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Teezo Touchdown | How Do You Sleep At Night?

If it hasn’t already been made abundantly clear, Teezo Touchdown wants to be Hip Hop’s zaniest oddball. Between his eccentric outfits, warbly vocal inflections, and dedication to incorporating angsty pop-punk-inspired guitars into his music, the 30-year-old artist sounds like he really took Apple’s “Think Different” slogan to heart. Since The Example, his 2018 debut mixtape, he’s consistently positioned himself as a subversionist to whatever is trendy and opted for something slightly further out of left field. Yet, there’s a fine line between acting weird for your image and genuinely being weird. For the most part, Teezo lands in the first category.

Since 2020, Teezo has relied more on his assortment of wacky voices and abrasive instrumental palettes to drive home his alternative aesthetic than actually feeling like a genuine quirky artist. While songs like “Technically” work because of his sticky hook and caricaturish performance, others like “Mid” simply sound angry for the sake of being angry. He’s gotten big looks on features with Tyler, The Creator, and a standout performance on Travis Scott’s maligned Utopia, giving him enough momentum to take over Twitter and Instagram’s music nerd landscape. But even with some motion, Teezo doesn’t make sense, and not in a good, groundbreaking way; moreso in a “what is this, what do you do with it?” way. It’s been hard to tell exactly what Teezo wants to rap or sing about throughout the years, and his debut album How Do You Sleep At Night? does little to flesh out his character.

Beginning with the spastic “OK,” Teezo opens by acknowledging that he hasn’t watched the latest Spider-Man movie, but he will when he finds time. He then makes the age-old comparison of his life being a movie but with the caveat that you can’t find a bootleg on Reddit and references American Pie. The loud generic hook expresses he’s “going to do it anyway,” though it’s not immediately clear what “it” actually is. Based on the resentful second verse about people telling him how to approach his art, he’s most likely stating that no one will get in his way of success.

For someone who seems so unconcerned with the way others perceive him, he spends the entirety of the following track “You Thought” painting strawman arguments about how he acts and spends his time (“Your people probably think that we engaged, how much you stay over my place / They probably think that I live in a cave, the way that we stay out the way). His jittery flow in the first half feels awkward and abrupt but the more melodic back half that employs the reliable angelic vocals of Janelle Monae at least captures Teezo’s more earnest side.

Much of How Do You Sleep At Night? juggles edgy antics with softer pop songs but rarely does Teezo find the right balance between the two. “Sweet” is sweet but only lands as well as it does thanks to Fousheé’s delicate appearance and “Daddy Mama Drama” paints a more vulnerable portrait of the Texas artist. “Mood Swings” on the other hand, spins itself into a funk territory without any of the charm or charisma that would otherwise make a track like that work.

“UUHH,” the album’s best song by a wide margin, succeeds at combining the intensity of his passion for his lover with the raucous guitars and slick drums. It doesn’t have much to offer in the way of lyricism but Teezo sounds most at home when he isn’t trying to do too much. “Too Easy” follows this blueprint albeit a bit more brash in the separation of tender and eclectic. The first half swings for the fences with Teezo’s yelling, while the latter half veers into R&B territory with a more mellowed-out verse about making it easy for his partner to leave him.

Despite his aptitude for delivering empty lyrics, Teezo does try his hand at more traditional storytelling-focused tracks with “Familiarity” and “Neighborhood.” The former sees Teezo wrestle with his immaturity as he denies the existence of luck but fully embraces the possibility of aliens roaming space. It’s a typical come-up track that showcases his belief in himself when no one else shared his vision. It’s Brockhampton core, but without the excitement, like stale karaoke.

“Neighborhood” further fleshes out the struggling artist bit with emphasis on Teezo’s inability to hold down a permanent home. The track is the closest the album gets to demystifying an ever-so-desperate Teezo who aches to see his daughter again. His hopelessness doesn’t quite get the better of him, as the track’s uplifting instrumental evokes a more inspirational tone from the rapper, but it’s nice to hear that Teezo isn’t just full of antics and gimmicks. Because unfortunately, Teezo’s debut sounds forced upon, a 30-year old man trying to appeal to Zoomers without understanding the culture he so desperately wants to be accepted by.

Teezo’s debut wants to convince you that he’s this generation’s ODB, but really, he’s closer to a zanier Kid Cudi, but without the influence. His beats, while eclectic to some degree, feel like a minor subversion of the indie-rock-rap crossover that’s become increasingly popular. His lyrics remain juvenile at best with hints of maturity sporadically hidden in the deeper cuts. How Do You Sleep At Night? is meant for the kids, but when the artist sounds like he’s pleading for you to find him interesting, it doesn’t make for a sustainable career arc.

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