The name’s Tedashii Lavoy Anderson, American rapper that uses his faith to underline hip-hop music. Known simply by his given name Tedashii, Japanese for ‘faithful’ or ‘righteous’, the Texan rap artist is known for his playful yet uptempo party tracks that flavor aggressive beats, most likely in ‘Dum Dum’ (2011), one of his most famous tracks that features label-mate Lecrae, or GAWVI-produced ‘Jumped Out the Whip’ (2016). A trailblazer of the Reach Records gang, where Lecrae is one of the founders, Tedashii’s passion for music started early by playing instruments and being in a band when he was younger but saw more potential in his love for football as music seemed too farfetched for him. It wasn’t until he became good friends with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Sho Baraka in college and started at some point creating music with them. One thing leads to another and the rest is history: Introduced to the world with his 2006 debut ‘Kingdom People’, Tedashii made a name for himself with his individuality in rap that was boosted with his follow-up LPs ‘Identity Crisis’ (2009), ‘Blacklight’ (2011), and ‘Below Paradise’ (2014). His 2019 album ‘Never Fold’ is applauded as his comeback record, since his last full-length album was released 5 years prior, though in between released an EP named ‘This Time Around’ in 2016. His current release contains 17 tracks which already sounds like a promising number. Let’s see what his 5th studio album ‘Never Fold’ indeed can offer.
The album starts off with ‘There’s a Heaven’, a 1:46 minute short introduction singing “there’s a heaven for us” with piano in the background, calm and dreamy. The listener then gets woken up from the dream with uptempo ‘God Flex’ that offers Eminem-flavored hard beats supported by label-mate Trip Lee, ending right at the end with piano once again, then turning up a notch with aggressive tones in highlight track ‘Get Out My Way’. The track features Lecrae who starts off yelling his lungs out by exclaiming “I need my spaaaace!”, later taking over by Tedashii’s confident and serious rap.
The album then goes back to some laid down tunes in ‘Son of Sam’: While Reach Records rap-colleague Andy Mineo is not present as a feature, he is in fact sampled in the beginning of the track with the line of Mineo’s song from his 2018 track ‘Clarity’ (“Son of man, son of Sam”) a nod to Andy but also defines the connection within their label. As Tedashii describes self-doubt and being lost in the lyrics (“Trying to find who I am”) the entrained feels of the song then end with sounds of gunshots and bell sounds, like a gun hitting a metal object. The pressure and stress he carries on his shoulders are then directly described in thoughtful and spacy beat-filled ‘Diamonds’: “I got the whole world on my shoulders / Puttin’ a restraint on my back / Got a lot of pressure on my body / But diamonds made just like that.” Dramatic lyrical content soon after continues in ‘Home’ where pop sounds coincide with sad melodies, building up to a catchy hook sang by David Crowder, just like the more hopeful ‘Step Into Love’ with Sarah Reeves that remind of Lecrae’s hit ‘I’ll Find You’, released in 2016 with Tori Kelly.
The darker vibe goes on in ‘Splash II’, an enhanced version of the same single released in 2018 with 1K Phew, but offers extra features with Parris Chariz and Jarry Manna. With a creative and flexible style, the second part offers different raps, sounding sonically similar to the first version but creates more dimensions. Just like in ‘Water’ – a track that could pass for being in a videogame soundtrack – having similar vibes like ‘Splash II’, but then goes unexpectedly slow motion during the second half of the song.
The ups and dows that carry the entire album most likely finds the middle in track 10 – ‘My Lifestyle’ – where Tedashii not only presents himself in his typical hip-hop style but explains the listener his being like a short manual of his everyday struggles in flashforward mode: His career steps, from battling with stress and depression to having album pressure from his label and fans. The second half of ‘Never Fold’ then switches from dark and sad to happy and uplifting. Motivational tunes like ‘Gotta Live’ then paint a different picture, showing the strength to go on. Survival instinct is highlighted with a hopeful hook by Jordan Feliz (“Everybody has their doubts but you can’t stop now”). Tedashii then underlines the upbeat vibe with his rapping (“As a kid, Momma told me sky’s the limit”) and strengthens the message to be yourself – a great listening experience. Motivation continues, pushing to smile more in ‘Smile’, which is promoted with a ripped off picture of Mona Lisa sticked together with tape (possibly a metaphor of staying positive after downfalls) and describes how to fight on in ‘Won’t Bring Me Down’ after trapped feelings of having sleepless nights and nightmares. You could almost say Tedashii indirectly quotes the famous saying that there’s ‘a light at the end of the tunnel.’
Inspired by the message of Luke 9:62, ‘Never Fold’ presents itself as an open book that he shares with the world. Exposing depth with lyrics about pressure, stress and depression, it’s primarily the album’s hopeful vibe that motivates to keep walking on. Tracks like feel-good ‘Hold Me Down’ builds positive energy – especially by including his kids to bring some impressive rap lines (“Hold it, hold it, dad, let me talk to ‘em!”). Every corner can be seen as a three-dimensional image. Either putting some R&B vibes with retro-filled beats (‘All In Love’ with Kam Parker), or using innovative techniques making fast ‘uh-uh-uh’ sounds like trills (‘Full Effect’), the entire album shows a full-colored image for the listener, then concludes with a piano-guided ‘It is Well’ – an outro in Samoan language to end ‘Never Fold’.
With 17 tracks in total, a structured line is not always immediately visible when listening to the entire LP from start to finish. However, the album offers as much of Tedashii as possible – making it nearly impossible to not be satisfied is some way with the music and the content.
Full Track List:
There’s A Heaven
God Flex (feat. Trip Lee)
Get Out My Way (feat. Lecrae)
Son of Sam
Home (feat. Crowder)
Splash II (feat. 1K Phew, Jarry Manna & Parris Chariz)
Step Into Love (feat. Sarah Reeves)
Gotta Live (feat. Jordan Feliz)
Hold Me Down
All In Love (feat. Kameron aka Kam Parker)
Won’t Bring Me Down
It Is Well