me that while her career is very much for her—and she’d like to have a diverse portfolio—success looks like taking care of her family.
“My mom,” Teyonahhh begins with a more serious edge to her voice, “[and] my family has always had to work hard for what’s theirs. I feel like I could take my family to a different level, and that’s what I do it for.”
On tracks like “Bandz” and “24,” Teyonahhh issues ferocious raps. She appears as a fearsome artist ascending to her prime. Her hunger and hustle are both attractive and admirable. It all comes from her burning desire to reach the upper echelon of the rap game.
“I just wanna make it,” she says fervently. “I feel like everybody wants to make it. I know there’s people out there better than me at my age, but [they] don’t have the fanbase I have. I know there’s competition, so I gotta always do my best and put my heart in it.”
At this specific moment, when Teyonahhh acknowledges there’s always someone more talented, always someone to compete against, I realize she has a bright future. Her humility and penchant for grinding will serve her well, will power her through the inevitable industry games she will face as her star rises.
Too, Teyonahhh has a distinct vision for what she wants to add to hip-hop culture. Her ultimate wish is to show the multiplicity of women in the rap game. Just because she’s a young woman spitting doesn’t mean she has to sound or look a specific way—she’s Teyonahhh first.
“Princess of New York,” Teyonahhh emotes on “Prodigy.” Whether or not that’s true is secondary to how certain Teyonahhh sounds when she says the four-word declaration. Her confidence will take her far. Really, why should she stop at “princess?” The world is ready for Teyonahhh.
So, why not Queen?